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Feathers, feathers, everywhere;)

These Greater Road Runners are the quintessential South West birds, I’m not sure if there is a lesser Road Runner;) I always feel Wiley E. Coyote got the bum rap. These birds are fast, efficient eating machines. They hunt everything! From lizards and snakes, to baby and larger birds, they love to eat;) When they trot through an area, birds and everything smaller than them scatter!

I headed over to the RV office on Saturday morning hoping to capture the Coopers Hawk pair nesting there as I’d seen the couple out on the branches for the first time as we drove back. Normally it is the male putting up a squawk at the passing Harris Hawks. This morning the two were out on the branches for all to see.

The size difference between the male, being the smaller one as in many raptors, and the female was quite noticeable. What a beautiful pair! The Ground squirrel was less amused;) The small amount of rain has brought an interesting variety of wildflowers to the desert behind the RV park. If you step off the trails, watch the cholla cactus, and keep your eyes peeled to the ground for an assortment of tiny wildflowers. Like back at the ranch they are small, but beautiful, often no bigger than a penny.

I hiked out on a cloudy stormy Sunday to see the Great Horned Owl’s nest back on the trails. She is nestled in a large saguaro overlooking one of the many walking/biking paths, oblivious to the humans passing underneath her:) Her ear tufts were blowing in the wind as I circled the nest from afar, trying to avoid the spiny things;) The desert is so beautiful in this stormy light. Some people see barren areas, but there is life teeming all around!

As I walked the mile or more back I chanced to see the American Kestrel I’d seen the week earlier, but this time with it’s significant other;) These small birds of prey are some of the most beautiful I know of. Between the grays and soft brown tones, the spots and stripes they are gorgeous! Mr. Kestrel had arrived home with some supper, a bird’s leg, Mrs Kestrel didn’t look impressed and he went off to chew on it alone;)

It was a joy to stand in the shade of a mesquite tree and watch them interact. So much life out here even though it sounds so still at times, nary a peep or a squawk from anything, until a pair of Gambel’s Quail ran past me without blinking an eye. The Gila Woodpeckers are unmistakable with their call echoing across the desert. I found a female cleaning out a saguaro hole, looks like she has moved in:)

I’ve added links under all the bird names to The Cornell Lab” All About Birds.” I find their site easy to navigate with wonderful photos for ID and exceptional descriptions and even calls and songs. I often come up blank at new birds and ask friends online in the Facebook Birding Arizona and the SW group. Such a keen, knowledgeable group of very nice people! Everyone asks if I am a birder, no, not really, I just love to photograph everything:) I appreciate the life around me, however small it is, from a spider to a stunning sunset, we are surrounded by beauty, we just have to look;)

I missed a visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, just couldn’t fit it in but I did run across several beautiful little hummingbirds at the RV Park. A lovely Anna’s guarded a bush close to the trailer. A nest had been seen close by but it seems a Road Runner may have helped himself to a snack there:(…all part of life.

So that is what surrounds us here, lots of feathers and spines:) This part of the country has a dazzling variety of birds and plants at any given time. From the desert to the nearby mountains scenery can change so quickly, and habitats as well. I always look forward to our meanderings through this part of the world, and hope to be back but for now, saludos amigos and stay tuned-we’re headed to Nuevo Mexico;)

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