Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Roadrunner Rescue at Desert Botanical Garden

Roadrunner entangled in fishing line at DBG, May 30th, 2012.
Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

DBG Cacti Horticulturist, and head ranger
work to free roadrunner from the cactus.
Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

Early this morning photographers Jeff Stemshorn and Saija Lehtonen discovered a Greater Roadrunner hanging upside down in the cactus, just a few feet from her nest at Desert Botanical Garden.  Upon closer inspection they realized that she was not just wedged among cactus spines, but that her feet were hopelessly entangled in fishing line.  Initial attempts to free the bird with resources readily available were not successful.

So Jeff immediately summoned much needed help from the DBG rangers.  The cactus horticulturist and the head ranger quickly appeared, equipment in tow, to rescue the roadrunner.
DBG staff diligently removing the
tangled mess of fishing line.
Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

Once they got her down from the cactus, they proceeded to carefully remove the fishing line (monofilament) from her feet.

Upon being released the thankful roadrunner darted away as fast as she could.  Hopefully momma roadrunner will return to her nest where there are 2 very hungry one week old nestlings eagerly awaiting her arrival.

Further updates pending...

***Update***  May 31st, Momma roadrunner has been seen back on her nest, feathers a bit ruffled, and tending to three nestlings!

A thankful roadrunner sans fishing line is released.
Photo by Jeff Stemshorn

Anglers please remember that monofilament can kill...
 The Arizona Game and Fish Department would like to remind all anglers that the improper use and disposal of fishing line (a.k.a. monofilament) can have a dramatic impact on our wildlife. In addition to being an eye-sore along our waterways, many shore birds, migratory birds, waterfowl, and raptors have become entangled in monofilament and died.

Anglers can help protect wildlife by:
  • Properly disposing of used fishing line in trash containers or MRP bins. MRP bins are located at common angling spots and fishing retailers around Arizona.
  • Using the appropriate test line.  By using the appropriate test line, anglers reduce the amount of broken line and gear that can harm birds as they prey on previously hooked fish.
  • Setting the drag correctly. An incorrect drag setting can cause the line to break, leaving line and gear that can harm birds. Set the drag to allow the line to properly spool out rather than breaking.
  • Replacing fishing line annually. Arizona’s extreme temperatures and bright sun weaken fishing line and cause it to break easily.
  • Taking the initiative. Pick-up discarded fishing line and tackle along waterways and properly dispose of it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hummingbird Happenings

Its all about hummingbirds this summer... 

Hummingbird Photography Evening Workshops at  Boyce Thompson Arboretum with Paul Landau -  After hours on June 16, and again on July 3 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  While his work is featured in the visitor center art gallery Landau will coach two special workshops at the Arboretum specifically dedicated to the art of hummingbird photography -- teaching 10 enrolees about technique.  $30 for BTA annual members, $39 non-members - call 520.689.2723 

Hummingbird Banding at Sipe Wildlife Area at 8:00am July 28 - The annual Hummingbird Banding event is hosted by the AZ Game and Fish Department, begins at 8:00 am and goes until noon. The main event is watching Sheri Williamson and her helpers collect, measure, examine, and band the hummingbirds. You will learn about the lives and habits of these remarkable little birds. There are opportunities for other wildlife viewing as well on this old ranch property. It is possible to see Calliope, Black-chinned, Rufous, and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds at the feeders which will be hung in trees all around the property, as well as being banded. Call Arizona Game & Fish in Pinetop at (928) 367- 4281 for more information.  Also see White Mountain Audubon special events here.
Sedona Hummingbird Festival, August 3-4-5  Includes presentations and a “Hummingbird Mall” at the new Sedona Performing Arts Center. The Festival features three full days of presentations by hummingbird experts in many interest areas: science, gardening, photography, conservation, and regional species studies

Help out at the Hummingbird Habitat - Join Desert Rivers Audubon in caring for and improving the demonstration Hummingbird Habitat at Desert Breeze Park.   Audubon volunteers tend the Hummingbird habitat at Desert Breeze Park in Chandler, every month.  If you would like to help out, contact Krys Hammers at

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Owl Talk and Walk at Zanjero Park

Burrowing Owl at the new habitat at Zanjero Park.
   Photo by LuAnne Hedblom

No silly, the owls won't be talking but Desert Rivers Audubon OwlWatch coordinator Stacey Burleigh will.  She'll be talking about the current status of the 10 burrowing owls released into the new Burrowing Owl Habitat at Zanjero Park, and about a few wild owls that have moved in too!

Also, you wildlife photographers out there will get a few pointers about burrowing owl photography etiquette.  Apparently the owls have been talking, and word is that they think a few of you have bad manners, tssk-tssk.

This Saturday, May 26th at 5:30pm, meet in the parking lot at Zanjero Park, 3785 South Lindsay Road, in Gilbert.  Weather forecasters are predicting a high of only 84 degrees on Saturday, so it will be perfect Owl Walk weather!

To become an OwlWatch volunteer and help document the growth of the habitat,
 contact Stacey Burleigh,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Remembering Charlie


Join the Family and Friends of 

Charlie Brenner 

in a celebration of his life.

Desert Botanical Gardens ~ Dorrance Center

May 23, 2012 ~ 11:00 a.m.

Charlie was a lover of nature 

and dedicated to 

the Desert Botanical Garden. 

 May 23, 1921 – April 5, 2012
R.I.P. Charlie, you finally got your wings... 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mystery Oriole at Desert Botanical Garden

Taken by Jeff Stemshorn, morning of May 16th, 2012, in the Wildflower Garden at DBG.

Spotted just days ago by photographer Jeff Stemshorn at the Desert Botanical Garden, this possible Baltimore Oriole seems way off course.  Is it really a Baltimore Oriole who took a wrong turn, or is it a first-year male Scott's Oriole?  Or is this a Bullock's x Baltimore hybrid?

According to Desert Botanical Garden birdwalk leader Diana Herron this might be a first for the Garden!

Anyone care to venture a guess as to what species of Oriole this could be???


On May 22, 2012,  AZFO confirmed Jeff Stemshorn's sighting as being a Baltimore Oriole"Rare migrant.  Possibly becoming more regular.  About 20 accepted records with three more pending. Adult males are easily separated from Bullock's Oriole by the solid black head.  Hybrids usually have an orange supercillium and more white in the wing coverts" 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photos by Jeff Stemshorn, the fastest camera-slinger in the west, 
and the tallest!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Arizona's Important Bird Area Program

From left to right, Stacy Burleigh, Kathe Anderson, GWR Ranger Jennie Works, and Joe Willy
Once a month a dedicated group of experienced birders, led by Stacy Burleigh, hit the trails at Gilbert Water Ranch (GWR) to count each and every waterfowl they see at all 7 ponds.  If you've ever been to GWR you realize that's a LOT of counting.  So, why bother counting all those ducks, geese, herons, egrets, cormorants, avocets, stilts, and other shorebirds?  Because GWR is one several Important Bird Areas in the state, so the population and migration patterns of waterfowl are carefully monitored.

Blue-winged Teal showing off his colors at Gilbert Water Ranch.  Photo by Denny Green
This Monday's count had a number of highlights - a Semipalmated Plover in pond 7, a pair of Blue-winged Teals in pond 2, a sudden flyover of 24 Ring-billed Gulls, one Long-billed Curlew in pond 2, two Western Sandpipers in pond 2, and three Wilson's Phalaropes in pond 3!

Mallard pair at Gilbert Water Ranch.  Photo by Denny Green
American Coot at GWR.  Photo by Denny Green
We counted 619 birds, down from 1939 last month.  A sign that summer is here and our wintering ducks have moved on.  The mallards and coots have their ponds back, until next fall.

Count #s April 2012:

160 long-billed dowitcher
75 mallard, 42 young
51 neo. cormorant
48 Amer. Coot
46 Canada Goose, 11 young, 4 domestic geese nannies
27 ring-billed gulls
25 northern shoveler
22 great egret
17 killdeer, 4 young
13 blk-necked stilt
13 great blue heron
11 least sandpiper
10 snowy egret
8 green heron
8 Amer. Avocet
5 blk-crowned night heron
4 spotted sandpiper
3 Wilson's phalarope (moved from pond 3 to 2)
3 ruddy duck
2 cinnamon teal
2 blue-winged teal
2 western sandpiper
1 semipalmated plover (moved from 7 to 2)
1 long-billed curlew (pond 2)
1 brown thrasher
1 eared grebe
1 green tailed towhee
1 ring-necked duck

The Arizona IBA Program has completely redesigned their website and it is better than ever! This new website features much more information about Arizona’s Important Bird Areas as well as highlighting how volunteers can get involved with the program. Each of Arizona’s 42 IBAs has its own profile page, complete with a description, data analysis, photos of habitat and birds along with 2 GIS maps of that IBA at the bottom. To help get potential volunteers excited there is also an IBA blog, a history of the IBA program in Arizona and a “Like” widget that links back to the official Arizona IBA Facebook page. There is also a great calendar of events that shows all of the volunteer survey opportunities as well as IBA events.

The new website still features the same resources for surveyors as the original. All data sheets and protocols are available and there is a portal to the AZ IBA database. Check it out for yourself at

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

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