A run-in with a skunk

posted in: Living in the Southwest, Nature | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.


Frequently while we are out delivering our newspapers, we see, hear and smell all kinds of wildlife. Last week, we posted about seeing a mule deer doe and her baby, we even posted a great picture of the two of them. Most of the time though, we are not so lucky to capture pictures of the creatures we see, which is the case of the skunk Al stumbled upon last night.

As mentioned above, we included smell and boy do we smell a lot of skunks while we are out. Everyone once and awhile we will see them from our cars but never face to face. That all changed last night! Al was delivering papers in a very large apartment complex and as she walked around a corner, there was a skunk standing in the middle of the sidewalk. EEEEKKKK! We startled each other! Al took a step back and the skunk slowly turned around and showed her its lovely raised tail and tush. Al stood still and silently pleaded with the skunk to not spray her. Luckily her prayers were answered and the skunk crept into the bushes and Al continued on with her delivery.

This interaction led to some research about skunks that we thought we would share with you:

  • Skunks can be found from the southern parts of Canada, throughout most of the United States and into the northern parts of Mexico.
  • They have great sense of smell and hearing but poor eyesight. They can only see about 10 feet in front of them.
  • They can spray a target 10 feet away (Al was definitely in the spray zone).
  • Skunks are omnivorous.

Hopefully one day we will be able to capture a photo of a skunk without being sprayed!

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Photo Friday: Mule Deer Doe & Baby

posted in: Living in the Southwest, Nature, Our Work, Photography | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

We work at night, driving around Tucson, delivering newspapers and this affords us the chance to see various types of wildlife that we never get the chance to see during the day. Growing up, we would see street signs on our nearby streets that warned of deer as seen below.

We always laughed, “There aren’t any deer around here!!!” We soon discovered after starting our delivery job, they do exist around here. We see both bucks and does, but we usually se them alone, never in pairs or groups. They also move very fast so we have never been able to take a photo of them. That is until last night! We spotted a Mule Deer doe and her baby. They stood still long enough for us to take this awesome photo. The baby didn’t want to turn around for us but it was super cute!


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Wordless Wednesday #26 | Gulf fritillary on lantana flowers

Wordless Wednesday #26 | Gulf fritillary on lantana flowers

posted in: Living in the Southwest, Nature, Our Work, Photography, Wordless Wednesday | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

gulf fritillary on lantana flowers arizona
If you enjoy this photograph, you can purchase a print of it through our Zazzle store, where you can order prints of our other photographs as well. A card version and postcard version of the this photograph are also available. Happy Wednesday!

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Wordless Wednesday #25 | Vermilion Flycatcher

Wordless Wednesday #25 | Vermilion Flycatcher

posted in: Living in the Southwest, Nature, Our Work, Photography, Wordless Wednesday | 3 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Vermilion Flycatcher are members of the tyrant flycatcher family which is the largest family of birds with over 400 species. Vermilion Flycatchers are unique to the family because most are a drab brown color and these guys are bring red/pink. However this coloring only occurs in males while females are brown; this phenomenon is called sexual dimorphism.
vermilion flycatcher
If you enjoy this photograph, you can purchase a print of it through our Zazzle store, where you can order prints of our other photographs as well. A card version and postcard version of the this photograph are also available. Happy Wednesday!

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Wordless Wednesday #23 | Female House Sparrow in a Saguaro

Wordless Wednesday #23 | Female House Sparrow in a Saguaro

posted in: Living in the Southwest, Nature, Our Work, Photography, Wordless Wednesday | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

This week’s Wordless Wednesday photograph is of a Female House Sparrow nesting in a Saguaro. House Sparrows are usually very flighty and don’t stay still long enough for us to take great pictures of so this was a pleasant surprise.

Sparrow in a Saguaro

If you enjoy this photograph, you can purchase a print of it through our Zazzle store, where you can order prints of our other photographs as well. A card version and postcard version of the this photograph are also available. Happy Wednesday!

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Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

Woof Trekking Dispatch #12: Madera Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, September 2016

posted in: Dispatches, Living in the Southwest, Nature, On the Road, Woof Trekking | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

A couple weeks ago, we decided to go on a spontaneous Woof Trek. We hadn’t gone Woof Trekking for several months and everyone was ready to hit the road. We hopped in the car and traveled across the valley to Madera Canyon.
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Madera Canyon is about 30 miles south of Tucson and is located in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Canyon is part of the US Forest Service. When some people think of the desert southwest, they think that it is just a flat desert, however that is not the case. Madera Canyon is a perfect example of this.
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Tucson itself is surrounded by four different mountain ranges, with the Santa Rita’s being the one to the South. Madera Canyon is big birding location as it is a stopping point during migrations north and south. We missed the migration this year, but will be returning in the future to see some of the unique birds. We packed a picnic lunch and drove up to the highest paved area, called the Mt. Wrightson Picnic Area and Trailheads.
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The elevation at this point was 5400 feet and it was slightly cooler than the valley but not by much. Izzy and Nana were itching to go explore the Canyon, but had to wait for us to eat lunch first.
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We brought a little battery operated fan because Izzy runs warm temperature-wise due to all her fur. We needed a bigger fan – like one of those on the sidelines at football games. But she stayed hydrated and that’s most important.
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After lunch, we set out on a couple of the trails. There are an abundance of trails in Madera Canyon, but we are amateur hikers so we didn’t go too far. Our first little hike was at Madera Canyon Picnic Area. We walked over to see the creek that runs down the canyon.
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Nana wasn’t a big fan of the running water, but Izzy was fearless.
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She hopped up onto a giant boulder and smiled.
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We drove up around the camping area and saw a couple of plants we don’t normally see in Tucson. We saw an agave with these crazy looking seed pods growing out of the center. It was unlike any agave we had ever seen.
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We also saw these pretty bottlebrush flowers.
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Our final stop was the Proctor area, near the entrance/exit to the Canyon. At this stop, we hiked around a paved loop that was about 2 miles long.
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When we were eating our lunch earlier in the day, we saw some blue colored berries on the ground and we didn’t know what kind of tree they were from. On this trail, we found a sign that said that the area has a lot of Alligator Juniper trees, thus solving the mystery of the berries. If you look at the bark, you can totally see why they named them Alligator Junipers.
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Another interesting feature of this trail were these boxes on posts. They are houses for bats! We knew that Arizona had a lot of bat residents but from informational boards on the trail, we learned that of the 45 bat varieties that live in the Unites States and Canada, 28 can be found in Arizona. Wow!
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As we walked further on, we found a wooden bridge that crossed the river.
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Sun’s out, tongue’s out.
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Overall, Madera Canyon was great fun! We will definitely be back!

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Review: The True Meaning of Smekday

Review: The True Meaning of Smekday

posted in: Book Reviews, Our Work, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

A couple of years ago, we attended the Tucson Festival of Books and we attended a panel where Adam Rex was a speaker. The panel was called “i-Illustrate: Art, Technology and Picture Books” in which panelists discussed utilizing Photoshop and other technologies, like SketchUp, to assist in the creation of illustrations.

Panelists included Adam Rex, Chris Gall, and David Diaz.
The panelists gathered around a painting David Diaz created on the spot. Adam Rex is on the far right.

Adam Rex is a writer and illustrator of children’s books. He also is a University of Arizona alum and according to Wikipedia, a resident of Tucson. He has a long list of books to his name, 51 according to Goodreads. While perusing the shelves at the local library, I stumbled upon his first book.


The True Meaning of Smekday is about a girl named Gratuity “Tip” Tucci who lives in an urban city similar to New York City. The earth is being invaded by aliens called Boov, who are forcing all residents of the United States to move to Florida and then to Arizona. On her way there, she meets a Boov named J.Lo and discovers that he is quite friendly.

We follow along with Tip and J.Lo and their adventures cross country to find Tip’s mother. Along the way, we find out that J.Lo accidently tipped off another species of aliens, the Gorg, and now they too want to take over Earth. The unlikely pair work to save the world from both the Boov and the Gorg. This book was particularly enjoyable for me to read because it featured our home state of Arizona.

In 2015, The True Meaning of Smekday was adapted into an animated movie, Home. Rihanna provided the voice for Tip and Jim Parsons as “Oh”, the movie version of J.Lo.

If you enjoy quirky, off-the-wall funny books, you will definitely enjoy The True Meaning of Smekday!

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Living in the Southwest: Torch Cactus

Living in the Southwest: Torch Cactus

posted in: Home and Garden, Living in the Southwest, Our Work, Photography | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

If it’s spring in Tucson, you will almost certainly stumble upon Torch Cacti. They sport some of the most beautiful flowers in the Sonoran Desert.

Torch Cacti are also known by their scientific name, Trichocereus hybrids. They produce very large, brightly-colored flowers that are truly magnificent to see.  All of these photos were taken in my neighborhood. There are three varieties: First Light, Epic, and Apricot Glow

You can read more about Torch cacti at the Desert Museum’s website and the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society website.

First Light

Faint pink and white flower

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cactus, cacti, desert, tucson, arizona, flowers

This torch cactus came into full bloom overnight and it was quite spectacular.

cactus, cacti, desert, tucson, arizona, flowers

The next day, all the flowers were gone. Javelina, the local wild pigs, often come through our neighborhood at night and they ate all the flowers off the cactus! Talk about a clean sweep.

Epic

Hot Pink Flower

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cactus, cacti, desert, tucson, arizona, flowers

 

cactus, cacti, desert, tucson, arizona, flowers

 

Apricot Glow

A range of peaches and yellows

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cactus, cacti, desert, tucson, arizona, flowers

 

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Living in the Southwest: While the Heat’s Away, the Animals Will Play

Living in the Southwest: While the Heat’s Away, the Animals Will Play

posted in: Entertainment, Home and Garden, Living in the Southwest, Nature, Photography | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

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.

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I will also be posting these photos for sale via Zazzle. You will be able to find these either in my Armadillo Amore website or Zazzle shop.

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!

potgut, round-tailed ground squirrel, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert potgut, round-tailed ground squirrel, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

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.

desert spiny lizard, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

Gila Woodpecker

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.

gila woodpecker, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

Graduation

Northern Cardinal

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.

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Costa’s Hummingbird

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.

hummingbird, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

Anna’s Hummingbird

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.

hummingbird, tucson, arizona, sonoran desert

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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