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Committed Couple

Gambel Quail, the  birds with the top knot dangling over their forheads, mate  for life. They also live in family units: the winter coveys even include nonbreeding adults.  But during breeding season, the coveys change.  Unmated males find a high spot to call to potential females.  Males help with the hatched brood (9-14 chicks), while the female may start a second clutch.

Their nest may be a scraped depression near a sheltering plant or an old roadrunner or Cactus Wren nest.

You’ll see them looking for food in early morning or late afternoon; seeds, grain, plants and fruit of cacti on the ground.

And always, the traffic stopping procession of Momma and Daddy hustling their huge brood across a busy street. They make it, the little ones  hoping up over the curbing to safety.  Amazing!

 

Bird on the Prowl

Bird on the Prowl

The Greater Roadrunner, a member of the cuckoo family, is a formidable predator, catching  snakes, lizards, rodents and small birds on the run. He can reach speeds of up to 15-20 miles per hour.

His antics, such as jumping straight up into the air to grab a passing insect, make him a popular cartoon figure.  It is a surprise to find roadrunners really look and act like their film doubles.

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My Arizona: Roadrunners, Saguaros and Mountains

Where is this?  It could be in any of the  four directions from my house. . .I can see all of this looking in any direction but that low wall?  Its part of my front entrance.

The Greater Roadrunner seems to enjoy watching people and may hang out where you live.  To see  if you have a roadrunner in the area, look for the  distinguishing footprints.  Roadrunners have zygodactyl feet which means they have two toes in the front and two in back.Their footprint looks like an X.

In fact, if there is one, there should be two.  The roadrunner mates for life after its mating ceremony that involves bowing and treats for the opposite sex. The males help incubate the eggs, sitting on the nest at night because the female’s body temperature lowers and the male’s  body stays at the normal temperature. The young stay hidden until almost grown.

Good hunters?  You will see them standing on a patio roof or fence proudly showing off the dead lizard in their beak!

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Top of the Morning to You!

The Greater Roadrunner is a favorite Western bird.  He looks just like his cartoon character. . . They are almost rare these days but you are sure to see them at the Phoenix  Desert Botanical Garden, especially in the early morning.  They always seem to have a purpose, racing one way or the other. . .

The West wouldn’t be the same without them. . .

Adeline and Floyd

Chicken and Floyd

Chicken and Floyd live with daughter Jessica and her family.  Floyd came as an older cat straight from the pound.  Jess and her husband Dylan heard Chicken get hit by a car in front of their loft in Emeryville, CA.  They rushed to her side, miraculously found no injuries, put out Found signs. . .and ended up with the world’s sweetest cat. And I don’t know why they call her Chicken!

 

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Road Racer

The longlegged Greater Roadrunner might have been named for its habit of running down roads in front of cars, then dashing to safety at the last minute. They can run between 15-20 miles per hour and have been clocked at 26 miles per hour, the fastest running speed  ever clocked for a flying bird. It is also one of the bigger birds in North America: It is 20-24″ long, has a 17-24″ wingspan and is up to a foot-high. It can fly but perfers to spend most of its time on the ground.

You’ll find Roadrunners in the Southwestern  shrubby desert,  sometimes as far east as Missouri,  Arkansas and Louisana and as far south as the interior of  Mexico.  And they do look and act funny, just like their cartoon counterparts!

Georgia O'Keefe

Georgia O’Keefe in Color

Georgia O’Keeffe in Color!  Interestingly, you usually see her in black and white photos, even though she was married to photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

My daughter Jill loves her work and is inspired to paint  giant colorful  flowers in her own distinctive style.   So I decided to do my own Georgia in the colors she loved. It is my first portrait.. . .

Arizona's Lovebirds

Arizona’s Lovebirds

Arizona’s Love Birds, Gambel Quail, mate for life, except when a  unhappy female leaves her brood of up to 16 chicks and heads for a mate in another covey. We usually see the parents leading a single-file convoy of tiny puffs  across a busy roadway. The miracle is that they all make it to the  other side!

P.S.  This painting, owned by a member of Arizona Press Women, was selected as the logo of the National Federation of Press Women’s Conference at the Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Az.  Of course I said yes! when they asked to use the image.  Then, how easy it was to identify conference attendees!  They were all carrying bright orange bags with the quail logo.

Nugget

Nugget

Nugget is the pound-pup of daughter London. My first animal painting, he became an instant favorite…especially with London’s friends at the City of  Surprise. She reports that he suddenly was spotted on desktops across open office cubicles. Another fan framed his card for his living room table. Yes, cards available!

P.S.  Update: Nugget survived a coyote attack the summer of 2013. He heard something in the backyard and ventured out the doggie door at 3 a.m. His high-pitched screams awoke London; she found a battered but alive Nugget in the backyard.  After a trip to the vet he recovered but probably won’t venture into the yard after dark after this.