Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Celebrate Rain

Cactus wren greeting a new, rain-washed, day

There is nothing like rain in the desert, especially when it is desperately needed, and we are at a time of the year when rain, any rain, is unexpected, and therefore doubly appreciated.  A windy day yesterday seemed to hold nothing but desert dust until the smell of rain rode in though an open window.

The smell of rain in the desert is the smell of salvation and hope.  The unique scent is primarily that given off by the resin covered leaves of the creosote bush when wet, the mildly pungent smell borne on a rain wind evokes a deep gratitude in true desert dwellers.  There's no better sleep than that accompanied by the gentle patter of rain of the roof and the steady dripping off the roof onto the parched ground, breathing in the musky scent of the creosote.  You know all the opportunistic plants and animals of the desert are putting every drop they can reach to good use.

The morning after a cleansing, nourishing rain is a cause for celebration.

Shiny clean
Goosed into growing
Things are looking up

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lovey Dovey

It's spring again, at least in the Sonoran Desert (we do jump the gun a bit), and love is in the air.  And on the ground, and on our rafters, and in our flower pots -- despite our best efforts.

Who's keeping an eye on who?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm all for love.  All the time.  It's just that when it comes to our mourning doves it's so comic and so tragic so often.

They are not the first to get into the reproduction act, not by a long shot.  The diminutive Costa's hummingbirds laid eggs weeks ago.  But the mourning doves are so clumsy and obvious about it.

While my head was turned...
First we are treated to the males humping along behind a female, any female, multiple females, in a usually vain attempt at mating.  Even when successful it is over in the blink of an eye -- the females almost don't seem to notice and barely pause in their hunt for food.  But then the paltry excuse for nest building begins...a few twigs scattered on a rafter or in a plant pot, or heaven help us, in a tree or a cactus; the merest excuse of a nest.  Last year's attempt on our sloping metal porch light cover met with a sad disaster shortly before the eggs were set to hatch.  When it comes to nest building, mourning doves are neither members of the Craftsman's Guild nor the Brain Trust.

There's a favorite nesting spot in a raised planter immediately outside our front door.  When I first spotted the tell-tale pile of twigs a few days ago I cleaned them up and inserted five chopsticks and added two balls of aluminum foil as dove deterrents to the six inch pot already containing a petunia.  Foiled again (pardon the pun), as when I next looked a dove was happily esconsed between the chopsticks, leaning on the peturnia, and gazing at her fractured reflection in the aluminum foil, all while keeping the two eggs she'd almost instantly laid warm.  We'll be using the garage door and backyard gate for the foreseeable future while mama dove hatches and raises her chicks.

Maybe it's the ambiance...
Mourning doves really are lovely birds, but as with anything there's an overabundance of, it's value decreases, at least to us.  But as my husband reminded me, without a lot of doves, we wouldn't have as many raptors.  So true.
Cooper's Hawk in search of dove