Thursday, April 3, 2014

Birds and Blooms and Birds on Blooms

Even though we had no winter this year (temps in the 80s through February), it's clearly spring time. This is not something I can tell from the position of the sun in the sky nor exclusively from the fact that now driving to work is no longer done in the dark, with with the sun directly in my eyes (not sure which is better). Everything is starting to bloom now, and even in a place not necessarily known for its colorful fauna, that indicator holds true in Phoenix just as well as anywhere else. The mesquites and palo verde are bursting with their dainty yellow flowers, while all the century plant and aloe groups are shooting up stalks (those that flower annually) with a quaint resemblance to tiny bananas. 

The cactus are all getting their bloom on as well, much to the delight of everything that eats them.

The ground has finally thawed enough that rodents are exiting their winter hibernation and shedding their thick winter coats, changing from their white robes into more appropriate desert brown.

Another strong indicator is that all the Phoenix residents are nesting. Hummingbirds are courting, Mourning Doves, Curve-billed Thrashers, and Cactus Wrens all have raucous chicks in their prickly fortresses, and Abert's Towhee juveniles are already bumbling around, bad at everything.
Despite all that change and twitterpation, some species re carrying on much the same as they always have. Verdin are constantly foraging and building nests, which they seems to do through winter, spring, summer, and sometimes fall just to be sure. There is no big they won't chase and no position too awkward for them to hold in their pursuit.

While the eastern half of the nation mobilizes with its 'nocs and Bengay for some outrageous Warbler migrations, Phoenicians will have to content themselves with Verdin antics and the occasional Townsend's or Hermit interloper. Yeah there are Orange-crowns too but who cares, and has anyone ever actually seen a MacGillivray's?

Anyway, it's a good time to be in the valley, even if we're relatively less spoiled for the birdies right now. Besides, I'm still on Gray Vireo detail this weekend. Warblers can wait.

P.S. Check, out how many bugs are on this plant. In addition to the Verdin's overflowing maw, there are ants and gnats all over the upper stems. Tis' bountiful.