Updated: Wetlands Annual Burn Rescheduled to Thursday 03-05

Update: A notice went out on Facebook earlier today, due to the coming storm the annual burn has been pushed back to Thursday – same time, same place. The rest of this info applies:

According to Tucson Fire Department the annual burn at Sweetwater Wetlands is scheduled to start around 8:15 Monday morning. The Wetlands will be closed for the day but should reopen on Tuesday. There will be an awful lot of black smoke in the air but don’t fret, the crew only burns half the Wetlands each year. There is plenty of time for critters to move to a safe spot.

These controlled burns benefit wildlife and birds by reopening vegetation clogged waterways, and they benefit humans by reducing mosquito loving habitat. A win-win as it were. Plus, it gives the fire crew some good practice at controlling a brushfire.

It is amazing to watch how quickly regrowth occurs in the burned area. Stop on by and see for yourself!
New Cattails
New Cattails, Sweetwater Wetlands, 02-22-2008

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Mega-rarities at the Wetlands!

Thank you Tucson Audubon for sharing the news – Trumpeter Swans have been spotted in the western recharge pond at Sweetwater Wetlands. What a treat! I’m hoping they will still be there in the morning…

Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator)

Trumpeter Swans, near Yellowstone National Park, 09-12-2008

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Where the Water Goes, Birds Follow

An article in today’s Arizona Daily Star highlighted how the overflow from our plentiful rains during last summer’s monsoon season created an unplanned oasis in a former gravel pit. The pit, owned by the town of Marana, had been used as an illegal dumpsite until 5 years ago when group of avid disc golfers worked with Marana to clean up the area and install a disc golf course.

The powerful influx of water changed the landscape. Now instead of flying discs there are hundreds of birds, including some rarities. Of course, it isn’t just birds that are attracted by water in the desert, the mud is full of animal prints.

This new bird haven is giving Sweetwater Wetlands some competition! However, unlike the Wetlands that currently enjoy a regular and steady influx of freshwater, it is uncertain how nature’s handiwork will fare in the dry months of early summer. Until then, get out there and enjoy the sights!

Young Coyote
Coyote Pup, at the former Marana Disc Golf Course, 07-10-2011

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Where to Find Waterbirds in Tucson

A couple days ago the Arizona Daily Star ran a skimpy but interesting article about two nice birding locations in Tucson, the Kino Environmental Restoration Project (KERP) and Sweetwater Wetlands (of course). Worth a quick read.

If you want the best resource for finding any type of bird in our area then you need to get your hands on a copy of Tucson Audubon’s Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona.

Great Egret, Sweetwater Wetlands, 12-08-2008

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Drunk Birds Singing

Just in time for the last party night of the year, scientists discover that birds drunk on fermented fruit juice don’t sing very well. I pretty much would’ve bet on that result. The real question is do they think they sound fine, even awesome, like most drunk humans? Follow up question, do they also think they look incredibly hot?

Just wait until Paula Poundstone hears about this latest groundbreaking research. She just loooves these kinds of studies (Paula really gets going around the 7:43 mark).

Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Singing Song Sparrow, Sweetwater Wetlands, May 06, 2013

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Birds Sensing Weather?

An intriguing article by National Geographic in which researchers discovered that Golden-winged Warblers may have anticipated and avoided a powerful and damaging thunderstorm this past April.

Obviously, more study is needed but what an interesting proposition!
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson, AZ 02-10-2013

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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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