Archive for the ‘Arizona Outdoors’ Category

New Birds identified at Tucson Lodging

November 9th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Last week, eleven birds were added to our list of birds seen and identified on the property of Hacienda del Desierto Bed & Breakfast in Tucson, Arizona.  Guests who are expert bird watchers have identified sixty-two kinds of birds

Quail at Hacienda del Desierto

Quail at Hacienda del Desierto

that visit the Hacienda at different times of the year.  There are two fountains on the property that attract birds as well as two wild animal ponds, six hummingbird feeders, and eight birdseed feeders, two garden areas, and many trees and flowers that attract birds.

Abert’s Towhee                                  Verdin

Canyon Towhee                                  Phainopepla

Green-tailed Towhee                         Say’s Phoebe

Ash-throated flycatcher                       Gambel’s Quail

Black-headed grosbeak                        Greater Roadrunner

Bewick’s Wren                                          House Wren

Cactus Wren                                              Inca Dove

Rock Dove                                                  Hooded Oriole

White-winged Dove                                Northern Mockingbird

Morning Dove                                           White-throated Swift

American Goldfinch                                House Finch

Northern Cardinal                                    Gilded  Flicker

Pyrrhuloxia                                                Bendire’s Thrasher

Yellow-headed Blackbird                      Curved-bill ed Thrasher

Great horned owl                                      Elf Owl

Little Brown Bat                                         Purple Martin

Western Kingbird                                      Red-naped sapsucker

Brown-headed Cowbird                          Black chinned Hummingbird

Bronzed  Cowbird                                      Costa’s Hummingbird

Cedar Waxwing                                           Common Raven

Turkey Vulture                                           Gila Woodpecker

Anna’s Hummingbird                               Magnificent Hummingbird

Broad-billed Hummingbird                    White crowned Sparrow

House Sparrow                                            Chipping Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow                           MacGillivray’s Warbler

Lucy’s Warbler                                             Black-throated Gray Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler                                         Cooper’s Hawk

Common Nighthawk                                  Red -tailed Hawk

Lesser  Nighthawk                                      Cooper’s Hawk

Black-tailed gnatcatcher                          Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

American Kestrel                                        Lesser  Goldfinch

Outdoor Recreation Surrounds our Tucson Arizona Inn

October 26th, 2009 by tucsonbb

T’is the season when the rains start to fall in the Northwest and the snows start to fall in the Midwest. Yes, that’s when people start to wonder why they don’t spend more time in lovely places like Tucson Arizona, and they book a week or so at our Tuscon Arizona Inn. Some folks so deeply in love with this area that they end up moving here. Others just vow to return again, year after year. And they do.

Why? Because it is lovely here in the southwest in the winter, particularly in the Tucson area. True, nights can be cold, and it sometimes snows; but days are often sunny and just the right degree of warm.

Because the weather is so fine, it draws folks out of doors during the winter months. November is a great time to take long hikes in nearby Saguaro National Park or Sabino Canyon. Either spot offers miles of hiking trails, spectacular views, and clean air.

Tucson Botanical Gardens is always a good spot to visit while staying at our Tucson Arizona lodging, especially if you want to indulge in the beauty of southern Arizona wilderness without delving too deeply into that wilderness. There is always something interesting happening at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, such as the Scarecrows in the Garden exhibit, through November 30, 2010.

So don’t feel sad when the rains set in or the icy cold arrives with a blast. Fight back by heading south for a while, to this Tucson Arizona Inn.

Rare Saguaro on Tucson Lodging Property

October 13th, 2009 by tucsonbb

A recent article in our Tucson, Arizona paper highlighted a rare form of Saguaro cactus which grows bizarre and sometimes beautiful fan-shaped crests.  The growing tip produces a fan like form which is referred to as

Crested Saguaro at Hacienda Del Desierto

Crested Saguaro at Hacienda Del Desierto

crested or cristate.  Scientists haven’t yet found a definitive cause for this unusual growth.  It could be genetic mutation, a lightning strike, or freeze damage.  Only one in 200,000 mutates like this, so we are privileged to have one on our property, Hacienda del Desierto Bed & Breakfast.  The picture is of the one on our Tucson Bed & Breakfast property.

The main trunk of a mature Saguaro may be 40’ high and 2’ thick.  A woody inner skeleton provides the strength to support ten arms or more.  They start to grow when the cactus is around 60 years old.  They can live about 200 years.  The medium green skin covers 12-24 ribs which expand and contract depending on the among of stored moisture within the plant.  In May and June, in a tree at least 35 years old, the tips of the arms and the main stem are crowned with funnel-shaped, 3” wide flowers with waxy white petals.  Each flower blooms only once, opening at night and staying open into the next day.  The smooth-skinned green fruits, the size and shape of a chicken egg, split open at maturity.  The pulp, which contains tiny black seeds, is edible and very tasty.  Baby Sahuaro like to grow in the shelter of trees like the Palo Verde or Mesquite.  Frequently, one or two end up growing right up through the tree.  A mature Sahauro can weigh 6 tons and be 50’ tall.

The sahuaro provides a home to a variety of birds: gilded flicker, Gila woodpecker, owls, purple martins, finches, sparrows, ravens, and hawks.

Tucson Bed & Breakfast a Certified Wildlife Habitat

October 8th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Hacienda del Desierto Bed & Breakfast in Tucson, Arizona is a Certified Wildlife Habitat.  We have let important trees and shrubs grow without pruning in areas close to our home but not in areas which require

Wildlife Pond at Hacienda

Wildlife Pond at Hacienda

architectural landscaping which has created nesting areas for birds and cover for small animals to escape from predators.

We have two fountains and two wildlife ponds at the Hacienda which provide water to javalina, birds, rabbits, bobcats, coyotes, and other desert animals.  Various arid plants, especially red flowering ones, attract

“By providing food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young–and by incorporating sustainable gardening practices–you not only help wildlife, but you also qualify to become an official Certified Wildlife Habitat.”

Hummingbirds are attracted by all the flowers, especially the red ones.

See more beautiful gardens and a butterfly garden while visiting Tucson at Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Second Observatory for Tucson

July 19th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Most Tucsonans and visitors to Tucson, Arizona interested in astronomy already know about the world famous Kitt Peak National Observatory, but there is a new kid in town, Mount Lemmon Skycenter atop the Catalina Mountains, just 45 minutes from the desert floor. The University of Arizona operates the observatory with the goal of making astronomy appealing for everyday people while providing a variety of programs.  Nightly stargazing programs last about 5 hours and are offered for under $50.  Planets, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies can be observed from a 24-inch telescope, the largest used in a public program in Southern Arizona.

For Tucson visitors interested in stargazing while at our Tucson Bed & Breakfast lodging, we’ll recommend this new observatory.  Back at the Bed & Breakfast, there is a garden patio with a jetted spa where guests can unwind while enjoying the starlit sky.

Biking Old Spanish Trail in Tucson Arizona

July 8th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Recently, Tucson, Arizona was rated one of the top bike friendly communities.  All week, but especially on weekends, Old Spanish Trail is busy with bikers both because there is a bike lane all the way along it and because of the scenic Sonoran desert through which the road travels.  Saguaro National Park East is just off the Trail,  a large biking draw with its spectacular 9 mile loop paved road.  Some of the hiking trails in the park can also used by mountain bikers.  At the end of Old Spanish Trail is Colossal Cave State Park offering picnic sites, a cave tour, and horseback riding.  Bed and Breakfast lodging accommodations can be found just off Spanish Trail for those wanting to enjoy the natural desert surroundings with easy access to the Trail.

Horseback Riding at Tucson’s Colossal Cave

June 21st, 2009 by tucsonbb

In the late 60’s when we were planning our Tucson, Arizona home, we visited La Posta Quemada Ranch near Vail Arizona which was for sale at the time and only 10 minutes from our land.  The price was so reasonable for all the acreage offered and the home was just what we wanted, but on teacher salaries it was way beyond our reach.  We did, however, use ideas from that Spanish hacienda style ranch when we built our own hacienda.

La Posta Quemada Ranch is now part of Colossal Cave Mountain Park and is the place from which trail rides can be taken into the scenic and unspoiled foothills of the Rincon Mountains following the National Mail Stagecoach route.  Of all the horseback riding facilities in our area, this one offers the most scenic rides for guests  when they visit our Bed & Breakfast accommodations.

Curious Roadrunner at Sonoran Desert Lodging

June 12th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Mr. Roadrunner has created quite a stir at our Tucson Arizona Bed & Breakfast Inn.  He flies through the wooden grill near our front gate into the enclosed courtyard and drinks from the fountain there.  He then hunts for moths and bugs which have collected during the night, drawn by the inside lights.  Guests love to watch him clean up the windowsill as they are eating breakfast in the dining area.  Of course as soon as they go to get their cameras, he often scoots away.

roadrunner at Hacienda del Desierto B & B, Tucson, AZHe also likes to watch as outdoor work is being done, as if to supervise the task.  He wants to know what is going on in “his” territory.

Arizona Roadrunners nest in the cactus and among scrubby Sonoran desert shrubs and bushes and seek refuge in higher areas if being chased or hunted.  The bird doesn’t fly high like other birds but gets his name from racing across roads in front of cars, reaching a speed of 15 miles per hour.  His speed also helps protect him from predators in the desert.

Yucca Water Feature Draws Birds to Tucson Lodging

May 29th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Morning Dove on Yucca Fountain

Morning Dove on Yucca Fountain

What a sight!  Yesterday afternoon we watched a cardinal land on our copper water fountain which was created to look like a yucca plant by Tucson Arizona artist Robert Dunklee of Falling Waters Fountains.  The copper turns green after awhile with the added white of hard water calcification which makes the fountain look like the real yucca plant. All kinds of birds land there constantly to drink and bath in the metal flower cups.  Of course, when I wanted to photograph the red bird, he wouldn’t cooperate, but I did get a shot of a Morning Dove sitting on top of the fountain flower cup.  I can really appreciate the patience of wildlife photographers with their specialty lenses.

Yucca Fountain on Cold Morning

Yucca Fountain on Cold Morning

We were challenged some years ago by an in-ground spa which was never built for efficiency and which we wanted to get rid of.  After attempts to make it into a flower garden with only mild success, we purchased this fountain which lent drama to the small patio and could be seen from the living room.  We lined the spa with plastic and added stone and pottery so that it looked natural.  In the winter when it occasionally drops to freezing, the water forms icicles which lends it another kind of beauty.  Guests at our Sonoran desert accommodation often enjoy this feature.

Goat Packing: A Tucson Hiking Treat

May 22nd, 2009 by tucsonbb

Purple Mountain Pack Goat

Purple Mountain Pack Goat on a hike in the Sonoran Desert

In the 1970’s when we first moved out in the country, before we were a Tucson Bed and Breakfast accommodation, our children were very active in 4-H.  We had horses, a pony, a pig, a calf, chickens, rabbits, a lamb, dogs, and several goats.  Our son milked the goats twice a day,  and we even made goat milk ice cream on weekends.  The goats followed us around the property like pets, and we had great fun with them.  We especially enjoyed the twin babies the goats frequently produced.

When we want to visit goats today, we just walk down the lane to our neighbor Tom DiMaggio who runs Purple Mountain Pack Goats and who has been written up in “Arizona Highways Magazine”.  We encourage our guests to try the new adventure of goat packing with Tom who takes them on hikes into the beautiful foothills of the Coronado National Forest. The goats pack all needed equipment including water and food. Tom is a gourmet chef who once owned a restaurant in town so guests get a real food treat.  He selects the appropriate level of hike depending on the physical condition and desires of those hiring his services.  Several of our guests have even gone on 2-3 day camping trip although most choose a half or full day.  It is fun not only to visit beautiful areas but to have a knowledgeable guide to explain the fauna and flora of the Sonoran Desert.  He sometimes can stop by in his truck, with the goats in the back, to pick up one or two guests for their day’s adventure.  This makes a nice break from sightseeing and gets visitors into areas they might not otherwise go.  Guests can then return to the Hacienda and soak away sore muscles in the hydrotherapy spa.