Watercolor Birds with Saraiya Kanning

Join artist Saraiya Kanning in this easy-to-follow watercolor class inspired by birds of the Sonoran Desert! We’ll learn to mix a range of vibrant and subtle hues to illustrate some of southeast Arizona’s most unique birds. We’ll combine representational techniques with a playful, explorative spirit that allows each participant to lean into their own style. Bring your own supplies or use in-class supplies for a $7 fee. Supply List: watercolor pan of your choice, water paper (140 lb), masking tape, paper towels or rag, cup for water, medium sized soft-haired round brush (Taklon is an example of soft hair), medium sized soft-haired flat brush (optional), other soft-haired brush sizes (optional), pencil and eraser.

Sunset Birding at Reid Park

Difficulty: Easy (Mostly flat, groomed trails)

Finish out your birding day by walking the grounds of Reid Park looking for early migrants, Vermilion Flycatchers, Black-crowned Night Herons, and possibly Lesser Nighthawks. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 2 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 10 participants.

Black-crowned Night Heron by David Kreidler

Fall Migration Watch with Brian Gibbons

Difficulty: Easy

Join Victor Emanuel Nature Tours leader, Brian Gibbons, for a fall migration watch from his backyard, located in east Tucson near the Pantano Wash. Brian’s yard is noted for once having a Juan Fernandez Petrel fly over, and while we probably won’t have this notable of a species, we will experience fall migration in a unique manner, noting kingbirds, swallows, mockingbirds, tanagers, and more. Specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 10 participants.

Tree Swallows by Bob Feldman

Panama: A Birding & Nature Paradise with Carlos Bethancourt sponsored by Canopy Family

Panama, though scarcely the size of South Carolina, but perfectly positioned as a narrow land bridge between North and South America, is blessed with an incredible natural beauty and biodiversity second to none. Over 1010 bird species, hundreds of mammals, reptiles & amphibians, and a staggering 10,000 plant species have been recorded here. Join knowledgeable and entertaining Canopy Family senior guide Carlos Bethancourt on a photographic journey of the tropical birds, bizarre mammals, unusual reptiles & amphibians and spectacular habitats from the former Canal Zone of Panama, to the foothills of western Panama and into the wilds of the Darién lowlands in eastern Panama. From toucans to hummingbirds, Panamanian Night monkeys, Kinkajou, Carlos will keep you spellbound with his stories of discovery and vivid images. Come experience why Panama is indeed a birding and nature paradise!

Red-legged Honeycreeper by Aaron Maizlish

Sabino Canyon Evening Hike with Carl Zeiss Sports Optics

Difficulty: Moderate (Will include walking in the dark, some uphill on dirt trails and some paved road. Total distance about 2 miles.)
Sabino Canyon night hikes during monsoon season are a local favorite past-time. We will walk up in the light and walk down in the dark in search of birds, toads, snakes, bugs, and more! Good possibilities for Lesser Nighthawk and Common Poorwill at sunset and we’ll hope for monsoon rains so we can see and hear Spadefoots and giant Sonoran Desert Toads. Lizards, scorpions, and tarantulas are crowd favorites and maybe we’ll run into a Gila Monster. We will go at a slow pace and be sure to bring a water bottle and be prepared for hot weather. You’ll also have the opportunity to discover the nightlife with ZEISS thermal imaging cameras. Developed for nature enthusiasts, ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras deliver detailed images for extremely reliable species identification even in low light or total darkness. Participants will be able to try out the thermal imaging cameras to discover how they can be used to maximize their wildlife viewing experience.

Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is approximately 25 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 10 participants.

Giant Hairy Scorpion by Doris Evans

Mt. Lemmon Area with Kadynn Hatfield of Arizona Birding Tours

Scott's Oriole by Mick Thompson

Difficulty: Moderate (possibly some steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)

We’ll start at the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground to search for birds of oak woodland such as Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, Bushtit, and Scott’s Oriole before heading up to higher elevations and new habitats. A stop in Bear Canyon puts us in a beautiful canyon where we’ll search for Mexican Jay, Plumbeous Vireo, and Grace’s Warbler among others in the sycamores and pines. Depending on timing and activity we may visit other locations as well. Drive time to initial meeting location from festival venue is about 40 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand.  Limited to 8 participants.

Scott’s Oriole by Mick Thompson

The Secret Lives of Desert Purple Martins with Jennie MacFarland and Zach Steinhauser

Difficulty: Moderate (walking over uneven, rocky terrain and off trails relatively short distances)

Be a part of the Desert Purple Martin Project research crew for a morning! Tucson Audubon is using technology and a network of volunteers to learn more about these little known birds that nest in saguaro cavities during the monsoon abundance. We will visit several saguaros with active nests and use an endoscope camera and telescoping pole to peek inside the nests. We will be gathering real datapoints of what stage each nest has reached as specific timing of nests is still not completely known to science. Participants must wear sturdy shoes, long pants and sleeves, binoculars, hat and other sun protection. Bring water and snacks, it heats up quickly in the desert! Specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 10 participants.

Purple Martin pair by Henry T McLin

Bird Banding with Aya Pickett and Adam Hannuksela

Learn what bird banding is all about, why it is important, and how it is done by professionals Aya Pickett, Tucson Audubon’s Restoration Project Manager, and Adam Hannuksela of Sonoran Joint Venture. We’ll meet at the iconic Paton Center for Hummingbirds and then out to our mist nest station along the Sonoita Creek in the Cuckoo Corridor. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 70 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 10 participants.

Summer Tanager by Hemant Kishan

Get Rid of Invasive Grasses and Plant Natives for the Birds with Karen Howe

Invasive grasses threaten millions of acres of native habitat in the Southwest. Grass infestations increase the potential for fires that threaten homes and destroy native habitats.  Get practical information for identifying and removing invasive grasses, based on experiences in a Tucson HOA (homeowner’s association).  Healthy native habitats are a great defense against fires and prevent the spread of grasses. Learn what to plant in the Sonoran Desert to attract and support local birds. We’ll share new resources developed with the Tucson Audubon Invasive Grass Strike Team and from the Tucson Audubon Habitat at Home program.

Merlin Sound ID – the Next Steps with Scott Crabtree

We’ve all been thrilled by the advent of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Merlin Sound ID – helping birders sort out the sound they hear around them, and suggesting identifications. All from that powerful computer in your hand that you call a phone! Cornell depends upon quality recordings submitted to the Macaulay Library, via eBird, in order to continually upgrade their machine learning of bird vocalizations. By submitting better quality recordings, we get a more accurate Sound ID product! Want to help? Let’s learn to edit our bird sound recordings. eBird / Cornell Lab of O / Macaulay Library has excellent guidance and tutorials for preparing recordings for upload, yet they involve using unfamiliar software (Audacity, OcenAudio) and unfamiliar processes (normalization, high-pass filtering, audio file formats.) Scott Crabtree will unpack all of that, demonstrate the workflow Macaulay recommends, and boil down the software to something more user-friendly. Topics may include:

  • Data flow from your recording device to the editing software
  • The basic processes for preparing your recording for upload
  • How to upload via eBird, and if there’s interest, to xeno-canto

If the birds are cooperative, a recording will be obtained that afternoon at the Doubletree, and we’ll follow that recording through to a final, upload-able product.

Image by Matthew Studebaker