Moths For Breakfast Again? That’s It, I’m Leaving!

A female Gila woodpecker brings a moth to the nest in an old saguaro as the male prepares to leave near an Off-map Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

A female Gila woodpecker brings a moth to the nest as the male prepares to leave (the moth was for the hungry babies inside). The parents brought a variety of insects (and spiders, as she has in her beak below) to their nest in the old saguaro. The male seemed to spend more time in the nest and the female more time hunting during the mornings I watched them. It required a bit of a hike to get to the nest so I couldn’t get there right at first light but it was a treat to watch them nevertheless. I will always be amazed by the relentless energy parents spend getting their babies past those precarious early days.

I also have a 4K clip of them at the nest which I’ll learn to edit at some point and post here. Both pictures are from this spring after we had been in Arizona for about six weeks.

A female Gila woodpecker brings a spider to the nest in an old saguaro as the male prepares to leave  near an Off-map Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Smug

A mule deer chews its food along the Chuckwagon Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

I was walking along the Chuckwagon Trail with the sun about to crest the horizon when the pattern recognition part of my brain thought it saw a distant deer hidden behind some plants. On second glance I was less sure and thought “There you go again, turning trees into deer.” I lifted the telephoto lens to my eye anyway and the tree was a deer, it walked out into the open as it ate soft plants as it strolled along its path, then did the little mule deer hop to move down the hillside.

My pattern recognition self was feeling pretty smug the rest of the hike, even when he was spotting marmots in the rocks though there are no marmots in Arizona. That will take a while to go away, after spending a summer in Florida it took years for me to stop thinking I saw alligators in the marshes of Oregon and Washington. I don’t mind, the successes are worth the failures, and if you don’t look you can’t see.

Safe in the Arms of the Cholla

A desert cottontail nibbles grasses at sunrise near a buckhorn cholla along the Chuckwagon Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

The rising sun, so easily blocked by hills and saguaros and even myself, does what I cannot, slip through the outstretched arms of a buckhorn cholla to embrace a cottontail as it feeds beside the Chuckwagon Trail. It is mine but to observe, to record, to be grateful.