Hummingbird in its nest!

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I saw this bird building the nest and finally a few weeks later it is built! Unfortunately I could not get closer to it for a better photograph, but the bird is enjoying its hard work. Soon eggs and young one in its future!

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Lucy’s Warbler Nest Boxes

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At Isabella Lee Natural Preserve, I saw five Lucy’s warbler triangle-shaped nestboxes at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 feet above the ground on a tree. Tucson Audubon set these up to find out which nest box the birds prefer since they ordinarily nest in woodpecker holes or bark crevices of old mesquite trees. Those trees are often removed for their valuable wood so this project is to encourage the Lucy’s warblers to remain in the Tucson area, especially if they do not find the tree of their choice.

I saw no activity in any of the nestboxes today; however, there were numerous hummingbirds, a couple of vermillion flycatchers, a red-tailed hawk flying overhead and signs of horses being through the area. This was my first time at the preserve which encompasses the confluence of Agua Caliente Wash and Tanque Verde Creek. Expect to see snakes, javelina, coyote and wildlife since it is a wildlife area also for them.

A spot to see the seasonal changes … come back again.
Lucy’s warbler nestboxes
All the info you need on this poster.
Rules will be enforced.

Keep Our Rivers Clean!

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Recently I was in Cambodia and saw people dumping their garbage cans into the river along side their homes. This past week I participated in a Rillito River clean-up in Tucson, AZ with Watershed Management Group and I saw first-hand my local community doing the same with its trash. Maybe not to the large scale as other places, but why?

Often I request no plastic straws, no plastic bags and think about less packaging on products since I want to cut waste going into our landfill. But it was mind-boggling to see the items in the riverbed! Plastic straws, truck and bicycle tires, plastic bottles, cans, dog poop in plastic bags, blankets, shoes, clothing, and foam drink cups!

If I saw one more foam cup I was about to scream! Why? Because if I could grab a cup without it breaking apart I was thrilled; if it broke apart it was in smaller pieces that were time-consuming to pick up. I saw so many small plastic pieces … of various plastic products that will simply float down river … but why are any of these things in the river!

Four hours of volunteer time from 20 people to clean up an area of the Rillito River west of 1st Avenue. Lots of trash collected. Please throw your trash in a garbage or recycling bin, not our river! Thank you volunteers for your time and energy at this project!

Final note: later in the day I turn on the television and what commercial do I see! Circle K and the Polar Pop cup! Can something be done about those cups, or people not throwing them into the river … oh how I hated picking up all the cup pieces!

Grand Canyon National Park: 100 years!

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Not everything or anyone can last or live 100 years; however, when it happens there may be good reason for such longevity. And so it is with the Grand Canyon National Park now celebrating its centennial this Tuesday, this year! Happy birthday!

I am always happy to visit the park through various seasons in a year, each with its own look. There may be snow falling or already on the ground, or spring buds about to bloom, or birds flying through or heading north or south. Will I wear my winter boots with yak-traks or less clothing in the summer heat. I also love seeing the canyon at different times of the day. Maybe a foggy morning, or intense hot, bluebird blue sky midday, or a colorful sunset. I am never one to complain with what nature brings to the canyon; it is wondrous and beautiful, and I always feel so small next to it!

Millions of people visit the canyon each year, and very few have had the joy of spending nights below the rim at Phantom Ranch or Bright Angel Campground. Those who do are adventurous individuals. They get to enjoy the canyon’s bottom either by hiking there or rafting the Colorado River; the river that had shaped this canyon so, so many years ago! 

Only a few hundred thousand people visit the north rim of the canyon each year. For those of us who do spend time at the north rim, it is a fantastically quiet, comfortable and enjoyable place to be, especially as the sun sets and stars appear. From this rim I have a greater appreciation of the park being within the national park system and appreciate all the individuals who have continued to protect its status.

My wish is for the park to be available to all future generations … more than 100 years … and to the wildlife, fauna and flora, that live within its boundaries or need to pass through. I have no doubts of continued concrete crawl happening upon our countryside, thus it is more than imperative to protect all of our national parks. While I will not be here at the next 100th, I wish the Grand Canyon National Park many more birthdays and success at putting the “WOW” in someone’s eyes as they look over the rim!

Colorado River below is not seen from every point of the rim!

Watch birds…

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An activity to enjoy, no matter where you are, is to watch birds. Where are they? You really do not need binoculars because some are on the nearby tree or pond, or so colorful or with an interesting flight plan that they are easy to watch. It is not necessary to know their names, unless of course you want to learn them. The joy is in seeing wildlife so easily in front of your eyes!
As I travel the world there are more birds to see! Local people are most helpful informing you of hot spots to view birds and often times will share the name of a bird. I am amazed sometimes just with size and/or color of the bird that it doesn’t matter the name… until I realize I would like to add that bird to my life list and a name is needed.
Watching birds can tell you about an area and the birds. Do they like the pond? the trees? the thermals? the grasses? the left-over food scraps? And do you see a bird annoying another bird? Are the birds leaving the area? Do they form a v- formation? Are there male and female pairs? How do they stand on one leg and sleep? So much to see and learn about birds! 
Take time and watch for birds!

A Shared Hobby With Dad… Birding, Who Knew?

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It’s been three years since my Dad died; truly difficult to believe! Life continues on, many waking moments with memories of him, with the realization of the impact a person can have upon your life even years after their death.

A recent visit home to spend time with my Mom always brought forth emotional moments. Talking of their world travel together, looking at all my Dad’s tools in the basement, but it was more than I realized when I asked my Mom if I could take my Dad’s Birds of North America pocket guide. At that moment I was curious about the birds he had seen in the Long Island New York backyard. I had a sense of comfort seeing his handwritten date in seeing a bird and the letters “B.Y.”, meaning backyard. I liked the feeling of knowing he had observed, enjoyed, and recorded the birds he saw among the flowers he had purposely planted for my Mom in Rose’s Garden.

My goal is to travel and see the world. In my younger years, I was fascinated with loons and would hike miles in the Adirondack Mountains to see and hear one. When I was recently in the Peruvian Amazon I was blown-away by sighting 100 birds within a 5 day period of time with a local guide. I then wondered why I am not taking time now to know more birds… those in my backyard and around the world.

I joined a local birding hike and on our first outing we saw 30 birds! More importantly I discovered I needed better binoculars to accurately see eye rings, wing shapes, breast color, crowns and wing bars. With new binoculars in hand I went to various birding spots and despite not knowing the name of a bird I simply loved the sight of it.

When I travel I often take photos of birds and never cared if I knew the name of the bird. But now as I learn about and see birds, I check their name off on my list and compare with my Dad’s bird book to see if he did too! Recently I saw a ruby-crowned kinglet … not a common bird to see …but how wonderful to know my Dad had seen it in NYS where it migrated through and I saw it in AZ as it wintered!

For now my birding notes will be compared with my Dad’s book, just as other birders compare their sightings and “life checklist of birds” with one another. I had not realized my Dad was a birder, but we’ll compare our notes for years to come.

Below are some photos of birds taken by me during bicycle trips, time in backyards, and birding times.

Cooper’s Hawk

Bald Eagle

Great Blue Heron