Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nature - Its Not Always Pretty

I was thrilled when my brother Patrick ran into the house telling me there was a hawk hanging out right behind our back fence.  So I sent him out with my camera with instructions to just click away - its digital (he's not quite into the digital age yet).  I figured he'd get some shots of the hawk looking serene, or giving him the ol' evil-eye, and maybe even of the hawk as it took off.  I was wrong.  Apparently it was meal-time for this Sharp-shinned Hawk.


Photos by Patrick Thomas

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Found the Hidden Ring!

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), Gilbert Water Ranch, Feb. 18, 2012.

Countless times when I am out birding I'll hear someone say "I don't know why they call them Ring-necked Ducks when the ring is around their bill".  Sometimes I'll offer an explanation, but most often I just let them continue to wonder.  Who really wants to admit that back in the day birders killed the ducks and then ID'd them.  So, does the above photo reveal the infamous hidden ring of the Ring-necked Duck, or is it just an optical illusion?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Help Audubon Arizona Plant Pollinator Garden

Help Audubon Arizona start planting the native pollinator garden! Through support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the City of Phoenix is participating in the Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds. Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, Arizona Audubon, and Birders without Barriers have teamed up to build a wheelchair friendly homeowner demonstration garden at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project.

Work has been going on since September 17 and will continue until March 17 when the first section of the pollinator garden will be completed and the citizen scientists will begin monitoring the native activity. The next garden workday open to the public is Saturday February 18th from 8:00 am to noon. The workday is open to participants of all abilities ages 10 and up and no experience is necessary. The work includes digging holes, moving and planting plants on rough irregular terrain with a fair amount of slope. Cathy Wise from Audubon Arizona will give us an update on the Citizen Scientist program and training, so don't be late. The center is located at 3131 S. Central Ave, in the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area. To sign up to help, contact Cathy Wise at . 

Be sure to mark your calendars - Saturday March 17th join Audubon staff, volunteers, and the public for the garden dedication ceremony. We will get you more information on this event when available.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Pair of Inca Doves

Don't miss tonight's Desert Rivers Audubon meeting featuring guest speaker Paul Wolterbeek from Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  7pm at Gilbert Community Center, 130 N. Oak Street, Gilbert. Valentines Day means that "Love is in the Air," but our guest speaker would argue that love is sometimes lurking behind a tree, holding binoculars and a camera, and taking notes!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Great Backyard Bird Count 2012

The 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count takes place February 17- 20, 2012 . It's the perfect opportunity to become a citizen-scientist by counting birds at your own bird feeders, a park or wherever you are. This study helps scientists better define bird ranges, populations, migration pathways and habitat needs.

Participants count birds at any location they wish for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their tallies at Anyone can participate in the free event, and no registration is required.  Last year, participants submitted more than 92,000 checklists with more than 11 million bird observations. These data capture a picture of how bird populations are changing across the continent year after year--a feat that would be impossible without the help of tens of thousands of participants.  "This is a very detailed snapshot of continental bird distribution," said John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  "Imagine scientists 250 years from now being able to compare these data with their own. Already, with more than a decade of data in hand, the GBBC has documented changes in late-winter bird distributions."

To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, downloadable instructions, a how-to video, past results, and more visit . The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter at least one bird checklist online. 

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible in part by
sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.
Our local Wild Birds Unlimited store at NE corner of Gilbert and Baseline
is offering a FREE 2 lb. bag of bird seed
to those who bring in their completed GBBC count sheets!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Learn All About eBird!

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about eBird ( ), the online birding tool that is changing the face of modern birding. eBird is an internet-based checklist program built for birders by birders, whose goal is to harness the power of both birding and science. It allows you to keep track of your bird records online and share them with the birding community, while making them available for science and conservation efforts. eBird allows birders to post sightings, keep life lists, and manage their personal records. This workshop will teach you what eBird is and why it’s important that you contribute, give you tips on how to make your entries as useful as possible, show you what it can do for you as a birder, and teach you how to get started. Join eBird Project Leader Brian Sullivan for a look at this remarkable tool, and get empowered to make your observations count! Recommended for all levels of eBird users. Limited to 45 participants, so sign up soon!

Date and Time: Saturday, March 24, 2012, 9 am – 1 pm
 Location: Pima Community College NW Campus, Tucson, Arizona
  Cost of the workshop: $25

or by contacting Bété Pfister at 520-209-1812 or

Co-hosted by Tucson Audubon Society (TAS) and Arizona Field Ornithologists (

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

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