November News

Toll Free Number

We have a relatively new Toll Free number: 855-558-2334. The long distance connection problems we’ve been having for 24 months continue. So if you call us and the phone doesn’t seem to ring or answer, please try the above number. It’s from AT&T, and is supposed to go through different switches that may not be subject to the issues that prevent many of our calls from getting through.


The monsoon rains were good, with over 10 inches, but there has been no rainfall since September. While Portal and the San Simon Valley around Rodeo had enough, the higher elevations had less, so the creek is not running at the Ranch. The grasses that had grown tall with all the water have gone to seed, and it’s fun to identify the many beautiful varieties of grasses native to this area.

Fall Color

The leaves around the Ranch have been turning for a couple of weeks. The pomegranates are golden, the redbuds a very clear yellow, the sycamores turning bronze, and the grasses are pleasing shades of red and tan. The cottonwoods are still a very contrasting bright green, but they’ll become a brilliant yellow in a few weeks. Farther up canon the big tooth maples are turning from green to yellow to orange to a vivid shocking pink – quite a progression! Temperatures are still in the upper forties at night and lower seventies during the day.


Fall birds are arriving, with new species appearing every few days. Recent arrivals include White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Lincoln’s Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Pine Siskins, Western Bluebirds, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Cedar Waxwings, and a Painted Redstart, which last bird usually winters at the Ranch, adding to the atmosphere with its vivid appearance and cheerful calls. Sandhill Cranes have been returning in large numbers to nearby valleys. This may turn out to be an irruptive year for Evening Grosbeaks, which have been seen in Portal in small flocks for the first time in more than fifteen years.

Hummingbird numbers have declined with the tail end of migration, but we’ll have a few Blue-throateds and Magnificents throughout the winter. There are still several Anna’s and Rufous.

The resident birds continue in daily attendance: the flock of twenty-five or so Acorn Woodpeckers, Mexican Jays, Western Scrub Jays, Bridled Titmice, Lesser Goldfinch, Arizona and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, House Finches, Pyrrhuloxias, Gambel’s Quail, and the marauding Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks.

We had an exciting visit from a Rough-legged Hawk a few weeks ago, which perched for hours in several easy-to-watch locations, and gave many guests (including me!) their best views ever of this dramatic hawk.


Butterflies are the most visible insect at the moment, attracted by the late-blooming Mt. Lemmon Marigolds we have in the garden. There won’t be many bugs from now until the next monsoon, July and August being the months for them. So fall and winter are nearly perfect, outdoor-wise, with comfortable days, cold nights: ideal hiking weather.


We’re seeing fewer Bears, perhaps they’re seeking out dens for the winter. Foxes, coyotes, the bobcat, and skunks are all present.

Friends of Cave Creek Canyon

Our local Friends group has been busy with creating a Native Plant Garden at the Ranger

Station, and after months of design, preparation, and plant acquisitions, the Garden is in! We had two work days in the past month to lay out the paths, line them with stones, compact the paths, and dig holes and plant the plants. We’ll have another work day next week to trench for the watering system — even native plants will need a season or two of water to get established. Then we’ll get plant identification tags, and you will be able to identify plants you see in the Canyon in the Garden! The local community has been very active — over twenty volunteers of all ages have contributed much time and talent. More information can be seen at

Maybe we’ll see you here soon!

Reed Peters