Saturday, March 28, 2009

Quail explosion!

2 Quail Glen Ck Yesterday morning a large number of quail were feeding at the quail block when they suddenly exploded, flying off in all directions. A moment later the hawk landed on the back fence, then took off after a slow-to-get-going quail. I ran outside, and saw the hawk flying alone,  so hopefully the quail got away.

We are going to put in a shade cloth canopy—a kind of carport for the quail over the quail block in the corner by the porch. I’m hoping it will somewhat hide the quail from the hawk and also provide shade for the chicks, once they start coming. We’re going to do it now, to see if the quail will still feed or if they will feel too hemmed in.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the quail explosion, and I believe that they all suddenly  fly off in different directions to startle and momentarily confuse whatever predator is after them. They might not be able to do that from a shelter.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sabino 1

cardinal cu 1-29-2009 9-28-17 AM 341x227 A couple of weeks ago some friends and I visited Sabino. We took the tram up to the top and walked down. These are some of the birds we saw: Canyon Wren, Verdin, Hutton’s Vireo, and Cardinal. A lovely male cardinal posed at the side of the road, near the top. I’m showing him here because they never come to my garden anymore, for some sad reason. Though I do get plenty of pyrrhuloxias:

Mr. Pyrrhuloxia 11-8-2007 9-27-52

These birds are very closely related, as you can see. I can’t always tell the young apart until their color starts to come in.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My beautiful garden

Gorgeous garden mountain 3-9-2009 1-10-41 PM 2304x1728 This picture is from the southwest looking northeast, rather than my usual view from the south. Everything is really starting to shape up. The pomegranate tree is all leafy, and has a couple of buds (the rabbits ate one). The yellow bells will bloom soon. In a couple of weeks or so it will be too hot for the beautiful petunias, and I’ll think about replacing them with zinnias.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Quail update

inside b & w room  Spring is definitely in the air. On our morning walks, and also by the pond, I’m seeing more and more quail in pairs or even singles, though there are still large groups, mostly at the quail block.  This morning I saw a group of maybe two dozen, with two males standing guard at opposite ends of the fence. Then later, saw a male and a female patrolling the brick wall above our rose garden. I think they were looking for a good nesting site.

Quails continue to roost in the dorm tree. I haven’t made a count in quite a while, but the other night I saw several heading for the tree over a half-hour period, when I happened to glance out. They get up in the morning somewhat after sunrise. Once I happened to watch as 8 to 12 flew OUT of the tree together.

I discovered that I can watch quail fly into the tree from inside the room behind the dorm tree. The picture is poor, but you can get an idea. The odd thing is that even though I can see them fly into the tree, as soon as they settle down they become invisible.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Packrats Galore

Well, Mr. Packrat just left with three or four of our rats…. Because we live in the desert, we get a lot of them around the house. They leave their droppings everywhere and their nests are very messy, crammed with debris and food. Sticks and chewed-up cactus pads along with cactus and other fruits are usually the first sign of their presence. Or, as Mr. Packrat puts it, first they move in the furniture and groceries.

Mr. Packrat traps them in humane traps, then gases them in bunches (not totally humane, as they are territorial, but better than poison or some other kinds of traps). The bodies are then given to wildlife rehabbers to feed their injured raptors.

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These three pictures show 1) a small rat trapped behind the dorm tree. You can see some of the furniture and groceries outside the cage. 2) four rats awaiting execution—this shows the variation in size. 3) a big rat trapped in my planter on the back porch. He accidentally escaped during transfer to the holding cage, so will have to be re-trapped tonight.

Mr. Packrat showed me a picture of a beautiful albino packrat they trapped a few weeks ago. They tried to find someone who wanted it, but nobody did, so they are going to let it go.