|Jo Nell and I had driven by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on Friday on our way to Saguaro NP West, and I had decided that I would go check it out on my way back west. I knew nothing about it except that it was supposed to be awesome, so I drove an extra hour to start there, thinking that Saguaro NP East would be more likely to suck up all my time, and since it's open til dusk, starting here made good sense. Just not geographically.
I got here just before 9 am, and it was amazing from the get-go.
|On the left is a map of the museum, most of which is outdoors. I loved the brain-saguaro!|
|This is an outdoor lizard habitat, with walls low enough to lean over and check out the cuties! There is a sign telling about the lizards that live in here...|
|and there are also bronze sculptures of each one on the edge of the wall!|
|and here are some real live lizards!|
|There were docents in the patio with various things to look at, touch and learn about. One had this pot of tiny blooming hedgehog cacti, and another had the cross-section of saguaro...the interior ring is wood, and that's the skeleton that holds those huge cacti upright.|
|This is some kind of agave, and the crazy bloom looks good from any angle!|
|A free-range lizard.||Now I'm in the pollination/butterfly gardens, and this is a bee house.||A beauti!ful bunch of flowers!||Butterfly!|
|More butterflies!||This is actually a dead tree with some kind of succulents growing at all the forks...it was AWESOME!||I'm in the hummingbird garden. And this is where I reaped the benefit of coming so early....I had about forty minutes with just me and two other (quiet) adults in the place, and it was AWESOME.||And this is why. The hummingbirds were relatively calm and visible.|
|OMG, OMG, OMG, a hummingbird mom in a nest! The nest was about the size of a golf ball.||I loved this flower!||Another hummingbird...||Another beautiful flower...|
|And...wait a minute, that's a lizard!||And one more hummingbird before I go.||I walked down the path toward the desert tortoise enclosure, and saw these cacti.|
|This cactus wren was showing off in the tortoise enclosure...|
|And, after walking all around the enclosure two or three times, and looking everywhere...here's the desert tortoise. Of course, the first thing I saw was his butt...but then he walked out, and I got a pic of his adorable face.|
|Then I went through some of the wildlife habitats...on the left are the bighorn sheep, and their baby that was born the day before...the rangers had known she was pregnant, but the birth was a surprise!
On the right are beavers all cuddled up together in their den, which had a window for people to look through.
|And who knew there were coatis in Arizona? I sure didn't!|
|Then I went to the cactus garden, where a lot of them were blooming!|
|Back to mammals! A great sign about how they amuse animals.
Two shots of a snoozing gray fox.
And it was noonish, and hot, so the javelinas were sleeping under the footbridge; they also had this bronze javelina skull, to show how their teeth work. Interesting!
Then I walked out on the half-mile desert trail, and of course there were more beautiful cacti.
This handsome fellow is actually in a large enclosure, and I'm sure he's happy to have three solids and whatever he can catch. A sweet deal for a coyote!
| They had a display on condors, although none were visible...but I got to put on wings and a condor mask!
There was a blue heron that had hurt its wing, so its home is the musuem now, and it's friends with the staff members.
|The prairie dogs had just had babies, you can see one of them in the right hand picture.|
|And here's daddy prairie dog giving mommy prairie dog a groom and massage, so adorable!|
|Then I went to the snake house. Here is an adorable cutie-pie...||two rattlesnakes fighting over noms...||Funniest Snake Expression Ever...my memory is that this guy won the tug-of-war and he's full of noms...but damn he looks surprised.|
|More beautiful cacti on my way out of the museum...|
|And I stopped by the reptile room to see all the cool snakes and lizards in glass cages. These two were adorable!|
|I also stopped by the lizard enclosure again on the way out. This guy was digging a hole, I guess to impress a lady lizard?|
|A horned toad on top of the rock, one last lizard and a lovely blooming saguaro...and I bid farewell to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which I really enjoyed.|