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Birding In Sunset Park, Las Vegas

sunset park

Well, I don’t know how I survived it, but yesterday, my buddy Clay Taylor and I (and my poor husband Non Birding Bill) went to Sunset Park in Las Vegas for a little afternoon birding…in 104 degree heat.  I was a tad moist at the end of it.  I wasn’t wearing too many clothes, yet I felt about as soaked as I would working my hives in a full bee suit.

gambell's quail

We went for Crissal thrasher who hang around in the mesquite by the administrative building, which we saw but did not digiscope, but we did see tons of Gambel’s quail which made NBB hum the Benny Hill theme every time they ran–too cute and too funny.  The quail loved to lurk and watch us from the brush, can’t blame them for seeking shade.  As I was getting photos of the above male, something walked into the shot:

cats indoors

Oh, hello there outdoor kitty.  Fortunately for the quail, the cat was more worried about me and the scope than the intended quarry in the brush.  I looked up from my scope and the cat skulked away.

hidden quail

Clay found another critter as I was trying to get this hidden quail.  Can you see signs of another animal in this photo.  Take a quick look above.  See it?  I didn’t either and would have missed it had Clay not pointed it out.  I’ll give you a hint if you can’t see it, the animal part is on the bottom towards the center left…see it?  It’s a rabbit ear.


Here I focused on the rabbit.  Look at how crazy long those ears are!  From this angle I thought that it must be some sort of hare, but it seemed to small in the body.

desesrt hair

I adjusted my position for a better view and saw that it had more of a rabbit body than a hare body.  I quick look on the internet and I found out that it’s a desert cottontail.  Rabbits use those ears for thermal regulation.  Where I live in Minnesota, the cottontails have tiny ears.  If you are in the Vegas desert, you need big ole honkin’ hears to deal with the heat.  My non birding hubby was hidden under some shade marveling that Clay and I could bird and digiscope in the heat.  I walked over and told him about the rabbit and asked if he wanted to see it.  He declined but said some small yellow bird was coming down from the trees and feed a few feet away.  I waited and…

wilsons warbler 1

…down popped a Wilson’s warbler.  How fun to have such a cooperative warbler!  We saw these all over in Guatemala and I see them from time to time during migration in Minnesota, but this guy was so cheerful and perky in the heat.  We also saw a butt load of mourning doves, black-tailed gnatcatchers and verdin.  Not bad for a quick afternoon spot in oppressive heat.

8 comments to Birding In Sunset Park, Las Vegas

  • I love the picture with the cat. For many people, photography is about pictures where everything is in focus. I think it’s a lot more interesting when some of the objects are out of focus. The contrast between the cat and the quail is wonderful!

    Was the picture taken with your new Nikon d40? I’m pretty happy with my Nikon, but I’m pining for a digiscoping camera.

  • Hi elizabeth r,

    thanks for the note, I agree that I too enjoy an interesting story in a photo rather than perfect focus.

    All of these were taken with the Nikon D40. I like it, but I’m having trouble getting it incorporated with my binoculars.

  • Karen Wosika

    I live in Las Vegas, so I was really interested to find out what brought you to our fair city on a hot August day. What dedication to be spending hours outside in Vegas heat and kudos to nonbirding husband to be willing to come along. Enjoyed the pictures. Sad to say, I have not visited Sunset Part although I have driven past many times. Now I will have to plan a visit, on a cooler day of course.

  • Yes, GREAT shot with the cat.

  • I am glad the cat was not interested in an afternoon snack! Thanks for enduring the heat so that we could have these great shots!

  • Love the bunny! I had never heard of a desert cottontail until we went to Denver – there were a ton of them around my father-in-law’s place

  • Laraine

    As a desert dweller (Joshua Tree, CA), I laughed about your comments on the long ears of the desert cottontail. Those are short compared to their black-tailed jackrabbit cousins that I see daily, with ears almost a foot long. I always chuckle when I go back East and see those tiny ears on cottontails! All a matter of perspective and what you’re used to, I guess. Also love your bee-keeping stories, by the way. Have learned a lot from them-thank you!

  • Laraine,

    I’ve seen jacks before and they are a rather nightmarish looking rabbit with their huge ear and overall huge size. The ultimate disapproving rabbit.