Two Birds and Two Cats

By Dan Weisz

Common Ravens occur in many habitats across North America and they are resident year round in Tucson and Southern Arizona and we can see them flying in the Foothills often.  Common Ravens were fairly abundant all around the agricultural fields north of Marana this week.  These birds are known for their incredible intelligence (as are their cousins in the Corvid family: jays, crows, magpies, and other raven species).  The stout beak and shaggy neck feathers typify their looks, as do the glossy black feathers.   They are larger than American Crows, who look very similar.  He’s sounding like a Raven in this photo, and he’s not saying “Nevermore!” http://www.xeno-canto.org/

North of Marana, this Western Meadowlark sits alongside a fallow agricultural field.  Less common in southern Arizona in the summer, they are fairly common in the winter.  They can be found in open desert, grasslands, farm fields, etc.  Although not found in the Foothills due to habitat needs, they can be seen around the Tucson valley during the winter.  Meadowlarks use that big beak for probing the earth for insects and seeds.  While this bird’s front is very colorful, he wouldn’t cooperate and kept his back to me.  I had to be satisifed with his sharp beak, yellow eyebrow and chin, and the delicate feathering on his back.

We do have Wildcats throughout the Foothills.  Last week a group of us were helping with the annual Tucson Audubon Christmas Bird Count.  We went to some friends' yards to check out their feeders.  Just before we arrived at the first house, the second friend called to let us know the bad news and the good news:  There weren’t any birds in her yard due to a sleeping bobcat.  The Bird Count stopped immediately as we raced over to see the bobcat, or bob-kitten, napping quietly on the backyard wall.  Viewed from inside the kitchen:

We went outside and around the yard for another view and our footsteps woke our little kitten.  Her pupils were very tiny in this bright sunlight.

Our approach also awakened or alerted the mother wildcat, who was in a neighbor’s front yard.  She walked out of her hiding spot and casually walked around towards the wall her little one was sitting on.  The kitten watched her mother approach.

Before hopping onto the wall to lead her kitten away, the mother gave us a look as if to tell us who was in charge.  While she didn’t make a sound, this look let us know she saw us and that we wouldn’t be coming any closer.

If you have resident Wildcats, roosting owls, or other interesting wildlife in your yard and would like me to photograph them, please call. I would be happy to photograph them for you.

Dan Weisz
520-409-4182, or danweisz@aol.com