Backyard birdwatching and birding trips in Arizona soared during the pandemic and growth continues

Contributed Photo//Courtesy R.W. Morse Company

Resident Arizona bird author Richard Cachor Taylor releases a comprehensive field guide, Birds of Arizona, for every skill level

Contributed Article/Courtesy R.W. Morse Company

Portal – The pandemic saw an increase in backyard birding and birding trips, especially to bird-rich Arizona. People found solace in the outdoors and connected with what was immediately around them, birds! For many, birding (birdwatching) has become their window into nature and a wonderful hobby. The R.W. Morse Company is pleased to announce the newest title in their series of bird field guides that span the American West. Birds of Arizona, authored by well-known Arizona birder Richard Cachor Taylor, provides information for birders of every skill level, from beginner to advanced, and contains detailed color range maps showing the seasonal distribution of birds in the state. The book will be available mid-October 2022 and found at most Arizona Barnes & Noble bookstores, nature shops, Amazon, Wild Birds Unlimited, and select Ace Hardware locations. For more information Follow on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo Courtesy R.W. Morse Company

Birds of Arizona provides information about the description, status, habitat, and behavior of every regularly occurring bird in Arizona, rarities, and all the specialties from Mexico observed in Arizona. By treating over 500 species this has now become the most comprehensive bird field guide of the state’s birds. Along with species accounts, the book has over 900 color photographs showing the key field marks of each species. Full-color range maps, based on e-bird data and the observations of visiting and resident birders, allow the user to see at a glance the seasons where each species occurs within this state.

Arizona has more species of hummingbirds than any other state. Hummingbirds create a great deal of excitement among birders and their non-birding spouses and friends alike. Taylor covers all 17 species of Arizona hummingbirds. Knowing that distinct species of hummingbirds are found at specific elevations, he has created for the first time, a chart showing the elevation ranges of Arizona hummingbirds. This will provide valuable information for visiting birders.

Graphic Courtesy R.W. Morse Company

Who is this book for? “I wrote Birds of Arizona with three specific friends in mind. The first person is a newly minted birder who realized birds offer a foundation for understanding nature. The second person has birdwatched for years and can identify most species they encounter but is curious about the nuances of a given shorebird’s or warbler’s seasonal appearance, habitat preferences, and its status within our state. Finally, the third person is a professional. The text, range maps, and the photos showing correct subspecies and color morphs offer a convenient resource for double-checking facts about a bird’s occurrence in Arizona. All three of these friends share an immense enjoyment in simply watching birds. I wrote the book for them–and for me. Throughout my own evolution as a birder, this is the book I always wanted,” Taylor said.

A lifelong resident of Southeastern Arizona, Taylor has been involved in birding since he was a teen making observations and recording them. It was his hobby before he knew it was a hobby and all his biology is self-taught. Taylor loves being around birders. During his years working for the U.S. Forest Service, many campers he met were there because of birding opportunities. He found them to be intelligent, articulate, have a sense of humor, love nature, and committed. They will travel hours to see a new species.

In 1977, he launched an eight-year-long study of the Elegant Trogon and the community of birds in which it dwells. This led him to an appreciation of the wealth of birds that live in Arizona. Taylor is considered the world’s leading authority on the Elegant Trogon, a foot-long tropical species that is iridescent green and brilliant scarlet. Barely reaching the U.S. in Arizona’s border ranges, Elegant Trogons occur south to Central America. There are over 25,000 out-of-state birders every year who visit Arizona hoping to see this charismatic rarity and other unique Arizona birds, and they generate millions of dollars in revenue for local merchants. Now under the auspices of the Tucson Audubon Society, Taylor continues to help compile the annual Elegant Trogon census results, a survey he originated in the 1970s. 

During his research, Taylor also spotted the first Eared Quetzal ever seen in the U.S. In 1980 he founded Borderland Tours; a birding travel company dedicated to responsible ecotourism as a means of providing an economic platform for the world’s wildlife communities. In 1995 the American Birding Association published his A Birder’s Guide to Southeastern Arizona, which he revised in 2005. The R.W. Morse Company released the first edition of his Birds of Southeastern Arizona in 2010 and is now in its 7th printing. Richard is the keynote presenter at the Arizona Field Ornithologist Society’s yearly meeting in September 2022.

The R.W. Morse Company publishes regional bird guides for the Western United States from Olympia, Washington. Owners Bob and Christina Morse both have a lifelong interest in birds and birding which led the company to write and publish books about this fascinating part of nature. For more information