Thursday, December 20, 2012

Baby Anteater at the Zoo

Words can't describe what I felt as I watched this anteater with her baby at the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Arizona. The baby's name is Zola. She was born on September 2, 2012.     


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sabino Canyon's Saguaro Cacti

A few mornings ago I was birding at Sabino Canyon located in the northeast corner of Tucson, Arizona. My attention was immediately drawn to the breathtaking beauty of the desert.

Besides seeing many beautiful birds and other wildlife, I meet a lot of very nice people. Below we have spotted a young Cooper's Hawk. Unfortunately he was too far away for my camera.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

American White Pelicans in the Desert!

Recently my daughter and I visited the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, Arizona. We had heard on the Rare Bird Alert for Arizona that there were American White Pelicans there. We joined up with 2 other birders and set about searching the ponds for them. Were we excited when we found them! What a beautiful sight they were as they moved in unison around the pond.

The Gilbert Water Ranch consist of 7 ponds and a small lake. It is a perfect place for migrating birds to stop on there way to far off places. Tucson also has a riparian preserve called Sweetwater Wetlands. Both serve as environmental education facilities and habitats for birds and other wildlife.

Below are some other birds we saw. This is a great place for birding!
Long-billed Dowitcher

Northern Pintail

Neotropic Cormorants and Great Egrets

Friday, July 13, 2012

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

In the desert west of Tucson is the beautiful Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. My daughter, Christina, and I arrived at 7:30 in the morning to take part in a bird walk and to spend time in the Hummingbird Exhibit. 
Hooded Oriole photo taken by Christina Jasberg.

The Sonoran Desert is truly a beautiful desert! The following are photos I took as we strolled the paths.

Female Northern Cardinal photo by
Christina Jasberg

The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Hummingbird Exhibit. Hummingbirds were flying all around and if you held still they would often fly up and have a look at you! 

Costa's Hummingbird photo by
Christina Jasberg

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Desert in the Summer

Hiking down trail to riparian area of Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon in early summer
 One of the great benefits of birding is that I really notice my surroundings while I am looking for birds. I'm also more aware of the seasonal changes going on around me. Yesterday, we went back to Sabino Canyon and the desert agave was blooming and the saguaro cacti have gone from white blossoms to fruit.
Agave Blossoms 

We saw many birds enjoying the fruit of the Saguaro and Barrel Cactus.
White-winged Dove on top of Saguaro Cactus

Cactus Wren on Barrel Cactus Fruit
by Christina Jasberg
 Being summer we have to be on the lookout for snakes and other poisonous critters. This is the third rattlesnake we have seen on our bird outings!
Rattlesnake by Keith Jasberg
Soon after seeing the rattlesnake we saw this beautiful deer. If we hadn't been looking for birds we would have walked right on by.

Deer at Sabino Canyon by Keith Jasberg

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wood Duck Magic

Great photo taken by Christina
I get ebird alerts sent to me via my email. Last week there was an alert for a Wood Duck at a park near us. My husband pack up his camera and Christina and I got our birding things together and off we went. He had already been there for over a week, so we were hoping he hadn't decided to take off for places unknown.

Christina arrived about 5 minutes ahead of us. She went immediately to the lake and the first bird she saw was the Wood Duck! What a beautiful bird! I know this is an ordinary bird to see in many parts of the country, but not here in Tucson, Arizona.

There was just the one Wood Duck, but he looked like he was having a great time swimming with the Mallards. He did everything they did. When they took off across the pond, he did too. When they got out of the water the preen themselves, he followed right along. I know this is being anthropomorphic, but he seemed to enjoy spending time with the big boys.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Unexpected Discoveries While Birding

One thing I have discovered about my new hobby of birding is that not only do we discover these wonderful jewels that have always been around us but not noticed, we also have many wonderful nature encounters. Last Sunday my husband, daughter and I went to Madera Canyon south of Tucson to look for the Elegant Trogan. Not only did we see one of these beautiful birds, but we also got to watch a black bear walk along the hillside above us. Actually, it watched us while we watched it.

Today, my daughter and I went back to Sabino Canyon in the northeastern part of the Tucson valley to bird.  One of the first things that caught our eye was the Saguaro blossoms! I'm always amazed at the beauty of cactus flowers. The prickly pear were also blooming, even though I think they are nearing the end of their blooming season.

Giant Saguaro towering above us

We were very excited when we came upon a desert tortoise. It is only the second time we have seen one in the wild in the 30 years we have lived here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rattlesnake Season and Birding

Today my daughter, Christina, and I woke up early to do a little birding at Sweetwater Wetlands here in Tucson, Arizona. It was quite an exciting morning as we were entertained by the wildlife.

First, we watched a Cooper's Hawk carry small branches to its nest. Then suddenly it swooped after a pair of Mallard Ducks just up the trail from us. The ducks took off very quickly across the pond and disappeared into the reeds. Then as we walked by a marshy area I saw what I thought was a dead animal, when it suddenly jumped up and ran into the reeds. It was a coyote. I think we were as startled as he was.

As we continued we came across a snake spotted by my daughter.  Right along our path was a large rattlesnake stretched out in the cottonwood seed fluff. It was about 3 1/2 - 4 feet in length. We watched as it ate a cotton rat (name given to us by a naturalist).
The rattlesnake didn't show any interest in this large frog nearby.
Our next bit of wildlife was another coyote walking along a path parallel to ours. All at once he charged across our path in front of us and ran into the brush after something only he could see. It amazed me how fast both the hawk and coyote moved when after prey. Made us happy we didn't have any predators after us.

The next few photos were taken by Christina of some of the shore birds and a Common Moorhen.

Black-Necked Stilt and White-Faced Ibis

Long-Billed Dowitchers and White-Faced Ibis

Common Moorhen renamed the Common Gallinule
Our final reward for a great morning of birding was to see the nest of  the Great Horned Owl with 3 owlets. A couple of birders had large binoculars set up on a tripod so we could see the owlets up close. Wow, they were beautiful and so big! I'm not sure how they all fit in the nest. The babies were still covered in their fluffy feathers. I wish we had a photo. We needed my husband with his big lens!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Birding at Reid Park

Great Egret

Walking around Reid Park a couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of birds to be seen. These are just a few. I went with my daughter and between the two of us we got a few good photos.

No matter which way you look at this Black-crowned Night Heron he has a very interesting face! These birds are easy to find. They even go into the zoo to raid the food of the zoo animals.

American Coot

Great-tailed Grackle
 I never knew that there were so many different kinds of sparrows. Actually, this little bird belongs in a family called the weaver-finches.
House Sparrow