Among Friends 28 April 2021 White-faced Ibis

by Walt Anderson Today’s Among Friends features one of the most fascinating of the migrant birds to visit the area, the White-faced Ibis. It comes through the Buenos Aires Refuge on migration, stopping by standing water areas such as Aguirre Lake, Grebe Pond, and Arivaca Cienega. Of course, drought years greatly reduce suitable habitat on the refuge, but if you add water, they will come. There are 33 species of ibises worldwide, ranging from the flashy Scarlet Ibis to the endemic Madagascar Ibis and the highly endangered Crested Ibis of Japan. Their closest relatives are the spoonbills. This is the […]

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Dedicated to BOB FARRELL: A Devoted friend to BANWR, birds and the natural world

Bob Farrell first came out to the Refuge about 20 years ago to donate a microscope and that was the beginning of a dedication to BANWR and Friends of BANWR that included services such as photographer, vending machine maintenance, secretary and newsletter editor, bird counter and surveyor… He was a constant presence on the refuge and with the Friends doing whatever he could to help.  When Melissa Owens would tell Bob she spotted a new bird on her ranch he would go visit and they would hike her property to find the bird.  As Melissa said, “his enthusiasm for birds […]

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Another Farewell to our Seasonal Volunteers: Until next time!!!

Many thanks to our dedicated seasonal volunteers who spend several months every winter working tirelessly to maintain and support the Visitor Center area, camp sites, garden landscaping, quail facilities, trails and hikes, among many other things!  What would we do without them?  Especially during the past year — with several FWS staff pursuing other opportunities and restrictions of the coronavirus, the refuge has relied even more on the skills and experience of these volunteers!  Kudos to you and THANK YOU!

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Among Friends. 21 April 2021. Rufous-crowned Sparrow

by Walt Anderson Beginning birders sometimes despair at the diversity and relatively subtle color patterns of sparrows, though some are obvious: White-crowned, Black-throated, and Lark Sparrows are strikingly marked and fairly easy to identify. Juncos are actually sparrows, but the racial variation among them can be tricky at first. Towhees are a group of large sparrows, but even they often throw off the novice. As you get more familiar with birds, you can begin to appreciate the subtle beauty of sparrows, and I want to feature one of the most interesting, if least known: the Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Birds of the […]

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Wild Wednesday 14 April 2021 Hedgehogs

by Walt Anderson I’ve always been fascinated by hedgehogs, but since the mammal is not native to Arizona, I can’t write a column on them. So I decided to get Cereus—Echinocereus, that is—the spiny hedgehog cacti that are found in various species all over the state. A rose by any name . . . well, cacti are indeed close relatives of roses, and that surely accounts for the gorgeous flowers. When outsiders (non-Arizonans) think of cacti, they often think of just four elements—the Grand Canyon, sand, sun, and cacti. Arizona promotes itself as the state of five C’s: Copper, Cattle, […]

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Among Friends 7 April 2021, Great Horned Owls

by Walt Anderson The Great Horned Owl, justifiably called the “Tiger of the Night,” is found throughout North America and more than half of South America. In Arizona, it occurs from as low as 27’ near Yuma to 9800’ in the White Mountains, avoiding only the densest of forests and the most open of habitats. Buenos Aires NWR has a heathy population of these dramatic birds. Most members of the genus Bubo occur in the Old World, especially Africa, where they are called eagle-owls. Its closest North American relative is the Snowy Owl; both are apparently derived from a common […]

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Wild Wednesday 31 March 2021, Bunnies

by Walt Anderson As Easter approaches, the abundant purveyors of consumption have been targeting buyers with all sorts of items, many of them associated with the Easter Bunny. How this mythical creature got associated with the Biblical Easter holiday seems like a stretch to me. And I hate to burst any balloons, but the Easter Bunny does not lay eggs! He also doesn’t lay down, as those fluffy feathers would be uncomfortably ticklish, but sometimes he does lie down. All right, I just had to put out my lie-lay pet peeve. The domestic rabbit, often caricatured as the Easter Bunny, […]

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Volunteer Profile: Cleaning Up the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

by Ricardo Small Mark and Lorry McConnell are from Renton, WA. near Seattle. Lorry worked in banking and Mark in manufacturing. They both retired in May 2018 and starting traveling mostly in the winters throughout the western US and Canada. They’ve been in Arizona the last three winters to visit family and to enjoy pleasant winter weather while hiking and backpacking. Lorry and Mark have a history of volunteering prior to retirement through their children’s interests, their work and even in an unorganized way. When they stayed in campgrounds during their travels, they cleaned campsites and fire pits to make […]

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