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close up photograph of a hummingbird in a nest on a cactus

30 December . 2016

A Community Brimming With Wildlife

The Estrella community is nestled in the Sierra Estrella Mountains in the heart of the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Home to a wide variety of wildlife, Estrella is a great place for nature lovers and its more than 500 acres of parks and open space are prime areas for hiking and sightseeing. Below are a few of our favorite two and four-legged natural neighbors.

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• The Anna’s Hummingbird – These beautiful little birds are a common sight throughout the year and can be seen in many backyards in our community. If you are a birdwatcher, consider hanging a feeder or planting brightly colored flowers to entice these little guys over for lunch. Fun Fact – a hummingbird’s heart beats at more than 1,200 times per minute!

• Elf Owl – The Elf Owl can often be found nesting in abandoned woodpecker holes in large cacti and are common in areas, like Estrella, with a healthy population of Saguaro. One of the smallest owl species, this little bird averages only five inches tall with a nine-inch wingspan and mean body weight of less than two ounces. Fun Fact – the edges of the Elf Owl’s wings are covered by very soft feathers that muffle the sound of the wing’s beat allowing for silent flight.

• Harris’ Antelope Squirrel – This adorable ground squirrel can often be spotted scurrying around the Golf Club of Estrella and throughout the community. The Harris’ Antelope Squirrel lives in burrows, preferring to dig under desert foliage such as Creosote, Mesquite and Palo Verde trees. Fun Fact - Well adapted to higher temperatures, the Harris’ Antelope Squirrel use their tails like an umbrella to shade their bodies.

• Javelina – These medium-sized mammals can weigh up to 60 pounds and look similar to wild boar with short coarse hair and pig-like snouts. They are very social animals who live in large family groups and communicate with each other using a variety of sounds and scent marking. Fun Fact – Don’t call it a pig! Javelinas are technically part of the peccary family.

• Queen Butterfly – A cousin of the Monarch, the Queen Butterfly calls the Sonoran Desert home year-round. These beautiful insects are orange and black with white spots on their delicate wings, which have an average span of three inches. Queen caterpillars dine mostly on milkweed and adult butterflies will drink from a variety of flowering plants. Fun Fact – Queen Caterpillars can become cannibalistic so females only lay one egg at a time to avoid sibling rivalry.

This is just a short list of some of the amazing animals that call our backyard home. If you spot these fun creatures - or others - while out and about in your neighborhood, be sure to share a photo with us on Facebook.


tags: Area, Adventure