Monday, February 28, 2011

Scottsdale Celebration of Fine Art

Located in Scottsdale, Arizona on Southeast corner of Scottsdale Rd. and Mayo Blvd, just south of the Loop 101 off Exit 34, in the big white tents. Hours: Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking: Is free and on-site. Tickets: $8.00

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bald Eagle Nest Viewing Etiquette

Its nesting season for Bald Eagles in Arizona.  If you are lucky enough to encounter an active Bald Eagle's nest, please take some precautions.  Enjoy bald eagles from a distance, as they are very sensitive to human activity, so use binoculars or spotting scopes to get a closer look. A disturbance can cause nest abandonment, egg failure, a decrease in the ability to capture food, and early unsuccessful fledging. Disturbing bald eagles is against federal and state laws. If you encounter a nest on a reservation be advised that the tribal police patrol the area during the nesting season to keep folks from stopping. Stoppng along the roadside near the nest is an illegal activity and could be subject to tribal fines. Unless there is an emergancy, stopping along the roadway is not permitted. Bald Eagle Nest closures that are in place on Tonto National Forest have a minimum of 1000 ft. buffer around the nest tree for land access and 300 ft. for boat access.  Read more HERE 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Red-naped Sapsucker
On Saturday, Feb.19th, I went on one of the bird walks at Boyce Thompson, led by Cynthia Donald and Pete Moulton.  The birds were somewhat scarce, hunkered down keeping out of the cold breeze, but Cynthia and Pete still made it interesting and fun, there's always alot to learn from those two.  I saw my first Hermit Thrush, and was surprised to get a long close-up view of the Red-naped Sapsucker.  He was not at all camera shy as he happily fed  for hours on low branches just a few feet from a main trail.

Hermit Thrush
Boyce Thompson is one of my favorite places to escape to - lots of plants, birds, butterflies, lizards, and shade.  If you use a wheelchair to get around, there's just one place along the bird walk that is impassable - the trail above Ayer Lake becomes too narrow.  Read a review of accessibility at Accessing Arizona.

Male Northern Cardinal
Birds seen - Cooper's Hawk, American Coot, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Anna's Hummingbird, Gila Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Black Phoebe, Plumbeous Vireo, Hutton's Vireo, Cassin's Vireo, Common Raven, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Verdin, House Wren, Bewick's Wren, Cactus Wren, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Northern Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's); Abert's Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Lark Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco Northern Cardinal, House Finch and Lesser Goldfinch.

During March the Arboretum's visitor center art gallery exhibits breathtaking and feather-crisp bird photographs by Scottsdale author Jim Burns. You can see his work daily from 8 am to 5 pm this month.  Join the author for a guided bird walk March 5 from 8:30 am - 10 am then ,meet him in the gallery for a coffee hour reception at 11 am.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How a Hawk Sees the World

Let this camera-equipped Peregrine Falcon take you on a wild ride,
 courtesy of the BBC.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Important Bird Area Survey Training

Bob McCormick oversees an IBA Survey trainee entering field data.
On Feb. 5th I attended the Volunteer IBA Survey Workshop at the Rio Salado Audubon Center to see what it takes to become a survey team member.  I knew I was in way over my head when I saw Andre Tarby (expert birder and DBG birdwalk leader) there for "training".  Its a tall order to become an IBA Surveyor, but also an exciting challenge.  You need to be able to "bird by ear" and include birds "heard but not seen" in your count, and at times distinguish between a bird's "song" and a bird's "call".  Wow!  You also need to be able to estimate distances, recognize juvenals and sub-adults, note the behavior (foraging, nest building, defending territory, etc.), the habitat (mesquite bosque, grassland, fallow field, etc.) and other notable flora, and fauna.  So, its no easy walk in the park, but it makes you want to become a better birder!

If you are an intermediate to experienced birder looking for a challenge, then become a trained IBA volunteer surveyor! Contact Tice Supplee, Director of Bird Conservation,  (602) 468-6470, or Scott Wilbor at Tucson Audubon Society, (520) 209-1804, or Jennie MacFarland at (520) 209-1805.  In 2011, volunteers will assist in surveying the Salt/Gila IBA, Agua Fria National Monument IBA, and the Lower San Pedro River IBA.  To learn more about Arizona Important Bird Areas, go to .

And if your like me and realize you still have alot to learn, try some of these resources for improving your bird ID skills:

Ask A Biologist ASU Birds and Their Songs Aviary

Audubon Online Bird Guide

Bird Jam

iBird for iPhone and Android

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program

Female Bald Eagle in southeastern Arizona.  Copyright 2011 Greg Joder
Follow birder/naturalist/photographer Greg Joder as he spends the next 4 months camped out in a remote area in southeastern Arizona working as a Nest Watcher for the Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program.  The program's goals are to protect the Bald Eagle nests, collect data, and educate the public. 

Greg's blog really gives you a great insight into what its like to be part of such a project.  Be sure to watch his video clips of the nestwatch site, you'll feel like you're right out their in the desert with him.  Stay tuned, the young are due to hatch late next week!

Visit Greg Joder's blog "My Earth" at

View Greg Joder's Photos HERE

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

She's No Punxsutawney Phil...

Roxy the Rock Squirrel steps out to give her own prediction.
 My Rock Squirrel, Roxy, got a head start on old Phil and stepped out early to give her forecast on Jan. 25th.  What the hell does an east coast groundhog know about the weather out west anyway.  She predicts 6 more weeks of winter and is acting accordingly - stashing away a  #%$-load of peanuts.

Wreath peanut feeders are available at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mismanagement by Phoenix Parks Dept. Causing Destruction of Habitat at Rio Salado

Letter to the Phoenix Parks Dept. -

I frequently visit the Rio Salado habitat at Central avenue, to enjoy the wheelchair accessible trails and abundant wildlife. But recently I've seen that maintenance workers are destroying valuable bird habitat areas - they are clearing away underbrush! Rio Salado isn't a city park that needs to be mowed and trimmed, its a wildlife habitat. Someone needs to instruct the workers to leave the underbrush alone. Their time would be better spent tearing out the invasive plants - like the bufflegrass. I saw a number of places along the trails where workers had cleared away the native plants and left the invasive plants!!! Who is in charge of maintaining the plants at Rio Salado? Aren't there any set guidelines about preserving habitat areas? I also saw some previously full and lush trees that have now been PRUNED! This has got to stop. Please forward this to the necessary division of the Phoenix Parks Dept..

Thank you,

Peggy Thomas


Ms. Thomas,

Thank you for your email regarding the pruning of bushes and trees at the Rio Salado Habitat. I wanted to let you know that our staff attend regular training on habitat maintenance in reference to the particular types of species that live and migrate through Rio Salado. We also have put together a Master Calendar to help remind staff of these different species, their needs, and the maintenance limitations that accompany them. We do however, have to balance the needs of many different species as well as safety issues for our patrons and city code requirements. Sometimes there are conflicts, and we have to make difficult decisions. That said, it is certainly also possible that staff may make mistakes in their dedication to their positions, so please know that I will follow up on your concerns, review the areas that you have mentioned, and then follow up with staff as needed.

I want to again thank you for sharing your concerns with us. It is always helpful to have people who care enough about our mission to take the time to let us know when there are potential issues, and who share in our commitment to the success of the project. Below is my information, and please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you have any additional questions.


Chris Parks, MC
Special Operations Supervisor
Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department
Office: 602-534-8222

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cold Weather Birding

Red-tailed Hawk eating its kill in a recently plowed ag field.
 This is the coldest weather I have ever experienced in the Valley - morning temps in Mesa were 24 degrees.  My bird bath was frozen solid!  So today and yesterday I birded from within the comfy confines of my home and my car.  I've discovered that cold birds are hungry birds, so I went out looking for raptors.  Right off the bat, I saw my first ever adult Bald Eagle soaring by while on the 202 freeway.  We cruised around through the ag fields southeast of Scottsdale Community College and within minutes spotted a Red-tailed Hawk tearing apart its prey in a recently plowed field.  An American Kestrel swooped down and whizzed by our heads, possibly ticked off that we were annoying his hunting partner.  Later we came upon a large (approx. 24" tall) mostly grey and white hawk perched mid-level in a cottonwood tree.  Someone help me out here - I'm guessing a female Northern Harrier or a Ferruginous Hawk?  I'm probably way off, so feel free to correct me. Unfortunately I didn't get a good view of the tail or rump patch.
Do you have an event, bird walk, meeting, or nature walk that belongs on this calendar? Please send info to

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