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…
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Meet Profauna: An Organization Turning the Tables in Favor of Conservation in Northern Mexico

November 11, 2020

Northern Mexico has had a tragic history of iconic wildlife extinctions due to hunting and persecution by government agencies and landowners. The Mexican Grizzly Bear or Mexican Silvery Bear (Ursus arctos nelson), for example, was a subspecies of the Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos) that used to roam across Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sonora, and Durango and was gradually hunted down so that in 1960 there were only 30 specimens reported. In 1976, after…
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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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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…
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Introducing FotoFauna: Our New Wildlife Monitoring Network

October 14, 2020

Dust off your backyard wildlife cameras—a new volunteer opportunity is here!  Sky Island Alliance is excited to announce the launch of Sky Island FotoFauna, a wildlife monitoring network powered by residents and organizations in the Sky Island region. We’re looking for backyard nature enthusiasts to join us by monitoring and submitting their local wildlife data to us monthly.  Here’s how you can help:  First, you’ll need a wildlife camera. If you haven’t set one…
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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…
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Set Up Your Own Backyard Wildlife Camera

September 3, 2020

If you want to see animals roam through your own corner of the Sky Islands 24/7, learn how to set up a wildlife camera in your own backyard. Join us for this virtual Coffee Break to learn Sky Island Alliance tips and tricks for choosing the right camera for your interest and how to set…
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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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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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