Posts Tagged ‘roadrunner’


May 2, 2017

Good that the doves breed all year ’round to keep the predators fed.  Not only the bobcat and snake I showed in my last blog, but the roadrunner that today jumped over my fence to drink from the birdbath.  And yesterday there was a hawk on my neighbor’s fence, Cooper’s I think, although I didn’t get a good look, as when I saw it, it saw me and promptly flew away.

The Goldfinch

On Saturday, when my daughter’s family stopped by, my daughter espied a baby chick on the ground.  We knew it was a goldfinch because a parent was cheeping at us from a tree.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t see a nest to return it to, and the large mesquite out front has been over-trimmed (why do people do that?) so that the branches are 30 feet up, with no way to get to a nest if we’d even seen it.

So… my daughter took it home, filled a container with rags and hamster bedding, made a mash of kitten milk, catfood, and ground seeds, and fed it with a eyedropper. Pretty horrible looking, isn’t it? It doesn’t have flight feathers, and it hasn’t opened its eyes yet.  A bit of smashed mash on the wings, as it would turn quickly.  (The grey feathers I added – they were left from the bobcat’s meal.)

Anyway, she then took off on a three-day field trip to California with her daughter, and left the nestling to me!  She said she’d been feeding it every hour or so.   Supposed to feed it until its crop (a bubble on its neck) is full.  And if its skin is red, it’s dehydrated.  I checked the advice online to verify.1

Decided it needed birdseed, so chopped up sunflower kernels and Niger thistle seeds (which didn’t grind well with the mortar and pestle), mixed with water, and it seemed to like that, cheeping and jumping about.

Something is seriously wrong with its eyes.  I googled, of course, I have a finch with encrusted eyes. What should I do?

You are observing a disease that was first observed in House Finches in the Mid-Atlantic States in 1994, that has since spread to most of North America. It is caused by a parasitic bacterium called Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis. So far, the disease is most prominent in the eastern population of House Finches. However, a few reports of the disease have been confirmed in American Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, and Pine Grosbeaks, all members of the family Fringillidae. There is a lot of information on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website — the FAQ page is particularly informative.2

So I looked up what to do for that.3

Then kept searching:

Avian pox is another disease that affects House Finches. This disease is characterized by wart-like growths on the featherless areas of the body such as around the eye, the base of the beak, and on the legs and feet. Avian pox can be mistaken for conjunctivitis when the eyes are affected. “Growths” on the eye are typically from avian pox.4

Then the meds for that.5  But of course my daughter pointed out that it was just a chick that fell out of a tree, and it would die, just not by predator.

Five days later and the bird is dying.  My daughter has brought it by on her way to work.  No cheeping today, no fluttering of wings, and  only two bites of food each feeding.  I cheeped at it in an attempt to get it to open its beak, and even played chirping goldfinch babies from the internet, earphone next to its head, but it wasn’t hungry, or we got the food wrong and maybe it’s stuck in its throat.   It is withering away.  So I thought it should spend some time outside, with the bird calls, the cooing of the mourning doves, underlain with the hum of my AC unit, the swish of cars along La Cholla, with the occasional low rumble of a truck.

A dried bougainvillea slowly rattles across the brick patio, the trees rustle in the wind, and there’s the whir of a hummingbird wings and their high-pitched ratchet call, along with the chitter of some small bird.  The white winged doves call “Who cooks for you?  Who cooks for you?”  There’s the loud cheep cheep cheep of the woodpecker or flicker (or is its call the scrak scrak scrak?), another twittering.

A goldfinch drinks from the birdbath, then swoops back to the area outside the fence.  Two mourning doves share it now.  Then the AC unit turns on again.  It had been windy and the sky was overcast all day, but it has blown over and the evening is cool.

My daughter picked the bird up after work and it died before she reached home.

[It] should have died hereafter…
Out, out, brief candle…
It is a tale…
Signifying nothing.



May 18, 2014

white 009white 007

My white flowers are almost gone.  The ground cover, myoporum, around my spa deck, has been white for a month.  My cilantro has flowered and is starting to seed, so I’m using it for flower arrangements.  In pots next to my bedroom patio are volunteer white 011white 008snapdragons and phlox, and on the deck the alyssum is almost finished.  The sahuaro white blossoms have mostly turned to fruit.
white 015white 010.






Birds, and a lizard

hawk 001An immature Cooper’s hawk sat at my birdbath, watching me.  I guess one of his parents is the hawk who often sits in the huge mesquite next to my backyard.  They love doves, and there are a few around here.

white 001I noticed “my” roadrunner was limping, and saw that his left leg had gotten tangled in twine when I enlarged this photo.  (Click to see.)

My cat dearly wants to catch this collared lizard.  Unfortunately, she ate another small bird yesterday (I white 002found the feathers of what looked like a goldfinch under a living room window, so it may have flown in and broken its neck) and of course threw up on the rug.  She is confined to quarters today.

We broke the ice on the Santa Cruz

We hit our first one hundred degree day here in Tucson on Friday, May 16th.  Saturday we had a high of 101°.1



May 4, 2013

A white-winged dove
on the edge of the bird bath
asked me to fill it.

A roadrunner running across the road with a small lizard in its beak.  A neighbor said that she watched a road runner kill a rattler.  First it unfurled its wings (to confuse the snake?)  Then it grabbed the snake in the middle and shook it until its spine broke.  (Don’t try this at home.)  I had never seen a roadrunner with its wings spread, so, of course, I checked it out on the internet and found this video:  (Just watch the first minute or so.)

Same neighbor said that the woman across the wash from her scatters birdseed, attracting pigeons (which we normally do not have here).  But she said that the bobcats hop onto her roof at night (one-story house) and dine on the pigeons.

wasp 004Tarantula Wasp
A tarantula wasp1 had gotten between the screen and the door.  Took a few photos before I drew back the screen to let it fly out.  Its wings are such a beautiful coral.


My large mesquite has been showering pollen.  A light gold dust on everything.  Maybe that’s what I’m allergic to.  (My eyes are red and itchy.)

I’ve had my May Day luncheon for almost ten years (inspired by one in a Sonoma or Napa wine magazine, exchanging bouquets) and we used to dine on the deck.  Last year and this I’ve had to move the tables may day snowinside.  (Sunday 97°.)  You’d think that the globe was warming up or something…  Then the new shows photos of Cheyenne, Wyoming, which received more than a foot of snow Tuesday night and Wednesday morning!

 A Learning Vacation
There had been an article in the NY Times Travel section a few weeks ago, Professional Conferences Double as Vacation Venues2, which piqued my interest, as I love to learn.  But most of the photos were of Davosyoung things.  Except for one, showing people a bit older.  Turns out it was Christine Lagard, Managing Director of the IMF, and Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a bit above me.

There are several levels of membership: the basic level, which will get you one invitation to Davos, costs about $52,000. The ticket itself is another $19,000, plus tax, bringing the total cost of membership and entrance fee to $71,000.

A friend had already told me about TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design).  These are two of her favorite talks:


One of my College Algebra students pointed out this article about him in the college newspaper, Student’s winding road leads back home3, proud that he started off hopping freight trains at 13, later getting involved with a girl whose mom was selling speed to the Hells Angels, but now hopes his next realities include transferring to the University of Arizona and eventually earning a Ph.D.

My exercise class is a national thing:

The SilverSneakers® Fitness Program is an innovative health, exercise and wellness program helping older adults live healthy, active lifestyles.

Monday a group of Special Needs adults joined us, with their care staff.  Imagine a dozen people with Down’s Syndrome (actually only on man had Down’s Syndrome, but you get the idea) with varying abilities; some could follow instructions, some not.  Some had a range of motions, some not.  A few of us helped the aides.  Made us oldsters look like we could do anything.  Class went a bit slower today, but I’m so glad they’re out and trying.  They’ll join us once a month.





January 4, 2013

jan birds 002jan birds 003

A roadrunner on my deck with its feathers fluffed out.  Then it saw me and came to attention.  As soon as I went outside to ask for a photo op, it scooted out of the yard.  I checked my old posts, and it was way back in 2010 that I had a tamer roadrunner1.  And I wrote about the woman feeding a roadrunner bacon on the outdoor patio at the Catalina BBQ Co. & Sports Bar after a game of golf2 in 2011 but that happened back in 2003 or 2004 when I was building my present house, and after checking out the progress of the construction often went to the Sports Bar for lunch.

Was thinking of another event there involving a roadrunner.  One day I went for lunch and had my Airedale, Lucy, on a leash with me.  Attached her to a chair outside and went inside to order.  Stopped for a minute to talk to a friend; she was looking outside and asked Isn’t that your dog?  Lucy was dashing across the patio, dragging the metal chair.  I was told that a mother roadrunner had her nest next to the patio, and apparently she thought that my dog was infringing upon her space (and not proffering bacon).  Roadrunner can be nasty – they can kill rattlesnakes!

I remember having seen a similar scene in one of the Beethoven movies:

George brings home important clients for a barbecue and while George is inside Beethoven overhears the couple discussing how they are going to swindle George out of his company. While the couple are seated around a patio table, Beethoven, on a very long leash, encircles the pair. When a ball is thrown over a fence Beethoven chases after it, dragging the couple with him.

Anyway, my present roadrunner isn’t tame.

Taxes, Wall Street, and NASCAR

The 11th-hour deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff preserved billions of dollars in corporate tax giveaways even as it slashed take-home pay for millions of American workers.

nascarFor 2013 I and the other three instructors on our grant have had our hours of work at the college cut.  That combined with the loss of the payroll tax credit will cost me about $2K a year.  But hey, I’m glad that the Wall Street and those NASCAR guys got a break!

One of the more unusual tax benefits in the fiscal cliff legislation is a longstanding carve-out for racetracks used by NASCAR.

Since 2004, Congress has passed a series of stopgap measures that allow owners of motorsports complexes to accelerate their depreciation expenses. This means that owners can deduct more in expenses, reducing the taxes they must pay.

Supporters in Congress and industry groups have argued that the tax break is necessary to “maintain the current standard expected by our competitors and fans.” According to estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the so-called NASCAR loophole will cost taxpayers $46 million this year and an additional $95 million through 2017. 3

Les Mis

Just saw the movie, Les Misérables.  Wish I had seen the musical when it was here in Tucson in 2005.  ‘Cuz when you’re watching the movie you’re picturing the scenes on a stage.  On the one hand, the movie dashed through the book (understandably, as the book is 1,488 pages), but on the other hand, at 2 hours and 37 minutes, the movie seemed very long.  Someone would start singing and it’d go on forever.  I was thinking, Come on let’s get on with the plot.  Guess I’m too used to those 90 minute popcorn films.

One reason to see the play rather than the movie is that with the play you’re far enough back not to see people’s teeth.  On a huge movie screen closeup, those stunning white teeth are startling.  If Jean Valjean was starved and beaten for nineteen years in prison, without even a toothbrush, there’s no way he’d have gorgeous teeth.  jackmanI was going to say that’s the problem with American actors – they all have beautiful teeth, but Hugh Jackman, who played Jean Valjean, is an Aussie.  For the first scene, when he is shown as a convict, he had…

barely eaten for 36 hours and hadn’t drunk anything, not even water, during this period.  Little wonder that [he] looked gaunt, with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes.

‘I’d already shed 20 pounds, through exercise and a very lean diet, before I embarked on that 36-hour period in which I drank nothing and ate very little and I knew I was pushing myself and my body to the limit.  But the non-consumption of liquids is a very clever bodybuilders’ trick for giving one sunken cheeks and sunken eyes and, boy, did it work. Maybe just a little too well…’

cosetteOk, he looked gaunt, but couldn’t they have blacked his teeth?  When I was working in Dublin, I remember a group of middle-aged, probably middle-class Irish going into a restaurant.  Their teeth were terrible!  And, of course, third world people tend to have bad or missing teeth.  When I was in the Peace Corps in Jamaica, thirty-five years ago, there was only one dentist in the whole parish.  He had no time for corrective work; he only pulled out bad teeth.

But I loved a lot of the singing.  I Dreamed a Dream, sung by Anne Hathaway5 was stupendous, rather like the only memorable song from Cats, Memory6.  Child actress Isabelle Allen plays the young Cosette and her voice is crystalline.  (She even looks like the 1862 illustration of Cosette from the book.)  les mis kidAnd I thought that 12-year-old Daniel Huttlestone who played the child-hero Gavroche sang beautifully!  Reminded me of the youngster in the Tucson Boys Chorus who performed as Oliver about forty years ago.

I also loved the choruses, especially Look Down, one of the best-known songs from the musical and repeated throughout, and Red and Black, sung by the students barricading the streets and fomenting revolution.

The June Rebellion was an unsuccessful, anti-monarchist insurrection of Parisian Republicans—led by student societies in June of 1832.

barricadesWhen I was in architecture school we studied Haussmann’s Renovation of Paris.  By demolishing many of the tenements of Paris, creating wide boulevards, Napoléon figured that barricades could no longer block access to his troops.

The Haussmann Plan was a modernization program of Paris commissioned by Napoléon III and led by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870. Haussmann’s boulevards established the foundation of what is today the popular representation of the French capital around the world, cutting through the old Paris of dense and irregular medieval alleyways into a more rationally-designed city with wide avenues and open spaces which extended outwards far beyond the old city limits. 7



November 25, 2012

Something crashed through the underbrush.  (Temperature around 80° so I’ve got the doors open to the screens, and can hear the desert.)  I went out to check, and four mule deer were out back, apparently having run from something, possibly those two coyotes that hang out under the mesquite tree, hoping to land the fawn for a variation in their diet.  The left one stood at attention for about half an hour.  The other three looked around as I talked to them.  (See the small antlers on the one in the back?)


A mockingbird at my birdbath.

Then the cat alerted me to another bird with the scratchy meow she uses to mention that there’s a bird outside.  Had to look around, but noticed a roadrunner on the spa deck.

(You can clink on any of these photos to enlarge them.)

When you think you know who your friends are…

May 10, 2011


A great squawking this morning by the female cardinal.  I looked out and the male cardinal was worrying my friend the roadrunner, high up in the acacia tree.  Roadrunner, no doubt, had been thinking of raiding the eggs in the cardinal nest.  I assisted in the rout, walking towards the roadrunner until it swooped (they seldom fly) down to the ground and ran off.  Not sure if the ensuing cardinal peeps were meant as a thank-you.


A cottontail has been digging its burrow in the soft earth bank of the tiny wash which runs through my backyard.   (You can barely see its ears in the hole.)  Smart, in that the coyotes (at least the grown ones) can’t get through my backyard fence.  When the bobcats return, however, it won’t be any safer than anywhere else. 

When my cat sees the bunny she stalks it around the yard and it bounds off.  But this morning I looked out of the bathroom window and it was in my vegetable garden!  Admittedly, I had encircled the garden with welded wire, in 2”x4” rectangles, as that was more “architectural” than chicken wire.  I went out to shoo it away and it slipped right through the fence.  I am constantly amazed at the tiny apertures animals can squeeze through.  Guess I have discovered who devoured my arugula.


Just now a white-winged dove slammed into my kitchen window, but then flew away around the garage.  I went outside to see if it had collapsed there, only to see a  Cooper’s hawk (identified by the stripes on its tail) flying past the window to see if his ploy had worked.  I had heard that hawks herded birds into windows to knock them out and make the kill easier, but this is the first time I had witnessed it.

San Xavier

My cousin and his wife from Virginia are vacationing at his daughter’s in Phoenix this week, so they drove down on Sunday for a short visit.  Not time enough for a hike in Sabino Canyon or a trip to the Desert Museum, so we toured San Xavier mission.   This from Wikipedia (which has better photos than mine, shown here):

The mission was founded in 1692 by the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino, founder of the Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert chain, who often visited and preached in the area. The original mission church, located about two miles away, was vulnerable to Apache attacks that finally destroyed it in about 1770. The present building was constructed with native labor working from 1783-1797 with a loan of 7,000 pesos, and serves the Catholics of the San Xavier District of Tohono O’odham Nation.

For the interior restoration, fresco workers were brought in from Italy.

The on-site effort at San Xavier was supervised by Carlo Giantomassi and Donatella Zari of Rome, Italy, two of the world’s outstanding fresco and mosaic conservators… Giantomass, was a member of the technical commission overseeing the Sistine Chapel project.

Tie-dyed Eggs

April 24, 2011

Spent the weekend in Phoenix with the grandkids.  My daughter had to work Saturday (she’s a nurse, which entails some weekends and holidays), so she assigned me to do the tie-dyed eggs with the kids.  And I do mean TIE-dyed, as with old ties. silk-dyed-eggs-aka-tie-dyed

She had gotten old ties at Goodwill and we cut them up and wrapped the eggs in the ties, then squares of an old pillowcase.  Next you boil them in water with a bit of vinegar, and voilà!  They turned out pretty well considering a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old did them.

(Have to give credit to my son-in-law for tending the baby, allowing me to do the creative, fun stuff.)

Of course, hunted for the eggs the next morning, and I fixed our family tradition – matzoh brei, for breakfast.  (As is my wont, I split before church.)


Spring Blooms

Beautiful jacaranda tree in bloom on Queen’s Creek Road (photo).  I10 was lined by palo verdes in bloom, and the texas rangers planted recently on I10 at the Orange Grove exit were blooming a deep purple.

The cat was happy to see me; as soon as I let her out she brought me a lizard.  (It was perfectly ok, so I let it go.)

One of the roadrunners was playing on the spiral staircase to my deck, bouncing up the stairs and sliding down the railing.  I bet if I tried, I could have him eating bacon out of my hand.

One day, when I was building this house, I went to the golf club for lunch.  On the patio, a woman at the next table took the bacon out of her BLT and fed it to a roadrunner.

So it isn’t just the Desert Museum who can train them.  (At the Museum roadrunners are part of the Raptor Free Flight Demonstrations that I reported on in February: Raptor Free Flight)

Oh my, the High!

March 15, 2011

(No, I’m not talking of desert hallucinogenics this time.)  Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to be 89°.  And we’re only halfway through March!  Contrast that to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  My Michigan friends who had visited a few weeks ago said that yesterday morning it was !  Ya gotta love the cold to spend winter in a cabin in the UP!

This Week’s Critters


A very large coyote slunk by my fence this morning.  I ran for the camera, but it had melted into the underbrush.  It’s amazing how stealthy it was.  Not a branch stirred, not a rock displaced.  The rabbit that had been there an hour before was long gone, and the fat quail had also disappeared.  The half dozen goldfinches, delighted that I added more Nyjer seed to the feeder, completely ignored the predator.


A large roadrunner has been hanging around recently, making that wind-up-toy whirring sound they make.  Yesterday morning it was hopping up the stone steps to my bedroom patio when my cat, apparently defending her territory, rushed down the spiral stairs from the deck.  Roadrunners can be pretty ferocious (they kill rattlesnakes), but discretion being the better part of valor, this one took flight (which they rarely do) and perched at the top of a nearby tree.  (Photo – mine from last year.)


Unfortunately, my cat brought in a small gopher snake last night, and when I found it she had bitten off the last 4” of its tail.  (The snake was only about 18” long.)  It looked dead, upside down, but when I put it in the rosemary it was moving its head about.  I hope that it lived.  This morning it was gone but I don’t know if it was taken by another predator.  (I was too sad about the snake to take a photo – I really like gopher snakes.  This one from the internet.)

The Ice Melted on the Santa Cruz

May 29, 2010

The Scorpion

As I was reading last night I noticed a three-inch golden scorpion making its way across the bed towards me.  My first thought was how do I get it out of the house?  And I realized that most people would simply smash it with the book.  Not me.  I would normally cover an insect with a glass, slip a paper underneath it, and take it out.  But my glass still had an inch of fruit juice in it so I scooted the scorpion onto a newspaper and balanced it out the door.

Deer Sighting

Why is seeing a predator more exciting than seeing an ungulate?  No bobcat today.  A deer eating next to my fence, a rabbit bounding across the road away from me when I got my mail, my friend the roadrunner on his daily rounds, and the usual assortment of birds.

The Ice Melted on the Santa Cruz

The high on Friday (May 28) was 100° at 3pm, so the ice melted on the Santa Cruz.  I tried to find out the history of that expression, and only found this comment on the Web:

Today the ice melted in the Santa Cruz River! Yup, today was the day! BREAKUP! You ask yourself what in the world is she talking about???? Well, here in this fine city, the first day of the year the temperature officially reaches 100 degrees is the day the ice melts in the Santa Cruz River. HUH??? EXPLAIN! Well, first of all, the Santa Cruz river is usually a dry river bed …  unless it is monsoon season, when the dry river bed turns into a vicious, treacherous, swift moving river! But only for a while! Then it goes back to its former self…dry. The local media (ahem) has dubbed the first day of 100 degrees as the day the ice melts in the river!

A Pleasant Evening

The sound of the wind in the trees and the call of the doves which a friend said sounds like Who Cooks for You?  Who Cooks for You?  (But I think it’s co-co-kaju, co-co-kaju.)  One of my windbells clanging.  And the birds cheep cheep, tweet tweet.  The flap of wings and the sound from I10 whooshing in the background.  (That instead of the Amazon’s insect whine.)  It doesn’t often carry this far.  Maybe there’s moisture in the air?  But no clouds.

The moon tiny and white in the sky.  A jet from the airport almost intersects it, but is gone quickly. 

I’ll sit and see if that small sailing cloud  
Will hit or miss the moon.  
It hit the moon.  
Then there were three there, making a dim row,  
The moon, the little silver cloud, and she.

The Death of the Hired Man, Robert Frost


My cat, cautious as she is, sits next to me on the chaise lounge.  The evening is pleasant, especially with grapefruit juice and gin.

And then they yip and yelp…

April 6, 2010

The coyotes yip just about every night.  Last night at 10:30, many nights at midnight.  The yipping is so high-pitched it sounds like they are injured.

The calls a coyote makes are high-pitched and variously described as howls, yips, yelps and barks. These calls may be a long rising and falling note (a howl) or a series of short notes (yips). These calls are most often heard at dusk or night… Although these calls are made throughout the year, they are most common during the spring mating season … When a coyote calls his pack together, he howls at one high note. When the pack is together, he howls higher and higher, and then they yip and yelp and also do a yi-yi sound very shrill with the howl.

Yesterday the roadrunner was in the yard; today I only heard the brrrr brrrr.  What does it eat when it’s still too cool for the lizards and snakes to be out?

A bird came up to my kitchen window to peck at its reflection.  It was smaller than a finch, with a nice long tail, gray with a black head; not just the top of the head, the whole head was black.  I cannot find it in my bird book.  (My mom’s Birds of North America is falling apart.  I probably should get one just for birds of Arizona.)  Neither could I find it online (birds of the Sonoran Desert).  Now I am starting to question my own memory.  (I wonder about my memory.  Have you ever felt that someone was sneaking into your house, moving items so that you’d think that you were going crazy?)  Maybe it really was a black-tailed gnatcatcher. 

Here is a (bad) photo of what I think is a gray flycatcher that I’ve been watching.  I‘m trying to practice with the bells and whistles on my friend’s camera that I’m taking to the Amazon, but it’s hard going. 

Does anyone know the name of these many flimsy single-winged, long-legged flies bouncing along my sliding glass doors?  They seem to have just hatched.  They seem to have no purpose (like bees pollinating or mosquitoes spreading malaria); I don’t even see birds eating them.

If I seem distracted, it’s because I’m trying to get together all of the stuff for my trip.  I just bought one of those money belts that you wear under your clothes ‘cause my friend says the ATMs in Iquitos are often out of money, and no one takes travelers checks.  After having my wallet ripped off on a bus last year in Vancouver (yes!  Canada!) I want to hide my cash.  I also bought 98% deet, but the doctor said that high a percentage often causes skin irritation, and my daughter had some leftover lemon eucalyptus oil, which Mary uses instead of deet, so I traded that in and got permithirin to bug-proof my clothes, but I got the spray and my daughter says the soak is easier so now I have to trade that in.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Did break down and buy a new copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire because I think it’ll keep me reading for awhile, and now I think I ought to pick up a new copy of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon as maybe it’ll be appropriate (hah!)  I got a few used paperbacks at Bookman’s, but they don’t have anything that new.  One more day to countdown.