Helping Hummers

An informative article from Audubon on how to attract hummingbirds to your yard. They need more than just a feeder – they also need plenty of bugs and spider webs (the latter are vitally important if they are nesting).

I have several feeders and plenty of bugs now I need to work on a small water feature for them. I know they love to bathe and splash and it would be great to be able to watch them do that in my own yard.

Sweetwater Wetlands offers everything they need to thrive. We’ll see some on my upcoming bird walk this Friday at 7:30am. More info can be found on Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Calendar.


Male Costa’s Hummingbird, MBY Tucson, 10-2014


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Why Woodpeckers Don’t Get Headaches

This article is a few years old but very informative. Especially the discussion about how the length and shape of woodpecker tongues differ depending on diet. Flickers have the longest tongues which are sticky and help them grab their favorite food – ants.

Ah, the fascinating world of birds!

Northern Flicker - Male

Northern Flicker, Sweetwater Wetlands, February 27,2012

03-11 Sweetwater Wetlands Closed for Annual Burn

Every year Tucson Water partners with the Tucson Fire Department to conduct a controlled burn of the Wetlands. Half of the park is burned in an effort to keep the cattails from overtaking the ponds, opening precious habitat for the waterfowl. The effort also minimizes breeding areas for mosquitoes.

There will be a huge cloud of thick black smoke. Don’t fret, the large trees are spared, the birds and other wildlife can still use the other half of the park, and the plants grow back quite fast!

The park will be closed for the entire day and is scheduled to re-open the next morning. If the weather doesn’t cooperate the burn will take place on Tuesday, 03-15. More info: 2016 Controlled Burn flyer

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird, Sweetwater Wetlands, 03-13-2009


Guía de Aves – Spanish Bird Guide

Exciting new website from National Audubon Society – an online bird guide in Spanish! Not only is this an easy to use reference for those who speak Spanish but it provides extra information for bird nerds (like myself).

My favorite example is one of the Southwest’s most curious and iconic, the Greater Roadrunner (Spanish name – Correcaminos norteño)Named for running roads in both languages…which of course begs the question, what was it called before there were roads?

The best part of the new site? You can search for a bird using either the English, Latin or Spanish name. Very cool!

Since we’re talking about Roadrunners, Tucson Audubon Society’s next Living With Nature program in Tucson will feature Doris Evans’ experience photographing and filming a Roadrunner family in her yard. I plan to attend for two reasons, she lives near me so the information will be especially pertinent but also because the photos I’ve seen thus far are captivating. The event is free and open to the public.


Greater Roadrunner, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, March 22, 2014

Advice from The Birdist

A hip and young take on birding from Nick Lund, The Birdist. A fun and irreverent point of view about getting out and enjoying nature. I get the impression Nick is going to care more about your outings than your expensive equipment…

Enjoy the read and then get out there!

American Coot - Preening

American Coot, 02-04-2012, Sweetwater Wetlands

Meet the Birds of Sweetwater Wetlands

Save the date! On Saturday, February 13th Tucson Audubon Society and Tucson Water are hosting a family friendly event at the Wetlands. The event runs from 7am-2pm and there are a variety of activities. It sounds like a great event and I wish I could attend but alas, I am working that day.

Check Tucson Audubon Society’s website for more information.

While TAS and TW are promoting it as a birding site there are a lot more critters than just birds that call the Wetlands home. Here are some non-birdy photos I’ve taken at the Wetlands over the years.



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Do Birds Play?

Interesting question posed recently by on the All About Birds website. The simple answer is yes. Playful behavior is especially common among the young of most species, bird or animal, see previous post for an example. Scientists view these games as ways to learn and practice important life skills.

I find watching them play to be highly entertaining!

8974205281_a5a5af3c31_bCurious Cactus Wren, Tucson, AZ  May 2013

Bobcats at Play

One of the wonderful benefits of living safely with urban wildlife – watching them enjoy themselves in your yard. I haven’t experienced anything like these playful bobcats but there are often times that the activity out my window is equally captivating. Note that mom is sitting on the wall, supervising.

Living with Wildlife Series

The Arizona Game & Fish Department’s website has online resources providing information about how to peacefully coexist with a variety of Sonoran Desert critters. These detailed pages include suggestions to properly support wildlife, hints to deter pests, and clarity on the relevant laws.

For instance, in Arizona it is legal to feed birds but not other wildlife. Therefore, any bird offerings must not be placed directly on the ground (including quail blocks).

Even though they are awfully cute when they come through our yards we must do our part to keep wildlife wild!

What're You Looking At?

Javelinas, Tucson, December 2009

Molting Takes a Toll

Yikes, until reading this article I hadn’t put a lot of thought into how stressful it is for a bird to molt. I knew they often looked forlorn and beat up with some feathers missing and others in poor shape.

But it is not only about looks, imagine if your best defense mechanism (flying) was suddenly limited or even completely absent! Yet somehow you must not only evade predators but you must also still find food and drink. Stressful!

Molting Cardinal, May 2007, Georgia