Monday, September 30, 2013

Dispatches from the 2013 Sky Islands Birding Cup: No Egrets

As reported by Tice Supplee, captain of Team 'No Egrets'

Tice Supplee of No Egrets
Over dinner in Tucson, Magill Weber, Andree Tarbee and I planned out our route on a pizza box top. We "slept" a few hours before setting off spotlighting ducks and wading birds on Tucson lakes. Zooming around town after midnight with no traffic was a kick! We then owled our way to the top of the mountain, where we heard a begging juvenile and adult Spotted Owls at Ski Valley. 

As we left Rose Canyon, I spotted a large bird in a ponderosa pine was a juvenile Northern Goshawk. Sweet! 

Our next raptor was a juvenile Cooper's Hawk being dive-bombed and hit by Purple Martins. We then saw a martin family coming in and out of holes in a saguaro, a real treat.

Our final raptor saga was watching an adult Red-tailed Hawk fly by followed by a juvenile. The adult had a mouse in her talons and as she flew above junior, she dropped the mouse into the air. The young hawk grabbed it with skill.

We sat through a rain and hail storm at Kino Springs where our reward was a look at a rain-soaked male Painted Bunting, a life bird for me! Later on we called it quits when torrents of rain swept across Lake Cochise at Willcox. We had a great time!  

Monsoon storm looms at Cochise Lake, Willcox
Final total: 136 species  (3rd place)

Click here to learn more about the Sky Islands Birding Cup, a bold Big Day event!

Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival Recap: Part 1

-- Erin Olmstead, Festival Coordinator

On Thursday evening, August 16, we kicked off the third annual Tucson Bird & Wildlife festivities with the Nightlife Social. Registered participants and event volunteers gathered at the Riverpark Inn for refreshments and a preview of the Nature Expo vendor area. Some highlights:

An awesome volunteer crew from Wildlife Rehab of Northwest Tucson introduced us to some very special guests: an Elf Owl, a Harris's Hawk and a Great Horned Owl, rescued and rehabbed but not releasable, have an important outreach role. Did you know the Elf Owl is the world's smallest owl!? This tiny dynamo weighs in at about 40 grams, or 1.4 ounces!

This amazing Elf Owl stole the show at the Nightlife Social. Thanks, NW Rehab!

We awarded the freshly engraved Sky Islands Birding Cup trophy to the winning team...

2/3 of team Birding the Midnight Oil hoist the trophy
John Yerger and Jake Mohlmann, aka the affable guides of Adventure Birding Company, along with teammate Keith Kamper, are the Sky Islands Birding Cup Big Day champs for the third year in a row!  This year, despite an inauspicious pre-dawn flat tire in Portal, team Birding the Midnight Oil tallied a whopping 185 species!
Each of the competing teams regaled us with stories of great birds seen the day before. This got everyone pretty excited for their upcoming birding field trips, as well as for next year's Cup competition and fundraiser.

Stay tuned for more photos, highlights, shout-outs, sightings, from the third annual TBWF!

Volunteer Shout-Out to Libraries and Librarians!

Our volunteer shout-out features a guest post by Sherry Massie, library captain and all around volunteer extraordinaire! She talks about the Tucson Audubon library collection, the amazing volunteers who made this library possible, and why she likes volunteering for Tucson Audubon. 

The library is an important membership benefit.  Not everything worth knowing is on the Internet!  The library’s collection of reference works can provide in-depth knowledge on ornithology and related subjects.  We also have popular birding guidebooks and field guides about many other parts of the world (as well as the U.S.), so if a member is taking a once-in-a-lifetime birding trip, they do not have to buy the birding guide they need – they can borrow it!

Sherry Massie has been a Tucson Audubon member for nearly a decade and volunteers for outreach and festivals, the Tucson Audubon gala, in addition to the library position. Sherry previously worked as the Librarian and Archivist for the Department of Defense. 

Volunteering for Tucson Audubon Society gives me the feeling that even in the small part I play, it helps promote Tucson Audubon Society’s mission of conservation, education, restoration and advocacy not only our birds, but for our fragile and continually threatened environment.  I support TAS in their strong stands taken on local environmental issues and because I know TAS’s professional staff have researched the issues backward and forward!  Plus volunteering at TAS is just plain fun with the pleasant atmosphere and the superb staff and volunteers!

Our library team last year (Hal Myers, Olga Harbour,  and Carol Eagle) worked hard to get the books processed and on the shelves in Library of Congress Classification Order after the catalog came online.  This year, another librarian, Leslie Matthaei, has been working to catalog the remaining reference works and items that are kindly donated from the membership.  It’s been a great team effort!

Read all about Olga Harbour (left) in her volunteer shout-out from a 2012 blog post.Carol Eagle (right) has been an indispensable part of the Tucson Audubon team for decades, as a volunteer in so many areas, donor, member, and even as membership coordinator. 
Leslie Matthei is an archivist for the National Parks Service. When not traveling around the country for work, or volunteering in the library, she also gets out in the field for Tucson Audubon restoration volunteer days. 
Since at least the mid 1980s, Hal Myers has loyally supported Tucson Audubon. He has remained closely tied to the development and upgrades to the library over the years.

The Tucson Audubon library features over 1,200 titles, all searchable through the online library catalog. Tucson Audubon members can check out books for up to three weeks (extensions are available too). The library is open from 10am-4pm Mondays through Saturdays. View more information on the library, including full check-out procedure and how to donate books to the collection, at

For more information about volunteering with Tucson Audubon, and for current volunteer opportunities, please visit or contact Kara at 520-209-1811 or