Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lucifer and Agave...

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
March 29, 2014

First, a huge thank you for everyone's concern and well wishes towards Joe's recent bout with skin cancer and the Mohs surgery. The diagnosis is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). He will return on April 11th to have stitches removed. Prognosis is very good.
Meet Lucifer...I sure feel privileged to have had a wonderful encounter with this beautiful hummingbird. The following information comes from I still haven't had a chance to get to the book store for a bird identification book.

The tiny, vividly purple-throated Lucifer is mainly a species of northern Mexico. When it reaches the US, in extreme southern Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas, it's a highly sought-after species among avid birders. I consider this to a WOW moment and certainly a lucky day!

Adult males have a green back, and it's breast is dingy and whitish. The solid purple gorget of the Lucifer I had the pleasure of photographing indicates he is an adult male. The immature males have only a few spots of purple on their throat.


Although these beauties prefer agave flowers, they do feed on the nectar of other flowering desert plants. I am glad he was enjoying the ocotillo flowers...the bright orange/red is a nice contrast to the purple.


Another noticeable characteristic I captured is the white streak behind the eye. A characteristic I was not able to capture was the forked tail. Lucifers belong to a group of hummingbird species called "sheartails" named for their deeply forked narrow tail. 

Now about the Agave Americana...common names include century plant, maguey, or American aloe... it is originally from Mexico.

According to Wikipedia, the misnamed century plant only lives 10 to 30 years. It has a spreading rosette about 13 feet wide of grey green leaves up to 6.5 feet long. These leaves have a spiny margin and heavy spike at the tip that can pierce to the bone.

After 10 to 30 years, the plant grows a spike that could reach 26 feet tall. The spike produces big yellow flowers. Its so neat how this nature thing works...these yellow flowers are adapted to be pollinated by bats. But the Lucifer Hummingbirds love them and are considered to be nectar "thieves" because their bodies are too small to pick up the pollen.

Once the plant blooms, the plant dies. It does however produce shoots from the base which continue it's growth. I have not seen an agave blooming.


This picture is the real reason I became curious about the Agave Americana.

In Latin, Lucifer means "light-bearing" and was applied in Old English to the morning star. When William Swainson named this bird in 1827 he might have been thinking of the luminous glow of its colors. I was really glad to find out that bit of information. Lucifer takes on a whole new meaning now!
I do hope you are having a great week-end.
Until next time...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mohs Surgery, Water in the Desert, and a Make-over

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
March 26, 2014

Female Broad-tailed Hummingbird
First off, thank you to everyone who helped identify the mystery hummingbird. I really appreciate your efforts.

Picnics on the patio...
A few posts ago, I mentioned Joe had made a visit to the dermatologist and had several spots frozen. What I didn't mention was that he also had a biopsy done. Results are in and they were positive for a type of skin cancer that we have been reassured does not get into the organs. Before choosing a dermatologist, we searched for a doctor well trained in Mohs surgery...just in case. Mohs, also known as chemosurgery, is microscopically controlled surgery. During the surgery, after each removal of tissue, while the patient waits, the pathologist examines the tissue for cancer cells.
This examination informs the surgeon where to remove tissue next which allows for a very narrow surgical margin. Joe is scheduled for his surgery on the 28th. Because there is a 2 week check-up to remove stitches, we have extended our stay until April 14th. He has had this procedure done once before back in Lagrange, GA. We don't consider finding qualified doctors to be a strain in our full-time RV life style, but a blessing to have the ability to take our home where they are.

On to more fun things...yep, there is water in the desert! And I don't mean the pups water bowl!

We had ourselves a very nice hike up to Seven Falls. Its a hike on Bear Canyon Trail in the Sabino Canyon RA. The trail that leads from the parking lot is the same trail we have taken several times... but after about 2.2 miles, it bears off to the left in the canyon. This was the fun and quite peaceful part of the hike as we actually enjoyed the quiet sound of running water in the Sabino Creek as we walked.

We actually crossed over the creek several times. I didn't count, but the info from the VC states there are 7 crossings. There were also pools along the way...
 A mallard and a texas patch nose (I think) were sharing the same pool on one of our crossings.

It's so hard to take it all I look up?

Do I look down?

We did encounter a group of Rangers...

They were returning from delivering supplies to another group of folks who were setting out on a 2 week adventure to eradicate unwanted grasses that have invaded the area.

After the last creek crossing, the trail climbs up the wall of the canyon on a couple of long switchbacks.

Then...tah-dah! We came  around a corner and there to the left we saw the rock formation that towers Seven Falls. The trail forks here...go left as this goes down to the large pool at the base of the falls.
First view of the falls from the trail.

That last short part of the hike was actually the hardest to us.

Two mallards were enjoying the water in the larger pool at the bottom of the falls.

This is an awesome hike! According to the VC the total miles for this hike is 8.4. According to our feet and muscles it was more like what I would imagine a 10 mile forced march with full gear would be like. It pretty much spanked us. Recovery was quick though as the next day, we were planning for our next adventure!
That brings me to the last topic in the title...a make-over. Well, our feet hurt after that hike...especially my heels. So we decided a visit to REI was in order with hiking boots in hand. The very knowledgeable young sales lady informed us our boots had plenty of tread and recommended we simply give them a makeover with new inner soles.

Hope you are having a great week!
Until next time, stay awake, take care and enjoy!

That was some yawn!