Perched on a pebble in a desert wash northeast of Phoenix, the quarter-sized butterfly appears to be serenely sunning. Much more is happening, however, than meets the uninformed eye. On a mating mission, the male Empress Leilia displays a boldness far overshadowing his size. Wings outstretched toward the sun to elevate his body temperature for rapid-motion readiness, he chases birds, bigger butterflies or anything else daring to dart within his domain. Focused on a nearby desert hackberry bush where caterpillars of his species feed and pupate, the object of the orange-brown butterfly’s intense attention: Female virgins, emerging from cocoons.

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Eye for Love: Arizona Highways

Wildlife

From babbling like human babies when they begin vocalizing, to communicating in different dialects, scientists are discovering a lengthening list of songbird-human learning parallels. The observation of bird dialects - much like regional variations in human language - launched formal investigations regarding parallels between the brains of birds and humans.”

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Getting in Tune: Los Angeles Zoo

Amid two feet of snow and a media mob in eastern Arizona, a family of three edge closer to freedom. While the adult female and her year-old pup tentatively step outside their steel crate and into an outdoor pen, the four-year-old adult alpha male remains reluctant to emerge. Only after reporters, photographers, television crews and other observers departed does  the large Mexican gray wolf venture outside his crate, warily sniffing the air. This highly anticipated January 1998 release of these three wolves and eight others into pens near Alpine, Arizona, officially launched the reintroduction of endangered Mexican gray wolves into the U.S. Southwest. Click link for article

Mexican Wolves, Wild Once Again: Smithsonian National Zoological Park’s “Zooegoer”

The western diamondback, tightly coiling its substantial body, kept hissing and intensified its rattling, sounding like bacon frying just inches away. Paralyzed with panic, I hadn’t realized yet that, with one solid leap, my rotweiller could smash though the window and land on the diamondback's coils.

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Along the Way: Arizona Highways

While many embrace their wild neighbors, some folks feel the animals are too close for comfort. One the horizon, look for a greater wildlife-habitat preservation emphasis in municipal planning, along with more travel corridors for animals to move easily through developments.

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Urban Wildlife - Let Us Prey: Phoenix Magazine

In the days before development devoured huge habitat hunks in northeast Scottsdale, a cunning cat took up rooftop residence at our home. Lazing on the roof, the bobcat earned an easy living. Daylong snoozes preceded nocturnal hunts. Twenty pounds of lean muscle mass, the tawny cat with black spotting, stubby tail, lanky legs and a steel gaze was art in motion. A masterful mix of grace and purpose, he choreographed perfect pounces, scoring substantial meals. Dining on plentiful prey of rabbits and rodents, life was good for the solitary cat, who hid his presence well. Settling into suburbia for a year, he likely outhunted his counterparts in the wild, forced to work for food.

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Focus on Nature: Arizona Highways

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