Some Recent Backyard Photos

By Dan Weisz

Costa’s Hummingbirds, the few that I have, are busy feeding from and chasing other hummingbirds from the feeders.  This male is resting in between chases on a nearby palo verde twig.  It looks like he is growing in his new gorget feathers.

At a neighbor’s house I saw a female Pyrrhuloxia gathering tiny twigs and grasses.  It seems late in the season for nesting to begin but perhaps this bird’s first brood failed and she is building a nest to again try for successful nesting.

After selecting just the right grasses, she hopped up on a rock and paused before flying off with her materials.

A few days later in my yard an immature Pyrrhuloxia hopped around looking for food.  This bird has more red in its face and wings than the female I saw in the photos above.

A Phainopepla sang from a treetop.  His ruby-red eyes look great against those black feathers.

Zebra-tailed Lizards are so darn fast that it is tough to take their photo.  They will stop and wag their tail at me to let me know they see me, but as soon as I raise my camera towards them they are off and running again.  When they run, they are on their tip-toes and their tail is held high.

The other morning I found this Tarantula on my house right next to the back door.  I thought it might be resting after a night of wandering.  It wasn’t until later when I looked closely at this photo that I realized there was a lizard’s tail hanging down from the spider’s third leg on the right. You can see one of the lizard’s feet further up the spider’s leg.  I believe this is an Arizona Blonde Tarantula and likely a female.  The lizard is, or was, an Ornate Tree Lizard.

The spider crawled up the wall to a more secluded corner. From an angle I was able to see the under-belly of the lizard.  Tarantulas bite their victims, injecting a venom that both paralyzes their prey but also has an enzyme in it which dissolves the meat/tissue of the prey.  The Tarantula then dines by sucking up the juices.  A “big” lizard like this will keep the Tarantula full for a very long time.

On a side note, my 6-year-old grandson showed me a picture of this spider he had drawn just a few days before the Tarantula showed up.  It is a picture of a daddy-long-legs along with its shadow.

A male Pyrrhuloxia was singing loudly from the top of a mesquite tree one morning.  It had some kind of debris on its bill which didn’t stop it from singing.

I watched the Pyrrhuloxia for a while until it flew off and a Phainopepla immediately landed on the exact same branch. The Phainopepla didn’t sing much but it now was the King-of-the-Hill.

Even though it is the middle of the summer, the desert is still alive.

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