Riparian Preserve Revisited

Although we visit the Valley of the Sun yearly, we had only once explored the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ. A 110-acre nature preserve and educational facility, the Riparian Preserve has several shallow basins that attract all sorts of wildlife.

This year, it was time for a second visit.

In February, the waders and waterfowl created one group of birds. The others were “land-aves,” or birds that prefer drinking water over getting wet. These photos are of the later.

We found the ever-popular Verdin.

Verdin RP 2018

Black-chinned Hummingbirds seemed quite fond of the area.

Black-chinned Hummingbird RP 0Black-chinned Hummingbird

Sparrows and their relatives were abundant. These included Albert’s Towhees…

Albert's Towhee 1

Song Sparrows…

Song Sparrow RP

As well as White-crowned Sparrows, usually in pairs.

White-crowned Sparrow male 1White-crowned Sparrow female 1

Gamble’s Quail are a personal favorite in the desert. Highly social, very colorful and rather talkative, I’m amazed at the patches of desert where Gamble’s thrive.


Eurasian Collard Dove are now rather common in the desert.

Eurasian Collard Dove

But not as common as it’s cousin, the Mourning Dove.

Mourning Dove 3

American Avocet (three photos)

I have a long standing fascination of the American Avocet. Much of it stems from the twenty or so years it took me to see an avocet in person. Still today, the upturned bill and seasonal color variations stir interest in the bird.

Avocet 1The deceptive personality of the American Avocet is also intriguing. Tall and slender, the avocet seems like a mild mannered ave. Yet it will strike at predators, challenging hawks and corvids alike.

Avocet 2The American Avocet also at times employs an interesting defensive technique. It will gradually change pitch in a series of calls to hamper the ability of predators to zone in on it’s location.

Avocet 3

Arizona Cardinal (two photos)

Desert Card 2Northern 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.

Desert Card 1