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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ


Have a Javelina?….

We do! We have a few!….PEEYEW!

The 3 Little Pigs

These 3 are as friendly as can be. They would love to just come up and hang out on the porch, but we haven’t let them….yet!

Over the past few years, the local Javelina (pronounced hav-a-leena for those who may not know), have become quite comfortable in Todd’s Backyard. They are lured by a tasty treat that’s always in abundance here…bird seed!

Now, you’re not supposed to feed these guys, but I don’t think letting them share the birdseed is a crime?

Of course they have other  favorite delectables such as: 1) Anything you may have just planted 2) Juicy cactus pads 3 )Succulent blossoms 4) Anything you would rather not have them eat!

Luckily, they haven’t cause too much ‘javoc’ here…

Some javies like to just ‘jang’-out under the bird feeders to catch a ¬†bit-o-seed! Or root around in the roots to take a little mud bath in Todd’s ¬†irrigation system.

He may be cool, but really…not so cool dude!

There is a group of basically 5 or six that visit on a regular basis. Our old buddy Jairy still comes around from time to time. Last week the group came to show off their newest addition to la familia…

The proud mommy tried to keep him from getting too close…

But, he seems to take after his older siblings/cousins/ friends? who have  quite the outgoing personality!

And like they say:

” In Todd’s backyard, the grass is always greena….at least it is for the Javelina ūüôā “

A Shot of Fantasy with a Beer Chaser

And perhaps a grain of salt...

The seasons have come and gone in Todd’s Backyard. Each year seems to blend together with the predictable cycles of blossoming growth and barren dormancy, the frost and the heat, births and deaths. It’s fun to witness and document this magical process with photos, even though we may have dozens of similar photos from year to year:¬†the blazing sunsets, blossoming cactus, resplendent¬†reptiles, cute critters…etc…etc. It’s a rare moment when you come across something unexpected and completely new.

So, it was last week, at the peak of the monsoon season, that we stumbled upon an interesting scene. A scene rarely seen in the desert. It was hidden away under a fallen palm frond.

Hmmm….we do get mushrooms popping up here and there in the summer rains, but we’ve never seen an entire toadstool patch/grove/or whatever it’s called.

It brought to mind fairy tales and folklore, not usually associated with the prickly hot desert. Could this be a gateway into a fantasy world we had yet to discover?….

I think yes…Todd thinks I’m crazy!

¬†So check it out….I discovered a fairy tale kingdom in Todd’s Backyard with a cast of characters that has kept me entertained for the past week or so (on my computer)!

Reigning over his cactus kingdom is his royal majesty, King Hummy VIII. Small, but mighty, he rules with a fierce tenacity to defend his treasure! (Hummingbird food)

The King’s valiant knight, Sir Quailiant, guards the kingdom with valor and vigilance. Protecting his brood from the forces of evil, such as¬†roadrunners and bobcats!

The kingdom’s feathered foe lies wait in the trees. His stealth and cunning ways have kept him fat and happy!

Robin Hawk.

Unlike his folk-lorish¬†inspiration, this bloodthirsty outlaw eats the rich…. and the poor.. and he doesn’t share! The only thing he gives is a good scare!

But there is a lighter side to this tale…

You jest! No…I don’t!

Jairy. Always entertaining, never scary! Although he is a bit mischievous, he  puts the Ha Ha in Javelina!

But it’s this prince, that presumes himself the star of Todd’s backyard Kingdom! He would be King!(Charles) if he were not so spoiled!

Or perhaps its just the beginning! Another chapter may be in store if opportunity comes knocking… at the backdoor! HuhZaa!

Oh Baby, Baby!

Ok….bring it on! The heat ¬†apparently snuck up on us and now Summer-in-the-Desert is in full swing. What happened to the Spring? It has been strange year. The orange trees missed their blossoms, the cool days lingered a bit longer that usual, and the baby animals seem to be making their appearance a little late this season. But now, baby critters abound! And, all of the¬†baby cuteness has alleviated a bit of the disgust that generally permeates our mood as the Summer heat starts to become oppressive.

This little guy found ¬†a little cool spot under the mesquite tree off of our porch. We don’t often see bunnies this little… alive. Unfortunately, they make good eatin’ for the hawks, owls, snakes, bobcats, etc. Todd would probably prefer it, ¬†if predatory appetites would lean more toward the dirt monkeys…

Why!….. ¬†Why!…..Why do they have to be so adorable? It’s so much fun watching the little ones play and explore- treading on tip toes, their little tails standing at attention,quivering with anticipation. And of course they love to climb trees….

Awwwwww…..Look at his little hand!….So cute, you could just eat him up!

Geez, I hope we never actually have to….you know, eat them…when the world goes to hell…

Ok, back to cuteness-

Little baby hummer….chirp, chip, I love you!

And next, quite possibly the cutest pic ever…baby quialage…

One of my favorite visions of Todd’s Backyard, is watching little swarms of these fuzzballs, ¬†parent quails in tow. Their little legs move so fast you can’t see them, thus giving the illusion of floating clouds of fluff traveling around the yard.

Of course we have a real soft spot for the quail after raising a couple from abandoned hatchlings. We still see our girls every now and then with their families!

Oh babies!…They just melt your heart! Ok..maybe the 109 degree temps have something to do with it as well!

 Happy Summer!

On the Other Side of the Fence

Jairy (Hairy), our friendly javelina, has recently begun to make himself at home on the other side of our electric fence…

Almost every evening, while we sit on the porch, we see him (or I should say smell him), sitting in his favorite spot.¬† About 30 feet off the porch, under the quail feeder, like he’s part of the family.

We’ll usually wander over to say hi and have a drink with him! Our dogs will sometimes join us for our evening rendezvous. They are curious, but they know to keep quiet and keep their distance.

‘Evening Rondi-vous’

Yesterday morning, I let the dogs out to do their business. While I waited for Baily to wind things up, I was startled to see Jairy, (on our side of the fence) standing about 4 feet away, watching Baily poop! Totally oblivious, Baily waddled back into the house, and I stayed out to see what kind of ‘javoc’ Jairy might create in the yard.

Not surprisingly, his first stop was the birdseed bin. Jairy attempted to nose the lid off, but was unsuccessful.

Next stop…

Delighted to de-leaf a tasty plant…Bad Jairy!

But, before he could totally demolish and polish it off…he sniffed out a tasty quail block.

Mmmmmmmmm! Delectable!…..and satisfying.

Finally, Jairy went back through the fence (BTW, the electricity was not turned on).

With a big grin and full belly, Jairy went on his merry way, to have-a-lina, heated and hair-raising day!

Great Story No Pictures! Arrrggghhhh!

So, I was on the porch this afternoon, waiting to see if the monsoon clouds were going to unleash something…

Hold on a minute….Now… I need to back up a day….Yesterday afternoon, about the same time, I was sitting in the house. Just out of the corner of my eye, I happened to see a quail bobbing her head up and down on the porch. We don’t get quail on the porch, unless it’s a Whoootooo….If you’re not familiar with the Whootoos, see blog post: A Quail Tale: We rescued and raised a couple of quail last summer and released them into the wild. They continued to come up and visit us on the porch for a few months before they were totally immersed in their new ‘wild’ life.¬† So…when I saw the quail on the porch, I immediately thought Whoootoooo!!! I went to the sliding glass door, and low and behold, there SHE was- With her brand new family! Hubby and 6 tiny baby fluff balls! Our grandquailage!

So the rest of the afternoon, and all day today, we were watching for them.

Back to this afternoon:

So, I was on the porch this afternoon, waiting to see it the monsoon clouds were going to unleash something, and I spotted them! Whootoo and her little family scurrying across the backyard. But, they abruptly turned back, scurrying the other way then back and forth, back and forth. Stange…I was curious, so I tiptoed out to investigate.

What I found, in the wash, was one of the babies on it’s back, flailing about, unable to recover it’s upright position. It looked like, perhaps, a thrasher, or dirt monkey had tried to nab it and swept it off his feet. As I watched¬† a moment longer, the family ran off, leaving the little fellow flailing about! (like mother, like daughter, I guess!) Of course, instinct took over and I snatched the little fuzz ball up and ran back to the porch, grandquail in hand!

Donna, my mother-in-law, was readily available to grab a towel, eye dropper full of water and a Miller Lite beer box. I placed the baby in the box (still in hand), under the towel, and got him to take some water. After my heart rate calmed down a little, I sat with the baby in hand, to get his heart rate down. We bonded a little, but I was pretty sure that he wouldn’t¬† survive by himself. Unlike his mother, when we rescued her, she had 4 siblings with her. Plus, she was plucked out of the wild, the day she was born. This little guy, was all alone, and had enjoyed/endured his wild life for at least one or two days.

We got the little quail settled in a little cage, with food, water and heating pad… But he was frantic! I felt terrible…I thought we bonded!! As I sat there worrying about his fate, I happened to see his family making their way towards the water dish in the backyard.

I quickly plucked the little guy out of the cage and slowly made my way towards the family….”whoootoooo! whooootoooo!” I called out to his mother (that was our call). The family waited under the protection of a clump of cactus. I set their baby down and shooed him in the right direction.

It was an amazing reunion! …Where was the camera!!

But here is last year’s photo….Mother Quail -the ‘Whootoos’ we rescued almost exactly 1 year ago on July 4th!¬† I do believe our little grandquail looks just like his mom!

Monsoon Soon???

Oh, (sigh….)… everyone and everything in Todd’s Backyard is so ready for the desert’s Summer rainy season!¬† Almost every afternoon, for the past week, at the peak of the heat, we check the clouds that start to build up. Just to tease us, right now…

Heard a little thunder….but still, no rain!

Everywhere you look, the rabbits are stretched out, under the cactus, in the dirt,trying to get at least a little relief from the parched ground. Once the rains come, this will be prime rabbit real estate, as the ground cools off.

The once silky ‘old man’ cactus is really getting frazzled baking in the sun! Hopefully the moisture will restore his fluffy ‘do!

Waiting for the monsoons, the hummingbirds are resting more often. Usually with their little beaks open and wings fanned out, to cool down. They may also be resting up to save their strength, so they can endure the violent storms to come!

Everyone is looking forward to the monsoons! Especially these guys…

The Colorado River Toads- they hibernate underground all year until the rains come, then watch out! Sometime around August it’s likely to become Toad’s Backyard!