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!

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.

Turn Garbage to Gold

Audubon @Home, Arizona

by Krys Hammers
Desert Rivers Audubon Society

The goal of course  is rich garden compost, which will help your vegetables or landscape plants thrive.  The most obvious advantage to composting is the nutrients that are added to the soils when you add compost, but it can also enhance pest control and eliminate diseases in plants.

Of particular importance in our desert, compost helps soils retain moisture longer.  According to the EPA, it can even help to clean up contaminated soils.  It has additional benefit of diverting organic solid waste from landfills, where it can contribute to production of methane, a greenhouse gas

and acidic leachate.

Most cities, including Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa can help you get started with composting.  They may offer classes with all necessary information to get you started.  They will also deliver a compost bin to your house.  Mesa charges $5 refundable deposit for the bin.  You can also buy bins in yard and garden stores.  The fancier models have mechanisms to help you turn the compost pile.

The concept is simple you add green and brown organic matter, dampen it and turn it over and before long you have compost.  The

Greens provide nitrogen.  This waste would include green yard clippings, fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds and filters and breads and grains.

The Browns provide the carbon.  They would include saw dust, straw, shredded paper, dried yard clippings, nut shells, egg shells, dryer and vacuum cleaner lint.   You do not want to add plastics, dairy products, meats scraps, oil or lard, pet waste, yard clippings that have been treated with pesticides, weeds, glass or metal.

You should have about 4 parts browns to every of part of greens.

The pile needs air and moisture. Most of the bins have ventilation holes and you will need to aerate the pile by turning the contents every week or every time you add to it.  You will need to dampen the pile to keep it moist.  The pile will actually generate warmth as the materials decompose.  In the summer, it may be necessary to keep the pile in a shaded or partially-shaded area.

Your compost is ready when the material is dark brown and crumbly.  You can sift your compost to get a finer soil additive.  If you find any materials that haven’t decomposed completely, you can add it to your new pile.

Your plants and garden will thank you and you can feel good about reducing your need for fertilizers, pesticides, as well as helping to reducing greenhouse gases.