Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Verdin

Although Erika and I were disappointed with the Arizona Desert Museum (see last post), we were delighted by an easy hike across the street from the museum and up the King Canyon Trail (part of the Saguaro National Park). The trail leads to Wasson's Peak, seven miles distant, but we hiked a two-mile loop, up a dry riverbed to a picnic area. This hike was pleasant in March, but be forewarned, summer temperatures can be life-threatening and no water sources exist along the trail.

We came upon several Verdins, birds heretofore unphotographed by me. These active little birds prove to be North America's only representatives of an Old World family, the Remizidae, or Penduline Tits. The species is found across the extreme southwestern United States, from Texas to California, south to central Mexico. Verdins build round nests with openings at the bottoms. They make nests for breeding and others for roosting.

We met group of local hikers. "Did you see the pictographs?" they asked. We were blown away that we did not see the images on the canyon walls right in front of us--too busy birding and watching for snakes I guess. These paintings were left by prehistoric Hohokam people (for more information, see Phoenix.gov or Wikipedia).

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