Tucson Wildlife 

Several of the photos on this page were taken by our friends and next door neighbors, Tim and Sandy, from their back yard looking out towards the wash behind our houses, and by cousin Linda in the Sunflower community overlooking Sombrero Peak.  

There are also several photos of wildlife that can be found on the Santa Cruz River, which runs close to the GEL offices,

on the next page. 

IMG 0568

Desert Tarantulas are a fairly common sight in Tucson.  They are venomous,with a stinger

that they can use when needed, but are normally docile enough to be held.   

 Sandy took this photo of one in our driveway, probably a male looking 

to find a female.  We estimate that it was about 7cm (2.7in) in circumference, including legs.

Here’s a link to more info about tarantulas and their gruesome ending if caught by a tarantula hawk: 



Tim snapped these photos of a Harris Hawk on a large saguaro cactus in the wash behind

our houses.  The hawk had just captured one of the numerous rabbits in the wash.

Harris Hawks hunt in packs, and are sometimes called the "Wolves of the Air", feeding on lizards, rabbits, rodents, and 

small birds, including doves and quail.


IMG 9326
IMG 9321
IMG 9312

Cooper's hawk - this one periodically terrorizes the local

doves and quail by making a stealth approach down the wash.

The first three photos above were taken 6/23/2014 when she

stopped by for about 45 minutes to get a drink in the pool and cool off

IMG 2102

Cousin Linda took this photo of a baby spiny tailed iguana 


resting in a saguaro cactus boot [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saguaro_boot].  

The photo was taken at the Tucson Sonoran Desert Museum in 2014.  


A bobcat resting just outside Tim's backyard fence. 

Bobcats are usually shy and avoid humans, but habitat encroachment in the Tucson area causes

contact between humans and bobcats to become more frequent as the city continues to expand.



These two great bobcat photos were taken by my cousin Linda's neighbor Gordon, 

while he was out on a bike ride in the Sunflower community in Marana, close to Sombrero Peak.

Mountain Lions (aka cougars)are frequently seen in the mountains surrounding the Tucson area, and occasionally in town. 

Sandy spotted one by our backyard fence early one morning from her balcony.

They can run at speeds of up to 30 mph, and jump as far as 20 feet or leap 8 feet vertically

from a standing position. 


IMG 150-1

These photos were taken by cousin Linda, from her back yard. This young cougar appears to be

walking the fences looking for a meal.  They are known to eat pets, including cats and even large dogs.

IMG 150-2

The "click" of Linda's camera caught the young mountain lion's attention

IMG 150-3

Time to head into the house!


Desert Spiny Lizard

There are two species of Spiny Lizards in Tucson - the Desert Spiney and the Clark's Spiny.

Males of both speciies have bright blue throats and bellies. During the breeding season, femailes may have oranish or reddish heads.

This female, about 8 inches in length, ran sideways across the fence to get away from me when I got too close for comfort.


IMG 3419

Javelinas (hävəˈlēnə) (aka "peccary").  These two coincidentally approached Tim's fence, as if

on cue, just as he finished telling some visitors about the javelinas that sometimes come up the wash.

IMG 3437

Mule Deer 

Tim took this photo, near Sombrero Peak, while we were on a hot air balloon ride.

IMG 0445

Sandy spotted this coyote looking in the fence from the wash behind our houses

IMG 0446

Coyotes are fairly common in our area - I've seen them  in the wash several times while on my morning walk.

They are often heard in the middle of the night howling excitedly after making a kill.

Sandy recently snapped this photo of these guys peering into the back yard from the wash behind our houses.

A study in Tucson showed that cats make up about 42% of their diet - more than any other food source.


Western diamond-back rattlesnakes are also fairly common in our area.  

In the United States, this species is responsible for more venomous snake 

bites than any other snake.



Arizona Coral Snake

Drop for drop, the venom of this snake is 2-3 times more potent than the 

Western Diamondback rattlesnake.  We found one of these in our backyard pool, nearly drowned, while cleaning

the skimmer.  


Gila Monsters are the largest and only venomous lizard in the United States. 

Although we haven't seen one in our wash (yet), one was sighted about 1/2 mile away in

a neighboring wash.


(Tim took the photo below at the Tucson Desert Museum)

20140208 131223

Great Horned Owls

The Great Horned Owl is also known as the Tiger Owl.  They range in length from 18-27 in (46-69cm), and have a wingspan

of 40-60.4 in (101-153 cm).  We have a male and female that visit our neighborhood, perching on the roofs of the houses

in the neighborhood, and in El Diablo, a dead tree in the wash behind our house.  

This photo was taken at the IBM facility in Tucson.  


Gambel's Quail

Our neighbor Bob has been godfather to several coveys of baby quail in his back yard.

In the summer, we often see family groups running down the wash - very fun to watch.


IMG 3284
IMG 3282

The Sonoran Desert Toad, also known as the Colorado River toad, is the largest toad that is native to the United States. Its range is from central Arizona to southwestern New Mexico and into Sinaloa, Mexico.  It emits toxins from several glands in its skin, and the toxins have been known to kill full grown dogs that pick up or mouth the toads.

Sandy shot these photos of one that was in their back yard and swimming in their pool.




Macho B was the last known living jaguar in the United States.  He was captured  by the Arizona Game and Fish Department near Nogales, about 60 miles south of Tucson, and was subsequently euthanized on March 1, 2009, sparking a state-wide uproar and investigation by the Department of Interior's Inspector General.


A You-Tube tribute to Macho B can be found here.


Since 2011, more male jaguars have been spotted in the mountains southeast of Tucson and close to the U.S./Mexico border near Douglas, AZ. It's unknown whether there are any breeding pairs in the Arizona/New Mexico area.

[http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Latest-News-Wires/2013/0628/Arizona-jaguar-Photos-show-rare-big-cat-near-Tucson, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar]


Macho B - (last known living jaguar in the United States in 2009) near Nogales, AZ

Macho B 

Macho B paw

[Click here for wildlife pnotos on the Santa Cruz river]