The Gambel’s Quail can fly, but is more of a ground bird. We see family groups scurrying around in the brush and crossing the roads all in a line - dad, mom in the lead and a line of chicks following. Beautiful birds with some pretty cool calls that can be heard in the evenings out in the washes.
Another bird, the Cooper's Hawk, sit on their high perches and study the surroundings for other birds, which are their prey, especially the plentiful Doves. In attack mode, they fly concealed very low through the trees and bushes and surprise their unsuspecting prey.
One of our “cutest” little critters is the Harris’s Ground Squirrel. At first glance they look somewhat like a chipmunk. They are tunnel dwellers and can be seen everywhere ! they pop in and out of their holes and scurry about and are very playful with each other.
And then there are the lizards. This one is a Desert Spiny Lizard and is very colorful and pretty large. But there are many other kinds of lizards here on the ground, on the walls, in the trees, all over.
Speaking of lizards, here is one you’ll want to avoid or at least observe from a distance. The Gila Monster is a large slow moving fellow with a big fat tail and a mouth lined with needle sharp little teeth. If you are silly enough to mess with it, it can clamp down on your body part, grinding away with their sharp teeth, which stimulates the release of venom. Their jaws lock down tightly and may still be attached to you when you arrive in the Emergency Room. Just leave it alone, OK ? :)
Those of you who were fans of the cartoon show, Road Runner will recognize this as the real life hero of the cartoon. The Road Runner is a fast mover seen prowling around the neighborhoods, generally looking for lizards. They remind me of chickens as they search around our yards for prey. We humans don’t seem to bother them much.
Another common sight along the streets and in the brush is the Javelina. Even though they look like members of the pig family, they are not. They belong to the Peccary family. They usually travel in family groups. They are another critter to just leave alone. The males are big, fast and have sharp tusks. I know several local dogs who carry Javelina scars.
This beautiful Bobcat visited our front yard one morning in search of ground squirrels for breakfast. I photographed her “at work”.
Coyotes are also a common sight here. This one wandered into our yard with an injured hind foot. They are very skittish, so there is no approaching them, which one shouldn’t do anyway. I had to photograph her through the window glass, so the image is a bit dull. She ran through our yard last evening, so I believe her injury was short-lived. Probably a cactus needle in her foot.
Now here is the critter we all have to be wary of. The Rattlesnake. I believe this one is a Western Rattlesnake, but we have several varieties. It slithered by on the outside of our enclosed yard wall. Fortunately, I was on the inside ! I grabbed my Nikon, attached a telephoto lens (can you blame me?) and captured that disturbing stare. We watch our step around here. The rule of the desert applies, Leave It Alone ! Besides the rattlers diet of rodents help fight the real threat to us humans which are the rodents that carry viruses and diseases.
This Mexican Gray Wolf was in residence at a local facility that deals with animal rescues and, in this case, helping with the reintroduction of this Wolf back into the mountain areas in Arizona and Mexico. They had almost been completely wiped out by hunters and other reasons, but are now being brought back and I believe there about 130 reintroduced so far. Great story !
The Mountain Lion was in the same facility and is a rescue. I forget what his injuries or issues were, but "George" will have to stay at the facility and cannot be returned to the wild. Too bad, but ain’t he pretty ?
OK..hope you enjoyed these Arizona critters. As this is just my second posting please let me know if it is too long or included too much information. Critiques are always welcome.