A premier U.S. birding festival has a new name, the Southeast Arizona Birding Festival, plus more types of field trips and a greater diversity of workshops.
By Rex Graham
On Wednesday, Aug. 11, the 5-day festival kicks off its talks, field trips and workshops focused on appreciating an incredibly bird-rich piece of earth – southeast Arizona – during the area’s relatively cool, rainy, and most bird-productive time of year. The festival features wrens and warblers to woodpeckers, the Whiskered Screech-Owl and, one of my favorites, the Violet-crowned Hummingbird.
Later-nesting Violet-crowned Hummingbird
My first Violet-crowned appeared amid hundreds of buzzing wings at the Tucson Audubon Society’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Like the area’s Elegant Trogon, this hummingbird is stunning. It is a resident of western Mexico with a breeding range that extends north into southern Arizona, where nesting season continues into September. The species, which is fairly large at 5.7 grams has a straight, red bill with a black tip, violet crown, and flanks colored olive, green and bronze. It has pure white underparts.
Because of their relatively large size, Violet-crowned Hummingbirds prefer more productive nectar resources available in the second major flowering period., according to a report by New Mexico State University biologist William H. Baltosser in the Wilson Bulletin.
Southeast Arizona – hummingbird central
However, the hummingbird feeders at the Paton Center (Paton, Arizona) showcase the Southwest United States’ hummingbird species as numbers and species diversity peaks in southeast Arizona: the Violet-crowned, Pain-capped, Lucifer, Berylline, Broad-billed, White-eared, Blue-throated, Magnificent, Anna’s, Costa’s, Black-chinned, Calliope, Broad-tailed, Rufous and occasionally a Lucifer-Costa’s hybrid.
Festival keynote speakers:
- Friday, August 12, Sheri Williamson, Director, Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory Hummingbirds: Small Wonders Tiny they may be, but hummingbirds know how to live large.
- Saturday, August 13, Jeff Gordon, President, American Birding Association Birding Together: How Birding Can Save Your Life and Maybe, Just Maybe, Save the World.
Check out a list of bird species commonly seen and a full species list of all past festivals.