The view west from the homestead

The view west from the homestead

Sweet Chance

Sweet Chance

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Playing House in Tucson, Arizona

December 18th, 2007

We are settled into Lee and Joyces' house in West Tucson out in the Saguaros. We are house sitting for almost a month and taking care of their 12 week old yellow lab Tess (AKA Leaky Cauldron) and her Uncle Tack (who holds his water just fine). We spread out like wild fire once we parked the pop-up, and could actually each have our own bed if we wanted. Chris and Teslin just went back to the Amherst area for a week for Teslin's birthday, while Cassidy and Anny went into SE Arizona to go birding. Alas, the birders were victims of a rare southern Arizona "winter" storm with much rain, wind and some snow, but still saw an amazing array of birds (13 life birds for Cassidy), and met some wonderful folks. More on that to come.....

The holiday season is as surreal when traveling as it is when you have a permanent home, but it is somewhat easier to ignore the ugliness. We are trying to focus on some of the amazing inequities in our society, the casualties of our capitalist way of life, and the need to give back something to those who have less. The kids and us are all talking on how to make that happen here in Tucson. This whole trip has been a gift to our family- seeing the country, being outside, being together, and NO WORK! Mexico is just around the corner as we contact language schools and potential volunteer sites in Oaxaca. We're getting the car and trailer fine tuned for the southern journey. If anyone has ideas of agencies or NGO's that are active in Oaxaca, Chiapas or the Yucutan, please let us know.

Much love to you all over these days. We realize how many great people we have moved on from and this season of gatherings makes the distance seem greater. Wishing you all peace and serenity and JOY!
The Roving Ruges

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Whooping Cranes by Teslin


THE WHOOPING CRANE is a very special bird. The whooping Crane is endangered and there are only about 200 -300 of these birds and about half of them are bred in captivity. These birds are named for their whooping call. The Whooping Cranes average lifespan is 24 years in the wild.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS The adult Whooping Crane has a red crown, a white body with long dark legs and a long dark pointed bill. Black wing tips can be seen in flight on the adults. The immature, meanwhile, has a pale brown body without a crown. The immature whooping crane also has long dark legs which trail behind in flight. The adult whooping crane stands nearly 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall. Their wing span is 2.3 meters (7.5 feet) long. The adult male weighs an average of 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs). The adult female weighs about 6.5 kg (14.3 lbs).

HABITAT The Whooping cranes only known nesting habitat is Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada, and the surrounding area. They nest on the ground, usually on a raised area of a marsh. The female lays 1 to 3 eggs at a time. She usually lays her eggs late April to May. The incubation period is 29 to 35 days.

DIET Whooping Cranes are omnivores which mean they eat plants and animals and other things. In other words it means that they eat everything. They forage for food while walking silently in shallow water or fields, while poking around with there long bill. They eat food ranging from snakes to berries in the winter and smaller birds to seeds in the summer!!!!

CONSERVATION EFFORTS Many of you have probably seen the movie Fly Away Home in which they trained the Canada Geese to follow an ultra light. They managed to do the same thing with the Whoopers and it was successful.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Birding in Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Hello all you nice bird people! We are in Tucson at a big trailer park . We just left New Mexico yesterday and are going to stay in this RV park for a couple days. In Bosque del Apache I saw a lot of interesting birds there including a Prairie Falcon and a rare Aplomado Falcon! The Aplomado was introduced near Bosque in 2006 ( a falcon project had bred them and released them in 2006 and 2007). It is an endangered species and has not been seen much at all since the 1940's. Birders are really excited whenever they see one and I have to admit I was pretty excited when I saw one sitting on a branch in a dead sycamore. I was also excited when I saw the Prairie Falcon in a distant tree. In addition to those rarities, I saw a ton of Snow Geese, Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon, American Coots, Ring-necked Pheasants, White-crowned sparrows, as well as flock of Long-billed Dowitchers. There were also Bald Eagles, a ton of Northern Harriers, Gamble's Quail, Lesser Goldfinch, Say's Phoebe, Western Meadowlark, Kestrels and Red-tailed hawks.
I went to Bosque with my dad at about 5:50AM to watch the Flyoff (the Flyoff is when the Snow Geese and Cranes fly out of their roosting spot to go and find food in other fields). We (my dad and I) stood on "The Flight Deck" where the Flyoff can be watched for about 30 minutes before all the birds took off. When you see it, it looks truly spectacular as thousands of birds take off at the same time!
Well, I hope you are all having a good time back east and keeping healthy. I'll remember to write a Bird Report soon enough. Good-bye for now all you bird people!