The Birds and the Bee Mimics
I know what that sounds like, but I only have a few pictures and none of them are even slightly risqué. Those of you who accidentally stopped in for something else are invited to stay and take a moment to look at the critters. 😀
I think I’ve mentioned that it’s been a wet(ish) spring. In fact it has rained twice more, just since the last time I complained about it. I’m starting to wonder how we’ll know when the summer monsoon starts if it just keeps raining? And that reminds me of the Country-Western song “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?” I know, I know, Climate Change, el niño and all that, but overcast days make me sad.
These birds are not helping. They’re White-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica).
Seen here sitting on the garden fence, trying to figure out a way through the bird netting over my vegetable bed. They were not successful, hah! They look nice and fat from all the food they’re finding in this wet(ish) spring we’ve had. They just add to the general melancholy of overcast days with their calls though, which are honestly the saddest thing I’ve ever heard in nature. Like this: Boo hoo-hoo-hoo hooooooo. WAY more sad than mourning doves; like they’ve truly lost their last friend. Just what I want to hear while I’m waiting for the sun to come out. And look how dark it is out there in that picture. It just ain’t right! Heh.
On another and sunnier day, I caught this pair of Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) walking along one of the paths.
When I lived in Florida, I used to watch the sandpipers at the beach. They walk around scanning the wet sand near the water’s edge, looking for bubbles that indicate some likely food just under the surface. When a big wave comes, all the sandpipers quickly walk, as a group, away from the water, and then gradually drift back down to the edge after the wave recedes. They only fly when some bigger creature (bird, dog, people) approaches them.
Similarly, the quail walk everywhere and only fly when disturbed. Often you see them in large family groups, as if they’re out on a nature hike or something; mom & dad & six or eight babies, strolling around the yard or along the paths. The funniest part is the big commotion when they actually do fly: there’s lots of whirring and flapping and hooting — much more noise than seems necessary given the actual threat level, at least when I’m the one disturbing them. And they all fly off in different directions, like a startled school of very noisy fish.
Other threats to them are very real and deadly. One afternoon I saw a family of quails exploring the back patio, and suddenly they all took off, half of them bashing themselves into the windows and walls in their frantic effort to get away. When I looked out to see what the commotion was about, I saw a Harris’ hawk standing alone in the middle of the floor. Lunchless, at least that time.
Around here, the Harris’ hawk is identified by its long tail and yellow feet. The hawks below don’t have very long tails. They also have stockier bodies. These are Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). They sit on that pole at the top of the yard, scanning for likely snacks.
(There’s a nice blue sky!)
They come by most afternoons. If they see me in the yard they become peevish, and keeeer at me for scaring away their meal. They sound just like on TV! Lol. Too bad we can’t see their bright red tails from here.
And hey, look at this guy: it’s a resting honeybee drone! Well, probably not (see the comments). Should have more eyes and longer antennae if it were a bee.
He let me get really close with the camera. He even got flashed on that picture, and didn’t seem to mind at all. I got a couple more pictures of him before he flew away:
Speaking of bees which this is likely not, I’m not seeing any mites on any of the bees around here. I think these are an escaped swarm that have found somewhere nearby to live. Now that the mesquites are blooming, I see them out there all day — even when it’s near 100°!
This guy looks healthy too. I tried in the next picture to get a good look at his face: extra big eyes & small antenna. You can see above how big and rounded his body is.
This next one also only looks like a bee, but it’s really a bee-mimicking wasp. Tricky!
So the weather has finally turned, and we’re expecting temperatures in the hundreds or hundred-teens all week, and plenty of bright sunshine! Yay! This is very good news for us, seriously. The secret is, all that heat and sunshine is the pump that brings moisture up from the Gulf of California. No heat = no pump = no monsoon. See? I’m not that crazy…