Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Well, it's Too Darned Hot! (but the birds are still here)

With temperatures reaching 104 by 9:30 a.m. MST I am not venturing too far from home these days. The summer heat for me is what winter cold was like living in the north. It is the time of year to stay home, do indoor projects, or curl up in the air conditioning and watch a movie. The birds are drinking water faster than I can fill the dishes, but still they come for seed and peanuts. I have discovered that they are occasionally salad feeders and my verbena and petunias have fallen victim to their foraging. One day I had flowers, then next day stubble! On Friday night around 6:30 p.m. a flock of house finches flew into the yard and started grazing on this weed I allowed to grow beneath my newly planted Palo Verde tree. I figured the leaves would help shade the roots and keep the tree a tiny bit cooler. I had no idea I was providing a salad bar! The shadow from the house had fallen across the tree and the little house finches are perfectly camouflaged beneath it. Look closely and see how many you can find.

Photo taken 6-13-08 by Kathiesbirds

Another well camouflaged bird in Sycamore Canyon is the Canyon Towhee. Canyon towhees are one of the scruffiest non-descript birds I have ever seen. When I saw my first one here last year I thought it was a cross between a House Finch and a Curved-billed Thrasher. It wasn’t until I looked it up that I learned what it really was. On Saturday morning Gus and I took a walk in the canyon and this bird flew out from the bank and landed on a rock in the middle of the wash in front of us. Can you see it?

Photo taken by Gus 6-14-08 around 7:30 a.m. MST

We stood frozen and watched as it proceeded to walk the rest of the way across the gravel canyon bottom. Its bedraggled appearance coupled with its dirt-colored feathers provides perfect camouflage as it crosses this wide expanse. It must have walked at least 15 feet pausing every few steps to look around before continuing onward. Whenever it stood still, it looked like a stone. Once it reached the opposite bank, it disappeared into the brush.

Canyon Towhee Photo taken by Gus 6-14-08 Cropped and enlarged.

On Saturday as the sun was setting in the west, these two flickers and a Gambel’s Quail came for their evening meal. In the golden light of the setting sun, they lined up like a perfect birdie totem pole, so I grabbed the camera and snapped away!

Photo by Kathiesbirds 6-14-08

We have our own bird tribe here in Sycamore Canyon!

Gambel's Quail Tribal Mask 8x10 Acrylic on Canvas Copyright 2008 by Kathiesbirds


Beth said...

100+ degrees and it's only June--isn't it time for a vacation in Maine? I love the ingenuity of the little birds finding shade and forage.

Kathie Brown said...

beth, yes it is, and I will be there in about 2 weeks! Will you be around?

Shelley said...

How fun - I loved trying to count how many finches there were. 4??

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I'm feeling weak and wilty just thinking of your heat!

me ann my camera said...

What terrific temperatures you have there!!! And your comparison to winter is intersting too for so often I say in the summer that I will put aside a job or project for those cold winter days that are bound to return, but not too soon!

Pappy said...

But it's a dry heat right? I worked in Phoenix during the summer several years back and found that 110 degrees there is still hot, dry or not. I did see the little fellers in their camoflage suits. Interesting Acrylic too.

bobbie said...

Dry heat or not, the Texican is right. Don't know how you handle that kind of heat.

I absolutely love your birdie totem.

kjpweb said...

Wonderful images - especially love the Quail and Flicker image! Gorgeous!
Cheers, Klaus

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is hot. Yet you still toil over the photos. Thanks. Great job.

Kathie Brown said...

Shellmo, I counted 6, one is down in the far left corner and the rest are hiding in the leaves!

Lynne, it's like a furnace blast if you have to be out in the middle of the day and the wind is blowing, but we have air conditioning so, it's bearable. At night it cools off, so that helps, but not enough to cool down the house, so we still run the AC.

meannmycamera, well, everyone down here is waiting for the thunderstorms from the Monsoon because that will give some releif, but it also gets humid so to me it isn't much of an improvement. Plus, that's when all the insects come out. Yuk (sorry Doug). Then I have to be on the lookout for scorpions again. Plus,those awful brown crikets will take over the world again. Last year they didn't die off until after Christmas!

Texican, you are right. Anything over 100 is just plain hot, dry or not! Glad you liked my painting.

bobbie, well, I do like it better than humidity and you just adjust. When I lived in Maine I could go out in 20 degrees in shirt sleeves cause it felt warm after -25. Here, it's the same, only opposite! That birdie totem is too cute, isn't it. I took about 15 shots I think.

Hey Klaus, thanks for stopping by! Glad you liked the pics.

For the people, some addictions pay off. I'm addicted to writing and creating. Glad you enjoy it.

TR Ryan said...

I love the totem pole and tribal mask. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Your heat is described best as you said, Furnace Blast. I only remember one other place where it felt like that and it was in a drying room at the old NCR plant where they put ink strips on bank cards and dried them in 50 feet. Super hot.

Love your photos.

Something different from me
Better Blog Writing

Anonymous said...

Kathie, I rather have it hot than cold ... one can always have a nice smooth and fresh beer or glass of champagne!

Great photos on your todays post and also a nice art work.

I'm sorry but you won't be seeing my ugly mug on SKY WATCH again but I'll visit yours.

Kathie Brown said...

t.r. thank you. They go well together, don't they!

Abe, furnace blast it is, but it does cool off in the evenings to 95 or so! Ha! You say you like my photos? Well, coming from you, that's quite a compliment! Thank you! I am humbled by your gracious remarks.

quint, I like your style! And I do agree. I have been too cold far too many times in my life. Thanks for the comments about my photos and artwork. I'm sorry we won't see you on Skywatch but glad you'll be dropping by to visit now and then. I'll be over to see you also and get my Portugese fix for the day!