Archive for the ‘Arizona Outdoors’ Category

Rabbits of the Sonoran Desert

May 19th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Desert Cottontail

Desert Cottontail, photo by Paul Berquist, Tucson

One of the most common animals we and our guests see here in the beautiful Sonoran desert is the cottontail rabbit photographed here by wildlife photographer Paul Berquist of Tucson, Arizona.  Because so many different animals prey on them such as snakes, hawks, and coyotes, most don’t live past the first year of life.  For that reason, they reproduce in large numbers starting at three months of age.  Their only real defense is their good hearing, eyesight, and speed. They love the environment here at our Tucson Bed & Breakfastwhere we are a Certified Wildlife Habitat, having lots of flowers and desert growth as well as two wild animal ponds where they can drink when water is hard to come by in the dry desert.

Antelope Jackrabbit

Antelope Jackrabbit, Photo by Paul Berquist, Tucson

If one sits quietly long enough outside our protected patios and courtyards, you might even see another type of rabbit which is actually a “hare”, the Jack Rabbit.  It is much larger than the cottontail with extremely long back legs which allow it to jump as high as 15 feet over brush and run as fast as 35 miles an hour when chased by a predator. This high jump also allows it to look around to see which way its enemy is headed. His ears are also very long. Most often we see one as we are walking or driving down the long lane to our B & B inn.

Arizona’s wild collared Peccary or “Javelina”

May 11th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Mama Javalina with twins

Mama Javalina with twins

Originally from South America, javelinas (pronounced ha-va-lee-na) migrated north into the southwestern United States during the last century.  Although Javelinas may superficially resemble wild boars and domestic pigs, these species of animal are not closely related.  Javelinas have an excellent sense of smell, average hearing, and poor eyesight. Their tusks grow vertically rather than away from the face which gives them a friendlier appearance than a pig.  A musk gland on their rump gives them their characteristic smell and serves to mark their territory and keep in contact with the herd.  They travel in bands of approximately 12 and need an area of about 750 acres although some males are rejected by the band and travel alone.

Babies may be born in any season, after a gestation period of 5 months.  Females can have two litters per year.  Twins are the most common, although a single baby or triplets are also possible.  Babies weigh 1 pound at birth.  The entire herd will defend the youngsters against predators or perceived dangers, so keep your distance if there are babies in the herd.  Right now we have twins that are about 12″ long and are probably a week old.  The most curious in the herd are the adolescents.  They want to investigate everything in their environment.

Chiefly vegetarian, half of their diet is comprised of prickly pear cactus which supplies not only food but water, but they also eat roots, fruit, grasses, mesquite beans, palo verde beans, sotol, nuts, and other succulent vegetation including many landscaping plants.  Dusk and early morning are their favorite times to feed when the weather becomes hot although they can come around at any time of the day or night.  Like many wild animals, they can lose their fear of people and become more of a threat, so we ask that you keep your distance and treat them like the wild animals they are.  Already the herd here connects people with food, so they sometimes approach to see what you might have for them.

A herd at our Tucson Arizona B & B is a threat to small dogs, but our cats know them well and are desert wise.  They even tease the pigs and then jump up on the wall to escape and gloat.  The babies make a sound not like a pig but like the quack of a duck.  It is hard not to try and pet them, but mother would let no one near, and they must retain their wildness for their own safety.

Spring Hummingbird News from our Tucson Inn

May 4th, 2009 by tucsonbb

Hummingbird outside of our Patio Suite

Hummingbird outside of our Patio Suite

Although my husband and I are not very knowledgeable about birds, we have a number of guests who are avid birders.  Over the years, they have identified 54 different types of birds at our Tucson, Arizona Inn, five of these being hummingbirds.  We have Black Chinned, Costa’s, Anna’s, Magnificent, and Broad-billed.  A mother is just now nurturing two baby chicks near the ceiling of the porch just outside the door of one of our guest suites.  Most of the time the mother seems unbothered by guests going in and out of that room, but at other times she swoops down toward a person’s head if she thinks they are getting too close to her chicks.  Soon we’ll see the babies sitting on the side of the nest getting their strength and courage to fly away.

Over the years, we have been fortunate a few of our guests have been experienced wildlife photographers.  Scott Robinson and his wife come every year in the spring for Southern Arizona bird watching, and this year he captured the stunning picture you see here of our mother sitting on her nest.  I should have asked him at the time if he knew which type of hummingbird it is, but I didn’t think of it.