Raven Lunatics: A Quiet Weekend in Organ Pipe National Monument

December 8-9, 2012

Organ Pipe National Monument is a great place to visit any time of year, but especially in December, while the weather is still warm but before the snowbirds descend. We spent a relaxed weekend there in mid-December with good friends, combining some canyon hiking with a lot of time enjoying the sunshine and the wonderful views. I was joined each morning for coffee by representatives of all my favorite desert birds — Gila woodpeckers, Phainopeplas (yes, I know they propagate mistletoe but they're so cute with their little black "toupettes"), cactus wrens, and an especially sociable pair of ravens.

Over the weekend, the ravens became more and more accustomed to our presence. They spent hours each day, perched in a nearby saguaro, grooming, staring into each others' eyes and exchanging gifts. I thought I was seeing things, but have since read that raven mating behavior includes using their beaks to offer each other bits of stone or twigs and touching or clasping their bills together.

So they totally shredded a styrofoam cooler one day while we were out hiking. It was a small price to pay for hours of entertainment.