Search Results for "great blue heron"

  • Bird of the Month: The Great Blue Heron

    By Steve Burk Take a walk alongside one of Prescott’s lakes at any time of the year, and you’re likely to see a tall gray-and-white heron standing in shallow water, or on a nearby shore, as it quietly stalks its next meal. The Great Blue Heron stands 4-feet tall, has a long neck, and a massive bill. In flight, the heron evokes something of a prehistoric image with its deep, slow mechanical-looking wing beats, its head tucked back on its shoulders, and its legs dangling well behind. Should you visit Florida, you’ll discover a white morph of the Great Blue Heron. Initially, the Great Blue Heron may appear ungainly while walking tentatively through shallow water. When it freezes statue-like with neck coiled, strikes the water in the blink of an eye and catches a fish, you’ll gain a new respect for this agile hunter. These herons have a more varied diet than you might expect including frogs, snakes, rodents, and even other unwary birds. The spectacle of a Great Blue Heron struggling to swallow a bullfrog down its long, thin neck is not soon forgotten. Their eyes also permit nocturnal hunting. In residential areas, unprotected Koi ponds can become literal fish-in-a-barrel targets for these birds. Great Blue Herons generally roost and nest in trees. During the springtime, watch for them in the cottonwood grove at the far west end of

  • Green Heron

    By Rich Lewis Recently, my partner and I were out birding in Watson Woods. As we walked over the red foot bridge and headed up the east side of the small pond, an ungainly bird flew in our direction from the other side of the lake. Upon noticing our presence, it veered, made a quick U-turn, and flew back from whence it came. My partner whispered, “Green Heron.” I had heard that they were around here, both at Watson and along Granite Creek where I live in the Dells, but they had always eluded me. I had only seen them down in Gilbert and in Mexico but never around Prescott, so naturally I wanted to get a closer look. Known to lurk in the tall weeds rather than out in the open like Great Blue Heron or Great Egret, this was a rare sighting. Green Heron are one of the shortest in the wading bird family, and they are quite stocky when hunched in the bushes waiting to capture their next meal. They are strikingly colored: velvety green on their backs with a dark cap and a reddish-brown chest. It is surprising how well their beautiful colors blend in with the vegetation surrounding them. One of their traits that I find most interesting is that they are one of the few birds that will actually try to lure fish to

  • News From the Wilds: June 2017

    Jun 2, 17 • 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 2 out of 5 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 cloudspotting. 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 as

  • News From the Wilds: October 2016

    Sep 30, 16 • 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 woodsmoke 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. During this change-over, 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 first

  • New From the Wilds: June 2016

    Jun 3, 16 • 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’s 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 to 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 cloudspotting. 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 as they are

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

    Nov 6, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, Feature3,073 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

  • News From the Wilds: October 2015

    Oct 2, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds4,765 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 woodsmoke 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. The second dry season of the year typically begins in October 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 it is this winter pattern that could therefore be strongly influenced by the developing El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which formed over the summer. When the equatorial belt of the Pacific, which receives over 50 percent of the Earth’s incoming equatorial solar radiation, increases in temperature by

  • News From the Wilds: June 2015

    Jun 5, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds2,533 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris June, in most years, can be a pretty tough time in the Central Highlands. It is reliably the driest month, 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 the rains of July, as the hot, dry air in the Sonoran Desert and the Interior West rises and draws the moist, humid air from the Sea of Cortez to our region. This regional climatic pattern is observable locally in the movement and development of different cloud species. June mornings tend to dawn clear and bright, but especially toward the end of the month, cumulus clouds appear and 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 as they are wide, and with gray bases, and eventually to towering, 30,000-foot-tall Cumulus congestus storm clouds. It is only this last species that brings with it the most precious of all resources in the high desert — water. And with those first, massive raindrops the quiescent, drought-stressed landscape begins its strident reawakening. Until that time, however, the

  • News From the Wilds: October 2014

    Oct 3, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds2,718 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris October is a bittersweet month, bearing hints of the coming cold season alongside exuberant summer-like bursts of activity. The evening air carries a sliver of ice and bears smells of woodsmoke and high mountains, while the days are filled with dried grasses and the last of the year’s butterflies and flowers. The monsoon showers have finally passed, leaving an explosion of activity in their wake — insects lay eggs, plants set seed, birds migrate, and mammals prepare winter stores and put on fat for the time of scarcity. And this year, which has proven to be one of the wettest on record, will provide most creatures with abundant food and water to make it through. According to the Western Regional Climate Center, both July and September were the 20th wettest of their respective months on record, while this August was the fifth wettest August. With all three months combined, though, 2014 had the second wettest monsoon season in the entire 117-year record. Discussions of rainfall in the region often devolve into discussions of drought and how relatively unbroken it is. But in the fairly small amount of precipitation data available for this region, there is no statistically significant downward trend — this area is characterized by variability, not by decreasing precipitation. There is, however, one somewhat more meaningful climatic trend in Yavapai County — during the last

  • News From the Wilds: June 2014

    May 30, 14 • ndemarino • 5enses, News From the Wilds20 CommentsRead More »

    By Ty Fitzmorris June can be a pretty tough time in the Central Highlands. 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. The drought of June is, in fact, critical in bringing the rains of July, as the hot, dry air in the Sonoran Desert and the Interior West rises and draws the moist, humid air from the Sea of Cortez to this region. Over the course of the month, you can observe these storms building in the Central Highlands via the appearance of different species of clouds. June mornings tend to dawn clear and bright, but, especially toward the end of the month, cumulus clouds appear and 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 as they are wide, and with gray bases, and eventually to towering, 30,000-foot-tall Cumulus congestus storm clouds. This is the moment many residents of the Central Highlands — animal, plant, fungus, and even bacteria — wait for. And when the first massive raindrops fall, the whole of our human and

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