Sweet Tree-ts

Todd’s Backyard is basically a desert forest. When we moved here 9 years ago, the property had a lot of mature mesquite trees and Todd decided to plant a few more, just to fill it in. Now, the trees that Todd planted over the years, have grown into beautiful green canopies that shade the desert landscape from the scorching summer sun! A relief to us, as well as our local desert dwellers!

Of course, the yard has become a favorite hangout for all of our feathered friends! The birds have flocked to this branchy paradise, so you will at find at least one bird… or two in every bush šŸ˜‰

And, since we are on a bird migration route, we sometimes have bird guests, that baffle us. We keep our handy bird book on the porch so if we don’t know who they are, we can look them up!

I think I have identified this one as a White Tailed Kite?…Similar to a Falcon.

The cardinals have been particularly high-profile and prolific this year. There are several cardinal families that have put on some great shows for us, feeding their babies! It’s the dads that actually feed their offspring…who knew!

They make and incredible racket when doing so, so if you don’t spot their brilliant pop of red among the treetops, you just need to follow the tweets!

In Todd’s Backyard, the birds are boutiful, but it’s not just the birds you’ll see in the trees…

We have some real tree-huggers here!

And some tree slitherers!

And some furry little acrobats!

You may want to call Todd’s Backyard a desert forest, but whatever it is, it’s always entreetaining šŸ˜‰

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Hooligans, HolesĀ &Ā Havoc!

I have been reminded in the past few weeks, how hard and sometimes haunting, life in the desert can be.Ā  And, I have to keep reminding myself, that life at home in Todd’s Backyard, is not just a haven for harmony and happiness. There are more than a few residents that are destructive, dastardly, even deadly!Ā  It may make it a little easierĀ  to remind myself of these things, when I’m 1,000 miles away in Michigan, pining away for my peaceful desert oasis.

TheĀ  Cow Birds…

The scourge of the summer- 3 of them showed up about 2 weeks ago…now there are about 20. Next week, there will be 50! The nasty little secret about these birds, is that they look for the nests of other birds, like orioles and cardinals, dump out the eggs and lay their own.Ā  Then, they leave their young to be raised by the surrogate parents! The cardinals and orioles must be a bit surprised when they see their foreign offspring, but nature’s duty dictates that they take care of them. We often see an oriole, cardinal, sparrow and other native birds feeding baby cow birds!

Then there are the Cutter Ants….

Ok….I’m in Michigan, can’t go take a picture of the ants. So, via Wikopedia here’s a pic-

Actually, I probably, couldn’t take a picture in Todd’s backyard anyway. These little beasts come out at night.

And….they can destroy and entire small tree or shrub in just 1 night! I was reminded of them today, when I was talking to some of my Michigan colleagues about gardens. They were talking about all of the flowers and luscious produce they will reap this summer. Todd was very excited to plant a ‘Salsa’ garden last spring. Peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, basically everything needed for a fab salsa fresco! Todd built an extravagantĀ  cage to keep the garden protected from the rabbits and other hungry varmints. But….he did not take into consideration…..the ants!

The Cutter ants ate just about everything! So much for garden grown salsa!

Now lets talk about the Dirt Monkeys….a.k.a roundtail squirrels-

Oh, yes….they are cute!!

But for anyone who has walked around Todd’s Backyard, you know. With every step, you feel as if the entire yard will collapse beneath you!

And it could…

Holes, holes everywhere!

Yeah, we see you!

But perhaps even worse…Other creepy crawlers hang out in Todd’s Backyard’s underground laberynths.

This guy came out of his hole to hang with us on the porch one afternoon…Kind of ‘Halloweeny’!

He’s not deadly, but this guy is….

Luckily, we’ve had rattle snake traing for our dogs…but that’s a whole other story!

Ok….now I’m homesick!

Cowbirds, dirt monkeys, ants, snakes….oh yeah, I didn’t mention centipedes, scorpions, gila monsters, tarantulas/tarantula wasps, roadrunners (yes, they are vicious!) The Arizona desert can be harsh (Or ‘vicious’, as my Michigan colleagues claim) But, I love these things! Heaven wouldn’tĀ  be heaven without a little hell! Hmmmmm? After all, it is the WILD west!