Field Notes

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…
Read more »

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…
Read more »

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…
Read more »

Microscopic View of a Cholla Fruit

November 1, 2020

When you zoom in closer and closer to living things you encounter in the Sky Island region, it’s amazing what you find! I was recently drawn to look more closely at the Desert Christmas Cholla (Cylindopuntia leptocaulis) growing in my yard. Its scientific name means cylindrical slender stem, a fitting name for this short and branching cactus abundant…
Read more »

Can You Get a Sky Island Skunk Bingo?

October 29, 2020

After eight months of running the Border Wildlife Study, we’ve finally detected all four Sky Island skunks on our remote cameras! These four skunks are: the western spotted skunk, the hog-nosed skunk, the hooded skunk, and the striped skunk.  Here are some trends we noticed in our skunk spottings:  Hooded skunks appear most often across all our Border Wildlife Study camera blocks.  Hog-nosed skunks are the…
Read more »

10 Fun Facts for International Bat Week

October 27, 2020

Don your capes and fangs and grab your wings (but make sure to leave the garlic behind): it’s International Bat Week! Is there any better way to celebrate spooky season than with bats, one of the most classic and iconic species represented in Halloween-appropriate décor … or in films like Dracula, The Last Weekend, or Batman Begins? We think not!  Bats are incredibly important to our ecosystem. Some are pollinators, helping our plants…
Read more »

Friday Creature Feature: Turkey Vulture

September 25, 2020

Our bird of focus for this week’s creature feature is the turkey vulture (Cathartes aura). Despite the name, turkey vultures are more vulture than turkey—they belong to the vulture family—and are commonly seen across our Sky Island region; in fact, they are one of the 70+ species we’ve detected through our Border Wildlife Study.  Keep reading to…
Read more »

Friday Creature Feature: Lesser Long-Nosed Bat

September 17, 2020

For this week’s Friday creature feature, let’s take a closer look at the lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae), one of the Sonoran Desert’s most important pollinator species for plants like agave and various kinds of cacti, including saguaro and organ pipe.  Description:  The lesser long-nosed bat, Audubon Arizona reports, weighs as much as four quarters and…
Read more »

Youngsters on the Wildlife Cameras

September 9, 2020

  This is my favorite season for wildlife cameras, baby season! This year’s young are finally large enough to follow their mothers around and show up on camera. With the addition of our Border Wildlife Study cameras we are able to see even more youngsters than before. With these new cameras we were able to…
Read more »

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…
Read more »