Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Photo by Ned Harris 7/7/2013
Gila one

Photo by Ned Harris 7/7/2013
And Gila two

Ned saw two Gila Monsters on lucky 7/7/13!

Photo by Matt Ball 7/26/2013

Matt and I saw this one on 7/26. Matt also made this video

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Another rare sight!

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 7/26/2013

Mark writes:

As we reached the parking lot coming from the Bear Bridge trail this morning (Friday, 7/26/2013) we found this albino Round-tailed Ground Squirrel in the parking lot. We think it's a true albino because it had pink eyes. Unfortunately my camera is in the shop so I had to take the photo with my iPhone.

Mark found this photo (taken at Children's Memorial Park on June 10, 2009) of another one! Must be a very rare mutation.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Golden Eagle!

Photo by Matt Ball 7/24/2013

While hiking Blackett's Ridge, Matt and I saw this enormous bird soaring overhead. I'm thrilled to report that my i.d. of  Golden Eagle was confirmed by Ned 'Raptor Man' Harris!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not a reptile

Photo by Ned Harris 7/18/2013

Yes, plants are blooming in Sabino Canyon! This one is Climbing Milkweed (Funastrum cyanchoides ssp. hartwegii), found on the trail that starts at the south-west corner of the parking lot and connects with the Bear Canyon trail. Climbing Milkweed is in the Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae) along with Cockroach Plant (Haplophyton cimcidium), which should also be blooming. Stay tuned for a photo.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fork it over

Photo by Steven Kessel 7/9/2013

Click photo for a larger view of this beautiful (and harmless) Black-necked Garter Snake. Steven has seen several this season near the restroom by the Bear Canyon bridge.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tort Report

Photos by Marty Horowitz 7/17/2013

Marty saw this Sonoran Desert Tortoise speeding down the road to Bear Canyon. He knows never to pick one up. And now you do, too. Click the link for more info on these amazing creatures.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More toad 'sandwiches'

All photos by Ned Harris 7/13/2013

Yes, these are Red-spotted Toads. Click on the link for more info - and for the sound of the males' call.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Leaf us!

Photo by Ned Harris 7/13/2013

Red-spotted toads are in the mood for a bit of privacy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Take me to your leader!

Photo by Steven Kessel 7/12/2013

The creek was well watered on the night of 7/11 and the amphibians came out in force! This Sonoran Desert Toad is ready to take over the world.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monster Match

Photos and text from Steven Kessel 7/14/2013.

Steven writes:
This is a first for me, two Gila Monsters fighting. I witnessed it this morning (7/14) at 6:00 a.m. near Sabino Dam. 
It's Gila Monster breeding season and the males roam around at night, looking for love. When a male encounters another male they may fight. It's a fairly ritualized combat with each male trying to flip the other over onto its back. The winner gets the girl, if one's nearby. There is occasionally some biting and a little blood may be drawn, but serious injuries aren't common. These two apparently had been at it for a while when I came upon them because they appeared to be exhausted. They were pushing and shoving but none too vigorously. They broke off their combat about 15 minutes after I first saw them and it didn't appear to me that either one of them had prevailed. Notice, however, that one has sustained an apparently minor bite on his snout. I didn't see any ladies but one may have been near by.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Web of Life

Photo by Steven Kessel 7/5/2013

Steven writes:

A female Broad-billed Hummingbird, caught in the act of gathering spiderwebs. They use spiderwebs for nest construction, so perhaps she's thinking of raising a family. I made this photo less than 100 yards from the Visitors' Center.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer reading and bonus video

Good summer reading available at Understanding Evolution for Teachers, or from their main page Understanding Evolution.

In this video for kids from National Geographic, many of our favorite Sonoran desert plants and animals appear. Only 3 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Looking for Buddha

Photo by Steven Kessel 7/5/2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Photo by Steven Kessel 7/5/2013

Canyon Tree Frog, reminding you to stop and smell the frogs.
But don't lick them.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Photo by Ned Harris 7/1/2013

Look at the photos on the Zebra-tailed lizard page and you can note the difference between Zebra-tailed and Greater Earless lizards. Greater Earless lizards have 'bars' near their Groin (or hind legs, if you prefer). G for Groin, G for Greater Earless. Zebra-tailed lizards have their bars near their Armpits (or closer to their front legs). Think A for Armpit, A for A to Zebra-tailed.
Also, Zebra-tailed lizards tend to hang out in the 'lower' canyon - from the visitor center to the Bluff trail; Greater Earless lizards from the Bluff trail into the canyon. They don't always read the books, though.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bloom night 2013

Photos by Ned Harris 7/7/2013

I 'invited' Ned to Bloom Night 2013 at Tohono Chul; made him drive and take photos. It was fantastic!
These are all Night-blooming Cereus flowers (Peniocereus greggii). They are only open for one night. (The plants in the canyon seem to have bloomed much earlier in the season. I'll keep watch for fruits, though.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Got seeds?

Photo by Ned Harris 7/1/2013

Saguaro fruits are being eaten by animals from tortoises to coyotes. Don't have a quarter for scale on this scat, but I'm guessing coyote.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This is embarrassing

Photo by Ned Harris 7/1/2013

Greater Earless and Ornate Tree deny responsibility for what is clearly a lizard-sized leaving.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pick a feather, any feather

Photo by Ned Harris 7/7/2013

Fledgling preening his/her tail feathers. Don't try this at home.
This concludes seven days of Cooper's Hawks.
Thanks to all the photographers for such great shots.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hawk Opera

Photos by Mary Zalokar 7/5/2013

Mary emailed me for directions to the fledglings, and headed out with camera in hand. She writes:

Your directions worked great!! Also, Steven Kessel whom I met today on the trail took the time to bring me up-to-date on our very vocal fledglings.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Looking for someone?

Photo by Steve Kessel 7/5/2013

You'll want to click on this photo for a larger view!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Portrait of Cooper's mother

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 7/4/2013

Mark writes:

Yesterday at the dam (7/4/13), we saw the 4 Cooper's hawk fledglings hanging out on one snag all begging raucously. Then we found mom sitting like a duck in a cool pool of water below the dam studiously ignoring her offspring and taking a well-deserved break.
Does the dam seem to have fewer song birds at the moment? In "What the Robin Knows," by Jon Young (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012), Young says his research shows that each hawk nestling requires sixty-six songbirds to eat during the six-week period they are on the nest. That's 264 small birds for the four chicks, a serious dent in any creek's small bird population.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Photo by TJ Albano 7/7/2013

New contributor TJ Albano submitted this great shot for hawk week! (I should have done hawk month.)
The fledglings are still having their meals delivered by mom and dad; even though this one looks quite capable.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Who you callin' runt?

Photo by Ned Harris 7/1/2013

This is the smallest and last to fledge. I think s/he looks like Elvis.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Seven days of Cooper's Hawks

A number of the canyon's finest photographers submitted great shots of this summer's favorite family; so I said to myself: "What could be better than an entire week of portraits of the dam Cooper's Hawks?"

Photo by Steve Kessel 6/30/2013

Steve has observed the hawks for weeks now and knows that this is the second in the pecking order. Beautiful.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Empress Leilia

Photo by Ned Harris 6/22/2013

For this and other butterflies (and moths), check out Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mt Lemmon Monkeys

Photo by Marty Horowitz 6/2/2013

Yellow Monkey Flowers (Mimulus guttatus) - and many, many others - are blooming on Mt Lemmon.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Will o' the Whips

Photo by Ned Harris 6/19/2013
Photo by Ned Harris 6/29/2013

Ned has been waiting a long time to 'catch' a Sonoran Whipsnake; Lyn spotted, he 'shot' it. He caught the Coachwhip on his own. More info on all your favorite Arizona Reptiles (and Amphibians) 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Coyote's Tail

Photo by Bill Kaufman's trail camera 6/22/2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Got feet?

Steve was out on Friday, 6/28/2103, the day before the smallest Cooper's Hawk fledged. He writes: 

The young ones are rambunctious, flying from tree to tree, incessantly calling for their parents and devouring whatever the parents bring. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad have the appearance of being worked very hard. All of the birds in these images are fledglings.

Don't eat the feet!

Leggo my leg-o

All Photos by Steve Kessel 6/28/2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

The kids are alright

Ned says:

The runt from the Cooper's Hawk nest fledged today (Saturday 6/29/2013) so all 4 of the youngsters are flying around near the nest tree. Here are a few of the images, more are on flickr.

All photos by Ned Harris 6/29/2013

This one is the 'runt'