Thursday, October 31, 2013

Can you see me now?

Photo by Matt Ball 10/14/2013

Look closely for the Ornate Tree Lizard in among the developing Arizona Barrel Cactus fruits (Ferocactus wislizenii).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Photo by Ned Harris 10/12/2013
Is this the shadow of Sak-a-the-trash-a? Or just another Sasquatch doing the fig newton? Either way, it's some gneiss rock in the background.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hummingbird Trumpet

Photo by Marty Horowitz 10/7/2013

This beautiful plant is in the Evening Primrose Family. Marty saw this Hummingbird Trumpet (Epilobium canum ssp latifolium) on the Sabino Dam Trail, in the sandy area north of the dam, on the east side of the creek. These 'like' to be along the creek and can bloom until the first frost, so go take a look!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Leave it!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 10/17/2013

Marty submitted this fine photo of a feather and this reminder to leave it:

Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16U.S.C. 703-712) ... implements a series of international treaties designed to protect migratory birds. Wording of the Act makes it very clear that most actions that result in "taking" or possession of a protected species or its parts or products is a violation of the Act. Specifically, the Act states:

Unless and except as permitted by regulations, …it shall be unlawful at any time, by any means, or in any manner…to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, …possess, offer for sale, sell, …purchase, import…any migratory bird, any part, nest, or eggs of any such bird…

Anne says: That's right, even if you think: "I'm using this for educational purposes." Think again. And leave it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

End of the line

Photo by Ned Harris 10/12/2013

Dragonfly in the web of life. This may be the  the 'web' of the Fall Web Worm. The tiny black dots you see scattered about are 'frass' (German: noun, remains of stuff eaten by an animal); that is to say: non-human animal poop. The Fall Web Worm is the larval stage of the - you guessed it -  Fall Web Worm Moth.

Photo by Ned Harris 9/18/2013

Ned's photo above shows the caterpillars (larvae). They spin this big web enclosure, eat and poop for a few weeks, then leave the web to pupate on the ground among the leaf litter.
How cool is that?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sabino Rocks, 2

Photo by Nancy Carey 10/18/2013

Nancy submitted this beautiful example of Augen (German, noun: eyes). Augen are large, eye-shaped mineral grains visible in metamorphic rocks. This example is in the creek bed off tram road. She thinks (and I agree) that it looks like Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night.

The location of the formation in yesterday's post? The Two-faced Rock of Bridge Two.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sabino Rocks 1

Photo by Nancy Carey 10/18/2013

Nancy will be at her Geology of Sabino Demo Table every Tuesday from 10 to noon starting November 5th. A great place for you and your winter visitors to learn about just how Sabino Canyon rocks.
And another quiz for you: Where is this rock formation? Answer in tomorrow's post.

Yesterday's PSI: Phainopeplas eat Desert Mistletoe berries and - you guessed it - poop out the seeds. I hope the pile from yesterday's post is from more than one bird!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Who dunnit?

Photo by Peggy Wenrick 10/12/2013

Peggy submitted this PSI (Poop-on-the-Scene Investigation) and asks: Who dunnit? Answer in tomorrow's post!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Photo by Ned Harris 10/12/2013

Close up by Marty Horowitz 10/17/2013

When you say 'burr' on these cool mornings, make sure to look for Bur Marigolds (Bidens aurea) blooming along the creek. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wright place to bee

Photos by Marty Horowitz 10/17/2013

Bees on Wright's Bee Flower (Hymenothrix wrightii).
Who was this Wright, anyway? According to the botanary, Charles Wright was a 19th century American botanist who collected (and surveyed) in Texas.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Limber Bush Fruit

Photo by Ned Harris, hand by me 10/12/2013

I posted about this fruit last year and claimed that it was a rare sighting. Carol, Ned, and I saw dozens of these fruits, though, on the limber bushes (Jatropha cardiophylla) along the 'new' trail from the SARA HQ to the road when we walked in during the shutdown. Must be a good year for limber bushes!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Photo by Matt Ball 10/7/2013

A school of Gila Chub in Sabino Creek! Some of the biggest I've seen; several about 8 inches long. Marty got a closer view on 10/15/13.

Photo by Marty Horowitz 10/15//13

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I think it will stink...

Photos by Matt Ball, 10/7/2013

Coming down from Blackett's Ridge on 10/7/13, we stopped short when we saw this skunk. Looked beautifully combed and had no obvious sign of injury, but was dead. Perhaps a tangle with a rattlesnake?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lure a Datura

Photo by Matt Ball 10/4/2013

Bumper crop of Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) in the area above the dam formerly-occupied-by-the-nasty-invasive Giant Reed. These great photos give me the opportunity to do a plant rant! You've been lured!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 10/7/2013

With his X-ray vision, Marty captured the innards of the datura flower. The one long part (sticking out at the top) is a female part; the shorter ones (there are actually 5 in these flowers, one must be hiding) are male parts. In flowering plants, the male parts produce the pollen; the female 'bears' the fruit. [Remember, a fruit is what contains/holds/encapsulates the seed(s).]

Photos by Mark, hand by Jean Hengesbaugh 10/10/2013

Note: You'll want to avoid handling this plant! Touching it can cause an allergic reaction on your skin. As with all living things, reactions aren't the same across species. You may be fine...or not.
We'll assume that the flower Jean is showing has been pollinated (think: fertilized). If it hasn't been pollinated, it won't develop a fruit, i.e., it won't pass on its genetic info to the next generation via the seed (think: baby plant).

Above you see the developing fruit (light green and spiky), along with the remains of the flower. Clearly, this flower got the job done! This flower attracted a pollinator who transferred pollen to the female part. Hooray!

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 10/10/2013

In the foreground, a fruit in a later stage of development. In the upper left, a fruit that's a bit farther along. These fruits are 'ripe' when they look dry and brown. DO NOT EAT any part of this plant - but especially the seeds inside this spiky ball. The seeds are extremely toxic.

Know all of this already? Great! Please spread the word or spread this intro to plant biology. Click on the links on the left to move through the explanations. (Remember, I didn't make it; I'm just linking to it.)

Thanks to the photographers for this plant rant!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bloom on!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 10/7/2013

This Scarlet Creeper (Ipomoea cristulata) is winding its way up a Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).

Photo by Matt Ball 10/7/2013

Wild Cotton (Gossypium thurberi) is blooming, too. Look inside!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 10/7/2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Big Bird

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 10/11/2013

Mark writes:

When birders come to the southern Arizona borderlands, the Rufous-winged Sparrow is one species they want to see. Most of this sparrow's range is in western Sonora, Mexico and it only extends a bit into the U.S. Jan Labiner, Jean and I saw this one by the Bear Bridge today (10-11-13) We had identified a total of 32 bird species for the morning.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Eastern Collared Lizards

Photos by Matt Ball 10/7/2013

My Honey-Matt and I (can walk to Sabino Canyon, and we) hiked Blackett's Ridge on 10/7. No humans on the trail, but we saw two Eastern Collared Lizards. Top one looked like a female, lower one could be a young male.
And a bonus from the internet.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dog and Cat

Photo by Ned Harris 10/4/2013

Wile E. Coyote? 

Photo by Bill Kaufman's camera

(Bob)Cat without hat? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Slug bug

My Honey-Matt has two (very) small lime trees in pots. One fine day I noticed what appeared to be bird poop on one of the leaves. When I tried to flick it off, the poop turned out to be alive. Yes, this is the caterpillar of the Giant Swallowtail butterfly.

Photos by Matt Ball 9/22/2013

More info on these critters here. Even though you won't find them in Sabino Canyon (no citrus trees there), they are simply too bizarre to pass up. And it's my blog, after all : -)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Shine on!

All photos by Marty Horowitz

All photos above are of a Costa's Hummingbird (male, born this year. A female of any age would have a white throat - thanks to Fred Heath for the correction.)

Marty send this info from David Sibley on iridescence in hummingbirds:

…iridescence in hummingbirds: These are structural colors, not pigment, which means they are reflected by microscopic structural features of the feather surface. The surface of the feather is composed of layers of tiny air bubbles. When light strikes the surface of the feather, some light is reflected from the outer surface, and some light travels through the air bubble and reflects off the inner surface. Light with wavelengths that match the thickness of the air bubble are “amplified” [constructive interference, coherent light] as the reflected waves from the inner surface match up and combine with the reflected waves from the outer surface. Other wavelengths are “out of sync” when they combine after reflecting off both surfaces, and they cancel out.

And a bonus photo from Marty of a Broad-billed female.

A big thanks to Marty for this post!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Name that Fruit!

A fruit is the part of the plant that holds/contains/has the seed(s). Doesn't have to be an apple to be a fruit.

Photo by Phil Bentley 9/21/2013

The fruit above (ignore the leaves in the upper left and right corner; they are from a different plant.) is Night-blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggi). (You'll recall the flowers from this post.) This fruit was on the plant in front of the women's restroom by the visitor center. There were two others on this plant, but this was the juiciest-looking fruit!

Photo by Ned Harris 9/16/2013, hand of highly-trained naturalist

These little pepper-like fruits are from a Fishhook Pincushion cactus (Mammillaria grahamii). Flowers look like this.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cocklebur hopper?

Photo by Ned Harris 9/23/2013

Horse Lubber Grasshopper on a Common Cocklebur plant (Xanthisma strumarium).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Who? Me?

Photo by Dancing Snake Nature Photography  10/3/2013

The Serpent Princess of Dancing Snake Nature Photography took this Sonoran Whipsnake by surprise just off the Bluff Trail. Sonoran Whipsnakes aren't venomous, but all snakes will bite if handled. So just leave them alone, and they'll slither on home. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Not Cute

Photos by (not of) Marty Horowitz 9/26/2013

Marty writes:

This guy looks like it grew out of the frost-damaged end of the cactus arm. Not as pretty and popular as its dragonfly cousins, the robber fly is a similarly effective predator. In fact, it counts dragonflies among its prey!

Marty sends more info from this site

The name "robber flies" reflects their notoriously aggressive predatory habits; they feed mainly or exclusively on other insects and as a rule they wait in ambush and catch their prey in flight. ... Asilidae [robber flies] prey on formidable species including stinging Hymenoptera [wasps,bees, ants], powerful grasshoppers, dragonflies and even other Asilidae, in fact practically anything of a suitable size. (emphasis mine)
And I say therefore: Watch your back!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Got Cute?

Photo by Ned Harris 9/23/2013

Harris' Antelope Squirrel taking it easy, using tail for some shade.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Got Chub?

Photo by Ned Harris 9/23/2013

Great Blue Heron hunting for Gila Chub at the base of the dam. Finally located this article about the post-Aspen Fire (2003) relocation and reintroduction (2005) of the Gila Chub.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Photo by Ned Harris 9/2/2013

This is the head piece of a shed snake skin. Don't know which kind of snake, but we do know that snakes have no eyelids. They shed the protective 'scale' over their eyes along with the rest. Note the intact eye scale to the upper right of the tip.

Who was the perp in yesterday's prickly pear shred-a-thon? A javelina. Javelinas bite and pull, taking the fleshy (and juicy) part of the prickly pear pad - without regard for the spines. Other critters - like deer, rabbits, and round-tailed ground squirrels - nibble around the spines.

Friday, October 4, 2013

CSI: Shred-a-thon

Photo by Ned Harris 9/6/2013

Who shredded this prickly pear pad? Answer in tomorrow's post!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"The Canyon never disappoints!"

Photos by Ned Harris 9/18/2013

Ned is fond of saying: "The Canyon never disappoints!" There's always something to see. If you ever find one of my blog posts lacking, turn your attention to Ned's flickr site (bookmark it). I think you'll agree that Ned's photos never disappoint!