Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mason Center: Costa’s Hummingbirds and Gulf Fritillaries

By Kendall Kroesen, Habitats Program Manager
Costa’s Hummingbirds are listed as “uncommon” this time of year, but for the time being at least they have made a home at Tucson Audubon’s Mason Center.

Costa's Hummingbird by Doris Evans

New hummingbird feeders on the front of the house at the Mason Center make the porch a delightful place to sit and enjoy their current visitations. A male Costa’s often perches and sings from the adjacent mesquite tree or from a plant trellis at the north end of the porch.
While you are there, keep an eye on that trellis! It supports the local native species of passion vine (Passiflora sp.). If you visit soon, you will have a high probability of seeing gulf fritillary butterflies visit this plant. They have been seen depositing eggs on this plant, their host plant, and there are many, many caterpillars denuding the plant as we speak!

There are also some cocoons that have formed and new butterflies are emerging. On Friday, October 21, several people who were on hand for the Friday morning bird walk got to see a newly emerged gulf fritillary still hanging on to its cocoon.

So come visit the Mason Center. Friday morning bird walks are at 8 a.m. If you can’t make it on Friday, there are staff members at the Mason Center on most other weekdays and as long as the chain across the driveway is down you are welcome to park and walk in. Give a knock and let us know you are there (we like visitors)!

The Mason Center is at 3835 West Hardy Road, on the southwest corner of Thornydale and Hardy (entrance on the south side of Hardy just west of Thornydale).

A big thanks to volunteer Carol Palmer for her gulf fritillary photos!