Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Baby Great Horned Owl - June 19

At dawn this morning our baby Great Horned Owl was sitting near the top of that same little tree next to our courtyard:

30 minutes later he had settled in a little lower in the same tree. It's hard not to want to hold this little guy to you chest and give him a hug. Probably not a good idea. Just admire -- and love from a distance.

Baby Great Horned Owl - June 18

Our baby Great Horned Owl has now gotten a little bolder. He has moved into a small tree next to our courtyard, just on the other side of the wall:

Here a little later in the day, he has moved to a horizontal branch.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Baby Great Horned Owl - June 17, 2019

Our little Great Horned Owl is getting a little bolder -- now up on the wall that surrounds our courtyard:

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Baby Great Horned Owl - June 16

The baby Great Horned Owl spends a lot of time sitting in -- or on -- an empty flower pot, providing some wonderful photos:

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Update on Great Horned Owls

We got our first good looks at the baby Great Horned Owl in her nest a few days ago. 

The nest is in an aleppo pine tree in our master bedroom courtyard. It has always been challenging to get a good look at the nest because it is high up in the tree and well hidden. 

It's been 10 weeks since the mom began sitting in the nest. (It was a Cooper's Hawk nest for the past couple of years).

Yesterday the Owlet left the nest and literally landed on our door step. He had "floated" down from the nest into our courtyard, landing on the "Welcome Mat" in front of our door. 

Christine talked to her for several minutes. After I took a few photos we decided to let her be. We checked back a little later and she was sitting in a flower bed.

This morning, the little one was back on the Welcome Mat in front of our door looking in, as if to say, "Where have you been?"

Also of note there was a dead half eaten sparrow in the courtyard next to the tree.

 The courtyard is fairly small, maybe 100 square feet or so. Lots of plants, so lots of places to hide if necessary. It is entirely possible that the owls nested there to provide protection from the surrounding walls for their little ones once they leave the nest. 

We are hoping that the owlet will survive, and will provide updates as they happen.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Other photos from Sweetwater Wetlands

In addition to the raccoons, I got some bird photos:

Common Gallinule

Common Yellowthroat Male

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Red Winged Blackbird

Tropical Kingbird

Verdin at Nest

Yellow Warbler

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Sweetwater Wetlands: Raccoon

Going to Sweetwater Wetlands at dawn often provides an opportunity to see bobcats, coyotes, and/or raccoons.

On June 4th I arrived just as the gate was being opened. I was greeted by two raccoons within a few minutes. One climbed a tree -- so we could play hide n' seek. The other had been in the algae covered water.

Here are a few of the photos I took, starting with my favorite:

Note the algae covered feet:

Monday, June 3, 2019

Great Horned Owl Update

No news to report. The female Great Horned Owl is still sitting on her nest. She's been there since April 2nd. Because the nest is 80 feet high in one of our aleppo pines it is difficult to see any owlets that might be there. 

Typically, the incubation period is between 30 and 37 days, and then nestling 42 days. At this point it has been 63 days so it will probably be within a couple of weeks when we start seeing the young owlets outside the nest.

The male remains about 20 feet below the nest and is there from dawn to dusk every day.

Here are a couple photos I took this morning:

Male Great Horned Owl

Female Great Horned Owl in Nest

Monday, May 27, 2019

Javelinas at The Azure Gate

Having five acres gives us a chance to see a little more "back yard" wildlife. 

The Javalinas are one such thing of the wild. They have been coming around a little more often, though usually at night. I always know when they have been here because they invariably knock over one of the bird baths. They could easily reach the water without knocking it over ... but the bird bath usually ends up upside-down on the ground with no water for anyone to drink.

They also make a soft bed by digging in the dirt. There are three places where they seem to like to bed down.

Last week they chewed into an irrigation line and we ended up with a mud bath. I've yet to get that fixed so they keep enjoying it.

A couple of days ago they tore into a bird seed block and chewed half of it leaving seeds and wrapping paper all over the place. And occasionally they dig up a plant (often a young agave) and eat the roots.

Yesterday morning five Javelinas came around a little after dawn. Again knocking over the bird bath and getting into a little mischief. Here are some photos from yesterday.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Red Faced Warbler

Here is infomation about the Red Faced Warbler from my book:  Warblers of Arizona

Common Name:Red Faced Warbler
Scientific Name:Cardellina rubrifrons
Conservation Status: Least Concern, population trends are unknown; Red Faced Warblers are sensitive to disturbance during breeding; global estimates are 700,000
Size:5.5 inches

Description: red face, chin, throat, and upper belly; black cap that extends down sides of head; short thick dark bill; single white wing bar; pale white rump; whitish belly and undertail coverts; long gray tail 
Male/Female:nearly identical; female may have a slightly paler face
Range:Southeast Arizona/New Mexico to Honduras
Migration:summers in Arizona and Mexico, winters in Central America
Season for Arizona:April through September
Habitat:higher elevation (6400 to 9000 feet) pine-oak forests; shaded canyons near water
Community Behavior:solitary or with other Red Faced Warblers or Painted Redstarts
Feeding Behavior:gleans insects primarily from tips of mid-tree (deciduous and confir) branches hopping quickly from branch to branch; will sally out to snatch flies
Diet:forages mostly on terrestrial invertebrates including spiders, ants, and caterpillars;
Nesting Behavior:nests in small hole in ground beneath logs or plants; open cup of bark, leaves, or pine needles lined with grass and hair; 3-4 pinkish-white eggs with fine brown speckles; incubation is 13-15 days; nestling is 11-13 days; both parents feed the young
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: Mount Lemmon especially Upper Sabino Canyon Trail, Incinerator Ridge, Marshall Gulch, and Bear Wallow; also Huachuca Canyon, Madera Canyon, Miller Canyon; this is a priority find for out-of-state birders
Comments:either sex solicits copulations; both male and female quiver their wings during courtship with the male showing off its white rump patch; may have multiple partners during the breeding season

Now some photos from Mount Lemmon I have taken in the past two weeks:

Friday, May 17, 2019

Mule Deer Visits The Azure Gate

We have lived in other places where deer occasionally visit our backyard. But this was the first time we have seen a Mule Deer in our backyard here in Tucson.

I was sitting at my desk when I looked out the front window and saw an adult female Mule Deer standing in the middle of our driveway. I quickly took a couple of photos through the window. Then she began wandering around our property giving me photo op at every turn.

Here are a few of those photos: