Photo By Diane Drobka: Sandhill Cranes fly against the sunset sky.
Tours and seminars set for January 17-19
Contributed Article By Diane Drobka
Willcox – The Wings Over Willcox (WOW) Birding and Nature Festival is less than two months away and online registration is now open. January 17-19, 2020, will be the 27th anniversary of Arizona’s premier winter birding and natural history event. A complete list of tours and free seminars, as well as online registration, can be found at www.wingsoverwillcox.com.
Dozens of popular tours will be led by some of southeastern Arizona’s top birding experts. Forays will include half-day tours such as Sparrow Seek and Hawk Stalk as well as sunrise and sunset crane viewing. Botany, history, geology, and wine-tasting tours are also offered. Full-day trips will venture to the Chiricahua Mountains and Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area. Those leaving on early-morning tours can enjoy the Rotary Breakfast at the Willcox Community Center.
Tours offer something for both the casual birder and those wanting a new species for their life lists. Southeastern Arizona boasts many species that are not common in other areas. These include Harris’s Hawk, Montezuma Quail, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Yellow-eyed Junco, Bendire’s and Crissal Thrashers, Bridled Titmouse, and Mexican Chickadee.
Some of Arizona’s more common species, such as Black-throated Sparrow, Cactus Wren, Greater Roadrunner, Pyrrhuloxia, Acorn Woodpecker and Phainopepla, can be a special treat for out-of-state visitors. Beginner or expert, there’s no escaping the thrill of the sight and sounds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes in flight! An estimated 30,000 cranes are in the Sulphur Springs Valley this winter.
Saturday will feature the return of the evening banquet and silent auction at the Elks Lodge with keynote speaker Rick Taylor. His talk, Six Seasons: A Birding Year in the Land of the Apache, will highlight the Chiricahua Apaches’ six seasons based on transitions in nature and how those relate to birds.
Educational seminars will take place at the Community Center throughout the weekend. Some of the birding tours begin with a half-hour slide show illustrating field marks that are useful in field identification. Other talks will focus on butterflies, bats, aquatic insects and an introduction to Sandhill Cranes. A nest-box building class will teach basic construction skills, allowing children to assemble a nest box to take home for their yard.
The Nature Expo will include educational displays, merchandise, and activities for children and adults. Arizona Game and Fish wildlife specialists will be on hand with live animals for close-up views. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel will have information about local recreation and wildlife-viewing opportunities.
Register for tours now at www.wingsoverwillcox.com or call 520-384-2874 for more information.