What a successful breeding season it’s been! Our backyard bird population exploded in size during May. with the addition of dozens of youngsters. The house finches have been the most prolific, and watching the newbies spar at the waterbowl or compete for the best perch on the feeders has been hilarious. But I’ve had the most fun getting to know the newest addition to the spotted towhee clan …….
With Albuquerque temperatures climbing rapidly, Spring 2022 is almost a memory ….. almost.
As luck would have it, I found myself once again in northABQ with a bit of quality time on my hands, so Luna and I set off on the 2 mile round-trip walk to revisit my beloved Kentucky Coffeetrees. It was a rediscovery of sorts and a surprise to find the 2 female trees had progressed way beyond blooming! Fully leafed out, they were showing off newly developing, soft as suede seed pods!
Darn! Missed seeing the flowers, but Wow! What a sight to see these two ladies and the 6 male trees healthy and growing like gangbusters!
We packed up camp at the Angel Peak campground early in the morning, and bounced back down 8 miles of washboard road towards the highway. Along the way we pulled into several picnic areas with scenic overlooks and ooohed and aaaaahed at the spectacular Kutz Canyon from many angles. Every stop was worth it..
But then a new destination was calling …… about 70 miles southeast ….. over the Continental Divide to Cuba Mesa.
It has been a while between Escapitoes, but for good reason! We decided to sell our RV, BagoBago, and go with a pull-behind travel trailer that would get off the beaten path more easily; would be equipped with all those features for off-grid camping and exploration. After a few weeks of shopping we decided the new MicroMinnie FLX from Winnebago would fit the bill nicely. This high clearance, rugged 22 foot trailer is loaded with solar panels, lithium batteries, on-demand hot water, eco efficient heater, AC and range, etc., and is surprisingly roomy with a Murphy bed large enough for two plus our 50# dog, Luna. (Yes, Luna is very spoiled!)
Enter ”The Felix” ….. and her maiden, shake-down voyage to the Four Corners region of New Mexico.
Strolling through a pretty north Albuquerque neighborhood a few days ago, I nearly stumbled over a pile of little brown golfballs. Huh? Not a single putting green in sight, I instantly deduced these carelessly cast-away orbs must be none other than last year’s sycamore fruit balls!
Sure enough, a quick glance upward confirmed my suspicion. I was standing in the shade of a huge, patchy-barked sycamore with draping branches over a stucco wall, approaching full leaf stage, and sporting hundreds of spring green fruit balls each with hundreds of immature arrow-shaped seeds.
Winter dissolves into Spring in New Mexico’s East Mountains, and with this change of seasons comes clouds of pollen, strong winds and a new cast of songbirds. As the Dark-eyed Juncos head north to their Canadian and Alaskan breeding grounds, they leave behind the resident Juniper Titmice, House Finches, and Mountain Chickadees, and one of the largest sparrows in the songbird group, the Canyon Towhee.
By early April, the warbly bell ringing song and raspy cat-like mewling call of the male Spotted Towhee can be heard from the tree tops, as he invites all willing suitors and warns off competitors, declaring our backyard his private territory.
Then by mid-April, in moves the dapper Green-tailed Towhee, dominating the seed-littered ground beneath the feeders and chasing away every other bird that dare to grab a bite.
The story continues! My Kentucky Coffeetree seedlings are coming along beautifully. After carefully cracking and planting 9 seeds on March 27th, it was exciting to see 4 seeds had germinated about Day 18. Literally overnight these 4 seedling stems had grown to 1/2” tall.