Life has taken a twist for Baby Huey and his parents since he dropped out of his nest a couple of weeks ago. Now we think there were 3 baby Cooper Hawks, not one, in the nest, with the original Baby Huey having met his demise. Last week we went a couple of days without seeing Huey and then happened upon a dead immature hawk not far from our house on one of our morning walks. You would have thought we had lost a beloved pet. But, God is good, and we were greeted the same day with Huey's larger brother and eventually, a smaller sister.
We now have a pic of the mother (right). She is small, compared to the father, and from what we can tell does most of the parenting which includes dive bombing us when we come near one of her babies. We now wear protective head gear when picking up the mail knowing the path runs near the nest. So far no injuries, except Susan did bang up her knee trying to dodge an attack and ran into our heavy wrought iron door. The larger father hangs out across the street in Carl and Barb's pine tree. He is quite impressive sitting on his big pine branch and surveys our house it seems 24/7. To our knowledge, that's pretty much all he does. When the mother isn't observing her chicks from the Eucalyptus tree in our yard, she is out hunting. As you will see, she does a good job at this as the 2 remaining immature hawks are now as big, if not bigger, than she is!
To the left is one of the babies relaxing on top of the fort I built for our granddaughters (see a previous chapter of my blog if you are interested in building one). Both of the babies have become used to seeing us and unlike their parents tolerate us watching them at close range. This drives the mother nuts of course and when she has dinner she drops it (usually a desert mouse) in front of the baby without bothering to land if we are watching.
I have stitched together another video of the two immature hawks and as you will see they are not camera shy.
We didn't see the young hawks today, which is unusual, but did see the dad hanging out on the pine tree. Till next time!
Monday, June 17, 2013
Friday, June 07, 2013
We have had hawks living in our Eucalyptus trees for years. As a side note, Eucalyptus trees are big, beautiful and thrive in our desert, BUT I do not recommend you plant them near your garden or home. They are messy, the leaves and roots are mildly toxic to plants growing near them, and the branches are brittle and can break during a monsoon storm.
Our hawks are majestic predator birds that are thrilling to watch and help keep our garden mice and other rodent population to a minimum. Their nests are large - and now we know why, their young are huge. "Baby Huey", as we affectionately call him, is almost as big as the mother - and he still can't fly!
I had wanted to get photos of Baby Huey and his mother together, but she appears only to visit him at feeding time. This consists of swooping down, dropping a desert mouse in front of him, and then shooting back to a pine tree across the street - no time for a shot. Eventually, she flies back to our Eucalyptus tree and perches on her "look-out" branch to watch Huey waddle around our yard. The mother will squawk at us if we get close to Huey, but, being used to seeing us in the garden, she will allow us to get within photo distance before warning us off.
The following is a link to a musical video I posted on YouTube of a song I wrote about likening the relationship between God and man to a mother bird and her chicks. I posted this song a couple of months before Baby Huey's visit.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Tucson was hit with freezing temperatures in late February, 2011, the likes of which this and the previous generation of Tucson gardeners have never experienced. In the Tucson Mountains, where our desert garden dwells, the temp dropped to 16 degrees - unbelievable. The potted flowering cactus to your left froze to the ground, as did many others in my garden and our region. Fortunately, the Sonoran Desert surrounding the Tucson area abounds with cactus of all types that did make it and we will survive. Generally you will find many articles in the paper this time of year by master gardeners instructing you on how to prune and rejuvenate plants that were damaged by frost. Not so this year. The most popular recommendations have been to replace your damaged plants with new ones and not bother with the severe pruning (and unsightliness) of trying to bring back a struggling survivor. I'll be replacing most of my potted plants (goodbye hibiscus) as well as several varieties of desert plants in my garden beds. My Turks Cap, which have been going great guns for several years now, DID survive, while other more hearty plants bit the dust (rhuelia, cassia, acacia and tacoma stans). No worries though, and I am looking forward to meeting the new plants I will be bringing into my garden this spring.
My granddaughters in front of their "fort" that I put together to entertain them last summer. It is made from inexpensive materials and was based on the vine trellis structures for my backyard raised bed vegetable garden (see my raised bed gardening posts in the index) Basically all you need is re bar, 1/2"metal electric conduit and pole connectors, reed fencing, plastic vine ties, clamps and shade cloth. I added some garden posts in the front to give it that rustic island look. The re bar is pounded into the ground and the hollow conduit is slipped over it to provide the frame - just like the shade structure of a raised bed garden. Reed fencing is then attached via the plastic vine ties to the frame and shade cloth draped over the top and attached with the same clamps used to keep the shade cloth in place over your raised bed. We poured sand on the floor which my youngest granddaughter uses as a sandbox. All of these materials you can get at Home Depot. The nice thing about this fort is it blends in with your garden. The fencing behind the fort is made from the branches of the ocotillo cactus and will be a topic for a later post. Saguaro later and Tanque Verde much!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Ah, what a spring! Record breaking rains since November have changed the look and feel of the Sonora Desert in Southern Arizona. Saguaros and prickly pear are plump, weeds abound and everything looks good. So good, in fact, the Arizona Daily Star warned in this morning's paper to brace ourselves for a big wildfire season. My desert and oasis garden plots are happy and quite oblivious of the approaching summer heat.
I have included two photos of Aunt Judith (saguaro cactus) and me for comparison purposes to illustrate how fast Saguaros grow. The first photo was taken about 5 years ago and the second 5 days ago. As you can see, a saguaro is a slow grower, but can reach a height of 40 to 60 feet in the Tucson Mountains where I live. Saguaros can live to be 150 years old and its growth rate is dependent on rainfall.
Strawberries in my 3 fiberglass whisky barrels are producing faster than I can eat them. I now have completely protected them with chicken wire to keep the birds and other critters from gnawing on them. I must admit that strawberries are so cheap right now (99 cents a basket at Sunflower Market) I sometimes question my sanity. The store bought strawberries, however, are not as sweet as mine and perish quickly in the refrigerator.
I have elected not to plant a spring vegetable garden in my two raised beds this year. One, I am busier now during the week, but most of all I am not up to the challenge of fighting the oncoming heat wave that blasts Tucson in June. I find the late summer monsoon and fall growing season is much more satisfying and less frenetic than fighting to squeeze a spring garden in.
Hot air balloons greet us in the cooler spring months and the one below has become a pleasant reminder of the beautiful weather we are enjoying now. The photo below captured my wife and 5 year old grand daughter Alison wrapped in a blanket and listening to the "whoosh whoosh" sounds coming from the gas burner in frantic attempts for the pilot to keep it aloft.
In closing I have added a photo of my Mother's "Tombstone Rose" for my brothers to see. This incredible plant was planted by my Father several decades ago and continues to amaze us when it forms hundreds of blossoms in the spring. The world's longest rose bush is just down the road in Tombstone, Arizona and has a trunk 12 feet in diameter and covers over 8,000 square feet. Each spring it produces over 1 million tiny white blossoms. They say it grew from a root of a White Lady Banksia rose brought over from Scotland in 1885.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I built two 4'X4' cages to fit on top of one of my 4' X 8' beds. I found I could cut a piece of 4' wide wire 7' long and bend, with the help of a straight edge (see photo to the right), 2 even creases 18" from each end to form 2 of the 4 sides. That left only two 18" by 48" pieces to cut for the remaining two sides. The base of the wire was then stapled to the 4'X4' frames and the two single sides attached with those nifty plastic awning lock ties you can get at Home Depot. To easily lift off and replace the cages on top of the beds I created a 12" long plastic handles out of left over pvc pipe and wire and attached one to the top of each cage in the very center. For step-by-step directions for building these cages see Mel Bartholomew's New Square Foot Gardening book. Having completed the cages, I planted seed of lettece, bunching onions, radish, spinach and snap peas with hopes that the resulting harvest will now be protected.
For my remaining raised bed and fiberglass barrels I have removed the bird netting (effective, but awful stuff to work around and a lizard strangler). Since these plantings are mature (tomatoes, strawberries and herbs) I am taking my chances they will survive most attacks. If not, I plan to set out a small Havahart critter trap that will be used to humanely capture the rodents and remove them far from my property. I've heard peanut butter works well. Before replanting the remaining bed, I will build two more 4'X4' cages to protect it as well. I will share the results of these endeavors to protect my garden in future posts.