Wildlife and Cactus

Posted: January 12th, 2009 under Activities, Plantlife, Wildlife.
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Today’s wildlife experience was an armadillo, drinking noisily (they slurp, sounding rather like dogs) from the overflow guzzler at Fox Pavilion when we came back around that way after a long, two-hour stroll around the place.   I thought I’d turned the water off completely, but some grit must’ve been in the faucet, because the water had overflowed.


At first I’d seen what looked like two unfamiliar birds bobbing up and down behind the main guzzler (a deep black tub, not shown here) and then, with the slurping, realized it was an armadillo’s ears.   When it was through and came out from behind the tub  it started towards us–their eyesight isn’t good and we were downwind.  I stood very still, but took pictures–at the clicks it alerted and began to move faster.


This is the ‘dillo equivalent of an extended trot.    I wish I’d been able to squat down and get a more level shot, but with the sun behind it that might not have worked any better.   It  scooted past me and then my husband at a pretty fair clip (but not top speed–we were holding still and not making noise) and then slowed down again as it hit the north trail away from Fox.

The most colorful thing we saw on this ramble was a sick cactus.  Some of our cacti turn purple in winter or with drought stress, but they’re not supposed to turn these colors:

Ailing cactus

Ailing cactus

One pad was a sickish yellow with an ovalish patch of the red in the middle of it.  I  don’t know what’s attacked this cactus (not the same thing that’s attacked our others, which turn pale shriveled tan or gray.)   But it was almost pretty, in a gruesome sort of way.

In addition to seeing the armadillo and the colorful cactus, we put out feed at Fox and Owl, and watched (and tried to photograph, not very successfully) a flock of goldfinches–I think mixed Lesser and American, but I’m sure about the two Lesser males– feeding on the seeds of various forbs in the NW meadow.  By the pictures, they were after Maximilian sunflower seeds.   I need to take the big lens over there, though, because the hand-held zoom just did not give the sharpness I needed to see seeds in beaks at the distance they’d let me approach.

Birds at Owl Water and feeding there included blue jay, cardinal (several pairs),  white-crowned sparrow, Harris’s sparrow, savanna sparrow,  yellow-rumped warbler, and American goldfinch.


  • Comment by Chuck — January 13, 2009 @ 1:16 am


    The red reminds me of the color of the cylindrical/conical “buds” I’ve seen on similar cactus up in Parker County. But those are a little more purplish than these. They also remind me of the color of staphylococcus growing on porcelain fixtures. Maybe it’s a Bosc prickly pear!

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 13, 2009 @ 3:04 pm


    It’s definitely a sickie. One of the pictures I didn’t post showed the shriveled, flat remains with obvious “worm trails” under the skin.

    If I had time (!!) I’d try sectioning and looking to see what’s inside.

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