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!

Sunday Morning Serenity

This morning started with a bang….literally! A large white wing dove hit the bedroom window, flushed by a hungry hawk. The impact shook the house and instantly killed the dove. It hit so hard, it left a ghostly an imprint…

Needless to say, it did’t seem like a great beginning to an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning.

However, we were pleasantly surprised to open the sliding glass doors to a cool breeze reminiscent  of cooler spring days and the yard drenched in a lovely late Spring, early morning light! The day was looking up!

As we sat with our coffee, taking in the perfect peace, our little ‘Chi-otie’ found a patch of sun to get her warmed up for the day…

And the succulents perched on the porch ledge, were soaking up the sun as well…

I think it IS going to be a lovely day!

All Hail the King Quail

Last Sunday we got to witness the spectacular tournament of the local male quail competing for the rights of ‘royalty’. There were about 2o gathered at the base of a mesquite tree. Each would take turns trying to knock off  the quail perched on the highest limb.

Each male quail would take turns. As one got pushed out of the tree, another would  fly up to take his place.

On the ground, the defeated were consoled  by their disappointed mates…

A perfectly princely pose!

And finally the celebratory KA-KAAAAW!…KA- KAAAAW!

All Hail the King Quail

KA- QURADULATIONS!

Aloe in Wonderland

Aloe Vera… It has to be one of the coolest plants ever! Not only to they provide soothing goo, to heal your boo-boos, they provide a lush and interesting ground cover in the yard. You can plant one, and before you know it, you have an aloe field!

Todd planted a few little patches of aloe under many of the mesquite trees. They’ve grown into their own little environments.

We literally have islands of aloes!

The great thing is, they stay green all year around and actually have the most incredible blossoms, which are hummingbird favorites!

The ‘Aloe Islands’ have also become popular hangouts for the lizard ‘folk’…

The ‘Collared Lizards’ are some of our favorite inhabitants of Todd’s Backyard! They hibernate (in their dens under the aloes) all winter.  And right now, they are starting to come out and get warmed up for summer.

The Aloe fields are well established now, and as they mature, they are starting to grow in really weird ways!

It would be really cool to take a camera into the underbelly of the Aloes to see what really lives B-loe!

The Cottontail Club…Where great bunns like to party!

Warning: This post may be slightly offensive…. It contains a ridiculous amount of corny puns…but what else can you do when you write about bunns?

Bunns, bunns everywhere! (Rabbits, that is…)We’ve had a bit of a hop-ulation explosion in the past couple of years…. I expect the next few weeks things are really going to be hoppin’ around Todd’s Backyard. Lot’s of bunns in the oven this spring and the arrival of many new little bunn-dles of joy.

The Cottontail Club is not particularly exclusive… members only require a ‘hip-hop’ vibe. So, you may not be surprised to see quail, doves and dirt monkeys join their early morning and afternoon parties.

A pair of hares…. double trouble! (Are cottontail rabbits considered hares???)

When they’re not grazing, playing or partying, the bunns like to find a rab-bit ‘o’ shade and hunker down.

Zoe would love to join the Cottontail Club, but she certainly lacks that ‘hip-hop’ vibe.

Besides… A crazy cat in the crowd, could put a little damper in their scamper!

OK! OK! …enough! Somebunny stop me now!!

Happy Hummers!

Hummingbirds can always make you happy! Unless, of course they dart into you and poke your eye out! But, luckily, that’s never happened in Todd’s Backyard!….Yet!

We have at least 6 varieties of hummingbirds through out the year. Sometimes there’s a few others that migrate through in the fall and spring. But, on any given day, there are a least 25-30 hummers. During migration season, it’s Hummingbird wars!  You have to be on your toes and literally dodge out of their way, as they chase each other around the yard, fighting for feeder time!

This is a  ‘Costa’s’ Hummer…It’s  too bad we didn’t capture this shot in better light. The dark areas on his neck are deep purple. Amazing!

This is one of our favorite little jewels…..a Broad-billed hummingbird.  A dazzling blue-green, these guys are the most easily recognizable. Some species look very similar, so we keep our hum-dentifier handbook handy!

In the spring and the fall, our hummingbird feeders look like this…all 6 of them!

Todds’ hummingbird food recipe: 1 part sugar, 4 parts water. Bring to a boil, then cool.

An ‘Anna’s’  Hummingbird- A gorgeous redhead for sure!

This is one of my favorite shots!

Violet-crowned Hummer

We still haven’ t got a great shot of a Rufus hummingbird- They are gorgeous- A fiery orange-red! They are vicious!

This is a special little hummer! She was imported from Tucson.

Trapped in a warehouse where Todd works, she spent hours of panicked frenzy trying to find the way out. Todd’s only solution, was to wet her down, so she would land. Todd could then catch her and release her back outside. The plan worked, except wetting her down put her into a hibernation mode- she was too cold! Because it was the end of the day, and the sun would soon set, Todd had no choice but to bundle her up and bring her home!

When Todd got her home, we put her on the porch in the waning sun. I kept trying to force a dropper of life-saving sugar food into her beak. Finally. her little tongue started to flicker. It took about 15 minutes of feeding and sunbathing to revive her. Suddenly, she flew up onto the nearest branch and took in her new surroundings. Immediately, several other hummingbirds swarmed around her. The little buzzing bullies tried to chase her away. But still too weak, she stood her ground. As the sun was setting, we saw her buzz off into the dusky desert.

The next morning, we were delighted to see, she was the first one on the feeder! She hung around for several days, made some friends, and possibly made here home around here. I don’t actually know if  she’s a she or a young he.  We think that it is a Broad-tailed Hummer. Slightly different than many of the other hummingbirds that frequent Todd’s Backyard.

All-in-all, it was a happy ending!

The hummingbirds in Todd’s Backyard are very willing models! We’ll have lots of shots to share in posts to come….hopefully the elusive Rufus will be featured soon!