Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mt. Lemmon Week

As long-time readers of this blog know, I occasionally post photos from non-Sabino Canyon locations. This is one of those times.

Some of the friends of Ned got together for a Ned-led nature walk on Mt. Lemmon on 7/27/2016. Fortunately, Marty brought his camera : -) I brought the indispensable guide Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona by Frank S. Rose. (If you don't already have this book, I urge you to pick up a copy. It really is the best for the flowers of our area mountains.) I'll start Mt. Lemmon Week with some male flowers.

Photo by Marty Horowitz 7/27/2016

This plant is Fendler's meadow-rue (Thalictrum fendleri) (pg. 155 in Rose), specifically, the male version. Yes, this plant is dioecious, i.e., male flowers and female flowers are on separate plants. Nifty. And relatively uncommon in the plant world. The flowers of the female version of Fendler's meadow-rue aren't as stricking. I'm certain I missed them entirely on this nature walk, there was so much to look at! I even managed to identify some birds as - that's right - birds. Tune in tomorrow for details.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A little bird

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/26/2016

This looks like a female Anna's Hummingbird, to me, so let's go with that until otherwise notified! Definitely nesting in a Velvet Ash (Fraxinus velutina). (New leaves, in particular, are very velvety.)

From our friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, these fun facts about hummingbirds:

Hummingbirds are strictly a New World animal. They fascinated the first Europeans who arrived on the continent. Christopher Columbus wrote about them and many wondered if they were a cross between a bird and an insect (at one point being called “flybirds”). Later, their feathers became fashionable ornaments in Europe (a practice that has thankfully fallen out of favor).
What do you call a flock of hummingbirds? Few animals have so many applicable terms, and none so beautiful. Instead of calling them a flock, choose between a bouquet, a glittering, a hover, a shimmer, or a tune of hummingbirds.

I find it fascinating that these tiny birds can build such sturdy nests (without the benefit of opposable thumbs)!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Frog in Form

Photo by Ned Harris 7/20/2016

Canyon Tree Frog on ledge in restroom near dam

Haven't seen many of these frogs this year, but maybe I haven't been looking in their preferred break room! Unlike the Red-spotted Toads, Canyon Tree Frogs can breed at different times from spring through early monsoon. Some info from Jim Rorabaugh from the Reptiles of Arizona website:

Breeding occurs both in the spring and during the early part of the summer monsoon. The call, given by the male, is a loud, rattling series of short trills that sound like they are coming from inside a tin can. The call is surprisingly loud given the small size of this frog. Calls are heard mostly after dark, but some individuals will call during day, particularly during or after a rainstorm. One hundred or more eggs are laid in a mass that may be free-floating or attached to vegetation. The eggs hatch in less than two weeks and tadpoles typically metamorphose in 45-75 days. Eggs deposited late in the breeding season may overwinter.

What's the difference between frogs and toads, you ask? Here's the phrase to remember: 

All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads,” says Christopher Raxworthy, Associate Curator of Herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History.
(Entire article here.)

In other words, frog is the general term that covers all the creatures who look like frogs. Toads are a specific family of frogs.
Now you know!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

State Butterfly

Photo © Bill Kaufman 7/16/2016

Bill was part of Fred Heath's butterfly count team (7/16/2016), and he took this great photo of the state butterfly of Arizona, the Two-tailed Swallowtail.

As I am fond of saying: In the insect realm, adults have wings.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The 'runner's in the details

Photo by Marty Horowitz 7/20/2016

Click on this close up of a Greater Roadrunner for a look at the beautiful colors on the head. From the link (

A bird born to run, the Greater Roadrunner can outrace a human, kill a rattlesnake, and thrive in the harsh landscapes of the Desert Southwest. Roadrunners reach two feet from sturdy bill to white tail tip, with a bushy blue-black crest and mottled plumage that blends well with dusty shrubs. As they run, they hold their lean frames nearly parallel to the ground and rudder with their long tails.
Roadrunners have evolved a range of adaptations to deal with the extremes of desert living. Like seabirds, they secrete a solution of highly concentrated salt through a gland just in front of each eye, which uses less water than excreting it via their kidneys and urinary tract. Moisture-rich prey including mammals and reptiles supply them otherwise-scarce water in their diet. Both chicks and adults flutter the unfeathered area beneath the chin (gular fluttering) to dissipate heat.

Now you know!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Photo by Arty-Marty Horowitz 7/20/2016

Reflections in a bubble on the creek

Anne says: Thanks so much for your support of this blog and for your kind words! I hope to continue to be part of your day for years to come.

Monday, July 25, 2016

A toad of a different color

On our toad-ally awesome outing on 7/20/2016, Ned and I spotted this unusually pigmented Red-spotted Toad.

Photo by Ned Harris 7/20/2016

Ned asked David Lazaroff for his expert opinion. David wrote:

Something seems to have caused a loss of the typical reddish dorsal ground color. I suppose we should expect to come across some unusual natural variations, especially when such a large group of animals is assembled, but it's also possible that the odd coloration reflects the toad's physiological or emotional state. This isn't so strange. People go pale when frightened or cold, and they blush red when embarrassed or hot. Amphibians and reptiles sometimes change their appearance in similar ways.

Anne says: IOW, maybe s/he's just camera shy : -)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Bubble Gums

As Ned wrote in yesterday's post, only the male Red-spotted Toads make the mating call. (It's nearly deafening when you're in the midst of 50 or so males.) It looks like they're blowing a bubble, but they're really using their vocal sac to enhance the resonance of their call. It didn't seem to me that the females were actively choosing the loudest male; but then again, I thought they were all loud :-)

Photos © Ned Harris 7/20/2016

Don't try this at home!

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Photos and text from Ned Harris 7/20/2016

RED-SPOTTED TOADS mate the first night following the first monsoon flow down Sabino Creek. The call is a high trill lasting 4-10 seconds made by males from the shallows of the creek or nearby on land, in burrows, or under rocks. I have been monitoring the flow meter above the dam since the start of monsoon season. On Tuesday night I saw that water was flowing over the dam, so I set my alarm for 0400 and headed over there Wednesday morning. (Anne says: I tagged along at 0530.) Historically, they are found near the two bridges and such was the case Wednesday (7/20/2016). I heard the loud calls long before I approached the first bridge and just followed the calls to locate the toads. It was well worth the trip. (Anne says: Indeed!). Here are a few of my images:

All Photos © Ned Harris 7/20/2016

Anne says: Ned got so many great photos that I decided to spread this toad-ally cool topic over three days. You're welcome. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Robber in Repose

Photo by Marty Horowitz 7/1/2016

Robber Fly, adult : -) 

And a bonus post from Bug Eric!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gene's scenes

Now for scenes to soothe the savages from Gene Spesard 6/13/2016.

Above the dam, looking downstream

Reflecting in Sabino Creek

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Day of 'rachnid-ing

All Photos copyright Ned Harris 7/5/2016

Be aware, but not afraid, of these great critters!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Night shift: 6 legs

Now for the 6-legged critters from the night shift. And that means insects, of course. REMEMBER, tomorrow is for 8-legged critters!!!

Photos copyright Ned Harris 7/5/2016

Antlion - yes, an adult : -)  More on antlions here!

Palo Verde Root Borer Beetles, mating. A very interesting post on Soronan Desert Toads (with a reference to these beetles) from our favorite bug lady, Margarethe Brummermann.

And finally: Arachnophobes, please ignore tomorrow's post.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Night Shift: 4 legs

Ned worked the night shift in Sabino Canyon on 7/6/2016 and photographed all kinds of critters after dark. I decided to post them over three days to give my Honey-Matt and other arachnophobes out there time to take cover. First up, 4-legged critters; then 6-legged, and finally the 8-legged varieties. Consider yourself warned.

Photos copyright Ned Harris 7/5/2016

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fred finds an oak!

Photos and text from Fred Heath, 7/13/2016

While wandering around Sabino today (7/13) scouting for Saturday’s (7/16's) butterfly count, I came across a new plant for the list: Quercus rugosa (Netleaf Oak). I’m not sure exactly where I was, but I was working my way up the Sabino Creek stream bed, somewhat below the 1-mile marker on the main tram road. Luckily, my camera records the Lat/long info: Lat 32:19:14.9; Long 110:48:34.7.
When I first saw it, I noticed only the leaves, which I know can sometimes be deceiving. However, when I located an acorn out on a long stem, I was sure of the ID.

Underside of leaf

Yes, it's a fruit!

Anne says: There are three other Quercus species in Sabino. Q. emoryi (Emory Oak); Q. hypoleucoides (Silver Leaf Oak), and Q. oblongifolia (Mexican Blue Oak). Hooray!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Two Owl Day

Photos and Text from Mark Hengesbaugh, 7/11/2016

We found two elf owls this morning (July 11, 2016) along Sabino Creek, alerted by racket from a half-dozen tiny birds hopping around in a palo verde. The Elf Owl with the charcoal chest and mostly closed eyes may be a juvenile, the other is an adult. Mobbing is when birds join together to drive out a predator. If you listen and watch for birds of several species in one location making fast, insistent chips, a predator is probably the object of their attention. This mob was comprised of Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, Verdins, a Lucy’s Warbler, and a female Broad-billed Hummingbird. Mobbing deprives an avian predator of the element of surprise, at the least, and s/he also may get poked from behind by an agitated little mobster.

Photos by Mark Hengesbaugh 7/11/2016

Thanks, Mark!

Friday, July 15, 2016

D-back Reflux

A very unusual eating, brought to you by Mark Hengesbaugh and Granny Grant.

Mark writes:

Thank you to Daily Dose subscriber and patroller Grannville “Granny” Grant for alerting us to this unusual sight of a Coachwhip slowly devouring a Western Diamondback rattler on the trail between the parking lot and Bear Bridge this morning (7/9/2016). Size is difficult to get from this photo, but both snakes were about five feet long. The Western Diamondback has 6 rattles.

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 7/9/2016

Mark got an update from Granny: 

He waited around to see the whole process. After 40 minutes the Coachwhip slowly backed away and disgorged the Diamondback uneaten. Granny said the Coachwhip then slowly sniffed the entire length of the upside-down rattler and calmly crawled away. Granny picked up a stick to move the apparently dead rattler that had two puncture wounds on its head and the snake jumped back to life, rattling and striking.

Granny sent me his videos and graciously allowed me to upload to youtube for your viewing pleasure. 

The question remains: how did the coachwhip catch the d-back unawares? Perhaps the d-back was sleeping off a meal. I note that s/he's bulging a bit in the middle!!

Thanks to Mark and Granny for being on the scene in Sabino for this once-in-a-lifetime story! 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Yellow is for Fellow

Bill Kaufman was also by the Button Bush beside the Dam Bridge on 7/6/2016. He photographed this male Carpenter Bee.  

Bill writes: 

There are 3 species of Carpenter Bee in AZ. This one, Xylcopa veripuncta, is the only one of the 3 species that has a yellow male. All others are black. Only the female can sting.

Photo by Bill Kaufman 7/6/2016

Thanks, Bill, for teaching us something new today!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Button Bush Visitors

Photos © Bill Kaufman 6/22/2016

Desert Cloudywing Skipper on Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) flower.

Pipevine Swallowtail on Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Heart for Flowers

Photos copyright Marty Horowitz 6/27/2016

These beauties are blooming along the creek in Sabino Canyon (and along the Mt Lemmon highway). Hooker Evening Primrose (Oenothera elata ssp. hirsutissima) is in the - you guessed it - Evening Primrose Family. Their flowers have 4 heart-shaped petals. You can see the reproductive parts - and a spent flower - in the close up.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Toad futures

Photos by Marty Horowitz 7/1/2016

Sonoran Desert Toad tadpoles - the result of all that cavorting -  take over in Sabino Creek.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Teen One and Teen Two

Remember these cuties? Now they look like this!

Photos by Marty Horowitz 7/1/2016

As Ned has said, juvenile Cooper's Hawks have more of a paint-dripped looking breast (well, that's what I call it; he'd no doubt use a hawk-y term), adults have distinct bars. Adults have red eyes, too.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Blast from Arundo's Past

Jean and Mark Hengesbaugh's work against invasives in Sabino Canyon was featured in the cover story of the most recent Desert Leaf! The article is called: "Caring for the Coronado."

(Click on this link, give it a bit to download, and then flip to page 33:  )

Here's more from Mark's files. (Photos and text by Mark Hengesbaugh.)

Sabino volunteers remove large stands of Arundo donax (Giant Reed) near Bear Bridge in 2009. In all, volunteers worked 6,000 hours to remove the invasive cane, clearing space for Sonoran Desert plants that native wildlife requires.

Peggy Wenrick consults a plant guide

In 2010 and again in 2012, Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists surveyed seven test plots that had formerly been monocultures of invasive Arundo and counted 84 species of plants that had returned.

For more on this story, see this video powerpoint

Kudos to Jean and Mark for getting us organized to get the job done, against all odds (and oddballs : -)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Ring around the 'cushion

Photo by Marty Horowitz 7/1/2016

Rains in June brought out the blossoms on Fishhook Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria grahamii). These tiny cactus can bloom multiple times during the year. Their fruits (yes, the things with the seeds) look like mini chili peppers. They're sweet (or citrus-y, depending on the taster), though, not spicy hot.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sunny with a chance of birds

All photos © Marty Horowitz, All 6/27/2016 except where noted

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, enjoying some tasty Saguaro fruit. Or standing on some, anyway.

Curve-billed Thrasher, looking regal

Male Broad-billed Hummingbird, taking a break on a Foothill Palo Verde

Photo by Marty Horowitz 7/1/2016

Male Phainopepla, still hanging around

Male Purple Martin, outstanding!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

1st of 7th

This is the first post of my seventh year.

With a gentle push from friends, I started blogging about Sabino Canyon six years ago. A lot has changed in those six years, but I like to think that Your Daily Dose of Sabino Canyon has only gotten better. The fantastic photos are the reason this blog even exists, of course, but (again) I like to think I (at least occasionally) add something of value. (I know I've learned a lot.)

I'm grateful for your readership, your kind comments, your wit and wisdom, your sense of humor. I'm exceedingly grateful to all the photographers and guest writers who make doing this a true joy. (I wish I could spend more time on it, actually.) Special thanks goes to Ned Harris, Marty Horowitz, Mark Hengesbaugh, and Fred Heath. (aka HaHoHeHe.)

Eastern Collared Lizard - Photo by Matt Ball, who deserves a smooch

I hope this blog helps you learn about life in Sabino Canyon, brightens your day, and makes you chuckle now and again. As I've written before, I'd rather be independently wealthy than ask perfect friends and perfect strangers for money. But if this blog is worth something to you (a dime a day, perhaps?) and you can afford to make a contribution, please click on the button below to make a secure contribution via PayPal. (You don't need a Paypal account. Click on the button below, fill in the amount, and look for the phrase "Don't have a PayPal account?" If you do have a PayPal account, you can use

If you have a problem, please click here to view the post online. The donate button is on the left.

Your contribution helps keep this blog going, and I sincerely appreciate your support!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Photo copyright Marty Horowitz 6/26/2016

Behold! Beauty is in the eye - and the scales - of this Desert Spiny Lizard! Another great shot by Marty Horowitz!