I love pomegranates. I have fond childhood memories of my family sitting around the table, each of us carefully peeling the tough husk off and eating the luscious seeds one at a time. We were careful to wear clothing that could be stained with the permanently dyeing juice.
Brought to the Sonoran Desert by Spanish settlers, these trees do well in this dry climate. I have planted a few in my yard, so I can enjoy pomegranates throughout the winter. I usually only consume half the fruit crop, leaving the rest for the birds and other pomegranate-eating animals.
This summer, the monsoons have failed to develop as usual and I’ve only had half an inch of rain fall in my yard, as opposed to the usual four inches by now. The pomegranate fruit stalled in their growth and have been bursting open before the seeds have ripened. They’re still sweet in flavor.
But don’t worry, the pomegranates are being consumed by the locals.
Here, you’ll see a bird hopping in and out of the opening.
Even though I’m disappointed that I won’t get many, if any, pomegranates this year, I am glad that the locals can enjoy them.
“Hello to all! I’m Curtis Curly-tail and I am here to tell you about my latest YouTube video, which focuses on Roadrunners in Southern Arizona. Did you know when these large birds leave tracks behind, you can’t tell what direction they came from or where they went? I wish I could do that! And roadrunners are really, really fast. That makes me a little afraid of them, too. They do love their lizard snacks!
We lizards are pretty fast, ourselves. So far, so good.
In the heat of the Sonoran Desert, many cacti use the shade of trees to help them survive. They also help in the cold winters. These are nurse trees.
Underneath a mesquite in my yard, I found this thriving Graham’s Nipple or Arizona Fishhook Cactus. The scientific name isMammillaria grahamii. I wouldn’t have noticed it if not for the bright colors of the flowers. The term fishhook refers to the one-three large spines in each spine grouping that are hooked and reddish to brown in color. This species are named after Colonel James Duncan Graham (1799-1851), who took part in a U.S.-Mexico border survey.
Indigenous people have eaten the fruit and pulp of this plant as food, as well using it as a medicine to treat earaches. I’m enjoying it for its natural beauty.
To help with our staying-at-home, many nature organizations have been showing photos and videos of interesting plants and animals. The American Bird Conservancy featured Sanderlings, Calidris alba, in one of these offerings.
Some of my fondest memories include Sanderlings that I watched and strolled among on Bunche Beach and Sanibel Island in Florida. My parents would often call them baby sandpipers, thinking they were the chicks of the taller Semipalmated Sandpipers, also present on the beaches. They never quite believed me when I said the Sanderlings were full-grown.
One of my favorite restorative activities is walking along the beach. The Sanderlings run along the edge of the waves, poking their long thin bills into the sand. If I keep a slow pace, they continue their work, sometimes darting ahead a few steps, sometimes dashing up farther on to the dry sand. When my presence is too intrusive, the entire group or flock takes off with rapidly fluttering colorful wings, cheeping noisily.
I was surprised to discover that Sanderlings breed in the high Arctic tundra, quite different from the Florida Gulf Coast. They’re members of the Scolopacidae family, which includes the more famous Red Knots and Long-billed Curlews. It also includes those Semipalmated Sandpipers.
I’m glad ABC chose to feature Sanderlings, one of my favorite birds. I look forward to being able to travel to join them on the beach again.
Note: A favorite bird of mine back home is the Roadrunner. To learn all about these special runners, check out my rhyming book, Don’t Make Me Fly!
My friend Elaine lives in the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona in the US, while I live on Warderick Wells Cay in the Bahamas. Even though we’re over two thousand miles apart, we share a family of birds. I like to have an occasional adventure and when I was visiting the Leon Levy Preserve on Eleuthera recently, I saw a magnificent bird, the Great-Lizard Cuckoo, in a tree. PHEW! I usually see these birds on the ground running. When you’re a lizard, seeing a running cuckoo can be terrifying! They eat lizards, you know.
Watching the cuckoo run, I realized I had seen something
similar in a video my friend Elaine sent me. In the Sonoran Desert and many other
places, there’s a bird that runs just like my Great-Lizard Cuckoo. That’s because the Roadrunner is a member of
the Cuckoo family.
Cuckoos are found on all the continents except Antarctica and they’re all magnificent. I’m so glad my friend and I can both enjoy these wonderful birds. If you want to learn more about Elaine’s Roadrunner, check out her book Don’t Make Me Fly! It’s all about the roadrunner and it’s lots of fun because it’s written in rhyme.
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