- Southeast Arizona Birding Guide, Richard Fray - http://arizonabirder.com -

Tucson Bird Count

I did my bit by taking part in the Tucson Bird Count [1] again this year. It’s “dedicated to making Tucson a better place for birds and for all of us” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a really good, scientific survey that harnesses the power of citizen science. It’s been running for more than a decade and documents how native (and invasive) birds use urban and suburban habitats throughout the city, allowing Tucsonans and their political decision-makers to make informed decisions about how they want their city to operate to benefit birds, wildlife and people alike. At least, that’s the aim.

The Tucson Bird Count is a point count survey organized by Tucson Audubon Society in conjunction with Arizona Game & Fish Dept., University of Arizona, National Parks Service and a number of other interested agencies. Volunteers log all the birds they see and hear during a timed five minute period at 12 randomly-generated points along a given route.

As I do with most surveys, I volunteer to do a route that nobody else wants to do. I figure that I’m out birding in great places all the time, so if I spend a morning out of the prime areas it won’t hurt. For the third year I did the same route through South Tucson, counting birds at busy intersections, vacant lots, rough neighborhoods, parking lots and shopping malls. I get a few odd looks but I’ve never had any problems in this less desirable part of town.

As you’d expect I didn’t find any rarities but there were some nice surprises, given the habitat, among an impressive overall tally of 35 species. Here’s the full list:

ABERT’S TOWHEE
ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD
BELL’S VIREO
BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD
BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER
BLACK-THROATED SPARROW
BREWER’S SPARROW
CACTUS WREN
CASSIN’S KINGBIRD
CLIFF SWALLOW
COOPER’S HAWK
CURVE-BILLED THRASHER
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE
EUROPEAN STARLING
GAMBEL’S QUAIL
GILA WOODPECKER
GREATER ROADRUNNER
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE
HARRIS’S HAWK
HOODED ORIOLE
HOUSE FINCH
HOUSE SPARROW
LARK SPARROW
LESSER GOLDFINCH
LUCY’S WARBLER
MOURNING DOVE
NORTHERN CARDINAL
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD
ROCK PIGEON
RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW
SAY’S PHOEBE
VERDIN
VERMILION FLYCATCHER
WESTERN KINGBIRD
WHITE-WINGED DOVE

Tucson is a great place for people and birds alike, one of the best birding cities there is as far as I’m concerned (though I may be a little biased). The photos below don’t look too appealing but these were some of the better stops from a birding point of view. It’s amazing how certain birds can tolerate human trash!

Tucson Bird Count in South Tucson [2]

Tucson Bird Count in South Tucson [3]

Tucson Bird Count in South Tucson [4]

Tucson Bird Count in South Tucson [5]