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.

14 thoughts on “Fall Comes to Phoenix

  1. I live in Phoenix too! So glad to stumble upon your blog. I am in heaven with these perfect temperatures. Are those birds the ones by Tempe Marketplace?

  2. Quinn,
    I absolutely love to watch the birds migrate; the way they swoop and swoon across the sky in their migrating dance is an absolute delight.

    I have seen photos of those dusts storms; absolutely incredible. Never been in one though.

    Have a fab day!
    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring

  3. So that is where all my birds went !!!! All the hummers are gone, most of the golden finches…..everyone has left my garden picked clean with full bellies for the long flight. Even my lizards seem to have gone to sleep! But, I still have tons of tomatoes turning red every day…..never thought I’d be so tired of eating tomatoes!!! We have the dust storms here too and it is an awesome event.

  4. We now have cool evening and can sit and watch the clouds refusing to bring rain. Our hummers have left and many birds are arriving at the feeders. I now throw out veggie peelings for the Brazen Hussies ( the does). they really like carrots.

    • Thanks for throwing out the veggies–deer love them and it gives you company in the evening. We now have a clamor every dawn and dusk as our winter visitors arrive–and not just the Minnesotans and Wisconsin RV drivers!

  5. glad your temps. are moderating. We are expecting much cooler weather this weekend. We have our usual Fall convocation of robins at the bird baths. Thankfully, the grackles seem to have moved on.

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