Our friends Richard and Wendy had a great Wednesday morning with the Audubon Society at the Sweetwater Wetlands on the westside of town . Be advised that if you go, Exit 252 at Ruthrauff will be closed for the next 2 years or so. You should be able to take the Sunset exit or Grant exit, take Silverbell to Camino del Cerro, East to the feeder road, South to Sweetwater.
On Wednesday, March 20, the first day of Spring, Richard and I drove to the Sweetwater Wetlands for their weekly guided tour. It was a beautiful morning and about 50 people showed up. The group was split into two parties, led by Eric and Luke, who are volunteers with the Tucson Audubon Society. The 1 mile stroll started at 7:00 am and wound up about 9:45.
Below is a list of the 43 bird species our group was fortunate enough to see. When you sign up for the Wetlands Tour and provide them with your email address, you’ll receive a list from your guide after the tour. If you click on the e-bird.org link at the bottom of the list, you’ll be directed to a website where you can see a photo and description of each of the birds. We’re from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and while we saw many of the same birds that we see at home, there were many that we’ll only see here in Tucson. In particular, we were delighted to see a Green Heron and a Cinnamon Teal.
|Blue-winged Teal 4||Green-winged Teal 1||Cinnamon Teal 20||Northern Shoveler 5||Pied-bill Grebe 1|
|Gadwall 10||American Wigeon 8||Mallard 6||Mexican Duck 1||Green-winged Teal 7|
|Mourning Dove 15||Eurasian Collared Dove 1||Greater Roadrunner 2||Black-chinned Hummingbird 3 (first of the season)||Common Gallinule 2|
|American Coot 6||Killdeer 3||Neotropic Cormorant 1||Green Heron 1||Cooper's Hawk 2|
|Common Black Hawk 1||Red-tailed Hawk 2||Gila Woodpecker 3||Ladder-backed Woodpecker 4||American Kestrel 2|
|Vermilion Flycatcher 4||Bell's Vireo 2||Verdin 9||Marsh Wren 3||Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4|
|Northern Mockingbird 1||European Starling 4||Phainopepla 1||House Finch 12||Lesser Goldfinch 4|
|Song Sparrow 6||Lincoln's Sparrow 4||Abert's Towhee 6||Red-winged Blackbird 20||Brown-headed Cowbird 2|
|Orange-crowned Warbler 3||Yellow Warbler 7||Yellow-rumped Warbler 20|
In addition to birds, we spotted 2 ground squirrels and a jackrabbit on the dike behind the wetland, and a red-eared slider turtle in the pond. The turtle is a pet store releasee and is not endemic to the area.
Our guide, Eric, was very knowledgeable about our fine feathered friends and was able to imitate bird songs and give us a little info about each of the birds we saw. Other more experienced ‘birders’ were also very happy to give we amateurs a few pointers. Everyone was encouraged to sing out when they saw a bird and ask as many questions as they liked.
By the way, this was a free tour! There’s also a free Audubon Society app that you can download to your phone which will give you bird calls, photos and other info. The Audubon Bird Guide is a complete field guide to over 800 species of North American birds. Built for all experience levels, it will help you identify the birds around you, keep track of the birds you’ve seen, and get outside to find new birds near you. https://www.audubon.org/app
We Canadian ‘Snowbirds’ are coming back to Tucson again next winter and will definitely go back to the Sweetwater Wetlands, perhaps in February, to see if we can check off any more species in our bird book. It’s a wonderful way to spend a morning. Be sure to bring your binoculars!