Today’s post marks the start of a new series on this blog called Living in the Southwest. In this series i will be posting photos of the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona.
Spring is here and the desert is bustling with activity. Here in Southern Arizona, spring starts earlier than most of the rest of the country, but it ends sooner too. Today was the first day at 100° and there are plenty more sweltering, but dry days on the way.
Round-tailed Ground Squirrel
Where I live in Tucson, Round-tailed Ground Squirrels are quite common. Around here, people call ’em “potguts.” I caught this one peeking over my wall. They are pretty cute but I have had to put wire caging around one of my cacti after I caught one with a mouthful of my baby cactus in it’s mouth.
Also, they attract snakes who see the potguts as a tasty snack. So it is best to deter the adorable rodents from hanging around too close to your home; that is if you don’t want to also find rattlesnakes. YIKES!
Desert Spiny Lizard
Desert Spiny Lizards are also pretty common where I live. These ectotherms enjoy sunbathing on my wall. They are fairly large, their body length alone can read to almost six inches, and kind of rotund.
These lizards have a big personality. If they feel threatened by you, they will most likely run away, but some like to stand their ground and try to intimidate you.
They do this by doing push ups and staring at you. Kind of macho! This always makes me laugh since I am a giant compared to them.
Gila Woodpeckers are kind of flighty birds, if you walk too close to their nest they will take off and then return when you are a safe distance away. They like to take up residence in saguaros where they create a hole large enough for their body to fit through.
The inside of the saguaro has ribs that serve as a support system for a green fleshy exterior. When the woodpecker damages the flesh to make a nest the saguaro it forms a walled off space inside to protect itself (aka scar tissue) and thus becomes the perfect nesting site for the woodpecker. Read more at Nature.com.
Gila woodpeckers are very recognizable with the brilliant red spot on top of their head and their back feathers are black and white spotted.
This is a male cardinal that I spotted singing to its mate one morning. Male cardinals are brightly colored whereas the females are a more drab gray color.
The red makes it very easy to spot in the desert environment since it is a palette of greens and browns.
Southern Arizona has several varieties of hummingbirds that call the desert home. This is a Costa’s Hummingbird drinking some nectar from a variety of aloe vera.
Their wings move so quickly that you can literally hear them humming around and that is how I caught this picture. I heard one nearby and turned around just in time to catch him grabbing a snack.
I have a hummingbird feeder in my backyard so I can enjoy seeing the hummingbirds throughout the day. This one is an Anna’s Hummingbird that stopped to drink some of my sugar water.
My house back’s a wash (a dry river bed that only flows during the heavy summer rains – aka monsoon season) and several hummingbirds hang out in the trees there.
Sometimes there can be two hummingbirds dive bombing each other and chasing each other around because they don’t want the other one to drink from the feeder.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I will have the high quality version of these images for sale on Zazzle within the week.
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