Sky Island Wildlife

I’m just back from a few days exploring one of Arizona’s sky islands. After receiving a bit of monsoon rainfall, the wildflowers and wildlife were quite abundant and the formerly dry landscape had turned green with new plant growth.

Can anyone help ID this plant? Copyright: Greg Joder.
Beautiful Lupine flowers with butterfly pollinator. Copyright: Greg Joder.

While exploring I also checked three trail cameras I’ve had in the region for several months. It was exciting to see all the critters captured by the cameras, including a sow black bear with two cubs.

I also had the chance to get this beautiful rattlesnake to move off the road:

Rattlesnake enjoying the morning sun. Copyright: Greg Joder.

 

A Big Little Owl & Black Bear Cub

Here are two interesting camera trap videos, one from my yard and one from Arizona’s Sky Islands. The first video shows an alarmed Western screech owl in a birdbath during the day. She was trying to escape the 107 degree temps and her nestbox was too hot. I think a Cooper’s hawk landed on the fence near the birdbath.

In this second video, a black bear cub has a swim with her mom then takes an interest in my camera trap:

Bobcat Kittens!

I’ve had a camera trap set on my backyard pond going on 7 years continuously. I generally check the cameras every morning to see what critters have stopped by. In that time I’ve found adult bobcats to be quite common. However, this morning I was surprised to see the resident bobcat had brought her young kittens in for a drink last night.

 

Mountain lion and sub-adult kitten

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:

Western Screech Owlet Action

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.

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: