National Geographic : 1958 Feb
White-winged Doves Await Their Turn at the Pond Gathering for a last sip before nightfall, the birds perch on ocotillo (right), saguaro, and the limbs of a paloverde, the State tree of Arizona. tense with expectancy. My neighbor, nerv ously fingering his camera, keeps whispering: "Not yet. Not yet. More are coming." Fi nally someone presses the button and the flash of four bulbs creates a light as bright as that of the desert sun. 250 ward the lights of Almost anything can happen in the next frac tion of a second. On one unforgettable evening a terrified deer cleared the pool in a single bound; only the sturdy frame of the window kept him from following his head and joining the startled pho tographers. After still another flash, we heard the sound of breaking brush from a near-by jojoba bush. We found a fawn suspended in the branches; even though all four feet were clear of the ground, they con tinued to churn in a run ning motion. The scare is always short lived, however, and the animals return within a few minutes. Actually this fright re action is caused by the click of shutters closing which sounds almost like a breaking twig-and not by the noiseless flash of bulbs. We have found that the click alone will invariably cause the deer to bolt, while they often stand their ground when only the bulbs are fired. There is no logical pat tern to this sensitivity to noise. If the animals hear human voices during their approach, they will stam pede madly. But once they start to drink, they will often continue while people converse loudly only 10 feet away. As the night wears on, the pattern recurs over and over, until every photographer is satisfied. Then we pack up our cameras and head back to Tucson that glow distantly on the horizon. But with us we take a sense of wonder. For the Wildlife Blind has worked its special magic on us, transforming hunters into photogra phers and laymen into naturalists.