Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival 2013

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Ranked as one of the best annual birding festivals in the United States, the Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival will take place from 31 July to 3 August 2013. Features of the program include keynote speaker Scott Weidensaul, and field trips targeting endemics, and free nature seminars. For more information visit swwings.org

Dates: 31 July-3 August 2013
Venue: Sierra Vista
State: Arizona
Country: United States

Santa Cruz Nature & Heritage Festival 2013

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This exciting wildlife festival includes two birding trips to Mexico and five trips in the Southern Arizona region where birders will have the opportunity to see a host of nesting migratory birds, particularly hummingbirds, along with permanent feathered residents. For more in formation visit www.santacruznatureheritage.org

Dates: 2-5 May 2013
Venue: Rio Rico
State: Arizona
Country: United States

Wings Over Willcox 2013

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Wings Over Willcox will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with this event set to take place on 16-20 January 2013. This premier birding and nature festival will include tours, geology, local history and botany. Seminars, nature expo featuring live animals, wildlife arts and crafts and children’s activities are all part of the fun. For more information visit www.wingsoverwillcox.com

Date: 16-20 January 2013
Venue: Willcox
State: Arizona
Country: United States

Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival 2012

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This celebration of the unique biodiversity of southeastern Arizona offers the opportunity to discover and enjoy the Sky Islands and Sonoran Desert as an educational experience. For more information visit www.tucsonaudubon.org

Dates: 15-19 August 2012
Venue: Riverpark Inn
City: Tucson
State: Arizona
Country: United States

Warblers – Specialty Workshop

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The Tucson Audubon Society presents a Warbler Specialty Workshop with Homer Hansen. Learn to distinguish fall warblers, with key structural characteristics and species comparisons, along with warbler vocalizations. For more information visit the Tucson Audubon Society Website.

Dates: 23-25 August 2012
Venue: Tucson Audubon Society
City: Tucson
State: Arizona
Country: United States

2012 Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival

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Located at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains, Cochise College in Sierra Vista will be the venue for the 2012 Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival. The festival program features 35 expanded field trips and more than 50 free programs covering a wide variety of topics. For more information visit the 2012 Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival Website

Dates: 1-4 August 2012
Venue: Conchise College
City: Sierra Vista
State: Arizona
Country: USA

Southwest Wings Festival

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The 20th Annual Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista, or Southwest Wings, is both educational and fun, as participants learn about birds, reptiles, mammals and insects in southern Arizona. The festival boasts a busy schedule of events including 40 field trips (including overnight trips), a welcome reception, keynote address by Scott Weidensaul (the title being “Living on the Wind: The Miracle of Bird Migration”) and movie night. There will also be a number of free programs, including Warbler identification, Butterflies for Birders, choosing and using optics, Bird identification, Hummingbirds of the US, Birding by ear, Arizona Dragonflies 101, Ants of Southern Arizona, Photo workshop, Hummingbirds 101 and so much more. Registration for the event can be done online.

Date: 3 to 6 August 2011
Venue: Cochise College Campus
City: Sierra Vista
State: Arizona
Country: United States of America

Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans)

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The Elegant Trogon or the Trogon elegans is very similar to the rarer Eared Trogon, the difference being the barred undersurface of the tail and the white breast band. This stunning bird is related to the Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), the bird of the Maya emperor-gods. The Trogon has a small habitat range, which barely reaches the United States and so is a birder‘s treasure when they find it. Trogons are insectivorous but they often include small fruits in their diet. Their legs are weak and their bills broad, a clear indication of their diet and arboreal habits. They are fast flyers but don’t enjoy long distances hence the small habitat that they are confined to.

The Trogon is 10 inches or 28 to 30 cm long and has a short, stout hooked yellow bill, weighing 65-67 grams. It has an upright posture and the tail is long and square-cut at the tip. The male is beautiful and has a lovely dark, glossy, emerald green upper body as well as the head and upper breast. The breast also has a white band with the belly and tail coverts being crimson in color with a black band. The underpart of the tail is gray with white bars going across it, the head is black with a pale color around the eye.

The female is duller in color and is plain brown where the male is green, pink and crimson, with a white breast and light coffee-colored bands across the chest. The Trogon will nest 2 to 6 meters high in a shallow cavity like an old woodpeckers hole and has 2 to 3 eggs in every clutch.

The Elegant Trogon is restricted to the southeastern part of Arizona in the United States to northwestern Costa Rica, and at times in the southeastern and western part of Texas. The Elegant Trogon is considered a near passerine bird or a higher land-bird assemblage, a name given to those believed to be related to the true passerines because of their ecological similarities. The Trogon’s normal call is a croaking “co-ah co-ah co-ah” sound and sometimes it includes a chattering noise.

Gray Hawk (Asturina nitida)

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The Gray Hawk (Asturina nitida) is a small raptor that is 15 inches in length and has a wingspan of 35 inches. It is predominantly gray in color, with its throat and belly being white with barred gray coloring. Its upper tail coverts are white and it has very pale colored plumage under its wings. The Gray Hawk is resident to the southwestern United States regions, Mexico, Arizona, Central Argentina and Brazil.

Gray Hawks prefer to live in forests and woodland areas. It is not unusual to see them in agricultural fields, savanna trees and in open patches between forests. They prey on small animals, birds and snakes, and stalk their prey from perches in the trees. Once a prey animal has been sighted, the Grey Hawk will swoop down from the tree and catch its meal. Hawks are also known to hunt for prey, while gliding low to the ground, and are very agile hunters. They can maneuver themselves through the trees very swiftly. Nests are built high up in the trees from sticks, and are lined with leaves. Both the male and female will participate in the construction of the nest; of which the male will build the foundation of the nest, and the female will construct the bowl. The female hawk will lay between one to three white eggs that can sometimes be marked with red and pale blue. Only the female Grey Hawk takes part in the incubation of the eggs; however, the male provides her with food for the first two weeks. The incubation period is approximately 33 days. After the two weeks, the female is able to participate in hunting. It has not been established exactly how long it takes the chicks to be able to hunt. The  chicks fledge the nest at approximately six weeks.

In Texas and Arizona, the Gray Hawk is considered a threatened species, even though is does not have an official conservation status. It is the low population numbers that have led these areas to implement conservation programs around the Gray Hawk, and to monitor breeding pairs. These projects can be very beneficial to the over sensitive Gray Hawks. They are known to be very skittish, and will sometimes abandon their nests as a result of an innocent domestic disturbance, such as a picnic that is held too close for comfort.

Montezuma Quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae)

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The Cyrtonyx montezumae, or as it is more commonly known, the Montezuma quail, is seven inches in length and is a small, shy, stocky bird with round wings. It also has a short, rounded brown tail and is basically a ground-dwelling bird. This bird is mainly a Mexican species and can be found along the entire length of the western side of the country. The northern range of its territory goes into southern Arizona and New Mexico where they can be found in many small groups scattered in different mountain ranges. There are also small groups scattered in West Texas.

The adult male Montezuma quail has an attractive black and white harlequin face patterning and a dark brown belly. The male has a reddish-brown crest that goes backwards and covers his entire nape. The side of his breast and his flanks are a grey color with white spots speckled all over and the main part of his breast being a rich brown. His back is a dark brown with many reddish-brown colored streaks painted on and his wing coverts are also a brown color but have solid black spots to break the brown. Although the male has such decorative and bold patterning he is still relatively hard to spot, let alone study and census.

The female quail has an overall duller brown plumage in comparison to the male, with dark upper parts. She has the same black and white face patterning as the male but it is a more mottled brown and reddish-brown color. Like the male she also has a reddish-brown colored crest that covers the nape and she is touched all over with reddy-white streaks. The Montezuma quail is unlike any other quail because of its plumage and head shape. The female is however similar to the female Northern Bobwhite but the Montezuma quail has a darker belly.

These quails are secretive birds and it takes one quite a while to spot them in the grassy oak woodlands in the American Southwest and western Mexico. These beautiful birds in America are under threat because of the extensive habitat degradation and destruction that has taken place as well as the increased hunting that is taking place. Conservation efforts are being made to ensure the survival of a number of species of quails, including the fascinating Montezuma Quail.

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