Search Results for "common raven"

  • The Common Raven

    By Peter Pierson From the northernmost reaches of the Arctic, through the mountain and boreal regions of the U.S. and Canada, to the desert highlands of Central America, the Common Raven provides an iconic symbol to the most diverse of places. As the largest member of what’s called “songbirds,” the raven has a wide range of vocalizations, including unique local dialects that can catch experienced birders by surprise. In his book “Mind of the Raven,” Bernd Heinrich writes that ravens possess what appears to be remarkable intelligence. Their capacity for complex problem solving may contribute to their adaptability to our presence. At 5 a.m. in Nome, Alaska, hordes of ravens pick through the remains of bar trash around the famous wooden arch at the finish of the Iditarod on sunny -27 F mornings during lulls between arriving teams. Just down the road some 600 miles, if a road existed there, employees of Pogo Mine can be disciplined for leaving food in the back of their trucks, as ravens open lunch boxes and scatter their contents across the snow. In Prescott, they seem to have figured out the meaning of picnic grounds and the relative safety of building a nest in a tall Ponderosa just above the accepting residents of Prescott College’s student housing. Let’s just say they’re resourceful. Ravens, as Heinrich and others have noted, also have a strong inclination

  • Bird of the Month: Ravens

    Jun 27, 13 • ndemarino • 5enses, Jay's Bird Barn's Bird of the Month14 CommentsRead More »

      By Eric Moore “The big black birds that I’m seeing, are they crows or are they ravens?” I get that question a lot. Prescott is home to Common Ravens (Corvus corax), an abundant, year-round Central Highlands resident. They’re intelligent, adaptable, playful, and resourceful. Ravens are omnivorous and opportunistic; they aren’t picky about food. You can often spot them patrolling roadways for fresh road kill. During breeding season, they even raid bird nests and steal eggs and baby birds. Ravens live in every habitat and frequent high-traffic urban areas like Granite Creek Park and shopping centers, where they’re known to Dumpster dive. Perhaps their most endearing feature is their unique vocalizations. They’ve got a range and repertoire of sounds that’s both surprising and impressive. ***** Eric Moore is owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, 1046 Willow Creek Road in Prescott. Contact him at Eric@JaysBirdBarn.Com

  • Highland Center for Natural History’s Oudoor Outings: Let it snow

    By Jill Craig White curtains of snow drift down from dark clouds. They obscure the sun for hours as they cover rabbit holes and chipmunk burrows with fluffy white flakes. Finally, winter comes to Prescott! Granted, the snow comes and goes throughout the winter.  It seems that just as the streets are cleared and the slush sloshed away, we get another storm and start the entire process over again. I love to be outside during snow flurries. I’m not talking about the big, blustery storms, but the ones that dust your scarf and hat and make the forest sparkle like a fairy land. It’s the perfect time to be outside. Everything is quiet and, if you close your eyes, you can imagine you’re the only person in the world. You’re not, of course. A keen eye can easily detect animal tracks ruffling the white blanket of snow. Over there—a murder of ravens recently played in the freshly laid snow. Some preened, dipping their heads in the soft mounds and shaking them off with vigor. A few walked as if out for a Sunday stroll.  Heads cocked to one side, maybe they inquired about the ensuing snow party. Others squawked and jumped as if dancing, jumping up a foot or two with a flap of wings and landing again in the soft snow. Along with the tracks remains a question: Were

  • News From the Wilds: July 2018

    Jun 29, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris July in the Mogollon Highlands of Arizona growls with the rumbling of the afternoon clouds and rings with the first drops from the monsoon storms. After the high temperatures and low relative humidity of June, the plants and animals of the wild areas are at their most stressed and are at high risk of death from extreme temperatures and lack of water. But during this time, many species gave birth to their young, provisioned nests, and lay eggs, in anticipation of a coming time of abundance and growth. Though this is a gamble, the first, massive raindrops near the beginning of the month (and the first flush of monsoon flowers that follow) prove it to be well-founded. And so the second grand flush of life begins. Though the climate of the Central Highlands can be harsh for part of the year — dry and fire-scorched in early summer, cold and snowy in the winter — these tough times are typically followed by some of our most exuberant seasons. So it is with the annual drought of June, which is followed by the coming of the monsoon rains in July. Especially in drier years such as this one (Prescott’s 2016 total so far is just over 72 percent of average), the July showers are a real cause for celebration. They are, however, something of a mixed blessing —

  • News From the Wilds: June 2018

    Jun 1, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris June can be a pretty tough time in the Mogollon Highlands of central Arizona. It is reliably the driest month of the year, with nearly two out of five years receiving no precipitation at all, and most others receiving only the most minute amounts. If there is any rain, it comes at the end of the month with the first of the monsoonal storms. In fact, the drought of June is critical in bringing about the rains of July, because as the hot, dry air in the Sonoran Desert and the Interior West rises it draws the moist, humid air from the Sea of Cortez northward into our region. Whenever these wet air masses enter our area from the south they bring the possibility of rain, but without the heat that accumulates this month the rain will not fall. But it is possible to observe this large-scale, regional climatic pattern evolve by watching the movement and development of the different cloud species as they move across our skies — a pursuit known as cloud spotting. June mornings tend to dawn clear and bright, but especially toward the end of the month, cumulus clouds appear and begin to build in the hot afternoons. These clouds may start as relatively small Cumulus humulis, wider than they are tall and uniformly white, and then turn to Cumulus mediocris, as tall

  • News From the Wilds: May 2018

    May 4, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris May is the great turning of spring to summer in the Mogollon Highlands of Arizona. Winter is firmly past, and in most years the seasonal creeks run with the very last percolating snowmelt while extraordinary flowers abound — though this last winter was the ninth driest on record, so creeks are running well below average. But May is also the beginning of the dry season as regional climate patterns shift and the winter storms that had been flung our way from large storm systems over the Pacific are replaced by northering warm, wet air masses from the Sea of Cortez. Eventually, these air masses will mature into the titanic cumulonimbus and torrential rains of our summer monsoon, but they are fueled by heat, which will not build sufficiently until late June. We are lucky enough to have not one, but two distinct flowering seasons per year. Our first great flowering happens this month, though it will be muted by extremely dry conditions. The other great flowering is after the monsoon rains of mid-summer. Interestingly, many of our flowering plant species are unique to one or the other period. This bimodal flowering season is matched by peaks in activity in our animal species, as well. Insect activity follows flowering very closely, as insects either pollinate flowers or disperse the seeds that result from that pollination. The peak in

  • Myth & Mind: Stop … hammer time

    May 4, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Myth & MindNo CommentsRead More »

    By Reva Sherrard Thor was wearing a dress, and he didn’t like it. Loki, in female guise and a skirt, looked a hell of a lot more comfortable as he played the role of handmaiden to a bride, pealing with girlish laughter while his eyes flashed wickedly. But Thor hadn’t come to the realm of giants for anyone’s amusement: He was here to get his hammer back. Thor was the child of Odin and the Earth — in other words, of pure spiritual and natural power, and as such immensely strong and as terrible in striking as the lightning. With his weapon, the magic hammer Mjölnir, in his hand he was nearly invincible. No matter how far he flung Mjölnir it always returned, boomerang-style, and its force was capable of crushing mountains. Thor needed only the hammer and two other pieces of magical equipment, a strength-enhancing belt and a pair of iron gloves, to defeat his foes the giants again and again. This time the giants had resorted to a ploy. Their king, named Þrymr, stole mighty Mjölnir and let it be known he wanted the beautiful, fertility-giving goddess Freyja as ransom, to be his wife — a ransom that Freyja declared no one would pay, stamping her foot in rage and making the hall of the gods shake. So it was Thor who had to don a bridal gown

  • News From the Wilds: March 2018

    Mar 2, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris March is an alluring month in the Mogollon Highlands, but ultimately a deceptive one. Glorious sunny days abound, glittering with butterflies and migrant songbirds, and highlighted with the earliest wildflowers and luminescent leaves. But March is also one of our wettest months of the year, and most of that moisture comes in the form of snow. Large storm systems over the Pacific Ocean throw off snow storms that sweep into our area from the north, dropping anywhere from inches to feet of snow, and bringing us firmly back into winter. Because of its trickster nature, March one of the more dangerous times for the creatures in the wilds. Many mammals are bearing young now, some insects are emerging from creeks and pupae as winged adults, and birds are making nests or migrating back into the area from the tropics. The dramatic cold snaps can therefore cause many of these species severe temperature and food stress and sometimes lead to their deaths. In spite of the warm temperatures and sunny days, most of the native plants of the Highlands — with the exception of the wind-pollinated trees — refrain from growing and flowering. They will wait until the days are reliably warm and frost-free, each species determining this through a unique combination of day length, soil temperature, number of accumulated days of cold, and other cues. Non-native plants,

  • News From the Wilds: February 2018

    Feb 2, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris In most years, February in the Mogollon Highlands of Arizona is still a very quiet time when mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and plants remain quiescent, waiting for the combined cues of increased day-length and higher temperatures to end their winter diapause and begin searching for mates and food. But in all years, the first glimmerings of spring’s vivacity begin this month in the deserts and the chaparral of our region. Over the next several months, the activity in the lowlands will grow from a hum to a roar and gradually flow up the slopes and into the highest mountains, carpeting the whole of the Mogollon Highlands with flowers, warblers, and butterflies. But, for now, the uplands remain relatively quiet, leaving the naturalist to search for hints of Spring. Bird migrations begin to pick up steam now, as overwintering species such as Northern Goshawk and Townsend’s Solitaire begin the months-long journey that will ultimately end in their breeding grounds as far north as the Arctic Circle. Other species migrate through our region to points nearer to the north, while the last of the migrants will include the neotropical migrant warblers who have spent the winter in the rainforests and dry forests of Central America, and will breed and nest here. The overwintering waterfowl on Willow and Watson Lakes, as well as the many smaller bodies of water will

  • News from the Wilds: January 2018

    Dec 29, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris January in the Mogollon Highlands is when the long quiet of winter reaches its coldest and snowiest, as storms bluster and howl, pushing plants and animals to the limits of their strength. The frigid days, however, are often interspersed with sunny, cold days that skitter with bursts of bird and mammal activity. Every plant and animal has a set of strategies for making it through this time of scant resources and dangerous temperatures — pregnant female Black Bears hibernate in underground dens; Bobcats, Coyotes, and deer grow thicker coats and subtly re-route blood flow away from their skin and extremities; and ground squirrels, chipmunks, and Beavers settle into the well-stocked dens that they’ve been provisioning for months. Insects and herbaceous plants have evolved so that only their eggs and seeds overwinter, while trees decrease photosynthesis either by dropping leaves or by insulating them with thicker coatings and alter their chemistry by increasing lipid content and membrane permeability to decrease risk of frost damage. In many cases these adaptations, both physiological and behavioral, are remarkably complex. But the glimmers of the coming spring continue as well. Some animals are “planting their seeds” for the coming year, including the Black Bears and River Otters, both of whom are giving birth. Many of our wind-pollinated trees are in flower, during this time when the broad leaves of deciduous trees have

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

↓ More ↓