What we're about

We are a group of amateur birdwatchers passionate about enjoying the incredible variety and beauty of birdlife in Arizona and beyond. We come from different backgrounds and experience levels, and our group is open to all who share this interest or want to learn more about it. We will try to meet monthly or more frequently, especially during the spring and early summer when birding is most productive. Most of our meet-ups will be weekend mornings, but we will also plan several overnight trips each year to birding hot spots like SE Arizona or the California coast. A good outing will always be followed by lunch or snacks, and the camaraderie of sharing our experiences over our favorite brew, whether that be coffee, tea, or something stronger!

BIRDING RESOURCES:

A good guide is an essential part of learning bird identification and behavior. The printed guides below are all excellent, very portable, and are widely available in bookstores and online.

--Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. For Western north America, the 4th edition is the most current (about $23); however they now publish a full North American version that covers both the previous Eastern and Western guides ($25).

--Sibley Guide to Birds, Second Edition ($35 for North America, or $18 for Western north America birds only).

--National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition (about $13 in paperback).

There are several good birding apps for Android and iPhone. I use the ones below. Both should be available for Android and Apple phones. The Merlin app is from the Cornell Ornithology Lab, and is free. It has regional databases to download, or you can download the database for all of North America as well as other regions of the world. IBirdPro covers all of North America, and it is about $15. Be sure to download the entire database if you have room on your phone so you won't need to have cell phone coverage to use it. Both apps contain range maps, photos, and recordings of bird calls and songs.

--iBirdPro

--Merlin

There are many online resources, but perhaps the most comprehensive and useful is run by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. It's free, easy to use, and covers all regions of the world. Thru the "explore" tab, you can find birding hot spots in all areas of the city, county, state, and country. Birders post their list of sightings for each posted hot spot, and you can search lists by month or year to see what's been seen there. You can also post your sightings and even photos as you become a more proficient birder. Cornell uses your inputs to track the health and status of all bird species.

--eBird.org

Binoculars are another essential tool for birding, and as in many things, you get what you pay for! Quality optics is what gives you sharp images and good color rendering, so buy the best ones you can afford. Look for ones that advertise "ED" or extra-low dispersion glass lenses. Binos are described as "7 x 40" or "8 x 50", where the first number is the magnification and the second is the size of the objective lenses. Magnifications of 7 or 8 are most common and provide a fairly wide field of view. Larger magnifications have narrower fields of view and are more sensitive to small movements. The second number is the diameter of the front lens in millimeters; bigger lenses let more light in and work better in dimmer conditions, but are more expensive.

--Nikon Monarch 5 or 7 are two good choices in 8 x 42 power or 10 x 42. Not cheap, but good optics and well made.

Spotting scopes are where you get into the big money. For good views of distant targets, especially waterfowl on lakes or the ocean, a tripod-mounted scope really is essential. Good scopes will have a variable 25-60 power zoom eyepiece, and objective lenses of 65-100mm. Top of the line scopes from Kowa or Swarovski cost $2500-4000; a good intermediate scope like the Nikon Monarch ED is around $1600. Less expensive scopes with reasonable performance are available from Vortex, Meade, Celestron, Zeiss, Bushnell, and others. See Audubon.org or other on-line reviews for recommendations.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matt 6:26

Upcoming events (5+)

Hassayampa Too!

Hassayampa River Preserve

This will be our second trip of the season to Hassayampa River Preserve near Wickenburg, and we can expect to see a number of early migratory arrivals on this visit. E-bird lists for the last half of March last year showed almost 100 species, so it should be a very productive day! We'll be looking for warblers, vireos, tanagers, and orioles in the trees, along with many hummingbirds at the feeders, some rare hawks overhead, and increased activity at the pond. Bring binos, bird guides, and cameras if you are photographically inclined! Hassayampa River Preserve is a former Nature Conservancy preserve that is now owned and operated by Maricopa County. There is a nice visitor's center with new restrooms, and the parking lot has been expanded. There are about 2 miles of gentle trails thru a variety of beautiful habitats. Admission is $5. This will undoubtedly be an exciting morning, and conditions for birding should be perfect! To reach Hassayampa, take the US60 towards Wickenburg; about 2 miles from town, there is a left exit across the highway into the preserve. Afterwards, we'll head back into Surprise to State 48 Brewery at 13823 W. Bell Rd (just east of Litchfield) to discuss our sightings and enjoy a little lunch and our favorite beverages! Anyone interested in carpooling out can meet me at State 48 at 7:15am; otherwise, we'll rendezvous at the visitor's center at 8am.

Oh Boy! Boyce Thompson Aboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is a popular location for east valley birders, but this will by my first visit there. Established in 1924 as a non-profit research institution, BTA's mission is to "instill in people an appreciation of plants through the fostering of educational, recreational, research, and conservation opportunities associated with arid-land plants." Since it hosts a wide variety of native and non-native trees and plants, it also provides excellent habitat for a large number of birds of all types! E-bird reports 170 species logged in April, including tanagers, grosbeaks, warblers, sparrows, flycatchers, buntings, vireos, hawks, hummingbirds, and many others! There are 3 miles of trails and paths, and all should be easily accessible. BTA is an hour east of the valley on US60, near the town of Superior. I will be carpooling from the west valley with anyone that wants to go; I suggest east valley birders make arrangements to carpool as well. Remember to bring your binos, cameras, bird books, and spotting scope if you have one! Also bring plenty of water, as it may be hot by late morning. Admission is $15 unless you are a BTA member. Afterwards, we will make our way to the Handelbar Pub and Grill, 650 Apache Trail Rd, AJ. As we head back in from Superior, we will take the E. Old West Highway exit from US60, which will eventually turn into Apache Trail. Alternatively, you can take US60 to Idaho Rd, exit and go north to Apache Trail. Handlebar Pub appears to be a simple no-frills place with good food and beer, and with good reviews. (I am open to suggestion though, if any of you east siders have a better place in mind.)

Madera Majesty! Madera Canyon Overnighter

Madera Canyon

Madera Canyon is a well-known birding hot spot in SE Arizona, famous for the majestic Elegant Trogon and other beautiful birds not normally seen in the US. It is located about 25 miles south of Tucson, in the Santa Rita mountains east of I-19 just south of the town of Green Valley. There are many areas to bird, from the scrublands around Florida Wash to the forested trails in the upper canyon. The Santa Rita lodge (about halfway up the canyon) has a viewing area with comfortable seating and numerous feeders that attract a variety of hummers and other bird life, including wild turkeys. This trip will involve some moderate hiking over fairly well maintained forest trails at a moderately high elevation, so is probably not suitable for anyone with health or mobility issues. My plan will be to leave home about 9am Saturday, carpooling with anyone who wants to come. We should arrive at the lower canyon area by 12:30 or 1:00pm after grabbing a fast-food lunch in Tucson or Green Valley. We'll spend the afternoon birding the lower canyon areas until 5pm or so, then head back to our hotel for drinks, dining, and discussion. There are several hotels in Green Valley, but availability of rooms may be limited. I've stayed at the Vagabond Inn before, and rooms there are around $70 right now. Or if people prefer, we can stay in Tucson and enjoy the evening there. On Sunday, we will try to arrive in the upper parking lot by 8:30am, since parking is limited and fills up quickly. We'll bird the upper canyon trails and picnic areas and probably work our way back to the Santa Rita Lodge to look at the feeders before departing around noon. We'll stop for a quick lunch somewhere before heading home. We should be back to Phoenix by 4 or 5pm Sunday afternoon. You can attend either day of course, if your schedule does not allow you to spend the night Saturday. These plans are still tentative, and I will work with those of you interested in coming to finalize the details, departure times, and hotel info.

Third Time's the Charm! Hassayampa River Preserve

Hassayampa River Preserve

The spring migration will be in full swing today, and you will be absolutely charmed by the beauty and great variety of birds you'll see on this visit! Several varieties of kingbirds and flycatchers should be present, along with tanagers, orioles, vireos, and warblers of every description. Expect to see hawks overhead and perhaps kingfishers at the pond. As usual, bring your binos, camera, guide book, and water bottles. Hassayampa River Preserve is a former Nature Conservancy preserve that is now owned and operated by Maricopa County. There is a nice visitor's center with new restrooms with a drinking fountain for refilling your water bottles if needed. There are about 2 miles of easily accessible trails thru a variety of beautiful habitats. Admission is $5. Temperatures should still be pleasant, since many of the trails are shaded and near the water. To reach Hassayampa, take the US60 towards Wickenburg; about 2 miles from town, there is a left exit across the highway into the preserve. Afterwards, we'll head back into Surprise to Irish Wolfhound pub, 16811 N. Litchfield #102 (Bell and Litchfield) to discuss our sightings and enjoy a little lunch and our favorite beverages! Anyone wishing to carpool can meet at Irish Wolfhound about 6:45am.

Past events (6)

Glendale Glitters! Glendale Recharge Ponds

Glendale Recharge Ponds

Photos (132)