Bananas

Fruit grows on a banana yucca as a white-winged dove flies overhead early one morning on the Latigo Trail in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in June 2019

I remember banana yuccas from last year but I can’t remember seeing the “bananas” themselves. I must have as they are hard to miss, either I’ve forgotten or I was just too overwhelmed by all the new sights before me. This year I photographed them a few times, although not in their earliest stages of development as it was at the end of Ellie’s life. I was waiting for this plant to be fully in the light as the sun came up but shadows from saguaros and trees behind me always cast at least some of the plant in shadow. Still I was delighted when a white-winged dove photobombed the picture, always nice to have wildlife in the picture even when they aren’t the subject.

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.

I Am Not a Vampire

A white-winged dove perches on open saguaro fruit, its face drenched in saguaro fruit juice, on a summer morning on the Latigo Trail in McDowellSonoranPreserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2018

Its pale eyes drained of color, of the red in the eyes and the blue that surrounds, its beak and face caked in red as if from blood, a juvenile white-winged dove has a bit of the look of a vampire. The look is all about time, not yet enough time for the color to form in its eyes, the time of year for the face-drenching juicy fruit of the saguaro. It already has the distinctive white wing patches that give them their name but like many juveniles has a recently assembled, the glue-hasn’t-finished-drying look to it. I watched one recently that had learned to defend its chosen saguaro, chasing off even adults that ventured too close. This one is from a year ago in a similar part of the preserve, another is feeding in our backyard as I write this.

Morning Dove

The silhouette of a white-winged dove perched atop a fruiting saguaro on the Latigo Trail in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in June 2019

White-winged doves have been hiding from me all spring (on the trails, we see them regularly at home) but with the arrival of summer and fruit on the saguaros it seemed as though a white-wing was atop every saguaro each morning this weekend.

In the Shadows, In the Light

As the rising sun lights up distant Pinnacle Peak, a white-winged dove perches on a tree in the shadows along the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in June 2019

As the rising sun lights up distant Pinnacle Peak, a white-winged dove perches in the shadows. The light soon reached the tips of the tallest saguaros and was a minute or two from reaching the fruiting saguaro this dove was jealously guarding from other doves when suddenly the lights went out. From my vantage point I couldn’t see the sun and saw naught but blue sky before me, but low-lying clouds in the east must have rolled in. Although I missed the first kiss of the soft red light the sun soon returned and I watched this dove and a variety of other birds from that one spot for quite some time, the only downside being I only hiked for a couple of miles that morning.