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Desert Wildlife

Desert Wildlife

Images from our Desert Photo Tour with professional wildlife photographer Linda Covey.


Though some people think javelina are a type of wild pig, they are actually members of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. Javelina are common in much of central and southern Arizona, including the outskirts of the Phoenix area, most of Tucson, and occasionally as far north as Flagstaff. Javelina form herds of two to more than 20 animals and rely on each other to defend territory, protect against predators, regulate temperature and interact socially. They use washes and areas with dense vegetation as travel corridors. Javelina are most active at night, but they may be active during the day when it is cold.

Desert Cottontail

Cottontail rabbits generally spend their entire lives in an area of 10 acres or less, so if there is suitable habitat within this distance, you are likely to encounter rabbits. During cold weather, they use natural cavities and burrows of other animal for their dens. Otherwise, rabbits seek cover and protection in brush piles, brushy hedgerows, debris filled gullies, and landscaped backyards with suitable cover. Cottontails rarely drink, and free water does not appear to be a requirement for either their survival or reproduction. However, moist areas act as an attractant because of succulent vegetation. Removal and/or modification of these features will change the area’s suitability as cottontail habitat.

Great Horned Owl

A great horned owl can close its feet with 500 psi (pounds per square inch). The average human exerts- squeezing as hard as we can- 80-150 psi. However, the story that owls will eat your dogs/cats is an urban legend; an owl can only lift around its own body weight (2-3 lbs) and owls are found throughout urban areas. While we don’t like to say it ‘never’ happens, it certainly doesn’t happen with frequency. Owls will dive at cats, dogs and even people if they have a nest in the area, sometimes misconstrued as a hunting attempt.