A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 7: Snowbirds

December 11-17, 2022

The much anticipated finale, Snowbirds, and wrap-up to a grand anniversary week celebration in and around Tucson, AZ, follows!

Despite an unexpected snow the evening of our arrival, we never seemed to slow down, taking in as many sights and good eats as humanly possible. …… Open the full post for a recap of our week, and a bit about some of the birds we found while traveling around.

Continue reading “A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 7: Snowbirds”

A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 5: Saguaro National Park – East, Rincon Mountains Unit; All saguaro, all the time!

(December 11-17, 2022)

December 14, 2022

We certainly enjoyed visiting Saguaro NP – East. Most of the Rincon Mountains Unit is wilderness and only accessible on foot; no dogs allowed.  But the cactus Forest Loop Drive was scenic, with views of the Rincon Mountains to the East, and saguaro everywhere!

Really couldn’t seem to get enough saguaro! The highlights of this day were finding another crested saguaro while hiking an area Luna could enjoy, standing next to some shoulder high fishhook barrel cactus, and enjoying the Phainopeplas with their shimmery black feathers.

If you’re up for more saguaro botany, read on.  This post will be dedicated to this largest of all North American cactus, Carnegiea gigantea. (Beware. This post is long, so settle in!)

Continue reading “A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 5: Saguaro National Park – East, Rincon Mountains Unit; All saguaro, all the time!”

Escapito #1 Focus Study: Phay-no Who?


Welcome back to Percha Dam State Park.

While developing my last nature journal pages about the notoriously fascinating big leaf mistletoe, a perfect segue materialized like magic ….. the natural connection from food to forager, from flora to fauna, from white plump sticky berries called drupes, to shiny black silky flycatchers called Phainopepla (phay-no-pepla).

While camping in the park, we were treated to frequent appearances of several active and vocal phainopeplas. The beautiful glossy black males were putting on quite an aerial show, flashing their bright white wing patches to attract the gray-brown females, Between acts, all the birds we watched ravenously gobbled ripe mistletoe berries from the never-ending supply loading down the riverine cottonwoods.

Here’s what I learned.

Continue reading “Escapito #1 Focus Study: Phay-no Who?”