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!

Join Desert Rivers Audubon for the Great Backyard Bird Count February 15-18, 2013

Kick-off Saturday, February 16th @ Gilbert Riparian Preserve

Join Desert Rivers Audubon at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, 2757 E. Guadalupe Road Gilbert, to kick-off the Great Backyard Bird Count, Saturday, February 16, 2013, 8am-12 noon.

The goal of The Great Backyard Bird Count is to watch birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count then enter tallies at the Count’s website. Watch live data coming in and look up your area by zip code to see the Count progress in your city. Anyone can participate; it’s free. Participants can count anywhere they wish, not just in backyards, but in neighborhoods, parks, nature centers, or anywhere they see birds.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada and sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited.

“This year’s count will give us a whole new perspective as sightings pour in from around the globe in real time,” said Marshall Iliff at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Millions of people encounter birds every day all over the world. Imagine what scientists will learn if each one of us shares observations from our own area!

“Once again, we’ll be able to coach East Valley residents in their bird identification skills Saturday during our free Family Birdwalk at Gilbert Riparian Preserve, Saturday, February 16, 2013, 8am-noon,” added Eileen Kane, Communications Director, Desert Rivers Audubon Society. “We hope to see those citizen scientists who helped us last year as well as new folks interested in knowing more about their neighborhood wildlife. Kids can count, too!”

During the 2012 count, participants reported 17.4 million bird observations on 104,000 checklists.

Keep watch for American Goldfinch.

“The GBBC is an ideal opportunity for young and old to connect with nature by discovering birds and to participate in a huge science project,” said Gary Langham, Audubon’s Chief Scientist. “This year, we hope people on all seven continents, oceans, and islands, will head out into their neighborhoods, rural areas, parks, and wilderness to further our understanding of birds across the hemispheres.”

Part of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

S3C: STEM Student Science Cafes, science fun for tweens & teens first Tuesdays, Bookmans, Mesa

In partnership with the Arizona SciTech Festival & Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange, Mesa, Desert Rivers Audubon Stem Science Cafe FB2hosts monthly Science Cafes for Middle & High School Students on the first Tuesday of the month.
STEM Student Science Cafe (“S3C”) is an event that takes place in a casual setting; is open to Middle & High Schools Students, their parents & siblings; and features an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic. Learn something new, ask questions, and meet other science fans!

Run by students for students

Lori Whipple, Mesa Community Relations, Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

“Run by students for the students, we love the new direction the Bookmans Science Cafe is taking,” said Lori Whipple, Mesa Community Relations, Bookmans Entertainment Exchange. “Our continuing partnership with Desert Rivers Audubon and The Arizona SciTech Festival will ensure that STEM is something to be celebrated year round.”

“We’re looking forward to having the students moderate and choose topics they would like to discuss with a scientist or engineer,” said Desert Rivers Audubon Communications Director Eileen Kane, “instead of having a science cafe done by adults for or at students.”

“Stuff About the Universe” Tuesday, February 5

ASU physicist Subir Sabharwal talks with students about the cosmos with volunteer student moderator Emma.

ASU physicist Subir Sabharwal talks with students about the cosmos with volunteer student moderator Emma.

Our pre-Festival cafe features ASU Physics Dept. cosmologist Subir Sabharwal discussing “Stuff About the Universe,” with middle school volunteer moderator, Emma, Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 6:30pm, Bookmans Mesa, 1056 S. County Club Dr., Mesa, 480-835-0505.

 “Citizen Science”  Tuesday, March 5

Gail Morris will let students know how they can participate in Monarch butterfly tagging.

Gail Morris will let students know how they can participate in Monarch butterfly tagging.

During the Arizona SciTech Festival, March 5, 2013, 6:30pm and again at Bookmans Mesa, we’ll feature the topic of “Citizen Science” with Eric Proctor, Arizona Game and Fish Department and Gail Morris of MonarchWatch and the Southwest Monarch Study. Eric will highlight the many citizen science projects that support our understanding of our unique desert ecosystems and how you can help. Gail will discusses her work tagging and tracking Monarch butterflies.

Kids’ vote counts, Tuesday, April 9

Our next STEM Student Science Cafe topic, April 9, 2013, will be decided by the participants in the two previous S3C events.

Dedicated citizen scientist Tom Cole talks Gilbert’s Neely ponds January 8th

TomColebookTuesday, January 8, 2013, 7 pm, Tom Cole, author of The Intersection: Seventeen Years of Bird Processing on One Street Corner of the World , reviewed here, joins Desert Rivers Audubon to discuss his long-term citizen science study of Gilbert’s Neely Ponds over the course of 17 years at Gilbert Community Center, 130 North Oak Street, Gilbert, AZ 85233.

Cole, creator of educational computer games such as Preposition Pinball, made over a thousand trips to

Birder From Maricopa blogger Tommy J. DeBardeleben has experience with Gilbert’s Neely Ponds.

the intersection of Elliot & Cooper Roads to study a small, urban habitat. In the course of his study, Cole recorded over 13,000 birds. Learn more about the health of our East Valley urban habitats and the motivation behind a dedicated amateur scientist and educator.

Come early to browse our mobile book shop, visit, and discover volunteer opportunities with Desert Rivers Audubon.

FREE. Light refreshments served.

What we accomplished this past year and our plans for the future

By Krys Hammers,
Desert Rivers Audubon

Dear Desert Rivers Audubon Members and Friends,

Krys Hammers (l), President, Desert Rivers Audubon, with Greg Clark of Wild at Heart and feather friend.

At the end of each year, we assess what we accomplished in the past year, and make plans for the future. We also make this appeal to our friends to consider giving Desert Rivers a special gift above and beyond your membership dues.

Since membership dues do not begin to cover operation costs, we depend upon corporate gifts, book sales, recycling of aluminum cans, raffle income, and our year-end appeal to help keep Desert Rivers financially healthy and moving forward. In these tough economic times, charitable giving for conservation is on the decrease, and yet the needs remain.

Desert Rivers has continued to actively work to fulfill our mission: to educate and inspire our community on birds, wildlife and their habitats.

Last year, Desert Rivers engaged the public and its members with the following programs, all of which are free.

We received a Together Green grant to partner with Wild at Heart to build 100 burrows for Burrowing Owls at Zanjero Park. The burrows were built in Oct, 2011 and 10 owls were released in April. Again this spring we will build a tent to temporarily house another 10 owls. After 30 days they will be released to the area.

We’ve recently hosted our first annual Tour de Bird, a tour of urban bird habitats that demonstrate how everyone can help birds in their own backyard.

The Field Trips program had over 400 attendees to locations around town and the state. These trips are an important way we introduce new friends to birding and the conservation message.

Thanks to volunteers, who donated almost 600 hours, we’ve continued our monthly public birdwalk programs at Chandler’s Veterans Oasis Park and the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. These birdwalks help engage our community with an appreciation for Arizona birds and conservation message. Every child leaves with a gift to help them continue to appreciate the birds around them.

Joy Dingley hosts her Early Birds Club for children 7 – 13. These enthusiastic children have not only watched birds, they have drawn birds, listened to them, and studied their habitat and diets.

With our preserve partners, we hosted field trips for a group of blind children who learned to appreciate nature by hearing, touch and smell. We also provided a special morning program for the Hope Kids, a charity for families with children dealing with life-threatening conditions.

Our regular monthly programs at the Gilbert Community Center have attracted and inspired members and guests on a variety of topics of concern and interest.

Our top-notch newsletter highlights the happenings at our chapter, as well as provides in-depth information about conservation and wildlife topics.

This season, from September 2012 through May 2013, we will continue with these programs. We will also offer additional educational materials, and enhance our Audubon at Home Award Program, which recognizes people who have created healthy bird habitats. At this time we are specifically in need of a utility trailer where we can store and transport all of our equipment to events.

We truly appreciate your support to ensure Desert Rivers continues to offer these programs.  All of your gift will be used locally by Desert Rivers and is tax-deductible. Thank you.

Citizen Science: Join the Arizona Christmas Bird Count

By Walter Thurber
Desert Rivers Audubon

The National Audubon Society has conducted Christmas bird counts since the year 1900. Volunteers from throughout the Western Hemisphere go afield during one calendar day between December 14 and January 5 to record every bird species and individual bird encountered within a designated 15-mile diameter circle.

These records now comprise an extensive ornithological database that enables monitoring of winter bird populations and the
overall health of the environment.

Participants are typically assigned to teams based on their bird identification skills and endurance. Many counts hold a compilation dinner at the end of the day where results are tabulated and stories shared. There is no longer a participation fee. Help is needed on most of these counts, so find one or more of interest to you and contact the compiler for information.

Citizen Scientists Needed for #OwlWatch

Monitoring of Zanjero’s Burrowing Owls

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

Volunteers are needed to help monitor our 10 initial burrowing owls that will we be releasing into Zanjero Park on 4/28.

We will be following the set scientific protocol for surveying burrowing owls relocated to artificial burrows.  This requires weekly observations alternating between morning one week and evening the following week. Therefore we are recruiting for two teams of volunteers; a morning crew and an evening crew.  This brings the volunteer commitment to every other week, but we will take volunteers whenever they can be available.

The morning time period is from sunrise up to 9 am and the evening period is from 5 pm up to sunset. We will be documenting # of adults and juveniles present, their band #’s, recording the burrow entrances associated with each individual, monitoring the reproductive status of nesting pairs, emergence and survival of young, fall and winter dispersement, and prey preferences.

If you would like to sign up or get further information contact

Stacy Burleigh is coordinating OwlWatch, a citizen science project documenting the burrowing owl habitat at Zanerjo Park, for Desert Rivers Audubon.

at or 480-507-9177.

Burrowing Owl Release Picnic & Celebration

Saturday, April 28th, 8am-noon, bring a picnic lunch & enjoy the release of burrowing owls into Zanjero Park as we remove the tent and uncap the artificial burrows installed in October.