Sheri and Tom (Southwest)

Throwback Thursday: Ocelots in the Sky Islands

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Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Ocelot

Ocelot © C. Allan Morgan

Throwback Thursday: Ocelots in the Sky Islands by Sheri Williamson

Originally Posted May 23rd, 2012

A little cat has been making big news in Arizona. Back in November 2009, a remote camera in the Huachuca Mountains, placed by volunteers with Tucson-based Sky Island Alliance, captured a blurry but recognizable photo of an Ocelot. This was the first solid evidence for the species’ presence in Arizona in almost 50 years.

Tantalizing to be sure, but anyone who spends time in the wild knows just how rare it is to see even the relatively common Bobcat. That’s why it was so exciting to hear on February 8, 2011 that dogs had treed an Ocelot in the Huachucas. The animal, which appeared to be a healthy adult male, was allowed to go on its way unharmed after photo and video documentation. It was much grayer and shorter-nosed than the more familiar tropical subspecies, as befits an Ocelot of the colder, more arid Southwest.

Four months later, the Monument fire swept through the southern part of the Huachuca Mountains, causing many to fear for the life of this very special feline neighbor. The story recently took an optimistic turn in late April, when a private citizen’s remote camera captured new Ocelot photos in the Huachucas. These are being examined by biologists with the Arizona Game & Fish Department and compared with the 2011 photos. Whether or not the spot patterns match, we know that there is still at least one Ocelot roaming Arizona’ssky islands.”

Less than 40 miles as the raven flies from the Arizona encounters, other remote cameras at El Aribabi Conservation Ranch in Sonora, Mexico have recorded multiple Ocelots and at least one Jaguar in addition to Bobcats and Mountain Lions. The bigger felines can no longer travel freely where the border fence has been completed, but I’m glad there’s room for the Ocelot to slip through.

-Sheri Williamson

The Parrots Next Door

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Monday, December 17th, 2012
Thick-billed Parrot

Thick-billed Parrot © Tom Wood

The Parrots Next Door by Tom Wood

One of the saddest stories in American ornithology is the loss of the Carolina Parakeet, the only parrot native to the eastern United States, in 1918. I remember being brought almost to tears by the specimen of Carolina Parakeet on display at the Smithsonian Museum, imagining a southern swamp made alive by parrot voices.

Out west, we had another parrot that visited our border mountain ranges. The large, noisy, Thick-billed Parrot was a frequent visitor to the pine forests of Arizona and New Mexico as far north as the Verde River. They ventured north from their stronghold in Mexico in years when drought reduced their food supply and were commonly seen from the 1880’s to the 1930’s. In 1917-18 thousands of Thick-billed Parrots were present in the Arizona mountains. But the parrots are big, noisy and tasty – a dangerous combination in the days before regulated hunting. Historical photos show hunters and miners with dozens of dead parrots. The last wild bird in the U.S. was seen in the Chiricahua Mountains in 1938.

But Thick-billed Parrots are not extinct. In fact, across the border in the mountains of Mexico Thick—billed Parrots still fill the air with their raucous calls. The nearest population at Mesa de las Guacamayas (mesa of the parrots) is 50 miles from the border and within sight of the Chiricahua Mountains in Arizona. For years, we have been traveling 150 miles south from our home to the logging village of Madera, Chihuahua to see the parrots. We usually associate parrots with tropical forests, but here, high in a pine forest in Mexico the loud chatter of parrots is unmistakable. We usually hear the birds long before we see them; the call may carry two miles and the birds are rarely quiet. With local guides we visit the nesting site, groves of the largest aspens I have ever seen. High overhead the birds return to the roost in late afternoon after feeding in the nearby pine forests. It never fails to give me goosebumps.

These parrots are among the most endangered parrots in the world with an estimated population around 2000. A number of groups have been working on preserving this rare species, but no partners are more important than the local ejidos, the farming cooperatives that control the land. Locals have set aside areas protected from logging in order to protect the birds. Our birding trips help provide funds to the local community and encourage conservation.Efforts to reintroduce the birds into the U.S. were complicated by the complex social order of the flocks and the inability for naive captive bred birds to evade predators. Perhaps the best hope is to ensure that the birds do well in Mexico. If they decide to immigrate, the Chiricahuas are a one hour flight from Mesa de las Guacamayas.

Generals on the March

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Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
Horse Lubber Grasshopper

Horse Lubber Grasshopper © Sheri Williamson

Generals on the March by Tom Wood and Sheri Williamson

A generous late summer “monsoon” season in the desert grasslands of the Southwest translates to a fall population boom for many wildlife species. Some of the “boomers” are easier to see than others, including the gigantic grasshoppers known as Horse Lubbers. They’re one of the two largest grasshoppers in North America (the other being the Eastern Lubber). A mature female may be 2.75 inches in length and weigh as much as three male Black-chinned Hummingbirds!

Many of our human neighbors here in southeastern Arizona know the Horse Lubber as the “Mexican General,” a colloquial name inspired by its bold pattern of bright yellow accents on a background of black and dark green, like a high-ranking officer in full dress uniform. Grasshoppers often have colorful hindwings, and a few are quite colorful on close inspection (the Rainbow Grasshopper, for example), but no other grasshopper in the Southwest is as in-your-face conspicuous as the Horse Lubber.

Like many desert insects, Horse Lubbers depend on the short-term abundance of food resulting from the late summer rains. When “monsoon” thunderstorms transform the desert into a virtual all-you-can-eat salad bar, lubber nymphs hatch from eggs laid the previous year and begin to gorge themselves. As they reduce the food supply in one area, they march on to greener pastures, passing through several instars (growth stages) as they go. Early instars are chunky and wingless. By the final stage, they have slimmed down and grown wings for greater mobility.

The lubber boom might seem to be a boon for predators, but it pays to be suspicious about a critter that’s abundant, conspicuous, and easy to catch. You’ve probably already figured out that the gaudy attire and sluggish behavior of Horse Lubbers are aposematic, a warning to potential predators of well-armed prey. Like Monarchs and Pipevine Swallowtails, the big ‘hoppers are infused with toxic chemicals that make them unpalatable, but making a predator nauseous is a Pyrrhic victory. The preferred outcome is not to get eaten in the first place. Threatened lubbers start by hissing and flashing their bright salmon-red hindwings. If that doesn’t work, they’ll spray their attackers with noxious chemicals, like six-legged skunks. It doesn’t take too many such encounters for predators to learn not to mess with lubbers. Our pet chickens enthusiastically chase after any small, cryptically colored grasshoppers that find their way into our yard, but they give the big black ones a wide berth.

We think of grasshoppers as herbivores, but Horse Lubbers like a little meat in their diet. They’re not fussy; carrion is fine fare, and they’re not above cannibalism. As with skunks, the sluggish and fearless behavior of lubbers makes them vulnerable to traffic. Those that don’t make it across the highway may become “road food” for their traveling companions. In fact, their chemical defenses are so successful that about the only animal that can stand to eat a Horse Lubber is another Horse Lubber. As our collegue Pete Corradino discovered, Loggerhead Shrikes in Florida will eat Eastern Lubbers after letting them “mellow” a bit to break down the toxins, but we haven’t observed this behavior in Arizona. Maybe Horse Lubbers are “spicier” than their southeastern cousins?

Throw Back Thursday: I Thought We Knew Hummingbirds

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Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Throw Back Thursday: I thought we knew Hummingbirds by Tom Wood

Fork-tailed Woodnymph © Tom Wood

I thought we knew hummingbirds. Living in the self-proclaimed ‘hummingbird capital of America”, authoring numerous articles and a couple of books on hummingbirds and more than twenty years of research on these little jewels in Arizona had us pretty comfortable with hummingbirds. We love introducing others to these small wonders and watching the looks on birders’ faces as they watch a feeder with six or eight species visiting. For someone from the eastern U.S. where often the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only option or, better yet, foreign visitors that had never seen these New World birds it can be a jaw-dropping experience. Recently we had an opportunity to have our own jaw-dropping experience at feeders in the real hummingbird capital, Ecuador.

You don’t need to look in the field guide (a huge tome), to know these are some amazing birds – just look at their names: Tourmaline Sunangel, Booted Racket-tail, Glittering Emerald, Shining Sunbeam, Golden-tailed Sapphire. I could go on and on. Over 140 species of hummingbirds are found in a country the size of Colorado. Some, like the improbable Sword-billed Hummingbird or Wire-crested Thorntail, look like they were designed by Dr. Seuss. Our North American hummingbirds, with a few exceptions, only hint at the extravagance the iridescence of hummingbirds can achieve.

Booted Racket-tail © Tom Wood

Hummingbirds are tropical creatures and, in Ecuador on the slopes of the Andes, they reach their pinnacle. We marvel at the migrations of “our” hummingbirds but these tropical hummingbirds have no need to make a long migration. Everything they need: flowers, insects and shelter, are available year-around. We visited several lodges at a variety of elevations and drainages and each valley or mountain ridge seems to have its own mix of species. Watching the feeders at one of the mountain lodges was almost a religious experience for the hummingbird aficionado.

This has been a banner year for hummingbirds in southeastern Arizona. Or perhaps I should say this has been a good year for hummingbird watchers. Fires and drought have impacted the wildflowers and insects that hummers depend, on causing birds migrating to Mexico to frequent new areas and feeders in record numbers. They are resourceful migrants and, by next year when they return, hopefully conditions will have improved. As we watch them go and begin the winter task of compiling and analyzing data from our banding study, forgive me if my mind wanders to Ecuador.

Photo Essay: Banding Hummingbirds

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Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Photo Essay: Banding Hummingbirds by Sheri Williamson & Tom Wood

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Violet-crowned Hummingbird in hand © Sheri Williamson & Tom Wood

Most of what we know about the lives and travels of hummingbirds comes from hands-on research. As with other birds, banding (a.k.a. ringing) is the most important tool for understanding hummingbird populations, longevity, reproduction, and migration. In the U.S., banding of wild birds is conducted under the authority of the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL), a federal agency. The BBL issues permits and bands and manages the data collected on millions of banded birds, from Calliope Hummingbirds to California Condors.

hummingbird

Trapping team members bag a captured hummingbird © Sheri Williamson & Tom Wood

The Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO) has been banding hummingbirds on the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area since 1996. To capture these intelligent and suspicious birds, we bait a custom-made trap with a sugar-water feeder. When hummingbirds come to feed, the trapping team trips a switch that drops a soft curtain around both feeder and birds. Incredibly, some birds will escape by ducking out under the falling curtain. The trapping team gently removes captured birds from the trap and places them in soft holding cages (actually repurposed lingerie washing bags) for transport to the banding table a few yards away.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Selecting a band for a female Black-chinned Hummingbird © Sheri Williamson & Tom Wood

At the table, the bander removes the bird from the bag and checks for a band. If the bird is already wearing one, the number is recorded. The oldest hummingbird in SABO’s study, a female Black-chinned, wore her band for at least nine years. For “new” (unbanded) birds, the species and sex will determine what size band is likely to be the best fit. The bander closes the tiny, uniquely numbered band around the leg using special pliers and checks the fit. The bands arrive from the BBL as thin sheets of flexible aluminum printed with a unique series of numbers and guidelines for cutting. It’s up to the bander to cut strips of bands out of the sheet, smooth the edges, cut each band to the appropriate length for the final diameter, and form it into a tiny ring.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Measuring the bill of a female Black-chinned © Sheri Williamson & Tom Wood

The lengths of bill, wing, and tail provide basic information about the individual and help to confirm the identification. Each bird is also examined for plumage condition, fat (essential fuel for migration), and color and location of pollen (clues to important natural nectar sources). Possible breeding females are given a quick “obstetric exam” to check for the presence of a developing egg, which will be visible through the wall of the abdomen as a pale bulge.

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds wait in holding cages while the scribe records data © Sheri Williamson & Tom Wood

The team’s scribe records each bird’s “vital statistics” on a data sheet while birds in holding cages wait their turn on a carousel made from repurposed music stands.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Weighing an Anna’s Hummingbird © Sheri Williamson & Tom Wood

The bird is then wrapped in a piece of translucent netting and weighed on a spring scale. A lean male Black-chinned Hummingbird weighs just under 3 grams, slightly more than a penny, while the average male Anna’s weighs over 4 grams, a little less than a nickel. During migration, their weight can increase by more than 50% as they store fat to fuel their epic journeys.

Broad-billed hummingbird

A female Broad-billed on her “launch pad” © Sheri Williamson & Tom Wood

Once all the documentation is complete, each bird is offered a drink of sugar water and placed in a waiting hand for release. With luck, it will return many times to tell us more about its life, its species, and the environments we share.

SABO’s hummingbird banding sessions are open to visitors. Banding season is over for this year, but next year’s schedule will be posted on the online calendar of events.  

 

There is a Rhythm to the Seasons

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Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Throwback Thursdays

Notes from the Field by Tom Wood: There is a Rhythm to the Seasons

hawks during migration season

Swainson’s Hawks © Tom Wood

There is a rhythm to the seasons. Technically, fall began on September 23 when the sun crossed the equator and the days in the northern hemisphere began to grow shorter. But to me, the first precursor to fall is the arrival of waves of Rufous Hummingbirds winging through Arizona on their way south to Mexico. I’ll know for sure when I hear the first Sandhill Crane calling in the Sulphur Springs Valley. If you are a naturalist or gardener or anyone else with a close attachment to the land you view the passing of the seasons differently than the deskbound city-dweller. Seasons are measured in the plants and animals around us rather than the calendar.

Actually, we have five seasons here in southeastern Arizona and it is the arrival of that fifth season that affects many of us at a very primal level. After months of hot, dry weather the first thunderheads begin to build in late June. When the first rains of our “monsoon season” come in early July, the impulse to go out in the rain and celebrate the season is often too overwhelming to ignore. I imagine that the arrival of the salmon in Alaska is greeted with the same sense of relief and celebration. Like the blooming of fruit trees or a vegetable garden, it is the promise of plenty.

This time of year the afternoon temperatures can still be uncomfortably warm. And, although there is scarce change in the morning temperature and humidity, there is SOMETHING in the early morning air that tells me that fall will soon be here. It arrives earlier on the mountain peaks and I can see the golden yellow aspen groves from miles away. Another hint that change is on the way. For a couple of weeks the newly arriving Sandhill Cranes, some of whom nested in Siberia this summer, will share the fields with the last of our nesting Swainson’s Hawks before the hawks leave for Argentina. It’s the pulse of the planet and you can hear it if you are listening.

Nature Stories: Capturing the Secret of Wildlife

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Monday, September 10th, 2012

Capturing the Secret Life of Wildlife by Tom Wood

American Badger wildlife

American Badger © Tom Wood

I’ve been blessed to see some amazing wildlife and behavior in my life. Sometimes, after a particularly exciting, serendipitous sighting I think, “What if I had been ten minutes earlier or later?” It’s only a short jump from that thinking to “What have I missed by ten minutes?”  Until recently this has been nothing but a Zen riddle “What is happening when I am not here?” but now a new tool allows an inquisitive naturalist to monitor what is happening miles away while you sleep (or work or play). Motion-sensitive remote cameras have become ubiquitous in the hunting community and can also be used to monitor a wide variety of wildlife and habitats. They have become an important research tool as well as a new way to learn about your wild neighbors.

Collard Peccary wildlife

Collard Peccary © Tom Wood

Trail cameras, also referred to as “gamecams” or “camera traps,” can be found at most sporting goods stores or on-line outlets or can be home-made with a simple point-and-shoot camera and motion-sensitive hardware. Over-the-counter models range from less than $50 to over $400.  Some cameras use flash for nighttime visitors, while others are able to take infrared photos without the use of flash. Many also offer an opportunity to capture short video clips. Some features to consider when purchasing a camera include battery life, shutter delay and security features.

I purchased a couple of inexpensive cameras on-line after seeing tracks in a dry creek-bed on property owned by friends. I was amazed to quickly verify that both bobcats and coyotes were regularly visiting the creek bed. Encouraged by my early success, I soon established two photo points watching a strategic location: a shallow basin I kept filled with water. Water is a magnet for wildlife in the desert, and I soon had photographs of an amazing array of desert creatures who visited the sites. I had no idea, based on my daytime wandering on the property, that this habitat supported so much life.

Bobcat Wildlife

Bobcat © Tom Wood

Baiting sites is controversial in the camera monitoring community and may be illegal in some areas, but I freely admit to scattering birdseed and even cat food occasionally to entice the local wildlife to pose for my cameras. My weekly visits to refill the water basins are rewarded with the thrill of sorting through the sometimes hundreds of images stored on the computer chips, vicariously watching as the wildlife visits. Sorting through the images is like opening Christmas presents, waiting for that special one.

Coyote wildlife

Coyote © Tom Wood

If you have wondered, as I have, what animals might be using a particular trail or visiting a waterhole or feeder when you are not around, a wildlife camera provides an easy and fun way to satisfy your curiosity. Pick a tree or post with an unobstructed view of the target area – a blowing branch in front of the sensor will result in hundreds of pictures of the branch. Hopefully you will be rewarded with a few candid shots. If you would like to share your results, we could set up a site for wildlife camera shots from around the country. Contact me at: tom@sabo.org

 

Rattlesnakes: Don’t Fear the Viper

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Friday, August 10th, 2012

Rattlesnakes: Don’t fear the viper by Sheri Williamson

The return address on the envelope was in New York City.

I’d love to visit Arizona to see the hummingbirds, the letter began, but I’m wondering if I should be worried about rattlesnakes.

Thanks for your concern, I typed, but the rattlesnakes are doing just fine.

I immediately apologized for the flippant response and assured the writer that it’s all about what you’re used to. Venomous snakes don’t bother me because they’re something I live with, but muggers and pickpockets would make me think twice about exploring the Big Apple.

I added our standard educational spiel about rattlesnakes:

  • They’re beautiful and interesting creatures in their own right.
  • Being shy and mainly nocturnal, they’re seldom encountered by visitors.
  • They’re more afraid of us than we are of them.
  • You’re more likely to be hit by lightning than die from snake bite.
  • The typical snake bite victim is young, male, and under the influence of alcohol and/or recreational drugs.

Start your visit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, I suggested. It’s a great place to get acquainted with all kinds of desert wildlife, including snakes, in a safe, non-threatening environment. And please let us know if you need any additional help in planning your trip.

We never heard from her again.

Mojave Rattlesnake

With nowhere to hide, a frightened Mojave Rattlesnake adopts an S-curve striking stance. © Sheri Williamson

Rattlesnakes are such icons of the desert that it’s hard to convince the average visitor to the Southwest that they’re unlikely to see a live one except through the glass wall of a zoo exhibit. Sadly, most wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a shame that the demonization of snakes in our culture has made it almost impossible for people to enjoy them the way we enjoy birds, mammals, and even most other reptiles.

Though many people wouldn’t use this adjective, we consider ourselves blessed with viper diversity here in the Southwest. Our 13 rattlesnake species (of 16 found north of Mexico) range in size from the dainty Massasauga to the burly Western Diamond-backed and Mojave. They come in colors and patterns as varied as the environments they inhabit: black, rust, pink, olive, blonde, and gray, barred, banded, blotched, mottled, speckled, and of course diamond-backed. The legendary Sidewinder is a rattlesnake, too, though one with an unusual mode of locomotion adapted for sandy deserts.

Rock Rattlesnake

A Banded Rock Rattlesnake retreats from an intruder © Sheri Williamson

Excellent camouflage plus sluggish behavior help to conceal rattlesnakes from both their prey and potential predators. Of course, you can’t avoid something you can’t see, and this rightly puts many desert travelers on edge. You could walk right by a rattler nestled under a bush or tucked away under a rock ledge and never be aware that it’s there. It’s a dangerous myth that they always rattle to let you know they’re there. They may not be aware of you until you’re too close, or they may opt to keep quiet if they don’t sense immediate danger. I’ve had a couple of close calls with quiet ones when traveling off the beaten path (another good reason to stick to roads and well-marked trails).

For such well-armed creatures, rattlesnakes are surprisingly timid. They’d prefer to avoid a confrontation with you, but most are so heavy-bodied that they can’t move very fast. Larger specimens in particular tend to stand their ground when threatened and wait for you to retreat. The appropriate response to seeing one in the wild is to stop and, if necessary, back off to a distance at which it feels comfortable (you’ll know because the rattling will stop). If you only hear one, the safest response is to freeze and determine where it is. Once you locate the snake, back slowly away until it stops rattling. Then you can enjoy it from a distance comfortable to both parties and give the snake enough room to make its getaway.

Though snakebites are extremely rare, it’s important to know what to do and what not to do. Despite what you may have heard about cutting, suction, tourniquets, ice, and/or whiskey, you risk complicating the injury and delaying expert treatment if you try any of these discredited first aids. Snakebite specialists now recommend just washing the site of the bite, immobilizing the affected area (below the level of the heart, if possible), and getting to a hospital as soon as possible. Our friend Alan Tennant, author of The Snakes of Texas, liked to emphasize this point by jingling his car keys when asked what snakebite kit he recommended.

Another dangerous myth about snakebite is that it’s important to catch or kill the snake and bring it to the hospital. All rattlesnake bites are treated with the same antivenom, so it’s not crucial for the ER staff to know which species it was. Leave the snake where it is and use your Audubon Guides app to identify it.

Rattlesnakes may not live up to their mythical reputations, but encountering one is still a thrill and a privilege. Be safe, and savor the experience.

Exception to the Rule – Woodpeckers

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Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Exception to the Rule – Woodpeckers by Tom Wood

Early in an ornithological education you learn about the adaptations that woodpeckers have for their unique lifestyle. Wikipedia states” Woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks all possess zygodactyl feet. Zygodactyl feet consist of four toes, the first (hallux) and the fourth facing backward and the second and third facing forward. This foot arrangement is good for grasping the limbs and trunks of trees.” In combination with stiff tail feathers this allows the woodpecker to climb a vertical tree trunk like a lineman with spiked boots and a belt.

Our target bird for the morning was a woodpecker, one that had eluded us for many years. And it has only three toes. Though I had spent a lot of time in the Colorado coniferous forests they call home, the American Three-toed Woodpecker was a “nemesis bird” for me until last year. This year I hoped to share my sighting with Sheri. It’s never a good idea to have a life bird your spouse hasn’t yet seen.

American Three-toed Woodpecker © Tom Wood

Hoping that lightning would strike twice in the same place, we drove through thousands of acres of forest to the exact spot where I found the bird (with a little help from the Colorado Field Ornithologists website) last year. Amazingly, two minutes after we got out of the car a faint tapping led us to a beautiful male American Three-toed Woodpecker high in a spruce tree. Later that morning at a nearby lake, Three-toed Woodpeckers seemed to be following us along the trail and allowed close study and photography. It’s exciting to find a new bird, particularly one you had looked for many times, but is even better to have a chance to watch their behavior.

Now a trip to the northern Rockies for the Black-backed Woodpecker is in order. Once considered conspecific with the American Three-toed, it also has three toes. Something about the oddballs attracts me.

Ocelots in the Sky Islands

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Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Ocelot © C. Allan Morgan

A little cat has been making big news in Arizona. Back in November 2009, a remote camera in the Huachuca Mountains, placed by volunteers with Tucson-based Sky Island Alliance, captured a blurry but recognizable photo of an Ocelot. This was the first solid evidence for the species’ presence in Arizona in almost 50 years.

Tantalizing to be sure, but anyone who spends time in the wild knows just how rare it is to see even the relatively common Bobcat. That’s why it was so exciting to hear on February 8, 2011 that dogs had treed an Ocelot in the Huachucas. The animal, which appeared to be a healthy adult male, was allowed to go on its way unharmed after photo and video documentation. It was much grayer and shorter-nosed than the more familiar tropical subspecies, as befits an Ocelot of the colder, more arid Southwest.

Four months later, the Monument fire swept through the southern part of the Huachuca Mountains, causing many to fear for the life of this very special feline neighbor. The story recently took an optimistic turn in late April, when a private citizen’s remote camera captured new Ocelot photos in the Huachucas. These are being examined by biologists with the Arizona Game & Fish Department and compared with the 2011 photos. Whether or not the spot patterns match, we know that there is still at least one Ocelot roaming Arizona’ssky islands.”

Less than 40 miles as the raven flies from the Arizona encounters, other remote cameras at El Aribabi Conservation Ranch in Sonora, Mexico have recorded multiple Ocelots and at least one Jaguar in addition to Bobcats and Mountain Lions. The bigger felines can no longer travel freely where the border fence has been completed, but I’m glad there’s room for the Ocelot to slip through.

-Sheri Williamson