Nature Notes

January 14, 2013

Southern Arizona – Tucson area

Filed under: Arizona,Birds — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 6:00 am
Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

The city of Tucson is located in the Sonoran desert, one of the most interesting habitants in the world. The Sonora desert is one of the largest and hottest in North America, and with an area of 120,000 sq. miles, sprawls over the border of Mexico and the United States. It is home to some 350 species of birds, 60 mammals, 100 reptiles and over 2000 native plant species. You can see a small sample of the plants at the following link:

Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Sugarro Cactus at Sunset

Sugarro Cactus at Sunset

The famous and beautiful Saguaro Cactus is only found in this area and Saguaro National Park has been set aside to protect this unusual plant.

I followed the advice of “A Birder’s Guide to Southeastern Arizona” by Richard Taylor, and visited the intersection of Shannon and Broadway on Tucson’s eastern edge, at first light. Before the sun became too hot, I was able to see Gambel’s Quail , Greater Roadrunner , Gilded Flicker , and a Gila Woodpecker which had a nest hole in a Saguaro cactus. Cactus Wren and Curve-billed Thrasher were common, and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher were a welcome sight.

One of my favorite places around Tucson is the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. It is a museum, botanical gardens, zoo and aviary all in one. It is devoted to educating about the Sonoro Desert and and all it’s exhibits and animals relate to that. It is a great place for a family visit, especially combined with the nearby Old Tucson exhibit.

The museum has two aviaries. The first is devoted to hummingbirds and includes Broad-billed, Black-chinned, and Magnificent Hummingbirds. The other aviary has a great number of the desert species including Inca Dove, Gila Woodpecker , Cactus Wren , Curve-billed Thrasher , Western Tanager , Northern Cardinal , Pyrrhuloxia , Black-headed Grosbeak , and Hooded Oriole .

Gilded Flicker

Gilded Flicker

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