Brown’s Ranch

A scenic view of large rocks in the desert in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

The Brown’s Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve has quickly become one of my favorite local places to hike. It’s far too soon to say if it will become my Ridgefield – the default place I go when I want to go out – but it has been a great place to explore and learn about the desert in the spring. I’m assuming it was named after someone named Brown and not because everything is brown, though both would be apt.

Not the Usual Suspects

A young male Bullock's oriole perches atop a blooming saguaro cactus in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

In my short time here there are a handful of birds I’ve gotten used to seeing on the saguaros: gila woodpeckers, gilded flickers, house finches, cactus wrens, and curve-billed thrashers. But I sometimes see more than the usual suspects, such as this splash of color that momentarily swooped into view early Saturday morning. He’s a young Bullock’s oriole, he’ll be even more colorful and vibrant in a year. I’ve only see this species a couple of times before, both during my years in Portland, so here’s hoping we meet more often in Arizona.

Home in the Desert

A black-tailed jackrabbit sits in the Sonoran Desert in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

As we make our home in the desert it is painfully clear to me as I hike, suited up with bottles of water and protective sun gear, that I will never be at home in the desert, not like they are, the animals who live here. This black-tailed jackrabbit can leap 5 or 10 feet at a time and reach speeds up to 40 mph, but on this morning it casually sauntered off into its desert home.