Wednesday, May 18, 2016

New Paton Center Pond a Big Hit With Birds and Birders!

By Nick Beauregard

Tucson Audubon Society’s ecological restoration crew recently completed work on one of our biggest Paton Center projects yet!  The wildlife and bird friendly pond is now a fully functioning feature of the Richard Grand Memorial Meadow!

Using a bunyip/water level to make sure all sides are level, and that the overflow occurs exactly where we want it to - so that it feeds our wetland plants.

Crew supervisor Rodd Lancaster takes the first dip!

Full of water!
With several feeders placed nearby, hundreds of new native plants surrounding it, and several benches in the shade of mature trees, this part of the property is already becoming one of the most visited areas of the property by birds and birdwatchers alike! We have already seen Phainopepla, quail, sparrows, tanagers, and even ravens coming down for a drink! See image below. Not to mention all the butterflies that gather on the damp gravel along the edges.

The new pond is designed specifically to enhance wildlife habitat at the Paton Center. Every morning, water is added to the pond to allow it to overflow into a small basin where the water collects to support wetland plants such as columbine. This wetland area will create a unique pocket of riparian habitat that attract specific butterflies and hummingbirds, and it also helps keep the pond clean. The pond itself will also soon be home to native fish, which will help keep the mosquitoes under control. Maybe if we’re lucky, that elusive Green Kingfisher that’s been seen on Sonoita Creek this year will pay us a visit too!

This is certainly one of the most visible changes to the Paton Center since we first acquired the property. With the old backyard fountain no longer functional, we wanted to create a new water feature that would not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also benefit birds and wildlife as well. We’re pretty sure we hit a home run with this project, and we invite you to come see for yourself!


  1. I have a question for some one . We moved here from Spokane WA and set up bird feeders from the first day we have been feeding cardinals doves quail and gold and purple finches My question to you is we have a mated pair of vermillion flycathers nesting behind our home how rare are these birds.We have seen other birds I consider rare in our yard like the Baltimore oriole cactus Wren,etc. Can you help me out?

  2. Hi Mike,
    Welcome to Arizona!
    Vermilion Flycatchers are fairly common in Tucson, particularly in city parks, pastures and mesquite bosques. Great to have a pair near your home!
    Baltimore oriole would indeed be rare for the area. Get a photo! We also have Bullock's Oriole here, which looks similar.
    Good birding!


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