AND SPRINGTIME MEANS NESTING TIME
AT CASITAS DE GILA GUESTHOUSES
SPRING HAS SPRUNG AND THE SIGNS ARE EVERYWHERE
Over the past week, it was obvious that the Seasons have cycled once more. Looking down into Bear Creek Canyon from the porch of the Casitas both the Freemont Cottonwoods and the Bluestem Willows have awakened, their green and yellow catkins glistening in the bright morning sun, now all abuzz with bees and other insects.
As anticipated in February’s blog, the above-average late Winter snow and rain have indeed brought out an abundance of numerous species of early February and March wildflowers, and now April wildflowers blanket the ground around the Casitas.
It is afternoon and while hiking down along Bear Creek, one comes upon one of the Casitas’ almost-year-round residents, just returned from its unknown Winter getaway: a Great Blue Heron, standing motionless in the Creek. Sensing one’s presence, the heron quickly snatches a minnow at its feet, and then silently rises, gliding away upstream.
Later, shortly after dark, one goes outside and hears again a sound that just two nights ago greeted one’s ears for the first time this year. It is a delightful yet primeval sound, one that over the years has proven to be the most definitive and reliable proof of Spring’s arrival here at the Casitas: the joyful chorus of a multitude of Canyon Tree Frogs passionately engaged in a performance of their annual Spring mating call concert, a performance that one knows will be repeated in early July with the onset of the Monsoon Season.
Over the past two weeks the bird populations here at Casitas de Gila, the Bear Creek Nature Preserve, and the nearby Gila River have also undergone dramatic change. Many of the Winter birds, from the stoic Sand Hill Cranes to the flocks of gregarious Dark-eyed Juncos, have either left the area or are in the process of leaving. While at the same time our regular Spring and Summer birds, from soaring Common Blackhawks and Turkey Vultures to darting Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Violet-green Swallows, to night-time murmuring Common Poorwills, are arriving daily. For Casitas de Gila’s birding guests, Spring migration is showtime! Just this week, while visiting one of the eight dedicated public birding sites along the Gila River, just a few miles from the Casitas, four of our guests enjoyed seeing two magnificent male and one female Vermillion Flycatchers!
A SPECIAL TREAT FOR CASITA DE GILA BIRDING GUESTS DURING SPRING 2019:
NESTING ZONE-TAILED HAWKS IN THE BEAR CREEK NATURE PRESERVE
To the delight of our birding guests, during the past week a mating pair of Zone-tailed Hawks have been building a very large nest in the top of the large, ancient Arizona Sycamore that grows up against the high cliffs of Gila Conglomerate on the other side of Bear Creek, directly across from, and in unobstructed view of, the Casitas. It was a special treat for a few days as our guests watched through their spotting scope as the two birds selected dead branches for their nest from shrubs on the adjacent cliffs during the morning and afternoon. Over the coming weeks these nesting hawks should provide lots of on-going entertainment for incoming birding guests.