In May I met this young red-tailed hawk on one of the off-map trails in the Pima Dynamite area, it was still growing in confidence if not in size. Its movements were still a little unsure, here flaring out its wings slightly to maintain its balance atop the flower buds of the saguaro. It kept its head on a swivel, looking at not just its nearby sibling but listening further off for the parents that were keeping in touch vocally (and perhaps visually, they had a taller vantage point than I). The yellow in its legs and beak was quite pale but it had already accomplished much by growing to this size, as babies even the top predators are vulnerable to other predators such as the great horned owls I saw on the previous hike and heard hooting that morning.
By now it will be an old hand at flying about the desert even if still wearing its juvenile plumage. I turned around at this point as its sibling was on a saguaro right next to the trail and I didn’t want to disturb them, they had enough on their minds, enough to learn about their desert home. I can sympathize.
I was a bit surprised to see birds building nests in cacti when we moved here as it didn’t seem to be the most comfortable place to raise your children but I can see how it might keep ground predators at bay. This nest in a teddy bear cholla looked out over the desert from atop the debris field along the Marcus Landslide Trail. The nest was no longer in use as I took this at sunrise on Christmas Eve, I’m glad I didn’t wait as over the winter the nest slowly disintegrated.
I thought there might be a tussle when the thrasher on the right flew onto the saguaro as the other ate from one of the fruits but perhaps they were a pair as they got along fine. They had both been enjoying their breakfast as their beaks were caked in dried pulp.
This white-winged dove had been eating a lot of saguaro fruit as evidenced by the juice and pulp caking its face, but its chunky appearance is because the sleepy bird fluffed out its feathers while perched atop its cactus.
A verdin pauses below its nest of sticks in a buckhorn cholla, a spider in its beak, hungry mouths inches away waiting to be fed. Taken in May, both parents were constantly bringing little soft-bodied creatures to the nest.