Readers’ wildlife photos

It took me many months of begging and pleading with Pete Moulton, an excellent wildlife photographer, to get him to give me some photos to put up. Day after day I’d see him posting stunning photos—usually birds—on his Facebook page, and day after day I’d ask, “Can I have this, please?”. Finally, when I posted a photo of myself on his page in a posture of supplication, he relented. His excuse was that his photos weren’t good enough. Not true—he was being way too modest.

But at any rate, we have our first selection from Pete in a long time, and here it is. I’d say it was worth the wait, but I don’t want to wait so long for the next batch. Pete’s notes are indented:

I’m really sorry to have taken so long with these. Sad to say, my photography’s been decidedly subnormal this year, and it’s taken longer than usual to accrue enough images that you and your readers might like.

My significant other and I made our annual Labor Day weekend pilgrimage to the east side of the Huachuca Mtns, near Sierra Vista, Arizona, where we spent considerable time visiting with an old friend who operates a birder-oriented bed and breakfast inn in Ash Cañon.

During the weekend we saw at least nine species of hummingbirds, of which the Lucifer Hummingbird (Calothorax lucifer) is the real prize. The Lucifer is primarily a Mexican species which reaches its northernmost range limit in southeastern Arizona, and during the last ten or so years our friend’s feeding station has become the premier spot to see one (or twenty) in the United States. This one is a juvenile male, and the single tiny magenta throat feather barely visible on the far side of his throat is but a harbinger of many more to come.

Adult male Lucifer Hummingbird. The youngster will look like this some day. Altogether, there were probably about 15 Lucifers coming to the feeders. They aren’t very aggressive as hummingbirds go, and favor the single-port feeders where the others won’t beat them up.

Birders who live in the northern Rocky Mtns will know the next one despite its unobtrusiveness. This is a juvenile male Calliope Hummingbird, Stellula calliope. It’s the smallest regularly occurring North American bird.

I noticed some new features in the yard, including a bubbling rock, which serves the hummingbirds perfectly for bathing purposes. Hummingbirds are incapable of walking, and so can’t just wade into puddles for baths the way other birds can. Here, they can land in very shallow flowing water for their baths. This is a juvenile male Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus, at his ablutions.

Juvenile male Costa’s Hummingbird, Calypte costae, at the Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii). One of these was reported during the weekend, but I never saw it. This one was at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.

Hummingbirds aren’t the only attraction. This is a Sleepy Orange, Eurema nicippe.

And this one is a Gulf FritillaryAgraulis vanillae.

And, finally, a couple of shots from the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. This is one of our feral Rosy-faced LovebirdsAgapornis roseicollis. The AOS has determined that the Phoenix metro area population is large and stable enough to qualify as a ‘countable’ species.

We still have plenty of butterflies flying in the desert. This is a Cloudless SulphurPhoebis sennae.



  1. Posted September 21, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos Pete!

  2. Andrea Kenner
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous photos! Thank you!

  3. GBJames
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Wow. These are great!

  4. Posted September 21, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Wonderful! The bathing hummer is my favorite.
    I gotta get pictures of sulphurs, but they just don’t let me get close enough.

  5. Terry Sheldon
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Absolutely lovely!! Thank you!!

  6. Debbie Coplan
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Just a true delight to see these wonderful photos! I never have the opportunity to see this kind of wildlife.

  7. Posted September 21, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Ha! I wish my photos could be this subnormal. Great stuff.

  8. rickflick
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Here in the East, I don’t see these hummers. Thanks for providing a look West. Great shots all.
    It looks like these are all natural light.
    Do you use an electronic flash?

    • Pete Moulton
      Posted September 21, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      I hardly ever use electronic flash, rickflick. As you surmised, all these images were made only with natural light.

  9. ladyatheist
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful! And so wonderful to see that some invasive species are beautiful birds that would otherwise have lived in captivity.

  10. Leigh Jackson
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink


  11. Mark R.
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos…I’m glad Jerry’s pleading worked! I didn’t know Phoenix had a stable population of love birds – too cool.

    • Pete Moulton
      Posted September 21, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      If anything, the population is increasing and spreading. The AOS now accepts the species on the official Checklist of North American Birds, but only birds in the Phoenix metro area count. Rosies are popular cage birds, and are available to keepers all over the United States, so they occasionally do turn up at other locations.

  12. Posted September 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for continuing to share your wonderful artistry with us, Pete. Your photos brighten my day.

  13. Pete Moulton
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your nice comments, everyone!

  14. Diane G.
    Posted September 22, 2017 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Outstanding photos!

    Looks as if the Costa’s hummer might be an important pollinator of Autumn Sage.

    That Gulf Fritillary shot is spectacular–it just jumps off the page!

  15. Glenda Palmer
    Posted September 22, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Wonderful photos. Always enjoy the animal kingdom shown at WEIT. Will forward these fine images to a dear friend who used to be a birder and is now physically unable to take part in bird counts, etc.

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