Published On: Thu, Jan 2nd, 2020

Friday Morning Bird Walks In Catalina State Park

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Just twenty-five miles north of downtown Tucson, Arizona, Catalina State Park lies in the Santa Catalina Mountain foothills and is home to nearly 200 species of resident and migrant birds. The Friday morning bird walks are an excellent way to observe and identify many of these.

Catalina State Park Overview

Fifty-five hundred acre Catalina State Park, in the Coronado National Forest near Tucson, is one of twenty seven Arizona state parks. There are eight designated trails in the park, including the popular Canyon Loop Trail and the Birding Trail.

There are two year-round campgrounds providing RV space (and a dump station), an equestrian center, as well as group and individual picnic areas.

The Friday Morning Bird Walks in Catalina State Park

From mid-October through April, and sometimes into May, guided bird walks are provided at no charge. The walks start at the public picnic area at designated times between seven and eight in the morning, depending upon the time of year (later times during the shorter days of December and January). Check with the ranger at the entrance station for the current departure time before you go.

The walks are led by professional guide and park volunteer Denis Wright, and follow an unmarked trail from the picnic area. As a rule, these walks are slow, easily negotiated with virtually no elevation change and return to the picnic area within two to two and a half hours. The total distance covered is less than two miles, with frequent stops to observe plants and animals, as well as birds.

Generally, the group consists of ten to twenty people, some from the campground (and consequently from anywhere in the United States and Canada), as well as local Tucson residents. Often, other members of the Tucson Audubon Society, as well as local botanists and biologists join the group, providing a wealth of educational opportunities for less-experienced participants.

Birding By Ear

Friday Morning Bird Walks In Catalina State Park

The leader, Denis Wright, is a low key and patient teacher, as well as an expert birder. He knows the park’s birds perhaps better than anyone else. Birders who join this walk for the first time will be most impressed by Denis’s ability to identify yet-unseen birds by sound, call or song. Often, Denis’s finely tuned hearing will pick up a call that others in the group can’t hear, and more often than not the identified bird soon comes into view.

Denis also uses a reflecting mirror to help birders locate birds he has spotted. Catching the Arizona sun, he reflects a beam of light to a spot just below (never on) the target bird, giving the group an easy way to find birds that otherwise are difficult to spot in bushes and trees.

The Birds of Catalina State Park

Once the walk returns to the picnic area, Denis takes a seat at a picnic table and the group completes a checklist of the species seen that morning. Typically, this consists of thirty to fifty birds. The group also picks the “bird of the day”, and this list is then posted in the entrance station with prior lists.

A day’s list is too numerous to detail here, but often contains a surprise or two together with more commonly seen residents. Probably the most prized resident is the Rufous-winged Sparrow, which is commonly found in the park, but only rarely seen elsewhere. Other common birds include Gila Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, Black-throated Sparrow, Crissal and Curve-billed Thrasher, Verdin, Say’s Phoebe, Bewick’s, Cactus and Canyon Wrens.

Each season brings special non-resident birds, examples of which include Lawrence’s Goldfinch and Rufous-backed Robin in the winter, Townsend’s Warbler and Scott’s Oriole in the spring or fall and Lucy’s Warbler and Broad-billed Hummingbird in the summer. The park’s bird list shows nearly 200 species of resident and migratory birds that have been seen in the park.

Getting to Catalina Park in Arizona

Drive north of Tucson on Oracle Road (Highway 77). Seven miles beyond Ina Road, there is a stoplight at the entrance into Oro Valley Market Place. Turn right into the park at this stoplight.

Opportunity Birding Six Months of the Year Near Tucson

Catalina Park’s free Friday morning bird walks offer a special opportunity to learn about southeast Arizona birds from local experts. The mountain setting is spectacular, and the walks are relaxed and easy. Both seasoned birders as well as novices will benefit from these outings, and need bring only binoculars and water.

About the Author

- I am an internet marketing expert with an experience of 8 years.My hobbies are SEO,Content services and reading ebooks.I am founder of SRJ News andTech Preview.

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