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

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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

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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!

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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)

Video Game for Bird Brains

I just found out about this cool new online birding video game developed by Mr. Nussbaum, a teacher and avid birder. I figured I better spend a few minutes and check it out (ya know, in the interest of research). So far, the game showcases 4 locations back east and uses real bird data. I found it to be well-designed; you can choose between Beginner and Advanced, there are several different views/angles of each species, features different habitats, and includes bird songs. If the game is well-received Mr. Nussbaum promises to add birds and locations. Therefore, I expect it to be growing soon!

I gave each location a whirl and did fairly well, though to be honest, my warbler and sparrow skills need serious work. I dabbled around long enough to rack up over 35,000 points. I was having such a good time it was hard to wren-ch myself away (pun intended).

Give it a try, I think you’ll like it!

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All About Nests

A new show by Nature, Animal Homes, airs tonight on PBS focusing on Nests. While that is interesting enough, the best part is that they filmed hummingbirds at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for the show!

I know I’ll be watching. Even better, I get to head over to the Desert Museum this weekend in person. I will not only see hummingbird nests, but eggs and fledglings, too. Not to mention the baby bighorn sheep that was born this week as well as the new black bear cub.

For those of you who can’t visit, watching the show will have to do!


April Guided Birding and River Walks

Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation has a quite few interesting outings scheduled for April. I’ve highlighted a few below, check their Calendar for more offerings. For more information contact: 520-615-7855 or

*Birding at Sweetwater Wetlands

What: Join birding expert Jeff Babson to see a variety of ducks and shorebirds, sparrows, hawks, and warblers. Ages 12 and up.

Date: Tuesday, April 14   Time: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Where: Sweetwater Wetlands, 2667 W. Sweetwater Drive

Cost/Age: free, ages 12 and up. Reservations not required.

*Tucson Mountain Park Birding Walk

What: Join birding expert John Higgins for a guided bird walk in Tucson Mountain Park to spot canyon towhees, rufous-winged sparrows, Gila woodpeckers, and other desert birds. Ages 12 and up.

Date: Saturday, April 4   Time: 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. Reservations not required.

*Living River Celebration – Birding on the Santa Cruz River

What: Bring the whole family for a guided birding walk along the banks of the Santa Cruz River. Spot coots and mallards and a wide variety of birds that are attracted to the mature willows and continuous river flow. Binoculars are available for use.

Date: Saturday, April 4   Time: 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Where: Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library, 7800 N. Schisler Dr.

Cost/Age: free, all ages welcome. Reservations not required.

*Living River Celebration – Exploring Aquatic Life

What: The waters of the lower Santa Cruz River are alive with fish and macro-invertebrates. Join Pima County naturalists to take a close look at life in a flowing section of the Santa Cruz River and learn how students and scientists monitor river health.

Date: Saturday, April 4   Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Where: Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Branch Library, 7800 N. Schisler Dr.

Cost/Age: free, all ages welcome. Reservations not required.

*Cienega Creek Birding Walk

What: Join birding expert Jeff Babson on a casual stroll to observe the rich bird life in the diverse habitats of Cienega Creek Natural Preserve.

Date: Tuesday, April 21   Time: 8:00 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. Reservations not required.

*Evening Owl Walk

What: Join this guided walk as we explore the nighttime world of owls and other nocturnal birds. Please bring a head lamp or flashlight.

Date: Saturday, April 25  Time: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Where: Tucson Mountain Park Ironwood Picnic Area, 1548 S. Kinney Road

Cost/Age: free, all ages welcome. Reservations not required.

Santa Cruz River Winding North

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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