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

  • If you build it … : Happy Oasis brings Heaven on Earth to Prescott

    Nov 6, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, Feature3,719 CommentsRead More »

    By Robert Blood [Editor’s note: The following interview was culled from conversations between the reporter and Happy Oasis, owner of Heaven on Earth, a nature sanctuary in the Granite Dells. Visit HappyOasis.Com to find out more.]   Tell us about Heaven on Earth. It’s Prescott’s newest wildlife sanctuary. It’s not only a private sanctuary for wildlife, but also for the wild life inside us. The idea is to bring out and enhance our communication with nature and eco-conscious living. There are gardens with edible plants mixed in with wild flowers — all of which are friendly to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds — as well as dozens of fruit trees. Heaven on Earth is surrounded by thousands of acres of what should have been a national park. My beloved John and I feel as if we’re the caretakers — not just of our home here, but of these gorgeous Granite Dells, as well. Heaven on Earth is surrounded by a network of trails that traverse some of the most spectacular scenery in Arizona. Part of that is city of Prescott designated Open Space. The trail system behind our home is called the Granite Gardens Trails. I envisioned these trails before I suggested to the developer that he sell and donate the trail land to the city. The trails were brilliantly designed by Chris Hoskins and built by his Over the Hill

  • 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: 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

  • News from the Wilds: November 2017

    Nov 3, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris Highlands. The cold has crawled from the cracks of night into the light of day changing how all of the creatures of the region live. The coming season brings scarcity of food and water along with low, sometimes killing temperatures, and every species, plant and animal, has their set of adaptations to these challenges. These adaptations are sometimes physiological and sometimes behavioral, though for most species there is a little of both. Mammals (including humans) and some non-migratory birds begin to undergo cold acclimatization now, which includes redirection of blood flow away from skin, accumulation of insulative body fat and fur, and metabolic and chemical changes, all resulting in an overall increase in tolerance for low temperatures. Insects undergo a wide variety of changes — some, including bumblebees, generate propylene glycol (antifreeze) in their blood, which prevents them from freezing, while others develop the ability to raise their body temperatures far above that of the surrounding air, proving themselves anything but “cold-blooded.” Reptiles and amphibians are able to tolerate very low body temperatures without any injury, though some snakes, such as rattlesnakes, gather together in large numbers in caves to avoid killing frosts. Many birds, including the swallows and warblers, migrate south both for food and to avoid the cold, while mammals such as Black Bears, Rock Squirrels, and Beavers, create dens in which to shelter. The

  • News from the Wilds: October 2017

    Oct 6, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris October in the Mogollon Highlands is one of the great turning points of the year — the warmth and activity of summer drops into the lower deserts and valleys as the cold of the coming winter (borne by heavy, cold air) slithers down the creek beds from the uplands. The evening air carries a sliver of ice and brings smells of wood smoke and high mountains, while the days are filled with dried grasses and the last of the year’s butterflies, native bees, and flowers. The monsoon showers have finally passed, leaving a wave of activity in their wake — insects laying eggs, plants setting seed, birds migrating, and mammals preparing winter stores and putting on fat for the coming time of scarcity. In October, the second dry season of the year typically begins as the heat-driven summer monsoon pattern, which draws moist air masses north from the Gulf of California, shifts to the storm-driven winter pattern based in the Pacific Ocean, where massive storm systems catapult smaller, moist low-pressure troughs across our region, bringing snow and rain. And, during this changeover, the skies over the Mogollon Highlands tend to stay clear, though it is also during this time that the Pacific hurricane season is at its peak, and some of these hurricanes move through our region dropping sometimes large amounts of precipitation. October reliably brings our

  • News from the Wilds: September 2017

    Sep 1, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the WildsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris September glows in golden light, rich with scents of late summer — its sunrises are heady with the fragrance of white Sacred Datura flowers, fading into the noontime butterscotch of sun-warmed Ponderosas, and then into the dusk sweetness of bricklebush. In much of North America, September marks the beginning of the colder part of the year, with last harvests and cold nights. But in the lower latitudes, such as the Mogollon Highlands of Arizona, September is still summer, though with hints and foreshadowings of autumn. The monsoon rains usually continue into the early part of the month, tapering off eventually into glorious sunny days, with extraordinary flowering of purple four-o-clocks, asters, and morning-glories, red penstemons and Scarlet Creeper, yellow sunflowers and daisies, and the tall, strange tree-like Wright’s Thelypody (Thelypodium wrightii), with its white flowers. Insect diversity, too, continues to grow and change, with some of the largest insects of the year making their debut. Look for the large brown Rhinoceros Beetle (Xyloryctes jamaicensis), the Great Ash Sphinx Moth (Sphinx chersis), and the gigantic leaf-mimic katydids of the genus Microcentrum, as well as the harmless (though somewhat alarming) Giant Crab Spider (Olios giganteus), which is often seen in houses as temperatures fall outside. It is in this time of extraordinary plenty that many creatures begin to prepare for the coming cold season. Most of our woody plants

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