Sunday, July 19, 2015

For Some of Us, It’s a Dry Monsoon

Hail from June 30 storm
Though Tucson’s 2015 monsoon season supposedly started in late June, we haven’t really seen much rain yet (here are some totals). In fact our first storm featured golf-ball-sized hail banging on roofs and cars for such a long time that the ground was covered with chunks of ice and it seemed like it had snowed on the 30th of June. There have only been a few small rainfalls since then, and because our neighborhood continues to be dry, lots of birds have been coming to our yard for water and food.

This morning while Greg and I were sitting on the patio, we saw some kind of crested flycatcher in the big Mexican Crucillo and a Hooded Oriole on one of the hummingbird feeders. Two Broad-billed Hummingbirds were fighting over the other feeder. There were Cactus Wrens on the peanut feeder, a family of quail on the seed block, and a small flock of Lesser Goldfinches on the nyjer feeder. And just now as I sit at my desk writing this post, a Gila Woodpecker landed on my window screen with a piece of peanut in his beak; he kept trying to squawk his raucous call in spite of having his mouth full. Lots of birds come to our backyard because they need water, and thanks to some expert advice from the folks at the Wild Bird Store, we have more of a variety of feeders and consequently more varied birds. The goldfinches are a new and surprisingly persistent addition.

At the nyjer feeder, any time of the day – other than when a roadrunner has just been through the yard and the small birds have scattered – there are ten or more Lesser Goldfinches and a couple of Pine Siskins. The nyjer feeder forces the goldfinches to eat upside down, which doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for them. Here are a few pictures from that feeder:

Three goldfinches on the nyjer feeder
Goldfinches and a siskin
 But it's a dry heat and a dry monsoon, and I'm starting to worry that -- at least in our neighborhood -- we won't get the kind of rainfall we need to keep the desert healthy. Here are a few more backyard photos:

Looking for something?
Cholla flowers
White-winged Dove on the seed block


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