Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Some birds are approachable while others fly away on sight.

The Phainopepla is one bird that lets you get closer, providing you respect his space.

(pronounced fay-no-PEP-la
from the Greek "shining robe')

This gleaming red-eyed black bird of the southwestern deserts seems fearless, though he may only be curious about your presence.

A dark black bird in a hot sunny environment may look out of place, but they are a fixture in the Sonoran Desert.

The lighter colored female Phainopepla, also with a red eye, is equally approachable.

This 1st year male was attracted to a water fountain. His juvenile feathers are starting to turn black, while orange eyes shift to red.

Adult males display a brilliant flash of under wing white as they fly. The white is hidden at rest.

When most birds flee your approach, it's welcoming to come upon a fearless Phainopepla in the treetops.

It's another reward for walking in the desert.


Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
The Sibley's Guide to Birds

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Lewis's Woodpecker

A Lewis's Woodpecker closely watches the activity atop another utility pole to the north. An intruder just landed close by and s/he looks rather motley.

The second Lewis's Woodpecker is just as concerned as the first. S/he also glances back often.

They both have something to hide... pecans!

Woodpecker #1 grabs its pecan and moves it around repeatedly, seemingly NOT wanting to share.

Woodpecker #2 looks to have been in a fight while not itching to be in another.

More likely it's just a molt.

(Click any picture to enlarge.)

Molts happen!
They aren't pretty!
There is no good reason to go into battle when you're not looking your best.

A staring battle went on for 20 minutes, though. Then both Lewis's Woodpeckers got to enjoy their respective pecan.

It was all a bit trivial in the end as the fencerow below was littered with thousands of pecans.

They just seemed to be very protective of THEIR pecan.

Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
The Sibley's Guide to Birds

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Crested Caracara

Proudly perched as regally as possible, this Crested Caracara somehow gives you permission to snicker.

Granted, this may be a first year juvenile that has yet to reach full adult potential... still s/he evokes a comic reaction.

Could it be a toupee of top feathers... no, yes?

An adult keeps an eye on a youngster as they travel throughout Santa Cruz Flats, Arizona, an agricultural area south of Phoenix.

The baking-hot land, only arable by irrigation, produces mainly cotton and alfalfa.

Crops and creatures now share this patchwork of green and dunn. The water attracts insect life all the way up to bird life.

Caracaras eat from eggs to insects, amphibians to mammals, and especially carrion.

Soaring low across the land is the preferred hunting tactic for this sharp eyed raptor of the falcon family.

Together at sunrise the two birds take off in search of sustenance. It may be alive or among the recently departed, but that doesn't matter to the Crested Caracara. It's all food.

In flight, s/he takes on a more splendid appearance. Perhaps that is why the ancient Aztecs revered as sacred the Crested Caracara.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
The Sibley Guide to Birds