The Birds and The Bees

Oh, the  facts of life! 3 things are certain for the resident’s of Todd’s Backyard…birth, death and rebirth. The cycle of life is incredibly apparent over the years of documenting the seasons with photos. The Summer heat, the Fall lush, the Winter freeze and the Spring blossoms…over and over again. Always something to look forward to!

The yard is rebounding this Spring faster than we have seen it in the past. The bees are going crazy…But something is different this March. The orange trees have not blossomed. And, it seems they may not this year, after loosing all of their leaves to the freeze. Poor bees!  Any hives around our place will be filled with ‘hummingbird food honey’.

Luckily, we haven’t had any bad bee encounters. I don’t know if these are Africanized bees, but no one has gotten stung yet. In fact, these bees are actually pretty friendly and entertaining to watch. (Lets hope they stay that way!) I had one fly up my pant leg, and he didn’t get mad…just gave me a tickle and flew back out!

The humming birds can still manage to  get a sip, as soon as the fearless little Rufous Hummer comes in to chase all the bees away.

The Elusive Rufous Hummingbird….

Don’t let his cute looks fool you. He is  a vicious little beast! As soon as he chases off the bees, he’s chasing off all of the other birds!

And the birds are thick! We’ve been able to capture a lot of new pics for Todd’s Backyard bird gallery…

The Cardinal

The Starling….. a new resident!

The Thrasher

The Oriole

Nests abound! The doves are in love!

Oh indeed! Hide your eyes!

Well, this is what happens in the Spring…. It is a ‘fact of life’….sometimes you just get screwed!

And as the old saying goes ….”The only things certain in life are birth, death and taxes.” I guess this pic pretty much sums it up for us! Alas, just as the desert is coming back to life, Todd and I have to face tax season. Ouch!!!

I can only hope that after this tax season we can rebound like the yard has! And life goes on!

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Wings… Wow!

I always thought spring was prime time for butterflies, but I think that I’m wrong! We’ve never had so many butterflies around, as we’ve had the last few weeks! I’m guessing that it’s all the colorful Lantana that Todd has planted…It’s thriving in our desert yard and attracting all kinds of winged wonders!

But, as you might be able to tell with some of the blurring results…taking pictures of these little gems is quite tricky…a slow shutter tends to sputter when the butterflies, flutter bye! ….Say that fast 5 times!!!

Some Awesome Hawk Shots

A burst of birds blasting through the trees with a gust of winged wind….a common occurrence these days. The hawks are on the hunt and they are not timid around humans. Todd has had several up-close and personal ‘brushes’ with a hawk soaring right by him while pursuing it’s prey.

He has also been able to get some great pics!…

We were sitting on the porch yesterday afternoon, when we were surprised by a hawk swooping in and landing on the tree limb just a few feet away! I grabbed the camera and slowly crept towards him for a better shot. To my horror, I then saw his likely meal target….Zoe, our little cat was crouched below, in her wild-cat-hunting mode, thinking she was going to pounce on the hawk!

“Don’t mess with me you silly bird!”…….”I will mess you up!!!”…..”Meow!”

Little Things

I got up this morning and went out to the porch with coffee and camera in hand, looking for something spectacular to document for a new blog. But, in the glow of the rising desert sun, it was the little things that caught my eye….The shadows that are changing with the coming of fall, little bursts of colors I hadn’t noticed before, spiderwebs glinting in the morning sunlight…

Even the dried and shriveled remnants of summer splendor have sustained a kind of delicate beauty that needed to be captured on camera.

Hackberry bushes, bursting with berries made a new colorful backdrop for even the most common of subjects.

And shadows highlighted the unique desert landscape, creating eye catching sculptures.

It was a beautiful little surprise that landed right in my camera sites, that confirmed a sense of wonder in the unexpected treasures that I stumbled upon…wandering around Todd’s Backyard this lovely Sunday morning.  It’s these little things that keep me focused on living one day at a time. Thank you God, for the little things!

Becoming a Bird Nerd!

I always thought birdwatching was basically….for the birds! (or nerds…) I could never imagine getting an adrenaline rush at the sight of some rare feathered foul. I always imagine a group of camouflaged kooks with their binoculars, handbooks and journals, wandering through the woods looking for the elusive Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Well, we’ve got binocs….we’ve got handbooks….

But, we don’t have to trudge around the woods, (or in our case, desert) to go find a plethora of winged wonders.  Our porch provides very comfortable accommodations for birdwatching…A nice chair, a refreshing cocktail, a fridge with more cocktails, the camera and a handy field guide to bird identification…how could it not become a fun and interesting hobby!  We’ve captured some really cool pics in the process…Here’s a bit of our bird gallery….

Cactus Wren


Hooded Oriole


Gila Woodpecker


Curve-Billed Thrasher


Phainopepla (not related to a Cardinal)


Northern Cardinal and a Pyrrhuloxia (Cousins)


Rose Finch

Gold Finch

This is just a small sample of the variety of birds we get in Todd’s Backyard. This does not include: Hummingbirds, Quail, Sparrows, Doves, Pigeons, Blackbirds, Cowbirds, Warblers, Owls, Hawks, Thrushes, Verdin, Shrikes, Flycatchers, Crows, Vultures…I could keep going!  We live on a migration route, so at anytime during the year, we can see almost any kind of bird! I just have to include this last photo, even though it’s not very clear….

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

We think….or perhaps we just had too much to drink!!

Quenched & Drenched

We’ve had 4 inches of rain, and still, the monsoons rage across the desert. The ground is soaked, the trees are green, the air is thick and mushrooms of various types are sprouting all over the yard.

I think this might be the wettest season I have experienced since living here! At this rate, Todd’s Backyard is likely to become a jungle!

We actually had a pretty wet winter. This is what the quail pavilion looked like around March…

This is what it looked like this morning! We’re lucky if it gets this green by the end of the monsoons (around mid September). We should have a great crop of prickly pear fruit this fall…mmmm….can’t wait for those margaritas!

I don’t know if the resident wildlife are happy this time of year. I can’t believe it’s easy for all the birds to weather the raging storms. The squirrels must be miserable getting flooded out of their underground homes.  The javelina have to love it…they get a nice bath (which they really, really need!) But for sure, all of the plants and the cactus are getting fat and happy!…Well, maybe…

Our old man cactus looks a little grumpy. But I guess his budding blossom would mean otherwise!