Big Saguaro, Little Falcon

A female American kestrel perches atop flower buds and blossoms on a saguaro on the Granite Mountain Loop Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2018

In the spring every square inch of the tops of old saguaros might be covered in flower buds and blossoms, thick as thieves, such as these providing a softer-than-normal perch for an American kestrel. I saw our smallest falcon frequently in the Northwest but only a couple of times here so it was a pleasure to see her as she towered over me on the Granite Mountain Loop Trail.

Calling Out

A rock squirrel calls out atop a large granite boulder near Granite Mountain in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

A rock squirrel calls out atop a large granite boulder near Granite Mountain. It had a piece of saguaro fruit but instead of eating it was sending out the alarm for much of the time I watched it during a food and water break. At first I thought it was complaining about me to the other nearby squirrels, even though I was far down the hill, but it kept looking in other directions and went quiet for a while before starting up again. It has lots of enemies in the desert, most of whom would not have been visible from my vantage point, but I haven’t spent much time with these squirrels yet to get a feel if it was sending out an alarm or claiming this spot as its own.

The Lines of My Earth

A large crack runs through a granite boulder in one direction while a thick line of a different type of rock runs in the other direction

Many of the granite boulders have thick lines running through them, sometimes extending across an entire hillside, a clue about the Sonoran Desert’s distant past. I’m not a geologist but I would guess it is from debris that rained down on the Earth after the destruction of Alderaan.