Mark your calendar – dates are still bei

Mark your calendar – dates are still being added, with back-up guides, too, as more avian experts sign up to assist with guided bird walks at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. This spring BTA has a new guide joining the team, Carlos Oldham March 9 & 15, who encourages “beginner birders and novices” who’d be more comfortable with their own guide and beginners’ walk – and not feel out of place o a walk with experienced birders. The Winter-Spring schedule begins Feb. 1 with two leaders: Arizona Game & Fish Department avian expert Troy Corman (co-author of the state Breeding Bird Atlas, and a founder of the AZ Field Ornithologists association) along with Scottsdale educator Kathe Anderson. Feb. 9 the guide is photographer Richard Ditch []** click this link to see his breathtaking photography; or browse a gallery of birder vanity plates []
then on Feb. 15 Anne Leight leads the walk (she also volunteers as a bird-banding researcher at TNC’s Hassayampa River preserve); Feb. 23 brings the choice of three leaders with Cindy West, Cathy Wise & Justin Jones. Troy & Kathe return as guides March 1; Anne Leight returns March 9, and Justin Jones March 15. This next one’s still ‘a little iffy,’ so check BTA’s website events page in March to verify this, but Sunday March 16 may bring a special ‘meet the AZFO;’ birdwalk guided by board members of the Arizona Field Ornithologists association from 8:30-10:30am, prior to their meeting in the lecture room (again, revisit BTA’s website in March to verify that). On March 23 guides are Marceline Vandewater & Anne Leight. There’s a special ‘back-to-back weekend’ of bird walks March 29-30 each day guided by Craig Anderson; then April 5 our guide is Richard Ditch; April 13 is Anne Leight (with ASU’s Nathan Williams as backup); April 19 is Kathe Anderson and April 27 is Anne Leight &
Verify tour dates on the BTA event page
Read birder checklist reports:

Ribbons of Green

It was a hot day at the Rio Salado Nature Center in Phoenix but the center was full of people; people who had given up a precious Saturday, people who had driven from as far away as Prescott and Yuma, people ready to listen and learn. Outside, despite the heat,a few birds flew over the almost dry River Salt and dragonflies zipped by over the small pond where the young Cottonwoods were trembling in the heat. Yet the audience inside resolutely turned their backs on the scene to concentrate on what was being said inside, and they did that because they fully appreciate the importance of water in our desert lands.

It was the second workshop meeting of the Western Rivers Action Network (WRAN), held so that interested societies and individuals could come together to address the issues that threaten all of the rivers in the Western United States. Up until now it has been up to separate and often isolated groups to fight for specific rivers but, as the climate gets dryer and the pressure on our waterways increases with population growth, we need a less fragmented approach.

Hence the formation of WRAN and this meeting was held to start the ball rolling on formulating policies for the new group. We had lots of wonderful people come to talk to us, we shared ideas and information. For me though there was one powerful phrase that Tice Supplee used when she was talking about Important Bird Areas. She showed an aerial photograph of one of Arizona’s rivers. It was mostly the dusty brown color we know so well but, along the length of the river the trees grew in what she described as “a ribbon of green.”

An that, in essence, is what WRAN is all about. Preserving those “ribbons of green” for the animals and plants that depend on them now, for the people who have made Arizona their home, for the future generations who should enjoy the same beauty of such a unique ecosystem.

So what can you do? Maybe a little, maybe a lot, but first and foremost you can try this website –
You can sign up here to become part of the network and you’ll be kept informed of what WRAN is doing and how you can help.

Then you can sign the petition at

and finally – because this is not just about Arizona’s rivers but a wider issue you can read the multi-state newsletter at

Water affects us all – every drop is precious and to protect that water every person is precious. Please join with us.

Zanjero Park Burrowing Owl spring update

by Stacy Burleigh
OwlWatch Coordinator
Hi Everyone!
Greg Clark, Burrowing Owl Project Coordinator for Wild at Heart, introduces the ten burrowing owls to be released into Zanjero Park, Gilbert.

Greg Clark, Burrowing Owl Project Coordinator for Wild at Heart, introduces the ten burrowing owls to be released into Zanjero Park, Gilbert, Fall 2011.

I apologize for being way overdue in giving you an update on the owls at Zanjero. With that said,  I can’t go into too much detail right now but in short we have two pairs in full courtship mode, each madly prepping one or more burrows as a nest burrow. The males are also getting very protective starting to dive bomb dogs being walked along the sidewalk.

The pairs are 90X,  banded as female but actually a male, and a local female – their territory encompassing the whole east-side burrows. The other pair is the local pair that came in together back in October at 15/16. This female was not seen for 2 months-don’t know if she left or just stayed unseen in the burrow for all that time.
Three weeks ago I finished up supplemental feeding the owls with frozen mice. 90X is still looking for them when I am doing the pellet counts. Lots of insects out there, though, and an occasionally rodent.
Speaking of the pellet counts I am looking for someone to take on that project for me. It would require a once a week commitment, a day of your choice other than Wednesday when we do the monitoring. It takes me a good 2 to 2-1/2 hours to complete. Dissecting the pellets on the spot as you see and record them.  Plus some minor computer data entry. It could be done any time of the day allowing for good light. It could also be divided up between two people but you both would have to be out there at the same time. I would train you and do it with you until you are feeling confident about it. If you have any other questions, let me know.
Happy Owling!