January Bird Walks in Tucson

In January, Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation is offering multiple guided birding opportunities around Tucson:

Wake Up with the Birds, Every Thursday in January, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Where: Pima County Agua Caliente Park, 12325 E. Roger Road Cost/Age: free, all ages welcome.

Tucson Mountain Park Birding Walk, Saturday, January 3, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Where:Tucson Mountain Park Ironwood Picnic Area, 1548 S. Kinney Road Cost/Age: free, ages 12 and up.

Birding at Roger Road Ponds, Tuesday, January 6, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Where: Pima County Roger Road Ponds, 2600 W. Sweetwater Drive Cost/Age: free, ages 12 and up.

Honey Bee Canyon Park Birding Walk, Saturday, January 10 and January 24, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Where: Honey Bee Canyon Park, 13880 N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd, Oro Valley Cost/Age: free, ages 12 and up.

Birding at Sweetwater Wetlands, Wednesday, January 14, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Where: Sweetwater Wetlands, 2667 W. Sweetwater Drive Cost/Age: free, ages 12 and up.

Cienega Creek Birding Walk, Friday, January 16, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Where: Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead at Cienega Creek Natural Preserve, 16000 E. Marsh Station Rd Cost/Age: free, all ages welcome.

Birding along the Santa Cruz River, Monday, January 26, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Where: Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive Cost/Age: free, ages 12 and up.

Canoa Ranch Birding Walk, Tuesday, January 27, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Where: Historic Hacienda de la Canoa, 5375 S. I-19 Frontage Rd., Green Valley Cost/Ages: free, all ages welcome.

Check their calendar for more information.

Don’t forget, Tucson Audubon Society leads bird walks, too:

Sweetwater Wetlands – Wednesdays Join Bryon Lichtenhan for an easy walk through the Sweetwater wetlands to see waterfowl in the hundreds, regular and visiting warblers, and several exciting species hiding in the reeds. Birders of all experience levels welcome! Contact leader for start time and to sign up, 520-307-6728, bryonlich@aol.com

Birding Hikes at Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve – First Fridays The Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is partnering with Tucson Audubon to provide guided birding hikes. These roughly 2 hour hikes, led by the Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds caretaker Larry Morgan are suitable for birders at any level. While there is no special fee for the hike, normal preserve fees will apply. For more information and start time, please see the TNC site.

Mason Center Saturday Morning Birdwalks – Every other weekend October through April See our calendar to find the next walk. Join Tucson Audubon for an introduction to birdwatching basics and our Mason Center. After brief feeder watching at the Center, stroll through the desert to Arthur Pack Park for a chance at more species! Great for families! Loaner binoculars are available. RSVP no longer required. Call 520-209-1815. Walk begins at 8am, see the Mason Center page for details. Led by Ken Murphy, Jim Gessaman, or Mary Ellen Flynn.

Arivaca Cienega/Buenos Aires NWR – Saturdays, November thru April Tucson Audubon bird walk at Arivaca Cienega, 8 AM. Meet at the trailhead for a mostly level walk of approximately 2 miles. You can expect to see 30 to 50 species depending on the season. To get there, take I19 to exit 48 at the town of Amado, then southwest on Arivaca Road approximately 25 miles to the well-marked trailhead about ½ mile before the town of Arivaca. For more information call Bob Rolfson at 520-399-2873.

Be sure to check their website for more birding adventures.

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Celebrate Urban Birds and Help Cornell Lab of Ornithology

This initiative is asking folks to spend 10 minutes observing the birds in their area. It doesn’t matter whether it is your front yard, the patio, or the landscaping outside your office window. Once you submit your observations online the data will be used to better understand what birds need and how bird populations are adapting to the effects of urbanization.

I’ve already signed up – you should too!img_4324
Male Costa’s Hummingbird in my front yard.

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November Cleanup Crew

As you can see we like to work with young volunteers – train them up right! Actually, all the credit goes to her parents – little River already loves to pick up litter and put it in the trash can.

Atta girl!

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The Audubon Magazine website features a fascinating article and video analyzing the bug-like flight abilities of hummingbirds. Definitely worth a look.Talking Costa's Hummingbird - Female

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Doppler Radar Cranes

A couple weeks back the US National Weather Service Tucson Arizona caught my attention with this information:

“We noticed something really neat this morning (and the past several mornings as well) using our doppler radar. Right at sunrise, there were distinct returns near the west slopes of the Chiricahua mountains. The returns are clearly biological in nature based on our dual polarization data and dispersed in all directions. It was likely a huge flock of birds.”

It can only be one thing, Sandhill Cranes have returned to the Willcox Playa and Whitewater Draw area for the winter.

They have a short video showing the movement of the flock on their Facebook page.

I think it is time to schedule a birding trip, don’t you?

Sandhills at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, February 2008.

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Name Those Birds! No, Really, Name Them…

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has a pair of young Barn Owls that are about to meet visitors for the first time. Before they go out in public they need names, so the Museum is asking for our help. Visit their site to cast your vote and see their baby pictures.

Barn Owl at Sweetwater Wetlands (Tyto alba)
Barn Owl at the Wetlands, November 2009.

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Lower Santa Cruz River Report

New report about the water flow in the Santa Cruz River that starts just north of Sweetwater Wetlands. If you enjoy watching birds, now is a great time to check out the riparian thickets north of the Wetlands as well as near Ina Dam (under Ina Road). The running water is a magnet for wildlife!

NE Across the Santa Cruz River

Note: This is a photo of the Santa Cruz River during a recent monsoon flood, it does not flow at this level very often.

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Trash-lovin’ Rattlesnakes…

IMG_1573 IMG_1575

A smaller snake compared to last month’s (only about a foot long) but still just as protective of trash! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get that litter next time.


It’s That Time of Year

While out picking up trash at the Wetlands yesterday came across this:IMG_1441

Not going to mess with that! We’ll grab that plastic bag from the bush next time…

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Bird Song Hero – A New Way to Learn Bird Songs

Are you a birder? Do you wish you had a better birding ear? Then check out The Cornell Lab’s new Bird Song Hero Tutorial. Instead of just hearing the bird call you get to see it too.

Pretty cool new approach!

Give it a try: http://biology.allaboutbirds.org/bird-song-hero/

Spectrogram of a Northern Cardinal song:
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