Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mothers with Babies (or sometimes dads): Bobcat

Male Bobcats generally begin breeding by their second summer, though females may start as early as their first year. A dominant male will travel with a female and mate with her several times, generally from winter until early spring; this varies by location, but most mating takes place during February and March. The pair may undertake a number of different behaviors, including bumping, chasing, and ambushing. Other males may be in attendance, but remain uninvolved. During courtship, the otherwise silent bobcat may let out loud screams, hisses, or other sounds. Research in Texas suggested that establishing a home range is necessary for breeding as studied animals with no set range had no identified offspring. The female has an estrous cycle of 44 days, with the estrus lasting five to ten days. Bobcats remain reproductively active throughout their lives.
The female raises the young alone. One to six, but usually two to four, kittens are born in April or May, after roughly 60 to 70 days of gestation. There may sometimes be a second litter, with births as late as September. The female generally gives birth in some sort of enclosed space, usually a small cave or hollow log. The young open their eyes by the ninth or tenth day. They start exploring their surroundings at four weeks and are weaned at about two months. Within three to five months they begin to travel with their mother. They will be hunting by themselves by fall of their first year and usually disperse shortly thereafter.

Bobcat with six month old Kitten 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mothers with Babies (or sometimes dads): Black Bear

Black Bears:  Sows usually produce their first litter at 3–5 years. The breeding period usually occurs in the June–July period, though it can extend to August in its northern range (Canada). The breeding period lasts for 2–3 weeks. Sows tend to be short tempered with their mates after copulating. The gestation period lasts 235 days, and litters are usually born in late January to early February. Litters usually consist of two cubs, though litters of 6 have been recorded. At birth, cubs weigh 10–16 ounces, and measure 8 inches in length. They are born with fine, gray, downlike hair, and their hind quarters are underdeveloped. They typically open their eyes after 28–40 days, and begin walking after 5 weeks. Cubs are dependent on their mother's milk for 30 weeks, and will reach independence at 16–18 months. At the age of six weeks, they attain 2 lb, by 8 weeks they reach 5 lb and by the age of 6 months they weigh 40–60 lb. They reach sexual maturity at the age of three years, and attain their full growth at 5 years.

Black Bear with Two Cubs (6 to 8 weeks old)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mothers with Babies (or sometimes dads): Bison

Going through my photos I realized I have a number of Mothers and/or Fathers with their youngsters. So, why not a couple of posts about Animal Families, starting with the American Bison.

Bison mate in August and September; gestation is 285 days. A single reddish-brown calf nurses until the next calf is born. If the cow is not pregnant, a calf will nurse for 18 months. Bison cows are mature enough to produce a calf at 3 years of age. Bison bulls may try to mate with cows at 3 years of age, but if more mature bulls are present, they may not be able to compete until they reach 5 years of age.

American Bison with Calf

Monday, June 27, 2011

Black Tailed Jackrabbit

 It is interesting that we don't see coyotes and bobcats as much during the summer. They are still are around, but probably under cover for most of the daylight hours. The result is that the rabbits -- especially the more common and abundant Desert Cottontails, seem to be having a convention here every day. Normally when you walk toward a wild animal -- especially rabbits -- they run away. But here, they seem to have learned that I am not interested in harming them so they just watch me as I walk toward them and go into the office. If I keep going beyond the office (and toward them) then they run. The Jackrabbits are a little more skidish here than at Saguaro National Park. They tend to freeze allowing wonderful photos in Saguaro Park. Here they run. Go figure that. Anyway, a Black Tailed Jackrabbit has been coming around every day in the late afternoon. They like the Mesquite Tree pods that are now falling to the ground.  So, I was able to get some photos.

Black Tailed Jackrabbit

Black Tailed Jackrabbit munching on a Mesquite Tree pod

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lakeside Park - II

Just a couple more photos from Lakeside park:

Juvenile Vermillion Flycatcher

Great Tailed Grackle

Northern Mockingbird


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Black Crowned Night Heron: Lakeside Park

With all the mountain ranges closed due to fires or fire hazards, I have to look at other places for wildlife opportunities. So, this morning at 5:30 I headed over to Lakeside Park here in Tucson. Since it is a Saturday, and there are fish in the lake, I wasn't close to being the first one there. But, no matter, the Black Crowned Night Herons didn't seem to mind. I found an adult (presumably the mother) with two babies. Well, babies really aren't the right term because they are nearly the size of their mother now. But, they still have their juvenile plumage. Here are some of those photos:

Adult Black Crowned Night Heron

Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron #1

Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron #2

Adult Black Crowned Night Heron

Adult and Two Juvenile Black Crowned Night Herons

Friday, June 24, 2011

Back From Vaction

What a wonderful vacation! No animal photos, but lots of landscapes -- and, of course family photos. As I have said before, I am not a professional landscape photographer. So, don't expect too much. There are probably a thousand (more) just like them. But, here are a few of the landscapes:

Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park

On the way into Canyonlands National Park

Cowboy Campsite along Cave Spring Trail, Canyonlands National Park

Spring inside Cave Spring Trail, Canyonlands National Park
The most impressive petroglyph site I've seen: Canyonlands National Park

Our Pack Creek Cabin was at the foot of Laslo Mountain (Moab)
Wilson Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Skyline Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Valley of the Goblins (a State Park in Utah)

Goblin State Park, Utah

One Room Schoolhouse, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Petroglyphs, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

vacation: Day VII

Now we are headed back to Flagstaff.

Mexican Bird of Paradise, familiar to Southern Arizona

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

vacation: Day VI

We are headed out to Capitol Reef National Park.

Here is another favorite. Just a puff ball, but isn't it wonderful.

Monday, June 20, 2011

vacation: Day V

Another Day in Arches.

One of my very first "Non-Animal" photos. Water Lilies from Ernst Lake in British Columbia,  1991.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vacation: Day IV

After a day in Canyonlands National Park we are off to Arches National Park.

Another photo that looks like a painting: Ivyleaf Morning Glory

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Vacation Day III

Now, we are off to Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

Mexican Hat Coneflowers

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vacation: Day II

We have gathered up our grandchildren (Noah and Ruby) and with Matt and Rung are off to Mesa Verde, Colorado.

One of my favorite Prickly Pear Cactus photos.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ah, Vacation!

Christine and I will be gone for the next seven days visiting some of the National Parks in Colorado and Utah. While we are gone I'll have a photo each.

Today we pick up our son Matthew and his wife Rung in Phoenix. (They live in Hawaii). Then on to Flagstaff for the night.

This cactus has produced wonderful flowers every year. Not this year though. All but one of those branches died during our record freeze. We see how the remaining branch does over the next year or so.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lucifer Hummingbird

The Lucifer Hummingbird is a very attractive small hummingbird of about 3 1/2 inches with a very distinctive long decurved bill which sets it apart from other hummingbirds in the US. The male's magenta gorget is also very long and streaked. Buffy flanks and rufous tail are also distinguishing characteristics. They can be found in the Chisos Mountains of Southwestern Texas, and the southern ends of the Chiricahua and Huachuca Mountains of Southeast Arizona. 

To find them in those locations is not easy, though. They are migratory, so only come into the US for the Summer (actually April through September). There are three premier Hummingbird Feeding sites in the Southern end of the Huachucas: Ramsey Canyon, Miller Canyon, and Ash Canyon. These canyons are separated by no more than 7 miles, yet Lucifer will rarely be found in Ramsey or Miller Canyons. With restrictions on hummingbird feeders in Big Bend National Park (Chisos Mountains), Ash Canyon B&B and the hummingbird feeders in Portal on the southeast side of the Chiricahuas remain the only reliable places to find and photograph Lucifer in the US. The key word here is reliable. That is to say if you wanted to find and photograph Lucifer those would be your best if not the only choices.

Lucifers are not abundant and do not hang around the feeders. Typically they fly in, drink from a feeder, then immediately fly away (far out of sight). I have been to Ash Canyon (Bed and Breakfast) several times and been lucky a third of the time. But, I have also talked with others that have spent six hours there without seeing one. This hummer requires patience. First to see one, and second to photograph one hovering or in a tree. Most cameras (and photographers) are not fast enough to auto focus while hovering. So, the trick is to focus on a particular feeder and then recenter on the hummer without changing the focus when one approaches. This means you must be ready at all times. It may be 30 minutes to an hour between visits to a feeder if around at all.

Occasionally you get lucky and one flies up to a branch above the feeder to clean its bill like this male.

And, once in a while one will come to the tree before going to the feeder like this female.

Males will often sit "hunched" like this one.

Courting behavior is unique. Instead of chasing each other like most hummers, they do a face off like this pair. I was able to take five photos of this "action" before they both fly away. Notice how the male extends his gorget out in his courtship routine, similar to some of the 'birds of paradise."
(Click on the photo to enlarge and get a better view).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ash Canyon on the Return

From Whitewater Draw I went south along the US/Mexico border to the wonderful little mining town of Bisbee. Then continued toward Coronado National Monument (which was closed due to fire hazard) and the last of the accessible canyons in the Huachuca Mountains. The Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast is located at the food of Ash Canyon. And, since it is private -- it wasn't closed. It is one of the premier birding sites in Arizona -- well, or anywhere for that matter. Birds I have photographed in the last two months are: Acorn Woodpecker, Arizona Woodpecker, Ladderback Woodpecker, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Lazuli Bunting, White Breasted Nuthatch, Bridled Titmouse, Scotts Oriole, Bullocks Oriole, Black Headed Grosbeak, Wild Turkeys, Chipping Sparrow, House Sparrow, and a whole host of other Sparrows.... I mean the list goes on -- and on. But it is also a premier Hummingbird site. We get Anna's, Costa's, Broad Billed, Broad Tailed, and the occasional Calliope here at The Azure Gate. At the Ash Canyon feeders you will also find the Black Chinned, Magnificent, Rufous, and the Lucifer Hummingbird. Today, I show you two photos from this most recent trip to Ash Canyon: Acorn Woodpecker and Scotts Oriole. Tomorrow I do an article on the Lucifer Hummingbird.

Acorn Woodpecker

Scotts Oriole

Monday, June 13, 2011

Whitewater Draw

From Lake Cochise I went on to Whitewater Draw, whose primary claim to fame is the 40,000 Sandhill Cranes that visit from December to March every year. It also gets a fair share of Snow and Ross' Geese as well. During the summer it is quite different, though. First there is only one pond left. All the others, including the big one that the Cranes and Geese use, are dry. The one "summer" pond is the deepest (I would guess no more than six feet when full, though). Because it holds some water all year it gets a lot of vegetation during the summer which brings all sorts of birds. Here are a few photos from my time at Whitewater Draw yesterday.

Lesser Nighthawk


American Avocet
(I like its almost "abstract" look - click to enlarge and see).

White Faced Ibis
(You can see there are only a few inches of water left in this part of the pond).

Snowy Egret

Red Winged Blackbird

Great Horned Owl
(Okay, this guy is here year round).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lake Cochise

June is the hottest month of the year in Tucson and we don't get a lot of guests. So, off I went at 4:30 this morning. Unfortunately, Arizona has several fires going right now and most of the mountain ranges are closed. That being the case I headed out to Lake Cochise, Whitewater Draw, and Ash Canyon. Lake Cochise is near the town of Willcox in Southeast Arizona. It is the last town before heading East to the Chiricahuas  or North to the Galiuros. The town itself always seems deserted -- a great many closed and boarded up buildings, motels, etc. Willcox is famous for some produce, especially its tomatoes. Lake Cochise is just outside of town heading to Chiricahua National Monument. The lake is hard to predict, though -- especially in the summer. But I found some American Avocets, a couple of Black Necked Stilts, Killdeer, White Faced Ibis, Scaled Quail, and a couple of Black Tail Jackrabbits. 
American Avocets

White Faced Ibis

Scaled Quail

Black Tailed Jackrabbit