Thursday, May 16, 2013

Birdwatching in Arizona, Part 3: Southeast Arizona; A birdwatcher's paradise.

We spent the first 2 days in Tucson before moving out into the smaller towns outside of the big city. Our first stop was Portal, a tiny town consisting of a library, post office, library, fire station, doctor's office, and a compound consisting of a general store, restaurant and small motel. This was the first place I encountered backyard birdwatching; a practice where homeowners open their backyard for public viewing. The usual practice was that there would be a sign in the front yard welcoming birdwatchers to the yard and a container with a sign asking for donations ("seed money").  There would be multiple hummingbird and seed feeders set up and chairs set up under a tent, or in shade. In some places, there were even signs for parking:

The next set of backyard feeders open to the public was in Sierra Vista.  The first place we stopped was on a large piece of property in Miller's Canyon. This place had a Bed and Breakfast, fruit and vegetable gardens, and poultry.  The owners had a stadium seating set up with 4 benches, and cushioned seating under a large awning. The seating overlooked several hummingbird feeders with each feeder hanging under a small number or letter. We visited 2 backyard feeding stations in Sierra Vista.

One yard opened for public viewing was a home/Bed and Breakfast. In addition to the store bought bird feeders were several small feeders made from every day household items. This was also a great place for photographing the customers.

Male and Female Black-headed Grosbeaks

Bullocks Oriole enjoying grape jelly from a can. Note the oranges nailed to the tree.

Female Black-headed Grosbeak (left) and Scott's Oriole.

Pine Siskin.

Bewick's Wren.

I'm curious if this is the only area in the States with the practice of private residents opening their yard to the public.  I've bird watched in Alaska, Florida, South Texas, West Texas and I've never seen anything like this.  Even a non-birdwatching person would find it relaxing to watch the bird activity and observe the beauty of the yard.

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