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 (3)

Raptor Run!

Saddle Mountain Brewing Company

We're going to get 2022 off to a good start with a "Raptor Run" road trip thru the southwest part of the valley! We'll meet in Goodyear at Saddle Mountain Brewing Company (15651 W. Roosevelt St) and carpool/convoy through the agricultural fields of Goodyear and Buckeye, stopping frequently to look for raptors and other birdlife on the telephone poles and in the fields. In addition to seeing many raptors on the power poles, we might encounter large flocks of ibis and other wading birds in the irrigated fields, and large flocks of various blackbirds. We might also see some unusual ducks and geese in the ponds on Lower River Road. Recent ebird posts have reported many raptors and waterfowl at these ponds, including snow geese, prairie falcon, ferruginous hawk, American pipit, black vulture, long-billed curlew, meadowlark, horned lark, and tree swallow! Our results may vary (as I like to say), but it should be great last stop for this outing.

It would normally be best to get everyone in 2 or 3 cars for the trip so it will be easier to stay together as we cruise the roads looking for birds; however, with COVID in mind, staying in your own car might be the better option if you are in a high-risk category or are unvaccinated. We'll be driving slowly and stopping frequently, so it won't be too hard to lose the group.

Temperatures should be cool but nice if the sun is shining on us. As usual, bring binos, bird books, water, and snacks. We will be driving and stopping frequently, and rest areas are limited. Their is a Shell station on Baseline just before we cross US85, so we'll plan a short rest stop there during the trip. Afterwards, we'll return to Saddle Mountain Brewing for lunch and beverages. SMBC has a good lunch menu and a great variety of beverages; they also have a large table in the bar area where we can all sit together.

The Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Let's continue our spring birding schedule with a trip to one of everyone's favorite places--the Gilbert Water Ranch! A large variety of waterfowl and terrestrial birds should be present now, with winter ducks and shorebirds in great numbers, and some raptors, warblers and songbirds still present. And Rosy the roseate spoonbill still seems to be hanging out as well. E-bird shows a total of 120 species logged in January, so this should be a nice day!

The preserve is centrally located in Gilbert near Greenfield and Guadalupe roads, with beautiful paths, nice parks and facilities, and both landscaped ponds and water recharge ponds. Parking is available off
Guadalupe either by the library or further east. (It does fill up quickly, though, so don't be late!) Plan on meeting near the observatory at 8:00 am. As usual, bring your binos, bird guides, water, snacks, and maybe sunscreen!

Afterwards, we are going to visit the Perch Brewery (232 S. Wall Street) in downtown Chandler for lunch and beverages. They have patio and indoor seating to accommodate COVID social distancing and safety recommendations. The Perch is also a bird rescue organization, and many of their colorful tropical rescues are perched around the eating areas. They have a nice selection of beverages and a menu of meals in the $15-20 range.

Traipse Thru Tres Rios!

Tres Rios Wetlands

Tres Rios wetlands along the Salt River has been very active lately, so let's check it out again! There are diverse habitats in this area, and over 100 species have been logged in January. A number of ducks, raptors, and wading birds have been seen, including rarities like the eastern phoebe and the northern parula, so we should have a pretty good result as well! We will bird the marsh areas along the water recharge ponds down past the dam, and then spend a little time in the dryer habitats looking for songbirds, woodpeckers, flycatchers, and raptors.

We will meet at the parking lot off 91st Avenue and spend several hours birding the area. I will have the necessary permit which will cover all members of the group. This is a fairly austere location, but there is a porta-potty just off the parking lot. No food or water is available on site, so bring your own! Don't forget your binos, bird guides, and sunscreen. Trails are wide and flat; be prepared for several miles of walking while we bird the area.

From the Tres Rios web site:

"The Tres Rios Environmental Restoration project involves the rehabilitation of nearly 700 acres in and around the Salt River, restoring a vital wetland and riparian habitat. The project creates a mutual relationship between the renewed wetlands and the nearby wastewater treatment plant.
The lush and scenic Tres Rios is now home to more than 150 different species of birds and animals like muskrats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, bobcats, and beavers. The beautiful cottonwood groves, willows, mesquites, and other desert shrubs around the reed-lined ponds and along the trail attract many migratory and wintering songbirds. By bringing the Salt River back to the condition it was in during the early 1800s, this project is repairing a natural habitat.
The reclaimed water from the wastewater treatment plant is pumped over to the wetlands, and the plants and animals take what they need before it is discharged back into the river."

There aren't any decent brew pubs in the Tolleson area, so afterwards we are going to take a drive to the Grand Avenue Brewing Company, located towards downtown at 1205 W. Pierce St. It has a good selection of local brews and good food, and should be able to accommodate the group either inside or outside.

Past events (67)

Lake Pleasant Loonacy!

Morgan City Wash

Photos (3,526)