Archive for the ‘Sonoran Desert Animals’ Category

Song of the Colorado River Toad

August 1st, 2010 by tucsonbb

Colorado river toadThe last several nights, since the onslaught of the summer rain storms, we’ve heard the deep croak of the Colorado River Toad at our Tucson Bed & Breakfast.  We have several animal ponds on site to which these toads are attracted, undoubtedly looking for a mate. They can weight close to  two pounds and most look like they’d be comfortable sitting on a salad plate rather than a small lilly pad.  They burrow into the ground as much as two feet deep and wait until the summer rains come when they come out, mate, and lay eggs.

Their only real defense is a chemical substance coating their body which can paralyze and kill small animals.  In fact we had a miniature poodle years ago who bothered one.  Luckily we were able to hose out our pet’s mouth so that she lived.  Other animals aren’t so lucky.  They might also pose a danger to a child who handled one.

These intriguing animals remind us of the changing summer environment.  They are part of our beautiful desert landscape.

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

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.

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.

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.