Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photos taken by Arizona wildlife photographer Helmut Hussman, 
at the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest.  

Our Bald Eagles will be breeding soon, so remember that access to certain areas of the Salt River will be restricted starting Dec. 1st.  See Bald Eagle Management Program Seasonal Breeding Area Closures.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photos taken at Gilbert Water Ranch
by Arizona Wildlife Photographer Denny Green.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Heroes? Really??

Even the Turkey Vulture doesn't buy it - the "Heroes" of the Salt River are the Salt River Tubing company and their can-tossing customers???  The true heroes of the Salt River are the critters that thrive and survive there despite the constant barrage of litter dumped into their habitat year after year, mainly by the crowds of tubers.

Have you ever seen what it looks like at the Salt River recreation sites the day after Memorial Day?

Who made the decision to allow this area of the Salt River to be taken over each summer by trash-tossing flotillas of drunks?

The next time you stop by the Mesa Ranger Station to buy a Tonto Pass, consider suggesting strongly that they find a more environmentally friendly source of revenue than the slovenly Salt River Tubing company.  How about eco-tourism?  Let's attract visitors who care about the environment.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Magnificent Monarch Rescue

On a recent trip to Singh Farm my friends and I had the good fortune to come across a newly emerged Monarch butterfly, hanging under a pot drying his wings.  My ever-inquisitive friend, Aurora, got up close and was distressed to discover that the butterfly was getting tangled in a spider's web.  (Gail Morris of the Southwest Monarch Study later told us it is a common ploy - as the unsuspecting newby butterfly hangs to dry his wings, the spider starts building a web around him.)

Newly emerged Monarch butterfly beginning to become
entangled by a spider's web.

 Aurora quickly put out a large stem for the butterfly to latch on to, and wallah - he was freed from the spiders trap!  We shared a few peaceful and precious moments as the Monarch stretched out and dried his wings in the warm sunlight.

Other Monarchs were happily flitting around the huge stand of tropical milkweed at Singh Farm. 

Before we knew it, our Monarch was dry and ready for his first flight.  Without any fanfare or pre-flight check list, off he flew into the sunlight.  Aurora watched him, a bit misty-eyed, and said with complete earnest "they grow up so fast".

Monarch chrysalis on a palo verde tree at Singh Farm.

One of the Monarchs tagged by the Southwest Monarch Study feeding on the
tropical milkweed at Singh Farm, October 2012.

Monarch migration in Arizona is winding down, but you can still see oodles of them at Desert Botanical Garden's Butterfly Pavilion now through Nov. 25th.  There is one more opportunity to tag and release butterflies at DBG with members of the Southwest Monarch Study on Thursday, Nov. 15th at 1:30 pm. Reservations can be made by calling 480.481.8188. There is no additional charge for tagging for the general public with paid Garden admission. The tagging is limited to 50 participants.

If you come across and photograph Monarch butterflies while out birding, help Gail in tracking them simply by posting your photos and locations on the Southwest Monarch Study Facebook Page

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Fall Surprise

I thought I was seeing things when I saw the flash of blue at the hummingbird feeder, then I caught a glimpse of the red bill.  It had to be a Broad-billed Hummingbird!  In MY backyard!  Try as I might to get photo documentation of such an unexpected visitor, "Flash" proved to be  too speedy for me to focus on.  So I called in the big guns - who better than bird photographer Jeff Stemshorn - the fastest camera in the west!  What he lacks in stealth, he makes up for in speed.

We tried to photograph Flash at his favorite feeding spot - the okra (or as Jeff calls them "Okra Winfrey") blossoms in my vegetable garden.  But flash didn't like having the jolly green giant cameraman lurking around his blossoms.  So he (Flash, not hid-out in my least favorite shrubbery - my oleanders, ugh.  We watched, and heard, Flash zip back and forth from oleander to feeder to oleander, only changing course to run off an occasional interloping Anna's or Black-chin.

As the temperature plummets today into the 50's and tonight into the 40's I suspect Flash will fly south to warmer climes, or maybe to Boyce Thompson Arboretum to hang with the only other Broad-bills I ever see with regularity.

Farewell my fall friend, thanks for flashing by!

Photos by bird photographer extraordinaire Jeff Stemshorn
Thanks Jeff!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Birding is Better Than Politics

Get your "Why BIRDING is better than American Politics" t-shirt, 
designed by Kenn Kaufman at the Kaufman Nature Shop at Cafe Press!

Do you have an event, bird walk, meeting, or nature walk that belongs on this calendar? Please send info to

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