Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas Bird Count at BTA

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 26, 2012.

With temperatures in the low 30's the December 26th, 2012 Superior Christmas Bird Count got off to a chilly start.  Teams huddled together inside the art gallery at Boyce Thompson Arboretum to enjoy a few minutes of warmth before heading out into what felt like the arctic tundra to many of us desert-rats. 

The Superior count circle begins at Queen Valley and Whitlow Dam to the west and extends to the Oak Flat campground above the town of Superior to the east, encompassing Hewitt Station Road and "Area 51" around Montana Mountain, also Queen Creek upstream of the Arboretum, Arnett Creek and Canyon, Picketpost Mountain, and 'urban birding' around the town of Superior.  So, it takes a number of dedicated teams of skilled birders to cover the area, and a very organized and enthusiastic coordinator, Cynthia Donald, to pull it off each year!

JoAnne Barr trying to
keep her ears from
freezing and falling off
during the count.
Mega-experienced, but near frozen, birder JoAnne Barr stoically lead our small group in covering the area inside the Arboretum. Highlights from our group's count included one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the Australian Eucalyptus area, a Cassin's Vireo in the pistachio tree at the Canyon and Magma Ridge trail junction and a Green-tailed Towhee in the Demonstration Garden.

The biggest highlight of the entire 2012 Superior Christmas Bird Count unfolded in Arnett Canyon where team leaders Mike and Aaron Evans came across a Red-tailed Hawk which appeared to have an injured wing. Amazingly Mike, Aaron, and Craig Fischer (from Liberty Wildlife) were able to go back after dark, aided by a torch, headlamp, and a full moon, and locate the hawk.  Now being cared for at Liberty the hawk is doing well and will likely be returned to the wild soon.   Kudos to Mike, Aaron, and Craig!  Now those are some dedicated birders!

JoAnne Barr, Jean Beales, and Mark Ochs wait quietly for the birds to make their appearance.

The next birdwalk at Boyce Thompson Arboretum will be guided by Joanne Barr on Sunday January 6 at 8:30 am. Winter guided birdwalks continue with Dave Pearson February 2, Joanne Barr February 10, Craig Anderson February 16, and Kathe Anderson February 24.

<<<<<<  Update on Red-tailed Hawk  >>>>>>>

"Great news! Our rescue bird is on her feet! She was footing and biting at the medical team that worked with her today and downed several grams of chicken tissue again today (that way she doesn't have to work on digesting bones or coughing up pellets). Talk about biting the hand that feeds you….

Even better: there's nothing wrong with her wings at this time. She was holding them out wide when the vet techs went to get her and she flapped a few times as they got her under control.

The plan now is to get her weight back up to normal and get her color back inside the ICU (her legs and inside her mouth are a dull brown rather than a healthy yellow), then place her in a flight cage to let her build up wing and breast muscle strength. If everything goes well, she'll be released back into the wild..." 

                                                                                 ~ from Liberty Wildlife


  1. Very cool.

    I'm sorry top have missed the central AZ CBCs this year but it looks like a great time.

    NIce shot of the Sapsucker too. Cheers Peggy!

  2. Thanks Laurence! Are you doing the upcoming Phoenix Urban Aquatic Bird Survey on January 19th?


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