Camera Trapping

Camera traps are one of the best ways to observe wildlife behavior that you’d likely not see because it’s either dark out or your presence would alter the animals behavior. I bought my first camera trap around 2005 and was instantly addicted. I had no idea there were such shenanigans happening when I wasn’t around.

Mountain lion in the Sonoran Desert. Copyright: Greg Joder.

Now, in 2019, I have about 10 personal cameras set up in the desert around my home town, Tucson, including my backyard. I also have another 10 cameras set up at Audubon’s Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch near Elgin, Arizona. We use these cameras for long-term wildlife monitoring, recording which animals and how often pass through the research ranch.

In this post I’d like to share some backyard wildlife action my cameras recently captured.

A bobcat:

A coopers hawk:

A bat catching a sphinx moth at a cactus flower:

And a cute little western screech owl:

nectar feeding bats

It’s that special time of year in the Sonoran Desert when the Lesser Long-nosed bats return to the region.  If you live where the bats forage and you leave hummingbird feeders up at night, you will know these bats have arrived by the evidence of empty feeders and sticky sugar water left on the ground in the morning.  They are sloppy eaters.  The Lesser Long-nosed bat is a nectarivore and feeds on the blooms of Saguaros, cardón cactus, agave and other night-blooming cacti.

I recently set up one of my motion-activated wildlife cameras to catch these endangered mammals in action.  First, here’s a video of the bats feeding from a flower on a night blooming cactus in my yard:

And here is a video of them feeding from a hummingbird feeder I set in my yard just for the bats:

lesser long-nosed bats

Lesser Long-nosed Bat. Copyright: Greg Joder.

It’s that time of year when the nectarivorous bats raid my hummingbird feeders each night.  I love that the bats visit.  All I have to do is make more sugar nectar each week since they’re pretty sloppy at the feeders.  Unlike hummingbirds, bats can’t really hover, so they end up doing crazy acrobatics in order to capture just a taste of the sugar water:

If you happen to live in Tucson, there is a local bridge that is well-known for its bat colony.  Every evening tens of people turn out to watch tens-of-thousands of bats emerge from the crevices in the bridge and fly off for a night of hunting: