News

  • 14 Apr 2014 3:54 PM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    The 2014 fire season has begun in southeastern Arizona. Fire crews are battling the Brown Canyon fire, a small (<100 acres) human-caused blaze on the western slope of the Huachuca Mountains.

    This fire is far from populated areas and popular birding destinations and unlikely to cause serious problems for residents or visitors, but high fire danger and/or future fires may result in closures of public lands. We will do our best to keep the birding community informed about closures and other safety advisories from public lands agencies.

    Updates on wildfires throughout Arizona are available on Inciweb.

    (Photo of fire retardant drop by Tom Wood.)
  • 22 Feb 2014 12:53 PM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    SABO's slate of spring activities are on the calendar and filling up fast! Make plans now to join us for walks, owl prowls, hummingbird banding sessions, and Fiesta de las Aves!
  • 14 Jan 2014 12:40 PM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    Wings Over Willcox Chairman Homer Hansen reports that the annual census conducted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department found 26,616 Sandhill Cranes in the Sulphur Springs Valley, including 22,600 at Whitewater Draw wildlife area.

    The number of cranes this winter is down from 29,633 in 2012-13. The highest population ever recorded in the valley was over 40,000 in 2009-10.

    SABO's weekly Whitewater Wetland Walks and Crane Watches at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area will take a break this weekend while we help with the Wings Over Willcox festival but will resume next Sunday (January 26) and continue through Sunday, February 23. No registration is required for the crane watches; to register for a walk, please visit our Calendar of Events.
  • 13 Dec 2013 8:57 AM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    Tucson Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy, and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours have announced the purchase of the world-famous "Patons' Birder Haven" in Patagonia. This joint fundraising effort saves the popular birding destination from the same fate as the Spofford yard in Portal, which closed to the public after the death of its owner and host, retired ornithologist Sally Spofford. The site will be managed by the Tucson Audubon Society. Read more about it at the Arizona Daily Star:

    Paton's Birder Haven to be sold
  • 25 Sep 2013 10:29 PM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    Hummingbird banding is almost over for another year (the last sessions for the season are this Friday and Saturday), but we'll be adding Whitewater Walks and other winter activities to the schedule shortly!
  • 25 Jul 2013 9:34 PM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    To the editor:

    The recent article about a new "nectar" product for hummingbird feeders contained incorrect and misleading information that has needlessly alarmed many hummingbird enthusiasts in southern Arizona.

    We want to assure the Star's readers that homemade solutions of white granulated sugar in water have a decades-long track record as a safe and effective way to attract and feed hummingbirds. Wild hummingbirds that have fed on sugar water every summer of their lives have lived up to 12 years, far longer than was once thought possible, so white sugar is hardly "cutting their lives short." It does not "wear out their livers and kidneys," give them diabetes, or rot their teeth.

    White granulated sugar is sucrose, a natural plant sugar that is the main ingredient (next to water) in the nectar of hummingbird-pollinated flowers. It is also the main ingredient in the product touted in the article, despite the entrepreneurs' dire warnings about "the harmful effects of white sugar on hummingbirds."

    Cleaning feeders regularly, eliminating outdoor pesticide use, keeping cats indoors, and planting nectar-producing flowers are the most important steps you can take to make sure your hummingbird neighbors live long, healthy lives.

    Sheri L. Williamson
    Director, Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory
    Author, Peterson Field Guide to Hummingbirds
    Bisbee, AZ
  • 12 Jul 2013 11:43 PM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    News from the Arizona Game and Fish Department:

    One of only two species of parrots historically found in the U.S., the Thick-billed Parrot, will benefit from a recovery plan coauthored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The plan aims to grow the bird's numbers by focusing recovery on protecting, managing and restoring mature and old-growth conifer forests in Mexico. 

    The plan was published July 1 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and represents the first time that the U.S. has adopted another country's endangered species recovery plan. The U.S. recovery plan closely follows the Mexican Thick-billed Parrot recovery plan with additional required elements added by the Service because the parrot is now found only in Mexico. Species experts recommend that recovery efforts concentrate on those populations already established in Mexico, where relatively large contiguous parcels of suitable habitat still exist within the birds' core range. Potential habitat in the U.S., once part of the northern edge of the parrot's historical range, is more fragmented and less suitable.

    "After extensive review, it was apparent that we had a better chance of restoring populations of Thick-billed Parrot in Mexico rather than attempting to reintroduce the species with a cost-prohibitive captive breeding program in the U.S. and where habitat is more limited," says Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and co-signor of the plan. 

    In developing the plan, biologists considered a captive breeding program in the U.S. that would provide birds for release. However, the estimated initial cost of $25 million over 15 years was determined to be prohibitive with little chance of success. Attempts to re-establish the bird in Arizona between 1986 and 1993 were unsuccessful partially due to the captive-raised birds reduced ability to survive in the wild.

    "It just makes more sense to recover the birds in Mexico where we know they can exist and reproduce rather than try to establish a breeding population in Arizona where conditions are less suitable for the parrots," says Larry Riley, assistant director for Game and Fish’s wildlife management.

    The Thick-billed Parrot disappeared from the U.S. more than 70 years ago. Historically, the species was known to visit southeast Arizona and possibly northwest New Mexico, but a breeding population of birds could never be confirmed. The most recent estimates indicate that at a minimum there are just over 2,000 Thick-billed Parrots, all in the states of Chihuahua and northwest Durango in Mexico.

  • 11 Jul 2013 4:52 PM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    The Arizona Game and Fish Department is again offering a unique opportunity for people to learn more about Arizona’s hummingbirds at the 10th Annual High Country Hummers Festival. On Saturday, July 27, the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory's banding team will capture and band hummingbirds at the department’s Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area in eastern Arizona. The event is free and open to the public.

    This is a fantastic opportunity for people to get up close and personal with these flying jewels. Observers will be able to interact with the team as they capture, measure, weigh and band birds.


    This free, one-of-a-kind program will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at noon. Costs are underwritten by the department's Heritage Fund. Supported by Arizona lottery dollars, the Heritage Fund is dedicated to the education, conservation and enhancement of Arizona's wildlife, biological diversity, scenic wonders and environment.

    Other fun programs will also be offered at the wildlife area that day. There will be educational exhibits featuring live hawks and owls. You can even get your photo taken with one. Visitors can view a presentation on hummingbird natural history.

    At 8:30 a.m., department staff will discuss and instruct on how to photograph hummingbirds. Be sure to bring your camera and a tripod for this hands-on activity. Staff will also lead a "birding basics" program, including identification tips and technological tools available to aid in learning about our avian visitors.

    Visitors are welcome to explore the visitor center's interpretive displays on wildlife conservation, habitats and prehistoric culture. Breakfast and lunch concessions will be provided by the Springerville-Eagar Regional Chamber of Commerce.

    "We encourage visitors to come prepared to spend most of the morning outdoors with potential of some summer rain," says
    Bruce Sitko, spokesman in the department's Pinetop office. "It’s a good idea to bring a camera, as there will be plenty of great photo opportunities. We also require that pets be kept on a leash."

    To get to the wildlife area, take Highway 191 from Eagar toward Alpine two miles to the signed turnoff at the top of the first hill. Drive south five miles to the property on a gravel road suitable for cars.For more information, visit the High Country Hummers Web page.
  • 19 May 2013 3:55 PM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    Because we can't get enough of our wonderful owls, we're offering one more Carr Canyon Owl Prowl this spring. The walk will be this Thursday evening, May 23, under a bright, waxing moon. Register now!
  • 03 May 2013 11:48 AM | Sheri Williamson (Administrator)
    We'd like to wish longtime business members Johnnie and Audrey Eskue of Birders Vista B&B a happy retirement and thank them for their many years of support of SABO's work on behalf of birds and birders.

Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory
P.O. Box 5521
Bisbee, AZ 85603-5521
(520) 432-1388

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