There it was. A loud, distinctive, and short “peek” directly overhead. Then another and then several in a row: what birders refer to as the “rattle call.” The glare of the afternoon sun made it a little difficult to look up in the direction of the sound, but after a bit of repositioning, there he was — busy working at a small hole in the skeleton of what appeared to be a pinyon pine.
Sedona Wildlife and Natural History
Animals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, Insects, and Plants of Sedona and the Verde Valley
Learn all about wildlife, including birds, trees, plants, and flowers, common to Sedona and the surrounding area. The natural history of the Sedona and the Verde Valley is unique, with the riparian green-belt of Oak Creek attracting a surprising diversity of animals and birds.
The already-lazy traffic comes to a halt one damp afternoon in the town of Sedona, Arizona.
Two people are in the middle of the two-lane highway through town, holding up their hands to stop the cars and poking at something on the ground with their toes, ushering it slowly toward the curb. The drivers' irritation reflex begins to kick in, until they see the cause for the holdup. It's Arizona's version of the Boston children's classic Make Way for Ducklings - it's Make Way for Aphonopelma Chalcodes, better known to most of us as the desert tarantula.
Arizona is the state with the second most hummingbird species in the U.S. Those who maintain hummingbird feeders in Sedona are amply rewarded with dawn to dusk visits by these tiny, jewel-like birds. They compete fiercely for a spot on the feeder, buzzing back and forth, constantly scolding each other, then giving in for a long sip of sugar water.
When most people think "desert," they think hot, barren, and dry. While those are all half-acceptable descriptors, the desert has kind of a dual nature.
Sure, it gets hot, with the mid-summer temperatures around Sedona creeping toward 100, but the winter can bring snow, frost and a biting wind, even to lower desert areas.
Of all the magnificent birds associated with the desert Southwest, the Common Raven gets short shrift in the publicity department. Compared to the California condor, poster-bird for late 20th century conservation efforts, the quirky roadrunner immortalized by Saturday morning cartoons, or even the roly-poly quail that putter around every backyard from Tucson to Sedona, the raven barely gets a nod as having a place in Arizona's natural and cultural landscape.
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