Join us at The Hummingbird Habitat, Chandler, Second Saturdays

Desert Rivers Audubon continues a second year in the Hummingbird Habitat at Desert Breeze Park, 660 N. Desert Breeze Parkway, Chandler, as part of the City of Chandler Park & Recreation Department’s Adopt-a-Park program.

Volunteers with Joe Tyler’s sculpture at the Hummingbird Habitat at desert Breeze Park, a Recognized Bird Habitat.

Every second Saturday of the month, volunteers gather to tend the Hummingbird Habitat (contact Anne Koch, Volunteer Coordinator, for seasonal morning hours, Our next date at the Habitat is Saturday, October 13, 2012, 8-10am.

The Hummingbird Habitat, established in 1999 from a water retention area in the back corner of Desert Breeze Park, was designed by Landscape Architect Dennis Peltz. It features art installations by Joe Tyler and the Chandler High School ceramics class.

Desert Rivers Audubon volunteers, recognized by the City of Chandler for donating

Victor Peterson (r) instructs Ryan in proper pruning technique to keep branches out of the Habitat pathway. The Hummingbird Habitat is Ryan’s national Junior Honor Society project.

over 100 hours of work in the habitat in one year, replace specimen plants, weed, water, prune and mulch this small walled garden. Long-time as well as volunteers completely new to Desert Rivers have taken over tree trimming from the city in order to promote a shade canopy attractive to birds. Volunteers also harvest and reuse mulch in the habitat to promote Abert’s Towhee habitat as well as restore nutrients to the soil and prevent irrigation evaporation. The Hummingbird Habitat is part of Desert Rivers Audubon’s Bird Habitat Recognition program.

Desert Rivers Audubon is seeking donations of native wildflower seeds.

A key bird-friendly garden on the Tour de Bird October 27, 2012, volunteers will add more hummingbird-attracting plants as well as seed wildflowers for spring blooms this fall in the Habitat. Donations of Chuparosa, Desert Milkweed, Wooly Butterfly Bush (Buddleta marrubifola) and wildflower seeds from Desert Marigold, Penstemon species, Desert Bluebell, California/Mexican/Arizona Poppies and Desert Lupine would be appreciated. Contact Krys Hammers, , to arrange delivery.

“Create a Healthy Backyard Ecosystem,” Tuesday, October 9th

Please join Desert Rivers Audubon for “Create a Healthy Backyard Ecosystem” with Ron Dinchek
October 9, 2012, 7pm
130 North Oak Street
Gilbert, AZ 85233
Ron Dinchek, instructor in the Life Sciences Department at  Mesa Community College and and designer of  the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden there, will talk about creating a web for a sustainable/healthy backyard ecosystem to promote birding & enjoy nature. His interests also include ethno-botany, environmental biology and natural history of the Southwest.
We’ll talk about Desert Rivers Audubon’s Habitat Recognition Program as well as our upcoming tour of backyard habitats and bird-attrcting gardens, Tour de Bird. Come early to browse our mobile book shop, visit, and discover volunteer opportunities with Desert Rivers Audubon.

FREE. Light refreshments served.

Tour de Bird Volunteer Orientation October 17, 7-9pm, Bass Pro Shops, Mesa, #TourdeBird

Join us at Bass Pro Shops, Community Room, 1133 N. Dobson Rd., Mesa, October 17, 2012, 7–9pm for our Tour de Bird Volunteer Orientation.  Tour de Bird is Desert Rivers Audubon’s wildlife habitat garden tour. It highlights both private backyard ecosystems designed to benefit birds and other wildlife, as well as public gardens demonstrating support of our bird habitat recognition program and migration corridors. Tour de Bird is made possible by a grant from Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Heritage Education Fund in partnership with the City of Chandler.

Fairy Duster attracts hummingbirds

We’ll go over the tour in general & locations specifically. We’re meeting in the Community Room.

We need:

Garden Guides: Guide visitors through public & private gardens (orientation/documentation provided). If you love gardening, we’ll give you a description of the garden you choose to volunteer in Chandler, Gilbert or Scottsdale. The garden owner will be there to help you, too.

Ticket Takers: Take & sell garden tour tickets (instructions & support provided).

Older children may volunteer with their parents.

We have Service Learning credits for Maricopa County Community College Students. Check with the Mesa Community College Service Learning and Chandler-Gilbert Community College Service Learning Center for details.

Older children are welcome to volunteer with a parent, guardian or responsible adult.

National Honor Society and other High School Service Program volunteers also welcome.

Contact our Volunteer Coordinator Anne Koch, or sign up here.

Thank you for your support–we can’t do it without you!

Volunteers Needed for Backyard Habitat Garden Tour

Tour de Bird is Desert Rivers Audubon’s wildlife habitat garden tour. It highlights both private backyard ecosystems designed to benefit birds and other wildlife, as well as public gardens demonstrating support of our bird habitat recognition program and migration corridors.

It takes place Saturday, October 27, 2012, 9am-2pm. The tour features gardens in Chandler, Gilbert and Scottsdale. This event is made possible by a grant from Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Heritage Education Fund.

Volunteer guided tours, plant lists, amd onsite ticket purchases available.

Tickets: $ 10, children 16 and under free. Will Call & map provided. Ticket purchases available online.  Backpack with children’s wildlife education materials and bird guides included with each ticket purchase. Additional backpacks available for a fee.

We need volunteer garden guides and ticket-takers, half or whole day shifts. Volunteers receive exclusive Tour preview. Contact Desert Rivers Audubon’s Volunteer Coordinator Anne Koch, Training provided. This is your opportunity to learn about or enhance your knowledge of bird and pollinator-attracting landscaping as well as fall blooming plants.
This event made possible by a grant from the Arizona Game & Fish Department’s Heritage fund.

“Love is in the Air” February 14 with Paul Wolterbeek of Boyce Thompson Arboretum @ Gilbert Community Center

Northern Saw-whet Owl photographed in March at BTA by Marceline Vandewater.

Join Desert Rivers Audubon at our monthly meeting February 14, 2012 at Gilbert Community Center, 130 N. Oak St., Gilbert, 7pm, for “Love is in the Air” with Paul Wolterbeek of Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Free.  All are welcome!

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.

No, he’s not a creepy stalker or a papparazzo – Paul Wolterbeek is one of those dedicatedstaffers we know & love over at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Paul coordinates BTA’s volunteer program and also the public event series, arranging guided bird walks and presentations by nature photographers; summer evening concerts and how-to-juice-prickly-pear-cactus-fruit classes.

He’s one of those people who appears to love his job, and has an infectious love of birds, mammals and our Sonoran Desert … and on this evening he will share anecdotes about some of his favorite spots at BTA (maybe even share a few “secret undisclosed location” places nearby for birding, too!), with a slide show of BTA birds photographed by some of the top avian artists we have in AZ: Brendon Grice, Richard Ditch, Cindy Marple.

Paul Wolterbeek with juvenile coopers hawk.

With any luck, Paul’s sweetie (and summertime owl research boss, Amanda) may be here, too; her lively presentation on Mexican Spotted Owls was a highlight of our 2009 speaker series.

This event is part of the 2012 Arizona Science & Technology Festival. 

Come early to browse our mobile book shop, visit, and learn about volunteer opportunities with Desert Rivers Audubon. Light refreshments served.

A Few Words About Palms, Pruning and Owls

by Eileen M. Kane
Communications Director
Desert Rivers Audubon

When Liberty Wildlife brought three Great Horned Owls to our March monthly meeting, they also highlighted their orphaned owl fostering program where injured or lost owl chicks are given to the disabled adult owls at Liberty Wildlife to raise until released back into the wilds of metro Phoenix.

Great Horned Owls are especially talented at using hollows and crevices created by other birds, animals and people. The drying, drooping fronds of our landscape palms are a particular favorite of our local Great Horned Owls and here’s where the problems start.

A recurring issue adding to the numbers of very young owls being brought to wildlife rehabilitators is palm pruning. Specifically, the early spring pruning of palms in our residential and municipal landscapes. If homeowners and landscapers would just delay pruning palms by two to three weeks, young owls would have a better chance to fledge and move out of their improvised palm nests.

In fact, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona advises that over-pruning of palms can lead to wind-breaks. The process of pruning can also damage palm trunks–leaving them vulnerable to disease and insects–a situation aggravated by over-pruning.

Fan palms should not be trimmed until the fronds are completely dried out and ready to fall. Date palms should not be trimmed until June or July. Only brown and yellow leaves or spent flower stalks should be removed. Palms damaged by frost should only be pruned after the danger of frost is past, typically late March or April.
The Arizona Association of Landscape Contractors emphasize Sustainable Landscape Management, asserting best practices for quality results and avoiding the over-pruning resulting in orphaned and injured owls.

Tourists on the Wing: Rufous Hummingbirds Passing Through Arizona Now

Rufous Hummingbird on the wing through Arizona.

by Eileen M. Kane
Communications Director
Desert Rivers Audubon

Heading from Mexico up to Alaska & the Pacific Northwest for the summer  (can you blame them), the Rufous Hummingbird is all about eating to gain weight for the big trip. So if they’re a little more aggressive than our laid-back Anna’s Hummingbirds at your feeders, well, you understand.

First spotted late this February in the still-snowy Huachucas, Rufous have been recorded at their earliest appearance in the Dragoons this year (2/26/11, record was 3/6/08). Saturday, Rufous were spotted at SaddleBrooke and then again at Boyce Thompson Arboretum Sunday.

As the Rufous Hummingbird needs to double it’s size for this migration, consider putting out an additional feeder. Ask Dave or MaryAnne at Mesa’s Wildbirds Unlimited for advice (and thank them for their ongoing support of Desert Rivers).

With their rusty orange heads, our distinctive hummer tourists should be buzzing about your garden at this time. Check our Bird Habitat guide for ideas on attracting hummers and other wildlife visitors to yard or patio.

We have also adopted the Hummingbird Habitat at Desert Breeze Park from Chandler Parks & Recreation and many hummer-friendly plants have been added recently by our volunteers. Check it out & tell us what you think.

Hummingbird Habitat at Desert Breeze Park, Chandler.

Hummingbird Habitat at Desert Breeze Park, Chandler. Public art by Joe Tyler.