Drum Major

A male gilded flicker looks straight ahead while perched atop a cell tower disguised as a saguaro in the Troon neighborhood of Scottsdale, Arizona in April 2020

Gilded flickers make their homes in saguaros but not metal ones. Nevertheless a cell tower disguised as a cactus is a good place to let the world know what an amazing drummer you are! From sunrise yesterday on a walk in the neighborhood, since I still have to go to work most days I decided to stay off the trails to minimize risk of virus exposure.

Voices Carry

A close-up view of the head and body of a curve-billed thrasher as it sits on our fence in our backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

As we approach the anniversary of our first year in the house I added my 37th yardbird today, of all things a ladder-backed woodpecker. I saw 26 birds in our sixteen years at our Portland house, the urban neighborhood didn’t lend itself to the diversity of wildlife we see here. Equally as delightful are the numerous regulars we see despite the small size of the backyard, including the first bird I saw after we bought the house, the curve-billed thrasher. One is currently feeding a fledgling though we’ve not yet passed the Ides of March! As piercing as their yellow eyes is their song, while I was photographing some woodpeckers a month ago a nearby thrasher let out such an ear-piercing cry I’m surprised I didn’t fall over into the pool! More typically I hear their calls carrying across the desert as they are frequent companions on the trails, one of the many joys of the desert.

The Hidden Singer

A greater roadrunner is partially obscured as it perches in a tree in the Troon area of Scottsdale, Arizona in January 2020

On some weekend mornings when I can barely roll out of bed for sunrise, I go for a walk in the neighborhood instead of a nearby trail. One such morning I met this roadrunner hidden in the trees, lowering its head and calling out to another nearby, allowing me to identify who had been singing the song that reminds me both of a dove’s soft coo and a dog’s gentle whine.

Out For a Walk in the Neighborhood

A bobcat looks at me as it walks under a tree in our neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona in November 2019

This morning I arrived at the trailhead at 6:30am when the automatic gate was due to open, looked to be a lovely morning as the high thin clouds turned pink and orange. Unfortunately the gate didn’t open, I gave it another 15 minutes before returning home where my wife joined me for a walk in the neighborhood. We soon met a few neighbors and their four dogs, always nice to share some love with sweet pups! Later on my wife’s allergies forced her to return home so I walked to some areas I hadn’t been yet. On the way back I heard a loud cry from nearby and looked up to see a bobcat! And another! And another! The first two weren’t too happy with the third, I took this picture of it as it turned back. What a lovely morning, met three neighbors, four neighborhood dogs, and three neighborhood cats!