A cactus that I replanted from a short stalk about three years ago finally decided it was time to bloom. I have no idea what species this is. Still, beautiful and fragrant. I was hoping there would be a few bat or large moth pollinators, but it appears only small beetles, moths, and bees visited the flowers. The time-lapse below is about 6 hours compressed into four minutes.
There were other cactus around the yard that were also blooming this morning:
Last night was pretty interesting. Lot’s of wildlife action, though most fascinating to me are the screech owl and desert cottontail rabbit interactions. I am so comforted to know my backyard offers an oasis for the wild critters. What do you think?
On a recent camera check I found that something had dragged a skunk carcass near the camera (not me). The carcass attracted some attention from a coati, turkey vultures, and a mountain lion and her sub-adult offspring:
The Western Screech owl fledglings have continued to use the backyard waterholes and patio after fledging nearly two weeks ago. It appears the adult female is feeding them and teaching them to hunt while the adult male has not been captured on video since the little owls fledged.
It’s the time of year between winter rains and the summer monsoon season so natural sources of water for wildlife are running dry. In my backyard I’ve had the pond going for about 7 years and recently I put out a simple small water bowl in another pat of the yard. The water bowl is really the top of a birdbath and works well for the purpose.
This morning I checked one of my camera traps and was happy to see it captured a sow and cub as well as a “cinnamon” black bear. According to Wiki, a cinnamon bear is a subspecies of the American black bear. Either way, it was so good to see a black bear cub and also a different color morph of the American Black Bear:
The little western screech owls fledged last night. After documenting them in their nestbox every night and some days for over three months I feel a bit sad and will miss them. They are now out in the wild world and will, hopefully, have successful careers as owls. They’ll still be fed by their parents for a little while longer as they learn to hunt and fend for themselves.
The western screech owl pair have been busy feeding three hungry owlets. The nestlings appear to be nearing the time to leave their nest. Last night both parents made over 16 feeding trips which included grubs, geckos, and a small packrat.
On previous nights, prey items also included a small bird, western blind snakes, spiny lizards, moths, and even a hummingbird. Seeing the dead hummingbird getting eaten by an owlet made me sad as hummingbirds are dear to my heart.
The young screech owls have also been spending time checking out their daytime word:
A few months ago I put up two screech owl nest boxes in my yard. Each box has a 3″ diameter hole which is within the size recommended to accommodate screech owls. Within a week an owl found both nest boxes and would randomly appear sitting in the entrance to one for a couple months. It wasn’t long before breeding season began and a second owl appeared. They paired up and chose the red nest box which was in a shady protected area in a false willow tree.
Both adults began hunting foray’s to feed hungry nestlings. It appeared that the male would catch prey and give it to the female who was, early on, incubating eggs, then later, feeding the nestlings.
A few days ago I decided to take a short video inside the nest box using a tiny borescope inspection camera. I wanted to see how old and how many owlets there were. I waited until after the female left the nest box in the early evening and was able to capture this video, confirming 3 downy nestlings:
Seeing the nestlings and their size made sense given how many prey items the adults were bringing into the nest box. The prey has varied from small moths and non-native geckos to a small passerine bird, a large Western blind snake (pencil-size diameter, maybe a foot long) which escaped, and a couple kangaroo rats. Here’s the video from last night’s action: