Monday, January 22, 2018


It's not all peace and love in this Arizona winter garden. The decreasing blossoms are coveted by a steadily increasing number of hungry hummingbirds.

The remaining flowers are violently fought over, all be it on a minute scale.

For such a tiny bird, hummingbirds have an oversized appetite for fighting.

They will even take on a bird a hundred times their size. This Cooper's Hawk gets an escort while only passing through this Anna's Hummingbird's territory.

There isn't a hint of hawk anxiety or thoughts of changing course. The hummingbird's nerve is commendable.

Confronting intruders with your head on fire is this Costa's preferred offense. Most times it works. They are colorful, quick and oh so agile.

If flowers are worth fighting over and that seems to be so, the hummingbirds have staked out their claim on this garden.

It likely to get harder and harder to defend though, as winter in Arizona marches on.


Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mexican Jay

A Mexican Jay is a familiar sight in the trees around the Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon, Arizona.

Mexican Jays are big, bold and colorful.
And quite accommodating to visitors, also.

They glide from tree to tree only to be rudely rousted for no apparent reason.

Squabbling between members of this social group of Mexican Jays seems to be the norm. Depending on the individual, one is either the aggressor or the frequently displaced.

Mexican Jays arrived and departed continually. I'm guessing there were fifteen birds at any one time around multiple feeding stations at the lodge.

The lodge owner sets out bird seed for the enjoyment of the gift shop guests.

Between visits to the feeders a Mexican Jay rests, perhaps a time to think.

The colorful blue birds are year round residents and so, brighten the January landscape of this mountain community.

For their part, they do a pretty good job of entertaining visitors while maintaining a watchfulness for their own sake.


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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Northern Cardinal (southwest)

Cloudy, gloomy, drizzly days are a rarity in Arizona, but today was one. I found some Northern Cardinals earlier this week when the skies were bluer and brighter. This Northern Cardinal (southwest) obliged me with a few good pictures opportunities.

A female Northern Cardinal (southwest) politely posed for me, too, as if she actually cared I was there.

The 'southwest' Northern Cardinal is not as colorful as the eastern variety, but still a stand-out in a multi-colored bird world.

A black mask and taller crest gives the Northern Cardinal (southwest) a dramatic look.

These two provided a much needed bright spot to a gloomy day. 


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

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Black-tailed & Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

A Black-tailed Gnatcatcher snags an insect from a Palo Verde tree. These agile and active desert dwellers flit between branches in virtual non-stop motion.

Ants, caterpillars and spiders are a few of their diet preferences. They glean the thicket and tangles for most any insect their size.

A Black-tailed Gnatcatcher is only five inches long from tip to tail and weighs the equivalent of a nickel.

This one's in non-breeding winter plumage.

A close relative to the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher is the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. This Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is sporting his more colorful breeding plumage.

This photo is from my files. I found him in the Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve, Grafton, WI in May 2013.

Gnatcatchers are feisty little birds, aggressive enough to face-down birds twice their size.

Their nests can be parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds. But, if caught in the act, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher will run off the much larger cowbird.

It's all about food and where to find it.

If you have a bug in your bill already, you can afford to pause and look at someone taking your picture.

It will be over quickly.


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