If you are walking down the city streets of Scottsdale or Mesa in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area, you are bound to hear the squeaks of little green peach faced lovebirds as they fly between the trees and cactuses.
They nest in the holes in the saguaro cactuses that have been made by other birds (mostly woodpeckers and flickers), and they are just as adorable as can be when they peek out of these nesting holes and look down at you.
I have wanted to get a photo of one of these little cuties sitting in a saguaro for ages, and I had the chance a few days ago when we were visiting with our friend John Sherman, a professional wildlife and bird photographer who shoots for Arizona Highways. He knew of a saguaro cactus nearby where the peach faced lovebirds hang out in the late afternoons.
He is a full-time RVer who lives in a wonderful custom built Class C motorhome, and he has a mouthwatering collection of photography gear. He very kindly he let me borrow his humongous 150-600 mm Tamron lens (that I have been lusting after) to take a bunch of shots.
Wow, what a lens, and WOW what a fun experience! (And thanks, John, for the inspiration to buy one a few months later!).
I’m not used to lenses that hang out nearly a foot from the camera body, so it took me a while to wrestle the thing into submission and make it stay still in my hands. But the little birds in the arms of the saguaro cactus waited very patiently as I got myself sorted out, and once I started shooting, they seemed happy to pose.
What a surprise it was to see one lovebird in the flock that was a blue mutation!
Peach faced lovebirds are not native to Arizona. They are actually native to southwestern Africa! However, over the years escaped pet birds have established themselves in the urban Sonoran Desert, and they have become naturalized citizens of the state. All the flocks in the desert areas here are descendants of escaped pet birds.
They love the dry desert heat of the Sonoran Desert because it is just like their ancestral home across the ocean in southwestern Africa! They are savvy to bird feeders, and they make the most of whatever offerings they can find in residents’ back yards. Wisely, they seem to have developed a palate for yummy Sonoran Desert goodies too.
Not all “introduced” species are appreciated, and certainly not all of them have endearing little personalities like these guys. This part of Arizona seems to attract special feral animals, though, and last year I wrote about the wonderful wild horses we found living just beyond the Phoenix city limits. Arizona’s wild parrots have been enjoyed for many years (here is an article from Bird Talk Magazine about them.
Wild parrots can be found all over the country, and a few years back we bumped into a wonderful documentary about a flock of wild parrots that has taken up residence in San Francisco. This is charming movie, Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, is one of our favorites (blush), and we have watched it time and again, as it always makes us smile.
Where do these peach faced lovebirds live around Phoenix? Check out the streets between 52nd and 64th Street and Cactus Road to Thunderbird Road in Scottsdale. They can also be seen in the trees between Albertson’s and the Shell station across the parking lot at McDowell Road and Power Road in Mesa, here.
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Other fun bird sightings from our Arizona RV travels — and on our boat in Mexico:
- Burrowing Owls southeast of Phoenix, Arizona – Cutie pies with big eyes in Zanjero Park in Gilbert
- Sandhill Cranes — and a Great Horned Owl – It’s a Wild Bird Party in Willcox, Arizona
- To Catch a Hummingbird – Photographing hummers at our RV’s window feeder in Arizona
- Water Birds of the Sonoran Desert — Waterfowl abound on the edges of hot, dry, Phoenix, Arizona
- Landlubbing with Parrots in Huatulco Mexico! – A wild flock of half-moon conures enchants me high up in a tree
- Snowbird RVers — a Human Subspecies of their own — in Quartzsite, Arizona
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