Some new animal friends

One of the first new friends we met is the Gambel Quail. (foto)  They are the desert busybodies, perfect matches for the town gossips in a

Gambel Quail.

Victorian novel, complete with dowdy hats.  They bustle around calling “Where!?” to each other, pursuing the latest tidbits.  They never seem to find anything, but never tire of calling “where!?” and scurrying off somewhere else to snoop.  Eventually they quiet down and go home, content that their watchful ways have kept the universe in order.

In contrast, the Roadrunner would not fit into any Victorian novel.  It comes straight out of the swash-buckler genre.  (foto)  They strut right into the alehouse with a “Move over.  What’s for lunch?” attitude.  If not served immediately, they issue a short, gargled “Ooooh!”

The swashbuckling Roadrunner.

as if to demand an explanation.  Their beak is a stout cutlass which they roguishly brandish within inches of the hapless bar-mate whom they’ve graced with their display of bravado.  Not even Errol Flynn was as fast, nimble, or daring.

The most dramatic of our new friends is the Vermilion Flycatcher.  His aerial acrobatics humbles the most

Vermillion Flycatcher; Santa Catalina Mtn.

advanced fighter jets.  He can fly eight feet straight up, instantly stop and hover, and then dive through tangled mesquite branches to perch and show off his colors.  No bragadoccio here, though.  He’s simply the beauty of the neighborhood, and is gracious enough  to pause a moment so you can admire him.  Oh, a suitable movie set?  Maybe Disney’s Fantasia.

I can’t end the bird section without mentioning the dove, or “paloma” as we say down here.  What the many species here lack in showiness, they make up for in number and hospitable gentleness.  If our other new bird

La Paloma

friends are symbols of the desert, the dove is the emblem of human settlement here.  Every other street and housing development name includes the word “paloma.”  Multi million dollar homes are built to look modest and unobtrusive – just like the dove.  Even the grocery stores reflect it’s earth-kindly nature – any sign that contains the words “natural,” “whole,” or “holistic” is bound to be a food store.  If I had my say-so, the dove would be the state bird of Palomizona.

Puma; Sonora Desert Museum.

Bobcats watching their next meal; Sonora museum.

The rare Arizona Ocelot; sonora museum.

Gray Fox (really can climb trees!) refusing to pose at Sonora museum.


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