|One of the kids|
June 7, Brown-headed Cowbirds. If they arrive late - which they always seem to do, the host birds are at least raising their first brood without interference
May 21. Shortly before 5 pm I heard again the intense keening sounds of the Kestrels in the eastern Saguaro area of our property. But by the time I had binoculars and camera, there was nothing going on.
I watched dozens of feedings of the Gila chicks in an arm of the closest Saguaro, but no Kestrels.
At this time, I do not really know where the Kestrel nest would be, but observation and whitewash on the ground have told me where the male often hangs out: a dead Palo Verde in the middle between our eastern Saguaros and one right on the border to the quarry. After a while I saw the Dark Female Redtail searching along the slope of the Twin Peak and the ravine. Just when I thought her presence spoke against a Kestrel territory, the male showed up and attacked her. He looked as small as a mosquito against her bulk. But he has courage and agility. Still she kept patrolling the mountainside. I stood for another eternity and was ready to leave when suddenly, out of nowhere, a female Kestrel came from the east and, high over my head, met the male flying in from the west. Noisy greeting, than they landed on the Palo Verde, a few feet apart. He kept keening, she looked very disheveled. Then I realized that the scrubby part was not her brood-patch but a dead bird she was clutching. The male must have transferred it to her when she greeted him in the air. He left, she fed. For a long time she seemed to have no intention to stop eating before the whole thing was gone. She changed position on the branch several times, preened a bit, ate some more. But finally, she took the left overs and flew to the saguaro by the fence - slipped into the hole where a tribe of bees lived years ago. So fast that I nearly missed it. No sound from inside, the chicks must still be very small.
PS The female had very pale markings compared with the one in the picture which I took some years ago when they nested here. . I first thought that she might be a fledgling (I did not want to go too close) But the expert way she handled the big prey spoke against her being a chick and also that she flew into the saguaro cavity afterwards.
May 17, Trasher chicks have been following their parents around for weeks now (maybe not always the same ones) They were screaming and demanding to be fed even if food was right in front of them. But Saguaro flowers full of nectar (in the morning) are irresistible. They are eating by themselves! .
May 17, Gilded Flicker chicks are out of the nest. The parents were so quiet while rearing them so far, but now they are screaming and gigking all over
May 13, one of 2 RDH chicks is still in the nest. Mom seems to get impatient with him. On 5/15 he is finally gone as well.
May 5: Ashthroated Flycatchers very vocal, fledglings are fluttering around. Redtails: 1 of 2 big chicks is still in the nest, looks pretty ready to fly.
April 30 Harris Hawks are very active over the neighborhood. One youngster has buff spots under his hand-wings that were very confusing But then he not only joined the other 4 (?) but also landed - no question about his identity anymore
April 30 the red-tail chicks are stretching their wings, seeming eager to fly. Pyrrhuloxia chirping up a storm with second male in hearing distance
Black-headed Grossbeak at feeder
April 17 lesser Nighthawks purring away at night. Whip-poor-will calls. English Sparrow
April 16 A Green-talied Towhee across the street at Frank's and I also saw one at Tohono Chull
April 15: a European Starling on the phone line where ProRodeo crosses Magee. That was the closest to our place they have come (that I know of)
I am watching a pair of Black tailed Gnatcatchers through my studio window right now. The Kestrel pair is still hanging out on our Eucalyptus tree or a power pole every morning and evening as if they have no breeding to do (they do copulate often enough though) White-winged Doves are back, White throated Sparrows are singing constantly, and the Gila Woodpecker pair that frequents our humming bird feeder seems to be taking residence in the huge saguaro right at our patio. He was hammering away for a long time in there this morning. I know they would be noisy neighbors this close to our breakfast table. We'll see!
During luch I heard the harsh call of an Oriole - arrived just in time for the first blooming Aloe Vera candles. It took off in a flash of yellow, too fast to tell if it was a Bullocks that may soon move on to higher elevations or a Hooded that may stay to nest here.
There were suddenly singing male Pyrrholoxia in front and back yard and the state land and I saw 1 female. The burst of activity lasted for a couple of days, then slowed down. Were they just migrating through? They used to be around, and territorial, for most of the season in other years. I hope they are hanging around again.
Beginning of March
we see male and female Northern Cardinal at the hanging feeder and in the bushes of the dog run. They used to breed here - Ingrid took a photo of a nesting female in 2005. But for year we had only singles males that quickly moved on.
In our backyard, in order of observation, Jan 1 till early March 2019:Gila Woodpecker, Costa's and Anna's Hummer, Housefinch, Verdin, Curvedbill Trasher, Mourning Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Ladderback Woodpecker, Gamble's Quail, Redtail Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Common Raven and Harris Hawk. Gilded Flicker, Black tailed Gnatcatcher, Cooper's Hawk and Phainopepla, Black throated Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, N Mockingbird, Kestrel, Black Vulture, Road Runner, Pyrrhuloxia, White-crowned Sparrow. Abert's Towhee, singing. Great-horned Owl. Lesser Goldfinches, Cactus Wren, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Ashthroated Flycatcher, Prairie Falcon. Pyrrhuloxia 3 territorial males finally on March 19.
Whit-winged Dove, Oriole 3/25.
Seen in other locations
Sweet water (Jan 2019) Pied -billed Grebe, black crowned Night Heron, Mallard, Am Wigeon, N. Shoveler, Cinnamon Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, Wood Duck, Am Coot, Sora, Blacl Phoebe, Vermillion FK,
Christopher Columbus Pond (Jan 2019) Great Blue Heron, Great Egret
FountainHills (Feb. 2019) Eared Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Killdeer, E. Starling, Great Grackle
Santa Cruz River: (March 2019): Northern Harrier, Swallow, Red-shouldered Blackbird
Sabino Canyon (Feb 2019): W. Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing
Kitt Peak March 21, still some snow in shady corners: Mexican Jays, Bridled Titmice