Two male Boat-tailed Grackles point their bills to the sky, trying to win the favor of the female.
A Gila Woodpecker in a Palo Verde tree on a cloudy day at Picacho Peak State Park between Phoenix and Tucson.
Yes, I know. South Mountain Park in Phoenix lacks the memorable profile of Camelback Mountain or colorful history of the Superstition Mountains.
What it lacks in branding, South Mountain Park makes up for in pure size. The largest municipal park in the United States, it consists of three mountains. It covers more than 16,000 acres with 51 acres of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
My last day in Phoenix this winter, I hiked the Holbert Trail in South Mountain Park. A five mile round trip, it gains close to 1,300 feet in elevation.
While the elevation change got the heart rate up (especially dragging along camera equipment), there were no severe drop offs that caused the heart to race.
The “summit” of the Holbert Trail is not one of the most picturesque in Phoenix.
The trip down revealed some quality vistas and petroglyphs.
I’ve spent a good deal of time in Arizona the past twenty years, but failed to photograph several common Sonoran Desert birds. This winter, I went in search of the local aves. I still haven’t photographed a Phainopepla. I did finally photograph a Lesser Goldfinch.
After some research, I failed to discover why this bird is called the “Lesser” Goldfinch. So, I’ll speculate. I’m thinking the name comes from comparisons of the Lesser Goldfinch to the American Goldfinch. The American is more widespread. The male American Goldfinch, in full breeding plumage, is also more striking than the Lesser Goldfinch. If anyone knows the definitive answer, please summarize it in the comments.
Photo captured at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, AZ.
Northern Cardinals are popular in America, honored as the state bird in seven states. These photos were taken with a friend at the base of Tonto National Monument near Globe, AZ. We agreed they were the most uniquely colored Cardinals we had ever seen, different from the Cardinals in the Midwest. This male was photographed on a cloudy day. I’m guessing it has something to do with minerals absorbed into plants.
The green lichen on reddish rock make the usually rather drab Canyon Towhee appear rather striking.
Photos taken at Whitewater Draw in southeastern Arizona.