Growing

A juvenile red-tailed hawk balances atop the flower buds of a saguaro beside an off-map trail in the Pima Dynamite area of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

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.

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.

Bookends

A white-winged dove and a canyon towhee bookend a fruiting saguaro before sunrise on the Latigo Trail in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2019

A white-winged dove and a canyon towhee bookend a fruiting saguaro before sunrise on the Latigo Trail. The morning lows are in the 80’s now, even I am wearing short sleeves on the trails. Normally I prefer long sleeves to physically keep the sun off my skin but for the next couple of months I’ll rely on sunscreen and being off the trails early before the sun gets too bright. Still wearing long pants though, too many things in the desert want to poke you when you get down low to photograph lizards.