Big Breakfast

A verdin, missing most of its tail feathers during a molt, sticks its head into a prickly pear fruit to eat on a cloudy morning in the Troon neighborhood of Scottsdale, Arizona in September 2019

Watching the verdin eating from fruit almost as large as themselves, I wondered how it would look if I tried to wring every drop of sustenance from a five foot watermelon using only my face. This one had to fly precisely onto a cactus with thorns as long as its legs while missing many of its tail feathers but it did it with aplomb. Given their short beaks I don’t know if they open up the fruit themselves or if they leave the honors to something like a woodpecker with a longer beak and a head designed for hammering.


A verdin covered in prickly pear juice looks at me as it pauses while eating from a fruit almost as large as itself in our neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona in September 2019

Sunday morning instead of going for a hike I took a long walk through the neighborhood. It was my first time doing it alone since we moved here, my wife and I took a short one a few months ago, but this time I walked much farther. Natural landscaping abounds so I was greeted with many of the same creatures I’d see on the trails, but many communities are gated so I was limited in where I could wander. The hardest part was walking without Ellie, my constant companion for a decade, so I was delighted when on the way back a 3 year old pup named Jackson strained at the leash to meet me and then showered me with kisses when I crossed over to meet him. As I neared the house I saw familiar faces flitting about a patch of prickly pear, dining on fruit almost as large as themselves.

Two For Breakfast

Two curve-billed thrashers perch atop the fruits of a saguaro, both of their beaks caked in dried pulp, as one eats as the other watches on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2019

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.

The Growing Banana

A banana yucca fruit begins to grow along the Upper Ranch Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

A banana yucca fruit begins to grow along the Upper Ranch Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I hadn’t photographed them last year when we moved to Arizona, I saw all and noticed little, but this year I realized how beautiful the entire process is from bud to flower to fruit. Towards the end of Ellie’s life I didn’t have much time for hiking when they were budding and flowering and after she died I wasn’t in the mood for photographing them regardless. I knew I was healing as the days progressed as though I initially walked past I came back and took the time to get out the macro lens and tripod and photograph the growing fruit amidst dried flowers in the soft light before sunrise.

I suppose it was a sign of my mental state that I posted this elsewhere but somehow it didn’t make it to the blog until now, not sure what happened.