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

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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.

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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

Hummingbird Tongues

Fascinating new revelation about how hummingbirds move nectar into their bodies. They are such amazing creatures!

Allen's Hummingbird - F (Selasphorus sasin)

Allen’s Hummingbird, February 2008, Tucson, AZ

Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival

Bird and nature loving friends – the Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival is next week! There are still field trip openings and plenty of other indoor & outdoor activities for every age and skill level. Well worth checking out! There’s even a special optics event being held at Sweetwater Wetlands.

The keynote speakers are Paul J. Baicich and Rick Wright. I’m not familiar with Paul but I’ve had the good fortune to attend one of Rick’s presentations before – be prepared for some wry wit.

Learn more:

Happy birding!

Preening Pied-billed
Pied-billed Grebe, Sweetwater Wetlands, May 2013

Birds Vocals Steal the Show in Jurassic World

Excellent article from Audubon showcasing the wide variety of bird sounds used to vocalize the dinosaurs in the smash summer hit Jurassic World. Very fitting since birds and dinosaurs are so closely related!

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, do so. It was a fun romp, the special effects are amazing, and there is a moral aspect to it that should leave you with plenty to ponder.

11941813723_f0804daf35_bHarris’s Hawk, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 12-27-2013

Speak Out to Protect Our Santa Cruz River

Watershed Management is asking Tucson-area residents to contact their elected officials in order to protect the water in the Santa Cruz River. Currently excess reclaimed water is fed into the Santa Cruz River just north of Sweetwater Wetlands. This water is supplemented with reclaimed water from the Ina Road treatment plant a few miles further north.

This supplemental water allows the Santa Cruz River to flow above ground for over 20 miles. This unintentionally re-created waterway has replicated what much of the Tucson basin once looked like, a year-round stream supporting a diverse riparian habitat.

Over 230 bird species have been documented in the lush thickets that exist by the water. Racoons and Sonoran Mud Turtles are just a couple of the animal species that rely on this precious resource.

A resource that could be destroyed if we don’t act now to protect it. The goal of this WM-led project is to get municipal leaders to establish a guaranteed water flow for the river, something that does not currently exist.

Please voice your support of this rare and precious resource!

Screen shot 2015-06-14 at 6.31.15 PM

London Duck Lanes

Thought you fellow bird nerds would appreciate this Audubon article about Brits using birds, ducks in particular, to remind folks to mind their manners.

Raising civility and finding ways to coexist with the nature in our midst, I love it!

Male Mallard Bathing 2

Male Mallard at Sweetwater Wetlands, November 2, 2008


New at Sweetwater Wetlands – Discovery Program Journeys

Tucson Water, who owns and operates the Wetlands, and their partners UA’s Project Wet have debuted a new self-guided tour program for visitors. If you have a smart phone you can use it to scan QR codes at the entrance kiosk. There are four “Journeys” to choose from; ornithology, biology, hydrology, and botany.

Watch this video to learn more.

You can also download the Sweetwater Wetlands Activity Book and Field Guide, an excellent resource for the first time visitor, for families, or for those who are just plain curious.

Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipuncta)

03/27/2015 Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipuncta)