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:

Mountain Lions of 2018

While I am still in Costa Rica, I wanted to share a short video of many, but not all, of the mountain lions my trail cameras captured in 2018. Not sure how many individuals are represented here, though I’m thinking around 8 or 9, based off location and physical characteristics. Feel free to comment if you have a guess or know an easy way to visually distinguish individuals. Enjoy!

A Band of White-nosed Coati

This trail cam capture was a fun surprise, a band of white-nosed coati foraging in a creek-bed. I set up the cameras about two weeks earlier, hoping to catch bears or mountain lions. I was happily surprised to see the cameras had captured the action of this band of coati as they worked their way down the creek. Pay close attention to the youngsters as they climb up and down trees and explore:

Desert Bighorn Sheep & A Bear

I don’t want to mislead everyone that my blog is all about trail camera captures. It is much more than that, given time. Currently, however, trail cameras have been a focus of my outdoor life (I’m not a hunter, but rather want to protect wildlife). I have other adventures in mind that will not involve trail cameras. I hope you’ll stick with me to see those adventures. In the mean time, I have more trail camera action to share with you. First, is a video of scouting a new location to set up a couple trail cameras:

Second are two videos that represent patience and luck when choosing a trail camera location.

A Desert Bighorn Sheep:

A Juvenile Black Bear:

 

Lots of Mountain Lions

The camera traps I’ve set up have captured some very nice mountain lion activity.  The following two videos show two different mountain lion families some 20 miles apart.

The first video is from Cat Canyon:

The second video is from Lion Wash, which I have had camera stationed on and off for over two years:

Mountain Lion Family

Yesterday I made the hike out to check on two camera traps I have set up in a wash in the Sonoran Desert.  This is the same wash where my cameras captured three mountain lions when the cubs were nearing a year old (Second video below).

The following video was captured just last week.  I’m so happy to see they are alive and well!

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: