Fall Comes to Phoenix

NOTE: Join Quinn at Barnes + Noble at Desert Ridge (Tatum and the 101, Phoenix, AZ) tonight, October 6, 2011 (Thursday) at 7 p.m. to try a different technique–and to get your book signed!

Yesterday, we had our first winter storm–the temperature dropped from three-digits down into the 80s, and rain beat the dust out of the air. There was a 30-car pileup on the 10 between Phoenix and Tucson, caused by blowing dust. It’s hard to describe to people who don’t live in the desert, but the dust begins to blow, and visibility drops, and as the dust drifts across the road, the pavement vanishes and creates a seamless desert. I hope this is the last of the dust storms in this Monsoon Season.

Migrating birds have started to arrive–the long-legged herons sit in trees along the Gila river and around golf clubs. In the next few weeks, she’ll see a lot more–sandhill cranes travel through Tucson, hummingbirds travel in such numbers that you often hear the metallic whir of their wings before you see them.

Migrating snowy egrets sit in palo verde trees along the Gila River in Phoenix.

Small, colorful seed eaters, big swooping hawks all appear, use the bird bath, and continue on. Many birds fly at night, so while we are dreaming, they are overhead, honking. Yep, Canada geese (not Canadian geese, please, we aren’t talking citizenship), those big noisy birds with the chin-strap marking, fly at night, at heights that keep pilots in jetliners awake and worried. If you are up late at night, you can see flocks flying across the moon. It’s magical.

It’s fall in Arizona, and the very mark of autumn that I thought I left back East–bird migration–is here, too. I’m happy watching the birds I don’t recognize travel through.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer an naturalist who lives in Phoenix.