Field Notes

Rock Squirrel or Gray Squirrel?

August 27, 2020

Many squirrel species are native to the Sky Island region and appear on our wildlife cameras. The two we see most often are the rock squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus) and the Arizona gray squirrel (Sciurus arizonensis)—these two species can look very similar, but once you know what to look for, you’ll be squirreling in no time.   Arizona gray squirrel (Sciurus arizonensis)  The Arizona gray squirrel is quite special in this region and is only found…
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Where to Mount a Backyard Wildlife Camera

August 17, 2020

Choosing a location for a wildlife camera in your backyard is a really fun process but may require some trial and error to get just the right perspective of animals on the move around your home. I’ve experimented with cameras in many locations around my house in the Sonoran Desert and share what I learned about different types of backyard camera locations. Check out our previous…
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World Lizard Day: Lizards of the Border Wildlife Study

August 13, 2020

Today is World Lizard Day! The Southwest is famous for its high diversity of lizards and is a hot bed of herpetological research. If you’ve been outside at all during the summer in the Sky Islands, there is a high chance you will come across at least one lizard.  Our Border Wildlife Study cameras capture photos of lizards but at a much lower rate than mammals or birds. Its not because…
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How to Find the Right Backyard Wildlife Camera for You

August 11, 2020

A well-placed wildlife camera in your backyard can reveal the exciting candid wildlife moments around your home that you may never see with your own two eyes. Many mammals are active at night and I love drifting off to sleep knowing that my cameras will show me what I’m missing!  Finding the Right Camera  There are many quality wildlife cameras available on the market these days….
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Friday Fauna Feature: Pronghorn

July 31, 2020

The pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is the last living member of the Family Antilocapridae, that roamed North American during the Pleistocene. While the pronghorn might look like antelope, their closest living relatives are the giraffe and the okapi in the African continent. These unique animals have striking orange and white coats with dark noses and eyes….
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90 Days and 71 Species at the Border

July 24, 2020

Sky Island Alliance staff and volunteers deployed trail cameras along 34 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border in early March 2020. Our mission was to document the wildlife community living in one of the last wild and remote borderland corridors before border wall cuts it in two. Following the TEAM Vertebrate Monitoring Protocol (2011), we designed…
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Sky Island Snake Stories

July 16, 2020

ZTZTZTZTZTZTZTZTZTZTCHITCHITCHIT, chit, chit, tet, tet!!! The now familiar sound of a buzzing rattlesnake comes from the ground at my feet and all I can do is freeze in place. I cannot see the snake, as it is now several hours after dark, the sky is overcast, and both my headlamp and cellphone batteries are dead….
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Friday Fauna Feature: Border Wildlife Study Pollinators

June 26, 2020

We designed our Border Wildlife Study to detect vertebrate species such as mammals and birds. Surprisingly, we keep finding invertebrates on our cameras and we love the multitude of insects that flit by our cameras. Often they register as blurs of winged blobs and are often hard to identify. All insects are a vital part…
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Friday Fauna Feature: Animals Immediately Return after Fire at the Border

June 19, 2020

On May 31, 2020, lightning ignited a wildfire in the San Rafael Valley near the U.S.-Mexico border at one of Border Wildlife Study camera sites. After several days, the fire reached our wildlife camera as it burned across about 400 acres before it naturally went out. Fortunately, we were able to recover the memory card from the burned camera and replaced the camera, so our wildlife chronicling continued after with…
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Friday Creature Feature: Hooded skunk

May 22, 2020

  Today’s Friday Creature Feature is the hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura). This little creature has been captured on Sky Island Alliance cameras as part of the Border Wildlife Study and captured on Patagonia Area Resource Alliance cameras on the west side of the Patagonia Mountains. Through this collaboration, we’re excited to observe how hooded skunks…
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