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SOUTHEAST ARIZONA BIRDING FESTIVAL | August 7–11, 2019 | Tucson, AZ

Festival Events and Trips with Openings


Looking for something else to do? The events listed here still have limited spaces available, don’t wait to sign up!

Contact Festival Coordinator Luke Safford with questions.

Half-day Trips

Local Drive Yourself: Mission Garden with Kendall Kroesen

  • 7:00am – 9:00am
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: 1 (Easy. Distance 0.25 to 0.50 mile. Elevation gain: none. Ground conditions: Smooth, ADA-accessible dirt trails)
    Explore this reconstruction of the four-acre 18th-century garden at the base of “A” Mountain that was associated with the Mission San Agustin (the northern-most mission in Arizona). See a variety of birds among gardens, crops and orchards depicting all the eras and ethnic groups associated with Tucson’s past. This site has been farmed over 4,000 years and is considered Tucson’s birthplace. This walk is good for beginning bird watchers, gardeners and those interested in attracting birds to their yards. Along the way you’ll see the wide variety of food-plants that can grow in Tucson and we’ll point out some of the many bird-friendly plants at the garden. $5 of the field trip price will be donated to the Mission Garden. Meet at Mission Garden, 946 W Mission Lane (just east of Grande Road on Mission Lane). Limited to 15 participants.

Overnight Trip

Patagonia area, hosted by Chris Benesh of Field Guides

*One space available for a man, no single supplement available

  • Lodging: Spirit Tree Inn, on Harshaw Creek Road
  • Wednesday, August 8 – Thursday, August 9
  • $245/person
  • Difficulty: 3, moderate walking distances over unpaved trails with some steeper slopes
    Pre-dinner visits to the Roadside Rest and Paton’s for Gray Hawk, Thick-billed Kingbird, Varied Bunting, and Violet-crowned Hummingbird. Night birding in the highlands surrounding the Inn and its property, looking for nightjars and owls common to this area as well as a bit of black-lighting for scorpions. Early morning start nearby in the Patagonia Mts, one of Arizona’s under-birded Sky Islands, where we’ll be looking for Elegant Trogon, Montezuma Quail, Eastern “Azure” Bluebirds, Arizona Woodpeckers, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, among others. While birds will be our primary focus, we will pause to look at interesting dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies along the way. Limited to 10 participants each trip.

Workshops

Zeiss Sponsored: Easy Digiscoping with Carl Zeiss Sports Optics at Reid Park

  • 10:00am – 11:00am
  • Free. Register here
    Learn about simple ways to use a spotting scopes to take beautiful images of the natural word! Includes us of both smart phones and mirrorless camera systems. We will also take a look at post processing of your images.

Museum Birding: From the Specimen Drawer to the Field with Rick Wright

  • 10:00 am – 12:00pm
  • $25/person
    How do we birders know the things we think we know? Where do “field marks” come from? And what on earth do all those dead birds on their backs in wooden drawers have to do with our hobby as we practice it in the 21st century? Join Rick Wright for a two-hour workshop exploring the intimate connections between museum specimens and conservation, research, and, yes, recreational birding. We will discover how collections are formed and maintained, and learn about the sometimes surprising results when old specimens are brought to bear on new problems. After this introduction to the enduring value of natural history collections, Rick will discuss a number of the Southwest’s rarest and most challenging birds, illustrating his remarks with representative specimens from among the more than 18,000 held by the University of Arizona. Along with stories of collecting adventure, daring, and even foolishness, workshop participants will come away with new knowledge they can use in the field—and a new respect for the sources of that knowledge, sources that lie on their backs in wooden drawers. Van will leave DoubleTree at 9:45am or meet on-site. 12 person limit.

Hummingbird Photography Class Workshop with Steve Vaughan

  • 2:00pm – 5:00pm
  • $25/person
    Hummingbirds can flap their wings up to 80 times a second, which can present quite the challenge for a photographer. This is the perfect opportunity to learn the specialized techniques needed to create stunning images of hummingbirds. This workshop includes both a classroom discussion and field instruction to maximize your learning experience. The field instruction is limited to eight participants. We will cover ambient light, fill-flash and high-speed flash photography techniques. Join professional nature photographer Steve Vaughan for this fantastic opportunity to experience the joys of photographing these flying jewels. Recommended equipment: Digital SLR, TTL flash, tripod and a telephoto lens capable of focusing close enough the fill the viewfinder with a 5 x 7 inch object.
    You can email Steve at StephenHVaughan@Gmail.com if you have questions. No participant limit for workshop, but field trip is limited to 8 participants and you must sign up separately.

Getting Started with eBird – Making eBird easy! with Jennie Macfarland

  • 2:30pm – 3:30pm
  • Free. Register here
    eBird, the free online birding tool, is changing the face of modern birding. The goal of this internet-based checklist system is to harness the power of both birding and science. It allows you to keep track of your bird records online and share them with the birding community, while making them available for science and conservation efforts. eBird allows birders to post sightings, keep life lists, manage their personal records and has amazing output maps and features. This workshop will teach you what eBird is and why it’s important that you contribute, show you what it can do for you as a birder, and teach you how to get started. Join Jennie MacFarland, Tucson Audubon’s Bird Conservation Biologist, and get empowered to make your observations count!

Evening Trips & Events

Bat Photography at Pond at Elephant Head with Dano Grayson

  • 6:00pm – 10:00pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: 1 (Prepare for hot temperatures with cooling as sun goes down. Most of time spent in photography blinds)
    The desert comes alive at night and the Pond at Elephant Head offers the perfect opportunity to catch it in action with your camera. Join Wildlife Photographer, Dano Grayson, fresh out of the Amazon Rainforest for a day (or two), for an evening of photographing bats and other wildlife at this private photography location. See the Pond at Elephant Head website here.  Limited to 9 participants.

Nightlife Social

  • 5:00pm-7:00pm
  • $5/person
  • Hang out with your favorite “birdy” friends with great snacks and a cash bar while getting excited about the upcoming festival events.

Half-day Trips

Close-up Wildlife Photography with Dano Grayson

  • 5:00am – 1:00pm
  • $140/person
  • Difficulty: 2 (Cool morning will quickly turn into a hot day, close-toed shoes, long pants and long sleeves, sun hat and sunscreen recommended. Some walking over uneven, rocky terrain expected. Most of time spent in photography blinds.)
    Join Wildlife Photographer Dano Grayson, fresh out of the Amazon Rainforest for a day (or two), for a morning of photographing the wildlife wonders of the Sonoran Desert. A full cast of characters come to visit the Pond including Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, warblers, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Gambel’s Quail, Greater Roadrunners, and of course the occasional surprises. Shooting from sunrise through the morning with the plan to leave the blinds just before noon. Lunch is included. The day offers opportunities to capture thousands of quality images of the local animals using unique methods to enrich your Portfolio with these desert delights. See the Pond at Elephant Head website here. Limited to 9 participants.

Workshops

Stop Documenting. Start Creating Beautiful Bird & Wildlife Images! with Lisa Langell

  • 10:30am – 12:00pm
  • $25/person
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced Photographer
    How can we think differently about nature and wildlife photography? How can we be innovative at a time when wildlife photography has virtually exploded to a point where nearly every subject seems over-photographed?
    Via an engaging, interactive and dynamic session, Lisa Langell will share her inspirational thoughts, guidance, and techniques regarding the purpose, composition, and inspiration behind both how and why we photograph nature—and how we can do so in more creative, purposeful, artistic, and fulfilling ways. Limited to 30 participants.

LBJs: Little Brown Jobbers with Homer Hansen

  • 1:30pm – 3:00pm
  • $25/person
    Our skulky sparrows come to life during the monsoon season in southeast Arizona, and species such as Botteri’s, Cassin’s and Grasshopper’s can be identified readily if you are familiar with their appearance and vocalizations. This workshop will introduce you to the breeding sparrows of our region, along with their habitat, identification characteristics, and songs. Take this workshop and then accompany Homer into the field on Saturday for a special sparrow field trip. No participant limit for workshop, but field trip is limited to 9 participants and you must sign up separately.

Transitioning into Bird and Nature Photography with Lisa Langell

  • 2:00pm – 3:30pm
  • $25/person
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner Photographer
    As an increasing number of birders and nature enthusiasts are turning to photography, the choices can be overwhelming for gear and accessories. This session will introduce the main categories of cameras available, as well as the pros and cons of each type of camera—from point-and-shoots, DSLR and mirrorless cameras—and even digiscoping. You’ll learn the basic terminology and how to determine your needs so that you select what’s right for you. Tips for selecting tripods, tripod heads, and truly helpful accessories will also be provided—all with a practical, budget-minded perspective so that you get what you need without overbuying gadgetry. Limited to 30 participants.

Evening Events and Field Trips

Birders Happy Hour

  • 6:00pm-7:30pm
  • $20/person
    Includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and free drink ticket. Share your favorite birding stories with old and new friends!

Bat Photography at Pond at Elephant Head with Dano Grayson

  • 6:00pm – 10:00pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: 1 (Prepare for hot temperatures with cooling as sun goes down. Most of time spent in photography blinds.)
    The desert comes alive at night and the Pond at Elephant Head offers the perfect opportunity to catch it in action with your camera. Join Wildlife Photographer, Dano Grayson, fresh out of the Amazon Rainforest for a day (or two), for an evening of photographing bats and other wildlife at this private photography location. See the Pond at Elephant Head website here.  Limited to 9 participants.

Moths: A Nocturnal Exploration with Pima County Naturalist Jeff Babson

  • 6:30pm – 9:30pm
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: 1 (Easily accessible location with a short drive)
    This trip is the field counterpart to accompanying moth workshop. On this trip, we will set up a UV light and see what treasures the night produces.  UV lights, also known as black lights, emit wavelengths that attract many insects, including moths and beetles. Many of these insects are common, but live their lives in darkness and many people are unaware of their existence. This trip will shine a light into the hidden diversity that exists at night in the Sonoran Desert.

Youth Event

Youth Birding Outing at Sweetwater Wetlands with Luke Tiller of Zeiss Sports Optics and Bill Thompson III of Birdwatcher’s Digest

  • 7:00am-9:30am
  • Free, please register here (separately from paid events)
    Get ready for a fun and easy walk through Tucson’s favorite wetlands to see exciting species like Green Heron hiding in the reeds and Tropical Kingbirds in the mesquites. Birders ages 6 – 17 and of all experience levels are welcome to participate in an expert-led trip! Binoculars will be available to use, courtesy of Zeiss Sports Optics. Limited to 30 participants.

Workshops

Introducing Point & Shoot Nature Photography: Birds and Wildlife, Macro and Landscape with Stephen Ingraham

  • 12:30pm – 2:00pm
  • $10/person
  • Serious nature photography is no longer the sole domain of the well-equipped DSLR photographer. As thousands of photographers have discovered over the past few years, today’s long zoom Point and Shoot digital cameras, in the hands of a thoughtful and creative photographer, are capable of amazingly satisfying images of everything from birds and wildlife, to macros of wildflowers and insects, to grand landscapes and sweeping panoramas under dramatic skies…all in a relatively small, compact, and inexpensive package. This workshop provides a basic introduction to the cameras (including how to choose the best one for your needs) and techniques that put nature photography within the reach of anyone with the desire to share what they appreciate in the natural world. Part inspiration and part instruction, it will change the way you look at nature photography…and convince you that it is indeed possible to be a “real” nature photographer with a Point & Shoot camera. Limit of 20 registrants.

Peaking Down The Rabbit Hole: A Beginner’s Look at Dragonflies and Damselflies in southeast Arizona

  • 3:00pm – 4:30pm
  • $10/person
  • Register through the main registration form
    Have you been curious about dragonflies but mystified by the challenge of identifying them? Join Chris Benesh and Laurens Halsey for a workshop aimed at providing a foundation for how to go about identifying these challenging arthropods. This will be followed by a Sunday field trip aimed at examining some of the odonate diversity found around Southeast Arizona. No participant limit for workshop, but field trip is limited to 9 participants and you must sign up separately.

Tamron Sponsors — Lecture and Hands on Tips from the Wildlife Experts!

  • 3:30pm to 5:00pm
  • $10/person
  • Join wildlife photographer, Lisa Langell, and falconer Kalen Pearson, of Falcon Force, for close-up images of raptors and hands-on photography tips. Tamron will be loaning lenses so please bring your camera body to get some great images!

Evening Event

Keynote Presentation* and Banquet with Bill Thompson III, “The Perils and Pitfalls of Birding”

  • 6:00pm–8:30pm
  • $75/person
  • A humorous narrative about the many mistakes, accidents, and embarrassing situations Bill Thompson III, has experienced in his 30+ years as a bird watcher. He urges the audience to avoid these same perils and pitfalls and even offers tips for how to do so. This light-hearted talk pokes fun at how we bird watchers have our own language, dress code, and food preferences. It’s guaranteed to generate laughs or Bill will clean the binoculars of everyone present.

    Half-day Trips

    Pond at Elephant Head Photography with Dano Grayson

    • 5:00am – 1:00pm
    • $140/person
    • Difficulty: 2 (Cool morning will quickly turn into a hot day, close-toed shoes, long pants and long sleeves, sun hat and sunscreen recommended. Some walking over uneven, rocky terrain expected. Most of time spent in photography blinds.)
      Join Wildlife Photographer Dano Grayson, fresh out of the Amazon Rainforest for a day (or two), for a morning of photographing the wildlife wonders of the Sonoran Desert. A full cast of characters come to visit the Pond including Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, warblers, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Gambel’s Quail, Greater Roadrunners, and of course the occasional surprises. Shooting from sunrise through the morning with the plan to leave the blinds just before noon. Lunch is included. The day offers opportunities to capture thousands of quality images of the local animals using unique methods to enrich your Portfolio with these desert delights. See the Pond at Elephant Head website here. Limited to 9 participants.

    Peaking Down The Rabbit Hole: A Beginner’s Look at Dragonflies and Damselflies in Southeast Arizona with Chris Benesh and Laurens Halsey

    • 6:30am – 12:00pm
    • $55/person
    • Difficulty: 2 (Some mild slopes, but some rocky surfaces.)
      This is the field trip portion of the Saturday workshop aimed at examining some of the odonate diversity found around Southeast Arizona. Have you been curious about dragonflies but mystified by the challenge of identifying them? Join Chris Benesh and Laurens Halsey for a Saturday workshop aimed at providing a foundation for how to go about identifying these challenging arthropods. Limited to 9 participants.

    Spotting Scopes 101 and Willcox Shorebirding with John Yerger

    • 5:30 am – 12:00 pm
    • $65/person
    • Difficulty: 1 (Flat walking on groomed trails or roads. Drive time to location approximately 80 minutes.)
      Thinking about buying a new spotting scope or want to know how to use your scope to its fullest capability? Join John Yerger on a half-day trip to the Willcox Twin Lakes and add a wide variety of shorebirds to your Arizona and festival species list. Likely species include Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, Long-billed Dowitcher, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Western, and Least Sandpipers. The lakes also play host to an array of migrant swallow species, as well as birds of the open grassland like Scaled Quail and Lark Sparrow. With sometimes hourly turnover nearly every visit during migration has a good chance of turning up something unusual. This will be a very relaxed paced half-day trip with limited walking on level surfaces. Bring your scope! Limited to 9 participants.

    Workshops

    Stunning Portrait Photography:  Raptors with Lisa Langell and Kalen Pearson sponsored by Tamron

    • 7:00am – 10:00am
    • $50/person
    • Difficulty Level: All skill levels and cameras are welcome—even smart phones!
    • *Tamron will have optics to loan so please bring a camera body
    • It is rare to have the opportunity to photograph raptors at close range, but this year’s festival will provide you with a truly special opportunity to do so!  We are offering a special session focused on to photograph numerous raptors– close-up and personal!  Two talented women — professional wildlife photographer Lisa Langell (Scottsdale, AZ) and professional falconer, Kalen Pearson (Scottsdale, AZ) are teaming up to help you take excellent images of these birds with any camera – including your smart phone!

    30 Secrets to Bird Photography for Anyone from Beginner to Pro with Scott Bourne of Olympus

    • 10:00am – 11:30am
    • $25/person
    • Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced Photographer
      Olympus Visionary Scott Bourne will (in rapid-fire manner) roll through AT LEAST 30 secrets to bird photography that will help anyone who’s interested in avian photos. Everything from when and where to shoot, gear selection, technique and composition will be discussed. Even brand new bird photographers will be able to pick up great tips from this class.

    Science of Optics with Marc Morris of Tamron

    • 12:30pm – 1:30pm
    • $10/person
    • A discussion on modern lens design. We’ll be talking about how the demands of digital changed photographic lens design and, further, how today’s high resolution sensors continue that paradigm shift. We’ll go over autofocus systems and their foibles, stabilization and its importance, how to read MTF charts at a glance (further enabling understanding such sites as DxO and Olaf) while also putting those charts in their place when considering a lens’s actual use in the real world. Bokeh, crop factor equivalence, transmission, rendering… the hope is that you’ll have a better understanding of lenses not just as angles of coverage and depth of field but also as crafted tools in and of themselves… and how that craft can affect the beginnings of your creative process, as well as the nuances of your final output.

    Evening Trips

    Bat Photography at Pond at Elephant Head with Dano Grayson

    • 6:00pm – 10:00pm
    • $110/person
    • Difficulty: 1 (Prepare for hot temperatures with cooling as sun goes down. Most of time spent in photography blinds.)
      The desert comes alive at night and the Pond at Elephant Head offers the perfect opportunity to catch it in action with your camera. Join Wildlife Photographer, Dano Grayson, fresh out of the Amazon Rainforest for a day (or two), for an evening of photographing bats and other wildlife at this private photography location. See the Pond at Elephant Head website here.  Limited to 9 participants.

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    Tucson Audubon Society
    300 E University Blvd. #120 Tucson, AZ 85705

    Mason Center
    3835 W Hardy Rd.
    Tucson, AZ 85742

    Paton Center for Hummingbirds
    477 Pennsylvania Ave.
    Patagonia, AZ 85624
    520 415-6447

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    Tucson Audubon Society
    300 E University Blvd. #120
    Tucson, AZ 85705

    Mason Center
    3835 W Hardy Rd.
    Tucson, AZ 85742

    Paton Center for Hummingbirds
    477 Pennsylvania Ave.
    Patagonia, AZ 85624
    520 415-6447