Thursday, May 26, 2005

May 26, 2005
Well, this morning there were NO doves on the nest. I assumed the baby had flown off, but then I saw it sitting on the low brick wall in the carport. Smart bird--stayed out of the sun, anyway. He later moved over to a large empty planter by the air conditioner. From the pile of bird poop on the wall, he'd been there quite a while, so maybe this was the other missing baby? Who knows. I also don't know if his mom is feeding him, but presumably she is. Doves are clumsy and stupid, but there's no reason they wouldn't be as devoted parents as other birds.

Last night we put some mesh over the gate to the rose garden. There's still a fairly big gap at one end. I don't think it will keep the little bunny out, but I can't imagine a big jackrabbit getting in, so we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

May 25, 2005
Doves, Rabbits, and a Flicker!
The flicker first: I saw one on our morning walk on the Riverwalk yesterday, on a saguaro. It flew away quickly, but I'd seen them before at the other house. This was a gilded flicker, and a very handsome specimen at that, with his golden swirls and very woodpecker-y looking body.

Speaking of saguaros, the blooms are everywhere and I expect them to start turning into fruit soon. Birds are all over them, I assume eating bugs and perhaps drinking nectar. I'm not sure of the nectar content of saguaro flowers, and haven't seen any hummers on them, but then they are mostly too far away to see anything so small.

It's still really hot. The baby dove was actually two doves, but is now one again. I don't know what happened to the other one, but the ledge where the nest is perched is very small, and it's been windy. Probably he blew over or tried to fly and failed, and was eaten by something. The one that's left is quite large, looks fully feathered, but I don't know if it's up to flying. I always walk over and say hi, but he just freezes and tries to pretend he is invisible. Well, at least the mama dove managed to raise one baby Maybe he'll go to law school or get an MBA and make her proud.

At least one bunny has learned to get into our rose garden. It's just a little thing--a cottontail. The three cats love watching it out the patio door. It ate all my seedling zinnias, which I think I mentioned, and is now working on the lower branches of the rose bushes. It also eats weeds, which is helpful, but one of the rose bushes is starting to look really weird. I guess we'll have to put up some bunny-proof chicken wire or something before a jackrabbit gets in. A big rabbit could probably really wreck the roses.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

May 18, 2005
Whooee! I happened to glance out at the pond this afternoon to see a Western Tanager visiting. What a gorgeous bird! Brilliant orange on head, bright yellow body, beautiful black body and wing stripes. I hope he sticks around, though I don't think this is really his habitat. I had one once at the pond at the old house, and never saw one again.

The saguaros are slowly coming into bloom. It's interesting. Some have flowers growing up and down the in part of their accordion pleats; others have a crown all on the top; still others are mixed, in a random-seeming pattern. I'd guess about a quarter to a third of the blossoms on most of the saguaros I've seen are open now. They are such BEAUTIFUL flowers (the State Flower of Arizona, actually). The blossoms will soon be followed by red fruit and then the monsoon. I LOVE THE DESERT!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

May 17, 2005
A note on human nature: The mild spring is about over. It's in the nineties. We are heading for summer. This morning's top story in the paper featured words like "Hades" and "suffer." When I see headlines like that--not to mention listen to residents--about this time of year, I have to laugh. It's as if they're saying, "Oh, my gosh! It gets hot in Tucson in the summer! Who knew?"

One of my hummers drinks by hovering over the pond and dipping the tip of her bill in the water. That seems very awkward to me: much easier would be to hover at the waterfall or just perch on a rock by it.

Mama dove finally has at least one baby! Yesterday evening she was off the nest and I saw a tiny little gray nub sticking up. When it blinked at me, I knew that something had hatched. She's back on the nest today. Incubating more eggs? And where does the baby go? Does she sit on it?

Finally: I've noticed a great ABSENCE of baby quail. Just the four I saw earlier in the season. I'm disappointed; thought I'd get a lot. I used to get several families in the backyard at the other house. But maybe I'm getting them here and just not looking at the right times.

Monday, May 09, 2005

May 9, 2005
This morning I was fiddling around with the rocks on the waterfall again, when I heard a hummer. I looked up to see a little Anna--either a young female or immature male--buzzing at the water maybe a foot from my head. I held perfectly still, and the hummer finally sped off. I quickly rearranged the rocks, and was about to leave (to watch) when little hummer returned, even closer to me. I held totally still while she approached the water, tail fanned out, then suddenly noticed me and flew right up in my face, about two inches from my nose, and seemed to study me. Then she flew away, and so did I.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

May 8, 2005
Spring and Waterfalls and Invisible Rabbits
This has been a most unusual spring, in that it has lasted, almost like spring back east. Usually, we have some very nice weather for about a month in part of March and April, and then it's summer. But the last few days--even this far into May--have been delightful, with actually chilly nights. Yesterday I think it only got up to 79. It's also been very windy, and now most of the beautiful blossoms have blown off the trees, but the cactus flowers are still going full tilt.

There is nothing more delightful than the sight of a hummingbird bathing at dawn in a waterfall. This morning I had two competing with each other for the pleasure. I've been working on improving the waterfall part of my pond, and at the moment it's just about perfect, and making a beautiful bubbling and splashing sound. The two hummers really seemed to enjoy the water. One of them somehow plopped her little belly on a flat rock right under the water and seemed to frolic as she made sure the wet stuff covered her whole body, then flew up to the fence railing in the sun to fluff out and dry off. She did this repeatedly. The other hummer was a male, I think a young one, and possibly a black chin. I haven't been able to confirm any black chins so far, but they should be around. I wish for a broad-bill, but it took me a few years at the other house for them to become year-round residents. If I'm patient they will probably start living here too.

Finally, this morning a rabbit sat beside the pond motionless for quite a while. I thought it was a rock until it moved. They have such perfect coloration for the desert. I just love all these little critters. I'm so fortunate to be able to see this slice of life.

Friday, May 06, 2005

May 6, 2005
Mama dove is still on the case, sitting on her nest on the pillar. She looks so patient. If it were me, I'd be thinking, "Is this thing ever going to hatch? How long do I have to sit here? What if it's a dud like the last one?" But then it's not up to me to perpetuate the dove (or any other) species.

Meanwhile, out at the pond, there have been a lot of rabbits. A huge one just now was eating a stalk of papyrus. He started at one end and then slowly sucked it in, like spaghetti, his jaws going the whole time. I'd think it would be too tough to be tasty, but he evidently likes it. He's still nosing around the papyrus pot. Which makes me think that maybe I can plant more of them this summer, for the shade and algae control. In the old house, they had a tendency to take everything over, but if I have rabbits to control them, this might be a good solution.