By Dan Weisz
Here are a few recent photos taken from my front and back porches. Everything in this post is fairly typical of most porch views in the Foothills.
One of the resident Costa’s Hummingbirds is active and nearby most mornings when I water the plants in the front. Here are three shots of him on one Palo Verde twig. I couldn’t decide my favorite among the poses so I’m sharing all three of them with you.
One day a young male Costa’s perched on top of the Texas Ranger plant. This little fellow is just growing his “whiskers” in. There are two brilliant gorget feathers on this side. One day soon he’ll be as handsome as his father is.
On the other side of the same Palo Verde plant that the adult Costa’s sat, numerous Lesser Goldfinches came in for the nyjer seed sock hanging nearby. Lesser Goldfinch males have that glossy black cap and white patches in their wings. Their back varies from solid glossy back to dull green depending on the region they live in.
This Lesser Goldfinch is either a female or immature male. I would guess it is one of this summer’s youngsters based on the very light coloring.
When I water the last, large flower pot at the end of the porch, this tiny Desert Spiny Lizard often pops up. Sometimes he’ll sit on the flowers and sometimes he jumps over to the neighboring ocotillo plant to wait it out.
This small Rustic Sphinx Moth caterpillar was on one of the Honeysuckle plants in the front. It was resting now but it is a voracious eater. Its head is curled up over its six true legs and it is holding on to the branch with its “prolegs” which will disappear when it becomes a butterfly. Caterpillars breathe through external openings, called spiracles, on its side. You can see these very tiny vents along this caterpillar’s side.
The Gambel’s Quail spend more time in my back yard than in the front. This female stopped to look at me before continuing on her way.
A female Lesser Goldfinch perched briefly on some fencing before coming to a water dish to drink.
Lately, I have noticed that Phainopepla seem to have returned to the desert. They are frequent visitors to the water dishes on the back porch. Here is a male atop a very tall mesquite tree.
And here is an immature male Phainopepla. The young birds are grey, like females, but you can see that this bird is molting and growing in some dark glossy feathers on his back and tail. His head will molt last. For now, he has this mottled two-toned look.
And here is a family of Phainopepla atop the mesquite tree.
Things are busy on both sides of the house in the Foothills these days.