My first day at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a woman who saw my binoculars around my neck asked if I was seeing many birds. Yes, the occasional Gila woodpecker, verdin, raven, Gambel’s quail, phainopepla, curve-billed thrasher and most numerous cactus wren… a common bird seen in the Twin Peaks campground and also Arizona’s state bird. This woman told me when she was here in the 1990’s birds were numerous and now she felt like there are no birds! If this is a true assessment, then that is a sad commentary on what is happening at this ecosystem.
Every trail I hiked or road I have driven, I have been bird-watching. Today I decided to drive a dirt, wash-board road parallel to the border wall and visit Quitobaquito Spring’s desert oasis, an area with water! I met a couple from Eugene, Oregon and we bird-watched this area. We saw 20 different bird species especially as we walked to the spring, the source of the water for this oasis. Also discovered pupfish in the spring water. An American coot was harassing a ring-neck duck while we we were there. It seems the American coot and pied-billed grebe are resident birds, not welcoming the duck at all!
My friends and I met again at Senita Basin where another cacti is abundantly found in the park. While finding a particular grove of this cacti a ranger mentioned to us, we came upon a couple of different hummingbirds! They were enjoying a red-flowered plant, a chuparosa.
No doubt many of the animals in this area are crepuscular … active at dusk or dawn … or maybe nocturnal … active at night. I was hoping to see other animals, but no kangaroo rat, javelina, desert kit fox, squirrel, bighorn sheep, side winder, desert tortoise, or whitetail deer was seen. I did see a rabbit when I walked the perimeter trail of the campground one night, lizards and small rats scurrying across hiking trails, and a coyote when driving a road by the border wall. I wondered if the coyote was just discovering the barrier to its movement. Fortunately, birds can fly over the wall!