We have been members of the Desert Museum as long as we have lived here, but somehow never seem to find the time to visit. Probably because it is located on Tucson's west side and it takes almost 2 hours to get there. But it is one of my favorite places, and we decided that we should make the effort to visit once a month during the cooler time of the year.
We arrived in time to have a number of schoolbusses disgorge about a hundred middle-schoolers, but the place can absorb a crowd and we were able to go off on our own. I love being there because it is beautifully, naturally, landscaped, and although not all plants that grow there are hardy enough to withstand our colder climate, I enjoy seeing a place so wonderfully diverse.
As soon as we entered we saw a cactus wren stuffing a nest in a teddybear cholla. Here the cactus wrens are doing the same thing, but not in these very prickly cacti. There were some cacti with multiple nests.
I enjoy the exhibits a lot, and the museum staff have tried to make the living spaces of the animals as natural as possible. In this day and age of everybody being "afraid", it is so necessary for people, and especially kids, to see desert wildlife in its natural habitat. We both were very much taken with this little elf owl (one of the most common owls in southern Arizona as it nests in saguaros), that was snoozing next to its home. It is too cold here for saguaros, so here we see more of the great horned owl.
And then there was the cougar (who is the museum's mascot, and his name is George). I am thrilled to know that we still have cougars in our mountains nearby as one of our neighbors took some photos in her yard of one earlier this year.