Thank you to the readers who have sent me photos in response to my plea, but do keep sending them. I can never have too many.
Speaking of pleas, I’ve once again begged some lovely bird photos from Pete Moulton, whose work I often see on his Facebook page. After a sufficient period of my begging and and pleading, Pete coughs up some photos. Here is his latest selection; his notes are indented:
Here’s a handful of recent wildlife photos, made mostly at my haunts in Phoenix’ Papago Park.
Drake American Wigeon (Anas americana) portrait from New Year’s Day. You may recall that my personal tradition is that whatever I can photograph decently first becomes my Facebook avatar (with a couple of brief interruptions) for the year. It doesn’t have to be a bird, but things generally work out that way. This is the winner for 2017.
Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps (you knew there had to be one), from too high an angle, but it turned out to be fortuitous. This guy has shipped both feet, and the offside foot wouldn’t have been visible from my preferred low angle of view. Grebes regularly do this for unknown reasons. The prevailing hypothesis seems to be thermoregulation, but this was a lovely morning with temperatures in the 18ºC range, so I’m not so sure about that. Besides, birds routinely stand on ice for hours at a time (not grebes, you understand–they don’t stand anywhere for very long) with no ill effects.
Female Costa’s Hummingbird, Calypte costae. These are resident in Arizona where the winter food continues. Otherwise, they migrate to Baja California, and return in January to nest.
Male Anna’s Hummingbird, Calypte anna. My area’s default hummingbird, abundant and resident in the southern half of the state, but it wasn’t always so. Until about 1970, Anna’s was mainly a winter visitor in the low deserts, but urbanization of Phoenix and Tucson, and the proliferation of backyard nectar feeders, have created conditions conducive to year-round residence. While the conditions have benefitted Anna’s Hummingbirds, both Costa’s and Black-chinned Hummingbird populations have dwindled seriously, Costa’s largely because the desert habitats it favors is being eaten up by uncontrolled development, and the migratory summer resident Black-chinned because the resident Anna’s have taken all the good territories, relegating the Black-chinneds to suboptimal areas.
And, finally, a rooster Gambel’s Quail, Callipepla gambelii perching about 3m up in a Palo Verde. These guys are normally shy like all quail, but the birds resident at the Desert Botanical Garden are less so. This bird’s namesake is William Gambel, a terrific naturalist who discovered a large number of previously unknown species during his very short (26 years) life.