Field Notes

A Microscopic View of a Cathedral Vista Beetle

January 4, 2021

If we don’t include single-celled organisms, then beetles are the most numerous and diverse group of living things on this planet. They make up about 40% of all insects. One out of every four animals on this planet is a beetle. In fact, there are more known species of beetles then there are all known…
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A Lesson from the Bears

December 30, 2020

I appreciate closing the year with reflection on where I’ve been, where I’m going next, and what I’ve learned that I want to carry with me. Here at Sky Island Alliance, we’ve marked our weeks, months, and seasons this year with special glimpses of our beautiful wildlife neighbors and springs through several of our programs:…
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Community’s Choice: The 19 Best FotoFauna Photos of 2020

December 17, 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, we’re excited to look back at the best FotoFauna submissions of the year. Judges from several partnering organizations first helped us whittle 1,000+ photos down to 57 finalists across 19 categories. Then, earlier today, over 50 coffee break attendees voted live to select the the winners from these finalists. As the community…
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¡Hemos detectado más de 100 especies en las tierras fronteriza entre Estados Unidos y México!

December 11, 2020

En marzo de 2020, Sky Island Alliance se asoció con la organización sin fines de lucro mexicana Naturalia, A.C. para documentar la vida silvestre que vive o migra a través de las zonas fronterizas entre Estados Unidos y México, uno de los últimos tramos restantes del corredor de vida silvestre abierto en la región. ¿Cómo…
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We’ve Detected Over 100 Species in the Borderlands!

In March 2020, Sky Island Alliance partnered with Mexican nonprofit Naturalia, A.C. to document the wildlife that lives in or migrates through the U.S.–Mexico borderlands, one of the last remaining stretches of open wildlife corridor in the region. How does the documentation work? An array of 58 trail cameras operates 24/7 along 34 miles of…
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Microscopic View of a Hedgehog Cactus Fruit

November 23, 2020

Hedgehog cacti of the Echinocereus genus are relatively small-stature cactus plants with multiple cylindrical stems. In eastern Arizona, Fendler hedgehog (Echinocereus fendleri) may go unnoticed for much of the year until its brilliant pink blooms open in April-May. The large round fruits are bright red and ripe, attractive to many wildlife species that help disperse the hedgehog cactus seeds after…
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Friday Creature Feature: Gould’s Turkey

November 20, 2020

For today’s Friday Creature Feature, we’re highlighting the Gould’s turkey, a subspecies of wild turkey that is native to Arizona and slowly returning to our mountain ecosystems after being overhunted. So instead of eating this turkey for Thanksgiving, let’s marvel at these fun facts—a friendlier way to celebrate the upcoming holiday season and this endemic Sky Island species.  Description:  The Gould’s turkey (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana) is the largest of the…
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Recapping the First 30 Days of Sky Island FotoFauna

November 17, 2020

With October now complete, we are excited to look back on the first month of Sky Island FotoFauna, a wildlife monitoring network powered by many organizations and individuals that call the Sky Islands their home. We are thrilled at the turnout of the first month—a big thanks to everyone who jumped on FotoFauna right as it launched and helped the network…
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Microscopic View of a Desert Cardinal Feather

November 9, 2020

  We have two lovely cardinal species that reside in the Sky Island region, the Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) and Pyrrhuloxia (Cadinalis sinuatus), also known as the desert cardinal. Pyrrhuloxia has a prominent crest on its head, distinctive yellow bill (in contrast to the darker reddish-orange bill of the Northern cardinal), and gray feathers tinged with light red. When in flight, the…
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Friday Creature Feature: Gray Fox

November 6, 2020

Two fox species have been detected in the Sky Islands. One of these—the gray fox—is this week’s Friday creature feature! The gray fox is considered an urban-adapted species and is one of the animals listed on our FotoFauna checklist. So, grab a cup of something good and let’s learn!  Description:  While the name “gray fox” (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) may conjure up visions of a small, all-gray canine, the gray fox is actually a lot more…
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