Wildlife News from Coldwater Farm

Coldwater Farm Wildlife

Located on the Agua Fria River in central Arizona, Coldwater Farm is a tiny, 20 acre, refuge for wildlife. Despite being in the center of the Town of Dewey-Humboldt, the Farm is an ideal wildlife habitat. It has abundant surface water supplies and patches of dense vegetation.  The Agua Fria River flows above ground through the farm, and there are three large ponds. Willow thickets and a nice grove of tall cottonwood trees fill the river’s flood plain.

Mule Deer Visits

1-IMG_2203Last July, I wrote about two fawns that visited my back yard three days after they were born (see the post here).  Mule Deer became regular visitors last winter.  They are particularly pleased with the black sunflower seeds the birds miss.

The fawns just came again, and this time another pair of twins joined them. The photo shows one of them. I think the kid looks good for four months.

Barn Owl Box

Yesterday I finished setting up a nest box for the Barn Owls that live here. I’ve know the owls were here for about 10 years now. Last winter, wind blew down the best roosting tree, and the owls have lived in less protective trees. That’s when I decided to put up a nest box.

Barn Owls are unique in many ways. They tolerate humans, and in return for permission to sleep in barns and other buildings, they control the local mouse population. Wise farmers use Barn Owls, not mousetraps. Read the two earlier posts about the Coldwater Farm Barn Owls here, and the windstorm disaster here.

1-IMG_2241The nest box is about 12 feet above the ground.  My telescoping pipe plan would have put it at 16 feet, but the wind happened to be gusting to 30 MPH, and was creating too strong a sway.  Don’t want the owls to get seasick (or the pole to bend).  I bought the box from the Barn Owl Box company.  The box is white, intended to be installed in full sun, but I chose a shady spot and decided to paint the shell flat green.

The box is visible from my back door.  If I pay attention in the evenings, I hope to see owls coming and going now and then.

Other Coldwater Farm Wildlife News

1-DSCN0729Quail are trying to make a permanent home here.  They began stopping by three years ago, but the flock didn’t began sticking around until last winter.

The annual return of wild ducks to the ponds is going well.  Mallards, Ring Necks, and American Wigeon so far.  I started throwing out a little corn when I take this old dog down for his daily swim.

1-IMG_2237-001A hawk has stayed around the house for two months now.  This week he/she dropped onto the lawn and began eating grasshoppers.  We have a good late supply this year.  I guess they are easier to catch than the songbirds and gophers that the other hawks choose.  The hawk is about 22 inches.  If you recognize the species, please let me know.

Coldwater Farm Wildlife Update

Coldwater Farm Update for Spring 2014

This morning I saw the first Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) of the year.  It was flying alone and did not stop to let me take a photo.  Conservation status uncertain.

Sonora Mud TurtleThis week two Sonora Mud Turtles (Kinosternon sonoriense) began sunning on a small branch in my pond.  I thought I saw these turtles in the pond several years ago, but only this year have I had a chance to take photos.  Conservation status=S4, Apparently secure, possible long-term concern (Arizona Game and Fish Department–AZGFD). Continue reading

Mule Deer and Fawn at Coldwater Farm

Mule Deer at Coldwater Farm

During the long drought this spring, several mule deer visited Coldwater Farm near the Agua Fria River in central Arizona.  A lone doe became a resident, and browses in the yard in the evenings and mornings.  In early August I saw a fawn bouncing about beside the doe.  Yesterday, the fawn was racing about in the cow pasture while the doe watched.

There are no cows at the farm.  The cow pasture is fallow and covered by weeds taller than the fawn.  Getting good photographs is almost impossible.  In the picture below you can probably see the fawn’s spots, but not much else.

Mule Deer Fawn

Mule Deer Fawn at Coldwater Farm

Mule Deer Doe

Mule Deer Doe

The Mule Deer doe has been much easier to photograph.

Over the past 15 years, deer have visited the farm only twice, and the visits lasted just one day.  There were always dogs in the past, and now that the last dog died, deer are free to roam about the farm, and so they do.

Mule Deer Eat Almost Everything

Deer are fond of domestic roses.  When we moved to the farm in 1997, I planted 175 hedge and climbing roses in hopes of attracting deer.  The previous visitors took a few rose leaves and hips, but now, at last, the roses are being seriously browsed.  The deer like other plants too, and seem to browse all the woody plants on the place.  They especially like grape leaves, but they also eat willow, plumb, desert hackberry, and mulberry.  They also to eat a variety of weeds.

None of the woody plants have been harmed.  Perhaps the local winter and spring droughts will get worse and the deer will begin damaging the plants.  The trees and grapes are too tall for the deer to reach a significant portion of the leaves, but they might strip the bark.  Before that was necessary, the human farm manager would do his job to save the plants, and bring in hay.

Click here for more about the mammals at Coldwater Farm.

Tell me about the mammals you see.