Yellow…But not Mellow

Everywhere you look, you will see pops of bright yellow frantically bouncing around the yard. The Orioles are back in full force this Spring! We get several different Oriole varieties in Todd’s Backyard. All slightly different, however they share the same shrill chatter, as shocking as their brilliant hue!

Their chatter reaches all time highs when they are playing their high-stakes game, we like to call, Who-Can-Get-The ‘Oriole Glory Hole’!


In this game, there are 2 prizes!

1st, their ‘watering hole’. They constantly fight over position on the hummingbird feeders to quench their appetite for their favorite sugary treat! Not only are they competing amongst themselves (or similar versions of themselves), but they have to fend off the ferocious little hummers!


And the 2nd prize….or maybe this is the 1st prize…

oriole2The female  ‘Glory Hole’ if you will….eeehhhhem.

Anyway, the Oriole fun and games, be it a bit noisy, are always fun to watch! You can’t help but be a little excited when these spectacular specimens of  fine feathered fellows come back to Todd’s Backyard every spring.

Here they will stay until fall in all their ‘Glory’!

oriole6This is a Scotts Oriole.

And below is a Bullocks Oriole.


orioleThe Hooded Oriole

Oriole, Oriole, sprightly fellow. Flitter about all brightly yellow. Have your fun, but don’t harsh my mellow!!!

Gotta Keep Believing!


Change….Evolution…Everything begins and comes to an end….And then it begins again, sometimes when we least expect it! Life’s cycles should be expected, but are usually unpredictable. Like life in the desert. The seasons come and go, bringing with them lovely mild moments and breathtaking sunsets to the searing heat and ferociously destructive bursts of the Summer monsoons! Always changing and adapting, but forever surviving!

There is something comforting in that. I believe that there is always a purpose and a reason for everything! We have recently been faced with  a major life change forcing us to make profound adjustments. The stress is overwhelming. We may be faced with the decision to sell our home and leave Todd’s Backyard to someone else’s loving care. But, even if that happens, there will always be a ‘Todd’s Backyard’…somewhere. We will always find beautiful and fascinating material to keep this blog alive wherever we end up.

But, I do believe God gives us signs and direction if you pay attention. And, I am paying attention!  I am going to follow the path he has chosen, but it’s not going to be easy! Giving thanks with a joyful heart to the opportunities we are given will be the key!  So, with my trust in God,  I will  face the future with bright optimism and peace.

And for anyone else going through ‘prickly times’ I found these 5 mantras for surviving them:

  1. All situations are temporary- everything is always in transition!
  2. There is no wrong decision- what is meant to be will be.
  3. You have survived difficult times before- Think about how you got through them.
  4. Be still and know- Be in the now- don’t worry about the future, concentrate on the present. Take one step at a time!
  5. Trust the guidance of the universe- Choose to believe where you are is OK!

Everythingz Fuzzy!

Warning:  If you suffer from Spring Allergies, just looking at these photos might bring tears to your eyes! 

Though beauty abounds in the  Desert Spring, we sometimes endure it with a little sting. When the temperature rises and starts to prickle, our noses start running and twinge with a tickle. Budding plants, ready to burst with a buzz, are covered with soft and treacherous fuzz!

100_6717Treesy Sneezy!! The acacia is the worst! However, it smells delightful, such a terrible curse!


The creosote bush has small balls (and a bunch!) They might lack in size, but pack a mighty pollen punch!


But, some budding beasts will compensate our misery with a spectacular show of nature’s wizardry!


These small sleeping gremlins perched atop the Argentinian Giant, shed their furry coats as they wake up and burst into a floral triumph!



The furry buds below look  much the same…


Until they burst out into their splendorous brilliant flame!


Itchy eyes, runny nose, sinus headache, God only knows! Although we suffer through the season, there’s always a rhyme to the reason!  🙂

Where ever you are, what ever you do, ride out the Spring…God Bless and aaaaa…. aaaaaa….AAAAACHHHOOOooo!





Wood You Be Mine?….Or not…

It IS that time of year….a frantic buzz of excitement- the chirps , squawks and squeaks- the birds and the bees are stirring!  Spring mating time is noisy! One of the more raucous merry makers, are the quail. Their distinct “cacaaawww…cacaaaaaaawwwww!” is heard frequently. They have a funny little ritual of climbing trees to call out their potential tweet-hearts! Let’s say, they get high on love 😉

Late afternoon is when they particularly like to ‘get high’. It was at that time, last week, when we witnessed  a would be wooer going wacky!

Todd had installed an ironwood quail carving on the branch of one of our mesquite trees a while ago. I never noticed that it had ever drawn any attention from the local bird population. That is, until a lovelorn quail discovered it and was apparently enraptured.

He climbed to the limb above, that had been conveniently cut into the perfect perch. There, he would try to get his wooden maiden to notice him….When she ‘wooden’t’, he jumped down and climbed back up again….and again….and again…putting his male to the quail…to no avail.

The poor guy was so distraught that Todd had to take down the tree trapped temptress.  I had to set this sad love story to little music…..

And with that, my friends, we raise our glasses to this lonely quail’s attempt at romance- certainly a great ‘CaCaaaaaws’!

Meet the Varmints- Episode 1- Rocky

Todd’s Backyard is filled with an assortment of furry little creatures….Varmints, if you will. In fact, we seem to have created a varmint paradise. Supplying a plentiful bounty for our birds, of course invites these little bastards. But, they keep the hawks, snakes, bobcats and coyotes fat and happy around here! You could call it Todd’s  Backyard Wildlife Diner!

Now, ‘Diner’ really fits since we got our new little Bird Photo Booth ( a feeder that is attached to a motion activated camera! We decided to introduce the contraption to the ground dwellers, as they might provide some entertainment before the jaws of nature snap them up.

The first varmint that decided to check it out was our resident rock squirrel, as we so dubbed him Rocky. Not totally original, but fitting….


He figured out quite quickly, this was pretty cool…


As did a few others.

Rocky got a nice dinner and gave us some great mug shots…

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv


And that, my friends is Rocky!


The Unearthly Hour

Cue music and let the story begin…

Something haunting and mysterious happens when the sun sinks low in the sky and lingers for just a brief period of time.  The sun’s setting rays illuminate the desert landscape with dramatic effect. All of the strange little details are revealed, that, which might otherwise go unnoticed. The hour has come which turns Todd’s Backyard into a strange place, not of this world…


The show begins when some cactus catch your attention, having suddenly turned into bizarre silhouettes. Their shadowed forms, outlined with spiny halos, are transformed into some kind of grotesque creatures springing from the ground! I can almost imagine them like the many-headed serpent the ancient Greeks called the Hydra, hissing and writhing …(As if rattlesnakes weren’t scary enough ;o) !!!


Some of the cactus on our porch turn into wooly alien creatures that can make your own hairs prickle with the anticipation…Just waiting to see if they might start dancing or climbing out of their pots like little gremlins. Oh, the mischief they could cause!


Spiky flames, that were once agave, flicker with moving shadows, setting the yard ablaze in a shades of green…



Patches of short spiky spires carpet portions of the yard. Neither man, nor beast dare walk in their prickly path!


And as the visual drama heightens the senses, the bird’s happy songs turn into the screeching cries of souls that loom among the lightness and the dark! (Ok, maybe a little too sinister?)

But this IS rather sinister…Spider webs appear out of nowhere, now to be seen glistening among the cactus throughout the entire yard! (Yikes…now realizing how many spiders we have!)


And then, with only moments before the show ends, the sun sizzles on the horizon like a fierce red eye casting it’s gaze on the landscape, creating shapes and shadows that devour the yard in it’s glowering wake.


For that unearthly hour each day,  the spell has been cast.  We can put reality aside and just imagine. Be it monsters, fairies, demons or angels…It’s the time when our minds can play after a long day of work and possibly a few drinks ;)! And it is with this climatic ending,  that the curtain falls. The sun has sunk behind the hills and Todd’s Backyard returns to the serene sanctuary in the desert preparing for a peaceful slumber and the dreams to come….

I just hope I don’t have nightmares!….

Auuugh spiders….. and cactus gremlins…