This has been one weird year, hasn’t it? With a lot of activities curtailed due to the pandemic, the days seem to inch along at a snail’s pace. Its seems like everyone could use some cheering up and what’s better to soothe one’s soul than looking at pictures of baby birds?
Birds build nests to provide a safe place for eggs and young birds to develop, and the variety of nests is as diverse as the birds themselves, although each species has a characteristic style. Join me as I explore some of the bird nests that I discovered in my walks around Verrado in the West Valley of Phoenix the spring.
For months now, most of us under stay-at-home orders have watched as the pandemic storm rages around us. With all the changes and disruption to normal daily life, I wonder, how are the birds weathering this storm?
My mind is on the woodpecker and its relatives this month; they seem to be everywhere! Some of you are probably familiar with these birds, having watched a woodpecker hammer away at the trunk of a tree. But have you ever wondered: How does it not get a headache or do severe damage to its body?
As I look back over the last year to try to discover where I went astray, one thing has become abundantly clear: Life is not a straight line. There you are, trekking along happily in one direction, certain of the clear path ahead, when suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Life throws something totally unexpected at you and everything changes.
Going home for the holidays can be quite challenging for some. For me, it doesn’t happen often enough, so I was thrilled when family invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them in California, my home state. Not only would it be a joy to catch up with loved ones, but there was the additional excitement of birding in a different location and the possibility of adding new birds to my life list.
I’m totally smitten with owls. I love everything about them: their piercing yellow eyes; those fiercely strong talons that can take down large prey; their soft, bark-colored feathers that camouflage them perfectly, insulate them against the cold and help them fly very quietly in pursuit of prey.
We found ourselves nearly alone in the Quail Loop section of Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona recently, the heat, rain and humidity no doubt leaving most campers seeking cooler climes. Gone were the wintering ducks we saw when we visited the park in January, but there were still plenty of other birds around to feed my obsession.
When my birding buddies, Susan and Brian, came up with the idea of a four-day, 1,400+ mile birding odyssey across Arizona, targeting nine VSBs (Very Special Birds), I didn’t bat an eye. I didn’t even hesitate. Did we get our birds, you ask? Read on to find out….
The Circle of Life
Life’s circle is defined as the series of stages through which a living thing passes from the beginning of its life until its death and in my ‘hood, I’ve seen it all. The drama of courtship and territorial squabbles. The industrious nest-building and the miracle of new life. The awkwardness of young fledglings, the sorrow of death. It’s one thing to see birds in these various stages; it is quite another to watch a specific bird and witness its circle of life first hand. Take my resident Great Horned Owls, for instance….