Saturday, December 31, 2016
Friday, December 30, 2016
Thursday, December 29, 2016
In a world of infinite resources, we could do everything. That is not (yet) our world, though, so we have to make choices. These Desert Bighorn Sheep ask: "Which direction will ewe go in 2017?"
From the link above:
Desert bighorn sheep are stocky, heavy-bodied sheep, similar in size to mule deer. Weights of mature rams range from 115 to 280 pounds (55 to 90 kg), while ewes are somewhat smaller. Due to their unique concave elastic hooves, bighorn are able to climb the steep, rocky terrain of the desert mountains with speed and agility. They rely on their keen eyesight to detect potential predators, such as mountain lions, coyotes, and bobcats, and they use their climbing ability to escape.
Both genders develop horns soon after birth, with horn growth continuing more or less throughout life. Older rams have impressive sets of curling horns measuring over three feet long with more than one foot of circumference at the base. The ewes' horns are much smaller and lighter and do not tend to curl. After eight years of growth, the horns of an adult ram may weigh more than 30 pounds. Annual growth rings indicate the animal's age. The rams may rub their own horns to improve their field of view. Both rams and ewes use their horns as tools to break open cactus, which they consume, and for fighting.
Desert bighorn sheep typically live for 10–20 years. The typical diet of a desert bighorn sheep is mainly grasses. When grasses are unavailable, they turn to other food sources, such as sedges, forbs, or cacti.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Monday, December 26, 2016
(*You may also have noticed a lack of photos from Ned Harris. He'll be out of commission for a while longer, so I'll try to re-run his photos as often as possible.)
If you can afford to, please toss a few coins in the tip jar at PayPal.me/AnneGreenAZ. Your support is greatly appreciated. And your support keeps this blog free of ads (and free for all those who can't afford to donate). Thank you to everyone who contributed in 2016!
Let's work together even more in 2017 to make our world a better place for all!
|Mexican Gray Wolf|
Photo by Ellen Green 12/21/2016
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.
- Rudyard Kipling
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Friday, December 23, 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Monday, December 19, 2016
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
|Photo by Fred Heath 12/15/2016|
Today (Thursday, 12/15/2016) Mary and I were walking up the main tram road, when on the rocky slopes near bridge #2, she noticed and called my attention to a coati. This was quite exciting for me as I’ve never seen a coati in Sabino. The animal looked normal as it climbed the along the cliff going higher. It stopped for a few moments, enabling me to get a decent photo and then continued on its way.
I hate to think negative thoughts, but as there have been several cases of rabid foxes in the area (which might include the dead one between the two Bear Canyon tram road bridges), in the back of my mind I wondered if this sighting of a lone animal out in the open was also the result of the rabies virus. I hope not. In checking on animals that get rabies, I see that coatis are known to contract the disease. Enjoy your coati sightings from a distance.
Thanks, Fred and Mary, for a great sighting and great advice!
Friday, December 16, 2016
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Phainopeplas are sexually dimorphic, i.e., the sexes look different. In the bird world, the males are more colorful and/or more elaborate.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
|Photo by Marty Horowitz 12/7/2016|
The Western Bluebird is a winter visitor to Sabino Canyon. Marty caught this one in mid-deposit. What do these birds eat? Allaboutbirds.org tells us:
During summer Western Bluebirds eat mainly insects; in winter they switch to eating mostly fruits and seeds, supplemented with insects. They typically catch ground-dwelling insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, ants, wasps, and pillbugs, as well as eating spiders and snails. They’ve been seen catching marine invertebrates on beaches. Winter foods include many kinds of berries, particularly elderberry, grapes, mistletoe, raspberries and blackberries, serviceberry, sumac, chokecherries, juniper, and poison oak.
|Photo by Bill Kaufman 12/7/2016|
Monday, December 12, 2016
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Monday, December 5, 2016
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Friday, December 2, 2016
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
All photos by the unflappable Ned Harris
All info from, yes, allaboutbirds.org
Their Ferruginous Hawk page has a photo from Ned : -)
Ferruginous means rust-colored, and refers to the reddish back and legs of light-morph birds (which are more common than dark morphs).
Found in prairies, deserts, and open range of the West, the regal Ferruginous Hawk hunts from a lone tree, rock outcrop, or from high in the sky. This largest of North American hawks really is regal—its species name is regalis—with a unique gray head, rich, rusty (ferruginous) shoulders and legs, and gleaming white underparts. A rarer dark-morph is reddish-chocolate in color. Ferruginous Hawks eat a diet of small mammals, sometimes standing above prairie dog or ground squirrel burrows to wait for prey to emerge.
|Raptor Free Flight at ASDM|
|Acrylic painting by Ellen Green|
My very own offspring painted this Ferruginous Hawk from a photo taken at the Raptor Free Flight.
A story of theft from the archives of Living Bird magazine...
|Juvie Ferruginous Hawk |
Ned took this photo during a banding program he took part in.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
All photos copyright Ned Harris
|Adult Swainson's Hawk|
The Swainson’s Hawk initially suffered from a case of mistaken identity, when a specimen collected in Canada in 1827 and illustrated by William Swainson was confused with the common buzzard (Buteo buteo) of Europe. A nephew of Emperor Napoleon eventually corrected the error: in 1832, while working in Philadelphia, French biologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte identified the hawk as a new species and named it after the original illustrator—although he based his own description on a drawing by John James Audubon.
|Juvenile Swainson's Hawk|
A classic species of the open country of the Great Plains and the West, Swainson’s Hawks soar on narrow wings or perch on fence posts and irrigation spouts. These elegant gray, white, and brown hawks hunt rodents in flight, wings held in a shallow V, or even run after insects on the ground. In fall, they take off for Argentine wintering grounds—one of the longest migrations of any American raptor—forming flocks of hundreds or thousands as they travel.
Though they can be quite variable, most Swainson’s Hawks are light-bellied birds with a dark or reddish-brown chest and brown or gray upperparts. They have distinctive underwings with white wing linings that contrast strongly with blackish flight feathers. Most males have gray heads; females tend to have brown heads. Dark individuals also occur; these vary from reddish to nearly all black, with reduced contrast on the underwings.
Tomorrow's hawk: Ferruginous
Monday, November 28, 2016
Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT.
Ospreys migrate through southern Arizona and are known to fish in koi ponds, as these photos by Ned Harris of a juvenile Osprey show.
|All photos © Ned Harris|
According to the link above:
Ospreys are brown above and white below, and overall they are whiter than most raptors. From below, the wings are mostly white with a prominent dark patch at the wrists. The head is white with a broad brown stripe through the eye. Juveniles have white spots on the back and buffy shading on the breast.
|Here's an adult Osprey|
And to complete this osprey entry...
|Photo © Ned Harris|
The V-22 Osprey is a tilt rotor military aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability.
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Info from Peregrine Falcon pages at allaboutbirds.org:
Powerful and fast-flying, the Peregrine Falcon hunts medium-sized birds, dropping down on them from high above in a spectacular stoop. They were virtually eradicated from eastern North America by pesticide poisoning in the middle 20th century. After significant recovery efforts, Peregrine Falcons have made an incredible rebound and are now regularly seen in many large cities and coastal areas.
Adults are blue-gray above with barred underparts and a dark head with thick sideburns. Juveniles are heavily marked, with vertical streaks instead of horizontal bars on the breast. Despite considerable age-related and geographic variation, an overall steely, barred look remains.
Steely look, indeed!
Tomorrow: Got koi?
Saturday, November 26, 2016
You'll want to check out the link at All About Birds for the American Kestrel. As you might expect, Ned has a photo on there!
From the link:
North America’s littlest falcon, the American Kestrel packs a predator’s fierce intensity into its small body. It's one of the most colorful of all raptors: the male’s slate-blue head and wings contrast elegantly with his rusty-red back and tail; the female has the same warm reddish on her wings, back, and tail. Hunting for insects and other small prey in open territory, kestrels perch on wires or poles, or hover facing into the wind, flapping and adjusting their long tails to stay in place.
|Photo © Ned Harris|
Male American Kestrel
|Photo © Ned Harris|
Also from the site above:
It can be tough being one of the smallest birds of prey. Despite their fierce lifestyle, American Kestrels end up as prey for larger birds such as Northern Goshawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Barn Owls, American Crows, and Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, as well as rat snakes, corn snakes, and even fire ants.
American Kestrels nest in cavities, although they lack the ability to excavate their own. They rely on old woodpecker holes, natural tree hollows, rock crevices, and nooks in buildings and other human-built structures. The male searches for possible nest cavities. When he’s found suitable candidates, he shows them to the female, who makes the final choice. Typically, nest sites are in trees along wood edges or in the middle of open ground.
Tomorrow's post: Peregrine Falcon
Friday, November 25, 2016
I'm occasionally asked to go beyond "big bird" when identifying creatures in flight, so I thought I'd review raptors using photos from Ned "Raptor Man" Harris. First up, Red-tailed Hawks.
|All photos by Ned Harris|
As Ned wrote on page 26 in A Naturalist's Guide to Sabino Canyon, the adult Red-tailed Hawk is:
19" long with 4 ft wingspan, broad wings and a short tail, frequently seen soaring over Sabino Canyon. Adult has a red tail.
Note the reddish feathers in the photo above. As always, click photo for larger view.
Front view of adult
In flight, all ages show dark marks (patagial marks) on leading edge of the wing adjacent to the body.
You can clearly see these patagial marks in the photo above. Also note the reddish cast to the tail.
As with all living things, there are variations in the same species. This is an adult rufous-morph Red-tailed Hawk. Rufous refers to the cinnamon-brown color on the body and wings; morph simply means form or variety.
For our final number...Red-tailed Hawk landing on saguaro!
Tomorrow, American Kestrals - photos from Ned Harris, of course.