White-crowns

An adult white-crowned sparrow perches in a tree on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in December 2019

We had a variety of sparrows on display in Oregon but during the winter at my favorite refuge the big flocks I’d see were golden-crowns. I have lost count of the many ways the desert has surprised me but one was that here too I’d see flocks of sparrows in the winter, only now it’s white-crowns and black-throats. I saw white-crowns in Oregon but not nearly in the numbers I see them here, it’s such a joy to stand still as the sun rises and watch a flock flit about me as they make their morning rounds.

New Growth

A Say's phoebe perches on the broken arm of an old saguaro in George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

It is not necessarily a death sentence when an old giant loses an arm, they seal off the wound as best they can to prevent water loss and go on to live their best lives. While a new arm will not grow where the old one once stood, sometimes the saguaro will slowly push out a phoebe in its stead.

Winter Bright

A male phainopepla perches in a tree early on a winter morning on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in December 2019

Our winter skies are brightened by the dark forms of phainopepla, I love walking down the trails and hearing their quiet voices from the other side of trees. This one is from an early December morning on the Marcus Landslide Trail, I haven’t been hiking in about six weeks (!!!), partially from wanting to minimize exposure to others and partially from being exhausted. I’d like to try some of the wider and less popular trails as it would be beneficial mentally and physically but we’ll see how tomorrow goes. So far the weekend has been a lot of curling up for naps with the cats before yard work in the evenings.