Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

He's a 'human-socialized' bird accidentally raised by the people who rescued him - after being blown from a wild Louisiana nest in a storm as a baby in the late 1980s. Declared 'non-releasable' by federal and state wildlife authorities, he was trained by the AEF to perform educational free-flightdemonstrations at high profile public events.

The story of a Bald Eagle named "Challenger"...

He's the first Bald Eagle in U.S. History that learned to free-fly into stadiums, arenas and ballrooms during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. The celebrity eagle has appeared at numerous major sporting events like the World Series, Pro-Bowl, All-Star game, BCS National Championship, Fiesta Bowl, Men's Final Four, etc.

Challenger has also flown before 4 U.S. Presidents!

His life story is told in a children's storybook titled 'Challenger, America 's Favorite Eagle.'

Turn on your speakers and click HERE or go to the American Eagle Foundation website HERE.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Desert Botanical Garden Bird Walks

There is simply no better way to start your week than with a Monday Morning Bird Walk at Desert Botanical Garden! The guides/docents are some of the best birders around and very friendly and helpful. The Garden is very accessible, the walkways are wide and smooth, and the trails are well maintained. If you are using a manual wheelchair, its a good idea to bring an assistant, no matter how macho you are, the trails are long and have some inclines. You'll need help to keep up with these serious, but fun, birders. They meet at 7:00 AM (May-August) 8:00 AM (Sept-April) inside the entrance. Scooters are available for rent, which is great for people using canes or walkers, or to swap out of your manual chairs. These are nice scooters and work well on the trails. Binoculars are available for use during the bird walks, and the guides usually have the Sibley bird guide book with them. Be sure to bring water, a good hat, sunscreen, binoculars (if you have them) and sunglasses.
Even just as the birders are gathering, people will start spotting birds, in trees, or flying overhead, or just hear their calls. The walk starts out on the Wildflower Trail, where you will often see hummingbirds (Anna's, and at times Black-chinned, or Costas), Goldfinches, Verdin, Abert's Towhees, Inca Doves, and Gambel's Quail.

The main part of the bird walk is on the Plants and People Trail, a longer trail with many inclines. Here you will likely see Gila and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Cactus Wren, Gilded Flickers, Curve-billed Thrashers, Phainopepla, and at times, Elf Owls. In the distance, you can often see hawks soaring over the Papago Buttes. Along the trail you'll also see Rock Squirrels, Round-tailed Ground Squirrels, Cotton-tail Rabbits, wonderful Desert Spiny Lizards, and Zebra Tailed Lizards flicking their tails around.

The walk ends at the Ullman Terrace, where the group goes through the DBG Bird Checklist and checks off what birds were seen, and which were only heard but not seen. This can sometimes lead to lively discussion and debate, and is all part of the fun of birding.

There are many more birds to see than I have listed here, you'll have to go see for yourself! For directions and detailed information visit . To read a detailed review of the accessibility of Desert Botanical Gardens, visit Loren Worthington's excellent Blog "Accessing Arizona" at .
The following photos were taken at Desert Botanical Gardens over the course of 3 or 4 bird walks in late spring 2009 while the Dale Chihuly "Nature of Glass" exhibit was on display. Special thanks to Denny Green for providing several amazing photos.

Do you have an event, bird walk, meeting, or nature walk that belongs on this calendar? Please send info to

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