Field Notes

Friday Creature Feature: White-throated woodrat

January 24, 2020

2020 is the Year of the Rat in the Chinese zodiac, and with the Chinese New Year tomorrow, we at Sky Island are celebrating one of the native rat species in the region! The white-throated woodrat (Neotoma albigula) is one of the several native species of woodrat in Arizona. You will commonly see the white-throated…
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Friday Creature Feature: Gray Hawk

January 17, 2020

The gray hawk (Buteo plagiatus) is a medium-sized, silvery gray hawk, that has white underparts, a black tail with white banding and yellow legs. The gray hawk ranges from the Amazon rain forest all the way to the southwestern United States. They are migratory only at the North end of their range, where they arrive…
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Sky Island SPOTlight: Aravaipa Canyon

January 16, 2020

Introducing our Sky Island SPOTlight series! Throughout the next few weeks we will be introducing you to the beautiful places in the Sky Island region where we are lucky enough to work! Join any of our volunteer trips to see one of these gorgeous spots! First up, Aravaipa Creek Aravaipa Creek is on the northern…
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Friday Creature Feature: Great Horned Owl

January 10, 2020

Their name comes from the horn-like feather tufts on the tops of their heads. The tufts are darker than the rest of the head, which improves their camouflage. As masters of disguise, their overall color is dependent on their location. So here in the desert, great horned owls are a lighter gray coloration while those in…
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Friday Creature Feature: Desert Cottontail

January 3, 2020

Continuing our lagomorph series of creature features, this week we are leaving the hares and go to the other group, the rabbits!   Rabbits and Jackrabbits are genetic cousins but are not in the same genus. Besides size and appearance, the main difference between the two groups is how they raise their young. As we discussed…
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Friday Creature Feature: Antelope Jackrabbit

December 20, 2019

Surprisingly many species in the southwest are understudied, and the antelope jackrabbit (Lepus alleni) is one of them. Found only in Arizona and Northwestern Mexico. The antelope jackrabbits live in desert shrub and grasslands. They prefer open spaces where they can spot and run away from predators in plenty of time. The antelope jackrabbit is…
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Friday Creature Feature: Badger

December 13, 2019

The badger, also known as the American badger (Taxidea taxus) are a member of the weasel family. They have tan and grey bodies, and a distinctive black and white striped face. In North America, badgers live in open grasslands, deserts, and shrublands of the west. However, their range has been expanding east. Did you know…
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Friday Creature Feature: Greater roadrunner

December 6, 2019

The greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is a striking and culturally famous bird of the southwest, from classic cartoons to local hockey teams. They are a member of the cuckoo family and is closely related to the lesser roadrunner (Geococcyx velox) that lives in Mexico. You can find greater roadrunners in deserts, grasslands, and arid scrublands…
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Creature Feature: Ringtail

November 22, 2019

The ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) is a small omnivorous mammal that can be found across the West. Ringtails prefer rocky habitats in desert, and in oak and pine woodlands. In the desert, ringtails are often found in riparian areas where water and food are more abundant.  Did you know that the ring-tailed cat is not actually…
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Creature Feature: Western Spotted Skunk

November 1, 2019

Did you know that the Sky Island region is home to four skunk species? There are the striped, hooded, and hog-nosed skunks, but the smallest is the western spotted skunk (Spilogale gracilis). You can tell the spotted skunk apart from the other species by their distinctive marbled coat and smaller size. The male skunk they…
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