Hummingbirds of Arizona Tour

This August I’ll be co-leading the semiannual Hummingbirds of Arizona Tour for the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. The 7-day, 6-night itinerary starts and ends in Tucson and covers the top hummingbird destinations in this hummingbird-rich corner of the Southwest: Madera Canyon, Patagonia, the San Pedro River, the Huachuca Mountains, and Cave Creek Canyon. Our featured lodging will be Casa de San Pedro Bed & Breakfast, a beautiful and extremely comfortable inn adjacent to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area that is the location of one of SABO’s two hummingbird banding stations.

Up to 15 hummingbird species are possible in mid-August, including southwestern specialties such as Lucifer, Magnificent, and Violet-crowned; southbound Calliope, Rufous, and Allen’s; and, with luck, irregular wanderers from Mexico such as White-eared and Plain-capped Starthroat. Though hummingbirds will be the focus of this tour, we won’t neglect the songbirds, birds of prey, butterflies, wildflowers, and other natural treasures that make this corner of Arizona such a popular destination for birders and naturalists of every stripe. Our field trips will cover a wide range of habitats, from the cactus forests of the Sonoran Desert to the cool pine-fir forests atop our “sky island” mountains.

My co-leader will be my husband and colleague Tom Wood (right), founder and director of SABO, and we’re looking forward to showing a small group of hummingbird admirers around our favorite birding destinations while sharing some of what we’ve learned about hummingbird identification, behavior, ecology, and conservation.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Arizona in August? Is she insane??” hear me out. August is the lushest, greenest month of the year in southeastern Arizona. Monsoon thunderstorms that begin in early July create a “second spring,” bringing the deserts and canyons to life with birds, butterflies, and wildflowers. It’s also the peak of hummingbird migration, when maximum numbers and species diversity are present.

The tour is August 13-19 (Sunday-Saturday) and follows the Southeast Arizona Birding Festival in Tucson. The limit is 8 participants, so reserve your spot now! For more details and/or to make a reservation, please visit the tour page at SABO’s Web site.

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One hummingbird species, two maps

Hummingbirds.net Ruby-throated map Mar 2012

The migration map from hummingbirds.net through March 2012.

eBird Ruby-throated map Mar 2012

The same time period on the eBird map.


The best way to follow the spring migration of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds is the map at hummingbirds.net, but if you also follow eBird you might notice that sightings posted there tend to lag a bit behind. This annual discrepancy became a full-blown controversy in 2012, when sightings reported to hummingbirds.net galloped far ahead not only of eBird but of any similar period since 1996, the year hummingbirds.net creator Lanny Chambers began tracking Ruby-throated spring migration.

-w-250The reasons behind the 2012 discrepancy had more to do with different birding styles than with that spring’s odd weather or the birds themselves.¬† To clear the air and build a bridge between the mainstream birding and¬†hummingbird specialist communities, I wrote an analysis for the May 2014 issue of the American Birding Association‘s Birder’s Guide to Conservation and Community. Whether you’re not yet a member of ABA or missed that issue of the Birder’s Guide, you can read “Parallel Universes” for free right here (page 46).

Thanks to Birder’s Guide editor Michael Retter and all the hardworking folks who make ABA such a great organization, and to Lanny Chambers and his dedicated network of hummingbird watchers.

Join me in Trinidad & Tobago!

I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to co-host (with my husband and colleague Tom Wood) a tour of Trinidad & Tobago June 18-26, sponsored by the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory and arranged by Caligo Ventures. This island nation off the Caribbean coast of South America is home to over 400 species of birds, including 19+ species of hummingbirds, as well as a variety of other tropical wildlife from dainty butterflies to gigantic Leatherback Sea Turtles. Here’s a short introduction to the world-famous Asa Wright Nature Center, where the group will stay for five nights:

I’ve wanted to visit Trinidad and Tobago for over 30 years, ever since I read David Snow‘s studies of the White-bearded Manakin (Manacus manacus) at Asa Wright Nature Centre after returning from my first trip to Belize. I had spent many hours studying the previously undocumented courtship behavior of the closely related White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei), and Snow’s landmark work helped me understand what I had observed.

There are still spaces available on this tour for a few enthusiastic nature lovers (the limit is 10 participants). For more information, visit SABO’s Trinidad & Tobago info page or contact Caligo Ventures at 800-426-7781 or by e-mail.