Posts Tagged ‘gila woodpecker’

Who would you rather have babysit your children?

November 5, 2012

Obama or Romney?

When the ABC News/Washington Post poll put that question to registered voters last week, 49 percent chose President Obama, 36 percent Governor Romney.

Then the five in the NPR newsroom discussed all US Presidents.

… with two votes out of five, Abe Lincoln wins. He is the top babysitter pick among past presidents in our informal and completely silly poll.

Boy, am I ready for the election to be over.  No more polls.  No more commercials or the discussion of commercials or in-depth analysis of twitter feeds.  Obama and Romney’s carbon footprints must be terrible for this last week, but they sure have racked up frequent flier miles!

Non sequitur: Am looking forward to seeing Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln.

Bean eaters

The two coyotes were eating the mesquite beans again the other evening, but were nervous, probably due to the sound of shots, actually the driving range across the wash.  So with my first photo, they heard the click, looked up and, seeing me, ran in two directions.  (Meet you back at the den.)

Have been taking photos of birds at my birdbath.  Here’s the Gila woodpecker.

And I liked this late afternoon photo of the yard from my bedroom.  (Cat perched on the stairs, watching the birdbath.)  That tiny bit of red behind the cat is my neighbor’s gorgeous bougainvillea.

Intelligent Design

Anyone who has had his or her back or hip or knee go out will question Intelligent Design.  I know these injuries are part of planned obsolescence, like the “rust out” screw on your car, or the date on the can of food, but now that we’re living past our shelf life of 40, I think that engineers could do better at backs, hips, and knees.

(They have invented robotic exoskeletons, but they’re primarily for war.  See my blog –

Yeah, I’m writing this ‘cause my good knee gave out.  All I was doing was demonstrating a Taekwondo high kick for my grandkids (the boys had dressed as Power Rangers for Halloween) and with the twist my left knee buckled and I fell.  Could be an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury:

If you tear your anterior cruciate ligament, you may have the sensation of your knee giving out or buckling. You may even hear a popping sound.

I did hear a popping sound.  Luckily no searing pain, but if I turn wrong it buckles again.  Staying away from yard work and exercise classes until I see the doc tomorrow.

I have a minor tear in the meniscus of my right knee (a weight-lifting injury) and may have a Baker’s cyst (a buildup of joint fluid – synovial fluid -that forms a cyst) that feels like a rug burn on the back of that knee.   The cyst can’t really be fixed they say.  Aspirating the fluid would simply result in the creation of more fluid.  Intelligent Design – hah!

The Vegetarian Coyote

October 26, 2012

My coyote seems to like the mesquite seeds.  Definitely easier to catch than rabbits or mice!  (Photo taken at dusk, and he was moving.)  Noticed that he preferred pods that had fallen onto a bush, and would stand on his hind legs to get them, but he’d settle for ones on the ground.  From his scat I would say that mesquite beans made up most of his diet.  (Wondered if that was healthy so I checked and there are many vegetarian dog foods on the market.)

Studies have shown that when available, 80% of a coyote’s diet is made up of mesquite pods. [Non-sequitur: The temperature under the tree can be 15° F cooler than the surrounding desert.]

Cardinal v. Woodpecker

A Gila woodpecker and a female cardinal both landed on my birdbath at the same time.  (Unfortunately, my camera focused on the screen.)  After a staring contest, the cardinal won, and got to drink first.  The woodpecker returned after she was gone.

The Northern Cardinal has an orange beak, the Pyrrhuloxia (which I have been spelling incorrectly for a long time) has a yellow beak, and the Vermilion Cardinal has a grey beak.

The Gila Woodpecker has its red spot on its head while the Gilded Flicker (also a woodpecker) has its red spots on its cheeks.

Flash Mobs

I love flash mobs!  I was just sent this one, Beethoven’s 9th near Barcelona, Spain, Beethoven’s 9th and checked out a few others, this at a prison! prison  But my favorite has always been Grand Central Station: Grand Central Station and, of course, the Sound of Music: Sound of Music

A Bunny for Easter

April 4, 2010

Squawk! Squawk! Squawk! Squawk!  I thought my cat had caught a woodpecker as I ran up the outdoor stairs after her.  She did put it down when I told her to; it was a baby rabbit.  What a racket for a creature so small!  It was not hurt, but I hadn’t been watching the cat, so I didn’t know where she’d caught it.  I let it bounce away by the saguaro, hoping that it knew its way home.  Also, it’s noon, too hot for other predators, so if its parents find it, it’ll be ok.  A bunny for Easter!

A few days ago, her tail furred out, my cat ran up the spiral staircase petty fast.  Since nothing was behind her, I figured it wasn’t a bobcat, which could go through the fence, but a coyote.  I saw nothing; but coyotes are more skiddish than bobcats, and their tan fur is great camoflage.  We had seen one exiting the drainage wash to cross the street yesterday.  (She had been inside, so she growled.)

My three windbells, hung from different trees, give an occasional chiming.  Wednesday was so windy I didn’t open up the house, but Thursday the breezes were pleasant.  A desert marigold beyond my fence is in full bloom, as well as the creasote.  Hope the palo verdes explode into yellow before I leave in a week.

I tried buying “wild finch blend” bird feed, rather than all thistle, for my feeder.  The finches are not happy; only the gila woodpecker likes it, and the Gambel’s quail and white-crowned sparrows who pick up the seeds on the ground.  Guess I’ll be back to the nyjer thistle.

The weeds have covered half of the yard and my rabbit friend had been dutifully munching.  The area for my wildflowers is one of the few bare spots!  So I ordered more wildflower seeds from  Have been soaking the ground where I’m putting in more plants.  Amazing how hard the dirt is when it’s dry, but how much easier to dig through when it’s wet. 

The past two days I’ve been entertaining my four-year-old granddaughter.   A few hours in Sabino Canyon (; probably busier than most Fridays because children were out of school on Good Friday.  We took the tram (which has no discounts for seniors, although my National Parks pass let me park free), and stopped at The Beach, an expanse of sand filled with children from a gaggle of preteen girls to one toddler in a diaper, many with grandparents.  The water was frigid from snow melt on the mountains, but the kids enjoyed making very modest sand castles and wading back and forth across the creek, getting their clothes wet in the process.  I explained how the rushing water, when the creek is high from rain, knocks the rocks against each other to make sand, so she practiced making sand.

We took the tram a bit further (to the waterless latrines) and clambored over giant boulders.  We identified many cactus, but most of the wildlife stayed clear of the people.  We saw no fish in the water, no lizards (guess it is too early in the season), no squirrels or rabbits or coyotes or deer, a few butterflies, but even few birds.  We had mostly a “walking” picnic, in between bursts of activity.

She was also fascinated  by my new art creation, an idea stolen from Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Cuban-born American, 1957-1996 (shown at left).  Because I used blue lights (from Xmas, of course), I believe that it looks a bit like a waterfall, bubbling at the bottom.

Saturday we dyed the requisite Easter eggs, and went “bushwacking”,

bushwhack   To make one’s way through thick woods by cutting away bushes and branches.

picking our way through the mesquite, palo verdes, creosote, broom, and cactus behind my house to the wash.  Screams whenever we passed by a cactus or a bee on a flower (of which there were myriad).  We returned up through an empty lot four houses down and cut a nopale for lunch.

 Nopales (from the Nahuatl word nōpalli for the pads) are a vegetable made from the young pad segments of prickly pear, carefully peeled to remove the spines. These fleshy pads are flat and about hand-sized. They are particularly common in their native Mexico, where the plant is eaten commonly and regularly forms part of a variety of Mexican cuisine dishes.

If you shave off the immature stickers, wash it and cut it in slivers, grill it and serve it with olive oil and squeezes of lime it is quite good.  (Of course, that is my opinion, not hers.)  That combined with creme cheese on recently-baked chocolate bread and slices of apple made a good lunch.

We spent a lot of time in my too-hot outdoor Jacuzzi, and found worms in my compost pile for her to take home.  Amazingly enough, she spent a great deal of time “playing” with the worms, stretching them out, talking to them, feeding them leaves.  When we called her dad to arrange her ride home (we meet in Casa Grande), he asked us to wait another half-hour as her one-year-old brother was sleeping, and she wanted to go bushwhacking again!  (After all of her screeching about thorns and bees and this was too hard!)  Go figure.  But we were already cleaned up, so we took a boring walk around the block.

My packing is going well for the Amazon as my daughter saw the listing of items needed on this blog and is loaning clothes and giving me permithirin, cipro, etc. from their trip to Thailand.  And I got a beautiful tan backpack for joining the Sierra Club.

Snow in the Carolinas

February 7, 2010

The weather today in Tucson is gorgeous.  I took my morning walk in jeans and a t-shirt, but I would have done fine in shorts.  The yard is cheeping, twittering, and tweeting with a light background of traffic.  I feel like my restaurant has just made a hit; today there were 12(!) goldfinches at the bird feeder, as well as a Gila woodpecker (who I try to deter), and in addition to the two towhees on the ground below, there were six sparrows.  (I still am having a hard time classifying them – white-crowned? – they’re so fluttery!  It’s hard to imagine the snow storm that is hitting the east coast this weekend.

The biggest snowstorm to sweep across the Mid-Atlantic states since 1922 is creating havoc with travel from North Carolina to New York.

Airlines are cancelling flights to Washington, Philadelphia and Baltimore, which were expected to receive the brunt of the storm Friday and Saturday. Up to 30 inches of snow is forecast, the most since the 1922 “Knickerbocker” blizzard named after a theater in Washington, D.C. whose roof collapsed in the storm, killing 98 people.

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend in South Carolina.  She said that last weekend they’d had a few inches of snow, then sleet, and because it had continued to rain (and was 36°), she wished she could be visiting me!

I remember a heavy winter storm in SC last March 2.  I walked out of my apartment to find over 6” of snow.  Previous to this I had broken a credit card scraping ice off my windshield, so I had finally bought a scraper.  I had to scrape off all of the windows before I could start off on the unplowed roads.  I didn’t have a home computer at the time, or even a working television, or I would have seen this report:

Good morning!  Yes folks we actually got some snow, 150 schools and businesses are closed and the stores are out of bread and milk!  Browsing through the news I see we got about 6 inches.  Sure was pretty but I think we have about 70,000 without power. Traffic is at a standstill on I85 for miles and miles.  At 5:45 am it’s about 29 degrees and not going to warm up too much today so it may stick around a day or two.

The freeway was blocked up.  I got out of my car to ask another driver what had happened and he said that a truck had jackknifed on the icy highway.  Luckily I was in the right lane, so I followed a truck up the off ramp and onto side roads.  I had been tutoring a high school student before work twice a week, so I tried to call the school to tell them that I couldn’t make it, but not only did no one answer, there was no recording stating school was closed for a snow day.

I had grown up in Michigan, so I had no trouble driving over snow- and ice-covered roads, but I was half an hour late for work.  Surprise!  Only three other people were at work.  I asked where everyone was; they had all taken a snow day!  (I was attending Michigan State University on January 27, 1967, when it closed – first time ever – for a snow day after a 24-inch snowfall overnight.  What’s a mere six inches?)

What I didn’t know was that power was out in a quarter of the city due to tree limbs downed onto overhead lines by the heavy ice and snow.  A friend called me; the electric company had told her it would be two days until power was back in her neighborhood.  Yes, I would put up her and her animals – a cat, a small dog, and a parrot.  (Unfortunately her aquarium was too large to move and her fish died in the cold.)  My cat wasn’t a good hostess; she would allow no other animal in the master bedroom.  But everything else worked out.

So as I enjoy a clear sky and 66°, my heart goes out to those who cannot spend February in Arizona.