Fall report and appeal

October is a month of change in southeastern Arizona. Most of our summer birds have departed, and our winter residents are just starting to arrive. It’s a time when we look back on our hectic spring-summer field season and look forward to what we hope to accomplish in 2019, with your help.

Here are some of our accomplishments this year, made possible by our generous members and donors:

  • Our hummingbird monitoring on the San Pedro River just completed its 23rd season. We caught nearly 600 hummingbirds this year, 98 of which were birds banded in previous seasons. Perhaps as importantly, our banding sessions were attended by around a thousand visitors: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, pre-schoolers, senior citizens, families, TV crews, print journalists, and researchers, all drawn by a fascination for hummingbirds. Our crew of dedicated, knowledgeable volunteers, some of whom have been with us more than a decade, have once again made the scope of this project possible.
  • In late July, the annual “High Country Hummers” event in cooperation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department drew over 900 people to Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area for a morning of hummingbird banding and a talk about our favorite subject.
  • In September, we met with other hummingbird banders from around the U.S. and Canada and representatives of the North American Banding Council to update the manual used by hummingbird banders throughout the hemisphere.
  • In August, we helped with both the Southwest Wings Birding Festival in Sierra Vista and Tucson Audubon Society’s Southeast Arizona Birding Festival.
  • We also led three highly successful week-long birding workshops and tours of our own. In May, our Owls & More workshop spent a wonderful week exploring the diverse habitats and dazzling diversity of southeastern Arizona. Our scheduled Hummingbirds of Arizona tour in mid-August proved so popular that we offered a second tour two weeks later which also filled to capacity. Despite the absence of the rarer hummingbird species this summer, the two tours found 12 and 11 species respectively.
  • Our popular spring walks along the San Pedro River in cooperation with Casa de San Pedro Bed & Breakfast continue as we marvel at and document the amazing migration of songbirds along this crucial corridor.
  • In September, we submitted comments on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed management plan for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, drawing on our decades of experience on the river and our previous songbird banding study on the river south of the border.
  • The “Birding SEAZ” smartphone app we developed in cooperation with Tucson Audubon is now available for both iPhones and Android and will be featured in the December issue of Birding
  • Other projects include our continuing relationship with the Arizona Game and Fish Department at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area. The nest boxes we erected two years ago produced broods of Barn Owls and American Kestrels this summer, and we plan to continue our commitment to providing some visitor services at the site again this winter.

Looking Ahead:

  • The relatively quiet fall and winter months allow us time to work on data management, with reports to the Bird Banding Lab and Arizona Game and Fish as well as analyzing the data collected with an eye towards trends and occurrences worthy of further research and/or publishing. Our entire database will be backed up at the Avian Knowledge Network and combined with over 100 million bird records for future analysis.
  • The success of this year’s workshops and tours has encouraged us to offer even more next year. These include Hawks and Cranes in January, Sparrowphobics Anonymous in February, Owls & More in May, and Hummingbirds of Arizona in August. We are also venturing farther afield with Trinidad & Tobago: Fabulous Hummingbirds & More this December, Birding Alamos, Sonora in March, and Hummingbirds of Ecuador in June. We would love to have you join us on one or more of these trips. Please check the website for details.

If it sounds like we’ve been busy, we have! We could not do any of this without the generosity of our members and donors. Your support is especially critical right now to get us through the slow fall and winter months and give us a head start on our goals for 2019. We hope you will consider joining, renewing or upgrading your membership and/or making an additional donation to help us continue to work on your behalf for the birds and other wildlife of southeastern Arizona.

The Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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