Once again I have begged some lovely animal photos from Pete Moulton. He lives in Phoenix, where these photos were taken, and his descriptions are indented.
I haven’t traveled too far from home lately, so these are all from my usual haunts at Papago Park and the Gilbert Water Ranch.American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana, in basic plumage, late February at Gilbert.
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus, same day, same location, so now we have all the North American representatives of that Family.
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) at Gilbert for this lot’s grebe du jour. I’m not delighted with this image because the lighting was so poor, but have never been so close to this species before, so I just had to try. You might wish to exclude this one, and I wouldn’t be disappointed. [JAC: it’s fine!]
Female Williamson’s Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus) at the Desert Botanical Garden. She spent about a week at that spot nectaring assiduously at the blooming aloes, and then decamped, much to latecomers’ disappointment.
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) in Gilbert. These little acrobats occur in Arizona every winter, but they are rare at best.
Male Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) in Papago Park. These are abundant and familiar even to nonbirders in Arizona, but it wasn’t always so. Representatives of two different Mexican populations began to invade the state only in the late 1930s. And they aren’t done yet. They’re still expanding north and east, so that now there are breeding populations as far north as Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa. The males are beautifully iridescent.
And finally a couple of mammals: a female Round-tailed Ground Squirrel (Xerospermophilus tereticaudus) munching on a fallen mesquite catkin, and a Harris’s Antelope Squirrel (Ammospermophilus harrisii) with her head buried in a cactus flower.