Backyard Birds

Hooded Oriole, male

Male Hooded Oriole © 2012 Bo Mackison

I put two hummingbird feeders at the edge of the arroyo and attracted hummingbirds and a few other birds interested in a quick sweet treat. This male Hooded Oriole breeds in the Southwestern states and eastern Mexico. It migrates through Mexico to its winter home in southern Mexico.

It’s named for the orange hood on the male. It once nested in the desert trees in the riparian oases, but is now just as commonly seen in backyards.

Broad billed Hummingbird, male

Broad-billed Hummingbird © 2012 Bo Mackison

Ah, here’s one of the 5 or 6 types of hummingbirds I saw this spring. This is the Broad-billed Hummingbird — its bill is red, turning black at the tip. The Broad-billed Hummingbird’s northern territory is in southern Arizona. It is only here for a visit. Most Broad-bills live year round in Mexico.

Anna's Hummingbird female, spread wings

Female Anna's Hummingbird © 2012 Bo Mackison

This medium-sized hummingbird, still tiny compared to other birds, is never still. I thought I was lucky to catch this female in mid-landing. The male is a handsome fellow, with an iridescent bright pink throat, but he was even speedier than the female.


Acrobatic Gila Woodpecker

And this guy, the Gila Woodpecker, is my most frequent visitor, though I’d prefer he not slurp up all the sugar-water I make for the hummingbirds. I did a search and found that woodpeckers are “tolerated” guests at hummingbird feeders from the east coast to the west. Actually, they make such an effort to get footing on the tiny rim meant for hummingbirds, that they are among the more entertaining birds. Noisy, too!


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC, living and photographing in southern Arizona for a few more days before she migrates to her summer home in the Midwest.

About Bo Mackison

I’m a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place – a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I’d love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It’s my gift to you.


  1. I enjoyed the colorful plumage of your fine feathered friends as well as the daring acrobatics of the Gila Woodpecker – fun post. thanks

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Yes, that woodpecker should be in the circus – well, he and all of his relatives.. they take turns and drain my feeder dry, while the hummingbirds perch in the top branches of the mesquite and watch…hmmm.

  2. Joanna Paterson says:

    Oh they are so gorgeous Bo, and so unlike anything I’d see here – thank you so much for sharing them.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      They are unlike anything I have seen in Wisconsin, too, Joanna. When I moved here for the winter/spring, I had to learn an entirely different ecosystem — all new plants, animals, birds, even the snakes… I won;t miss the rattlesnakes, but I will miss all the brightly colored birds.

  3. I think I have said this before but here goes. I would love to have colorful birds like that in my garden 🙂

  4. Joanne Keevers says:

    They are gorgeous Bo, and so different to birds here in Australia. They’ll miss you when you leave Arizona.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Not so much me, Joanne, but certainly the feeders with sugar water. Luckily, there are lots of flowers in bloom, especially in the nearby mountains. And most are migrating through, so they will be gone soon after I leave.

  5. Wow! Terrific shots Bo!

  6. Fantastic shots, Bo!

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