Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Music of the Monsoon ~ the amazing Spadefoot Toad!

July 13th, 2013 by pattiebell

Couchs_spadefoot_toad_frog_detailed

Found primarily in the Sonoran Desert, the Couch’s spadefoot  is named for the elongated, sickle-shaped, horny tubercle on the underside of each rear foot, which it uses to dig itself into the ground. There it remains buried in the soil for 8-10 months only to emerge at the onset of the summer monsoons.


During the first night of or after the first significant summer storm, Couch’s spadefoots move to rain-filled temporary pools for a night or two of frantic breeding and foraging, and then may remain active for as long as moist, warm conditions persist, often traveling far from the breeding ponds. Although most breeding is timed to the first summer storm, occasional breeding congregations can be found throughout the summer. Eggs are usually laid the first night that ponds fill, and are deposited on submerged vegetation in small masses that hatch within 36 hours.  Tadpoles can metamorphose in as little as 7-8 days. Drying of a pond stimulates rapid metamorphosis and smaller toadlets. The call, given by males as they float in the breeding pond, is a plaintive “wah! wah!”, suggestive of a bleating sheep. The call carries well on humid summer evenings and is a sure sign that the often long-awaited summer monsoon has finally begun.  

Couch’s spadefoot will eat anything that moves and fits into its mouth. Winged termites, which are high in fat content, also emerge with the first monsoon storms, and often make up a high percentage of the spadefoot’s diet. A Couch’s spadefoot can eat enough termites during one or two nights to survive and breed for a year. Tadpoles are carnivorous; cannibalism has been documented.

This species has benefited from construction of berms, cattle tanks, and other ground disturbance that promotes collection of rainwater. It is relatively long-lived; some live as long as 13 years in the wild.

Spadefoot ToadYouTube

Possible Coatimundi sightings at the Ranch!

August 11th, 2012 by pattiebell

We have had reports from several guest about an unusual looking visitor to our water bowl.  The description fits. Here’s the lowdown~

The Coati is a raccoon-like omnivore, but is more slender and possesses a longer snout. It is a nosy, busy little creature with an insatiable appetite. The Coati is gregarious and noisy as it travel about in groups of from 6 to 24, holding its tail almost erect and chattering with others.

This grizzled gray-brown mammal grows 30 to 55 inches long and stands 8 to 12 inches high at the shoulder. It can weigh from 10 to 25 pounds. Males are almost twice as large as females.

The Coati has a long snout that is white near the tip and around the eyes, which often have dark patches above. The Coati has small ears, dark feet and a long, thin tail (as much as 2 feet long) with 6 or 7 dark bands.

Coatis are diurnal, spending most of the day foraging for food, which includes insects, lizards, roots, fruits, nuts and eggs. They are very fond of fruit, especially the manzanita berry.

Coatis mate in early spring and deliver a litter of 4 to 6 young after a gestation period of about 11 weeks. The female educates and feeds the young from the den site, usually a rocky niche in a wooded canyon.

The only other member of this species, the Brown-nosed Coati (Nasua nasua) occurs only in South America.

Young Cooper’s Hawk at his favorite watering spot~

August 4th, 2012 by pattiebell

Owl Visitor Playing in the Sprinkler

June 27th, 2012 by pattiebell

Thanks to Prescott guest Judy McCormick for catching this rare moment!

Zebra-tailed Lizards

June 1st, 2012 by pattiebell


This morning on my 2 mile walk along the Tanque Verde Wash I saw dozens of these distinct lizards. I have never seen so many of them in one outing – they were all over the place!  With their rapid movement and tails curled up high, they reminded me of big scorpions scurrying about. It is the beginning of the season and I guess their numbers are high until Mother Nature pares them down by attrition.

Amazing Quail Egg!

June 28th, 2011 by pattiebell

Apparently the egg is malleable enough that the hatchlings can peck a semi-circle and squeeze out without breaking the shell. This was dry and firm when I found it. We have not had nearly as many quail babies this year as last, but a couple families are passing through regularly. We had to give up the quail seed blocks because the javelina were devouring them in a matter of days!

Latest Javelina sighting ~

June 6th, 2011 by pattiebell

Pair O' Bunnies

May 14th, 2011 by pattiebell

I came upon these critters when I moved the trash cans they were hiding behind out for pick-up. Thanks to guest Steven Schlecht, who was celebrating his birthday with us, for the photo!

More Flora and Fauna courtesy of Ken VanHorn

June 19th, 2010 by pattiebell

Kitty Kitty

June 11th, 2010 by pattiebell

Green Valley guest Ken Van Horn got up close and personal with this Bobcat as he and Mary Ann were about to depart. After posing for this shot, the cat sauntered around to the patio off of our kitchen, where she took a 3 hour nap under the night blooming cereus (more on that subject next week) .  When I went out to water my drooping herb pots she just sat there and watched me before stretching and strolling off.

The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a North American mammal of the cat family, Felidae. With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States. The Bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semi-desert, urban edge, forest edges and swampland environments. It persists in much of its original range and populations are healthy.

With a gray to brown coat, whiskered face, and black-tufted ears, the Bobcat resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx genus. It is smaller than the Canadian Lynx, with which it shares parts of its range, but is about twice as large as the domestic cat. It has distinctive black bars on its forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which it derives its name.

Though the Bobcat prefers rabbits and hares, it will hunt anything from insects and small rodents to deer. Prey selection depends on location and habitat, season, and abundance. Like most cats, the bobcat is territorial and largely solitary, although there is some overlap in home ranges. It uses several methods to mark its territorial boundaries, including claw marks and deposits of urine or feces. The Bobcat breeds from winter into spring and has a gestation period of about two months.

Although Bobcats have been hunted extensively by humans, both for sport and fur, their population has proven resilient. The elusive predator features in Native American mythology and the folklore of European settlers.

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