Nature Lovers Corner Birding

If you see a group of birds together and call it a "flock," you may be missing an opportunity to brighten your language and impress your friends. You’re probably familiar with a few of these a… Read more

Desert rats like myself don’t handle cold well, so after two and a half inches of snow and a few hours of sub-freezing temperatures in early January, my thoughts turned to spring. Warmer weath… Read more

Last July, when it was really, really hot, we had no inclination to go look for birds. But in spite of staying indoors, we still managed to add a new bird to our life list, thanks to publicati… Read more

Ask any good birder the best place to find birds, and you’ll likely hear some reference to water: a lake, a pond, a river, a creek, a shoreline and so on. Most birds like to hang out around wa… Read more

If you’re a serious birder, you don’t just pack your binoculars and camera for long trips to exotic places like Brazil or South Africa; you take advantage of every opportunity to see birds dur… Read more

Forty-six years ago, John Denver celebrated the state of Colorado with a mostly incoherent song called “Rocky Mountain High.” The lyrics stumble around the mountains, singing about getting cra… Read more

So far, we have documented about 150 species of birds in SaddleBrooke. One of the most secretive and interesting of these is a lightweight not much larger than a hummingbird, but with more syl… Read more

As is my habit, I strolled outside at seven this morning, followed our slate walk to the driveway, picked up the papers and headed back. As usual, I paused under the giant 24-year-old mesquite… Read more

Due to a few simple twists of fate, we’ve been “stuck in Dodge” this summer enjoying an unending string of phenomenal monsoons instead of our usual getaway to the foggy coast of Oregon. Howeve… Read more

We didn’t intentionally plan this, but scheduling vagaries put us on three train trips to three canyons over three weeks in March - a triple-header spring fling. Two of the trips were part of … Read more

Not sure why, but for some unexplained reason we’ve seen more Gambel’s Quail this year than usual. On our quarterly Tucson Bird Counts along the Canada del Oro Wash and along Willow Springs Ro… Read more

We get plenty of advice when it comes to interior decorating, but fewer suggestions when our yards are involved. More often than not, those limited ideas seldom consider all the creatures we s… Read more

Hummingbirds, those amazing little winged marvels that seem to burn more energy than they consume, are pushovers when it comes to attracting birds to your yard. Flowers are the simplest way to… Read more

If, like millions of other folks, you hang sugar water feeders in your yard to attract hummingbirds, you’ll know this article isn’t about sex education. I get lots of mail from hummingbird lov… Read more

There are two species of vultures found in the U.S. and both are seen in southern Arizona. For the most part, Turkey Vultures (the more widespread and common) are Arizona migrants, flying up f… Read more

Having just returned from the far southern reaches of South America, it seems appropriate to write about the most popular bird from that part of the world, the penguin. Unafraid of humans (the… Read more

It’s hard to imagine living in a place without hummingbirds, but most people in the world will never see one. Although three percent of the planet’s 10,000 bird species are hummingbirds, they … Read more

Arizona draws a lot of retirees for a lot of reasons, but if you love birds that could be reason enough. More than 600 species have been recorded here, including 16 different hummingbirds. If … Read more

As anyone who has seen the movie “The Big Year” knows, unusual weather can lead to unusual birding, and on April 10 we had both. An abnormal monsoon-like storm front swept into the Tucson area… Read more

Compared with other outdoor activities like pickleball or biking, birding requires less equipment and burns fewer calories. And, unless you’re on a quest to see all of the world’s 10,000 speci… Read more

Before “Jurassic Park” was published in 1990, most people thought of birds when they heard the word “raptor.” The book and Stephen Spielberg’s movie, though, gave a new perspective to raptors,… Read more

Mexico’s peninsula state, aptly named Baja (lower) California, is always a delightful destination, but February might be the best time to visit. Amazing birds are seen at any time of the year,… Read more

If you’re looking for a bird-oriented holiday outing designed for kids, grandkids and adults too, there’s a great option less than an hour from SaddleBrooke. The Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch … Read more

Having hundreds of species never seen in the U.S. and a border just an hour from Tucson, Mexico is a natural magnet for Arizona birders. But birding by car in Mexico is a little more complicat… Read more

Catalina State Park is one of Arizona’s state park gems, and remarkably the nearest one to a major population center. The park was established in 1983, and consists of 5,493 acres of high dese… Read more

In case you haven’t heard, Arizona has an oceanfront beach after all. Of course, you have to travel across 60 miles of Mexico to get to it, and, yes, Mexico does claim ownership, but Google “A… Read more

With nine active sugar water feeders, we feed a lot of hummingbirds in our yard. We’ve recorded all seven of SaddleBrooke’s known species, including the only reported Calliope. We see plenty o… Read more

A year ago, Prudy and I flew to Cancun, rented a car and drove 2,000 miles around the Yucatan Peninsula, looking for and photographing Mayan ruins and birds. Apparently we had a good time, bec… Read more

Here in SaddleBrooke, summer months are nursery months for baby quail. We see Greater Roadrunners year-round, but we see a lot more of them during baby quail season. Roadrunners are drawn to b… Read more

Beginning 60 some years ago with a high school Spanish class in a broken down bus from Kansas City, I have traveled to Mexico far too many times to count. One reason we retired in Arizona was … Read more

One of the few bird groups with a name sillier than woodpecker is the sapsucker. To make matters worse, the poor sapsuckers are actually part of the woodpecker family, Picidae. In North Americ… Read more

One of our favorite SaddleBrooke birds is the Verdin. This tiny bird is inquisitive and friendly, and will brighten anyone’s day. A Verdin often is overlooked as just another ubiquitous, anony… Read more

Like a lot of other folks, you might think Edgar Allen Poe when someone mentions ‘raven’, and in fact many western poets, authors and cultures have associated the raven with danger and death. … Read more

When November rolls around, thoughts turn to Thanksgiving, being thankful and inevitably, turkeys. Whether turkeys think about our holiday has yet to be proven, and except for the annually par… Read more

If you are an Arizona grandparent with grandkids graduating in Virginia and Connecticut in the summer, you go. If you are a birder, you take your binoculars. We just returned from such a trip,… Read more

Probably our most striking set of summertime visitors are members of the genus Icterus, the New World orioles. Orioles are part of the family Icteridae, a group that includes seemingly unrelat… Read more

Development of Cancun as a tourist destination was begun in January 1970, when there were just three residents. The last census in 2010 reported 628,306 residents. Today, Cancun is Mexico’s pr… Read more

Look up information on Costa Rica and you will find it compared with the state of West Virginia in size. This is a bit of a stretch, since West Virginia is nearly a fourth larger than the Cent… Read more

Because Storm Chasers get lots of publicity on television, most of us are familiar with these daredevils that grab their video recorders, hop in their cars and head for the center of weather-r… Read more

If I were to pick one month to get out of Arizona, it would be June. The lower desert elevations of Yuma and Phoenix are furnace hot, and even Tucson, at 2,000 feet, and SaddleBrooke, at 3,400… Read more

Home to some of the best watching in the country, southeast Arizona actually has four birding ‘seasons’. Our resident birds, like Cactus Wrens, Curve-billed Thrashers, and Northern Cardinals l… Read more

Costa Rica has always been a desirable destination for travelers, as well as vacation and permanent homebuyers. There are good reasons for this popularity: the scenery is beautiful; the people… Read more

This year will mark the 113th consecutive year that the annual ‘Christmas’ Bird Count takes place. As you might imagine, the count has changed a lot in 113 years. Although the first count happ… Read more

It’s hard to imagine living in a place without hummingbirds, but most people in the world are not likely to ever see one. Better than three percent of the planet’s 10,000 bird species are humm… Read more

Try as you might, you won’t find all of Arizona’s warblers, woodpeckers or sparrows in your SaddleBrooke yard, but it is possible to spot all four of Arizona’s towhees. I know this is true, be… Read more

Not that long ago it was thought that putting hummingbird feeders out in the winter would encourage birds to hang around past the time they might normally migrate south. This concern has been … Read more

Since owls and hawks are both raptors (from the Latin rapere,” to seize) and they share morphological and behavioral traits, originally they were thought to be close relatives. However, with t… Read more

What do catbirds, thrashers and mockingbirds have in common?  If you answered they all mimic other birds, you’d be right.  Although a number of birds play at mimicking other birds, mockingbird… Read more

Nature Lovers Corner Naturalists

Over the years I have often been called to remove “baby Gila Monsters” from garages, patios and gardens of residents only to find a Banded Gecko. This soft, delicate and fragile 4-6 inch lizar… Read more

About a year ago while I was exhibiting a Gila Monster at the “Nature Program at Catalina State Park” a visitor said to me “Isn’t it nice that the Gila Monster has such a pretty Southwest desi… Read more

I first took pictures of the coyotes I call Sally and her daughter, Suzi, in October 2014. They were hunting for food on the SaddleBrooke golf course. I followed them for over an hour; they we… Read more

“I may be amiss. I have never observed a dead specimen closely, which is not a bad thing of course, but it is hard to evaluate the color of feathers from a great distance (which is why Audubon… Read more

Several years ago a young hummingbird that had been blown out of its nest was brought in to the rescue center; as it grew, I wondered how it would learn the intricacies of hummingbird flight. … Read more

I do not like the concept of glue traps. One of the cruelest methods of killing animals that exists today is the glue trap. These devices consist of pieces of cardboard or plastic coated with … Read more

One night last May, my naturalist friends and I, were cruising a back road near SaddleBrooke looking for “critters” when suddenly a young mountain lion crossed the road and trotted along in fr… Read more

One night as I was resting my eyes waiting for Jay Leno to come on TV, I heard a tap, tap, tap on the sliding glass door. As I went outside, I saw a familiar shape in the shadows. It was “Old … Read more

“Ladybug ladybug fly away home, your house is on fire and your children are gone.” Remember Ladybugs? Of course you do! However, they are not bugs, they are beetles. They are actually called L… Read more

The Great Horned Owl had been waiting patiently on a SaddleBrooke rooftop. Suddenly she spots movement on a Barrel cactus. It’s a White-throated wood rat, her favorite food! She launches off h… Read more

Ever since reading “Voyage of the Beagle” as a young man, I dreamed of some day visiting the Galapagos Islands. Just think - I could see the finches, the Blue-footed boobies, and the giant tor… Read more

Recently a friend of mine was walking his leashed dog on the golf course when it was attacked by two coyotes. Luckily he was able to retrieve his pet with only minor physical damage and perhap… Read more

Round-tailed Ground Squirrels (Spermophilus tereticaudus)are a common sight during the spring and summer here in SaddleBrooke. These small, ground-dwelling squirrels are quite active during th… Read more

With the warming of March and April I am often asked, “Are the snakes back?” Well actually the snakes did not go anywhere. They do not migrate to warmer climes and only become dormant or inact… Read more

Sometimes, I get excited by very small things. The other day, while preparing to do some photography in my studio, I noticed a peculiarly folded blade of grass stitched together with silk. Upo… Read more

A bird of prey, like a hawk or an eagle, soaring high in the sky has an unlimited field of vision and relies on its eyesight and hearing to “sense” its world. What about the snake or lizard? H… Read more

Did you ever wonder how a butterfly gets around? Its erratic flight and speed would seem to make it difficult to escape its predators, find a mate, or even locate food. Read more

When I see the tiny little blue butterflies fluttering around the rosemary plants next to our turtle pond I am reminded of the very unusual relationships that have evolved between some of the … Read more

My friend and fellow naturalist, Larry, often visited and we traveled together in the summer months. Larry was the spider guy mentioned in the October issue of “Naturalists View.” Larry had be… Read more