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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Wild Wednesday 24 March 2021, Rallids

by Walt Anderson My recent post on Wood Ducks featured one of the most beautiful of the waterfowl, though the entire family has many devoted fans, except perhaps the golfers who hate geese on the fairways. In contrast to the popular Anatidae, the Rallidae (rails, coots, gallinules) may be the Rodney Dangerfields of the water birds, not getting much respect. We shouldn’t deride the rails! I hope to improve their reputations a bit with this Wild Wednesday. There are 143 species of rallids worldwide, but only 9 native species in North America and a half dozen in Arizona, not counting […]

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Burned Area Recovery Project on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

by Ricardo Small On the 1st of March 2021, a team of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Altar Valley Conservation Alliance personnel and volunteers planted native seedlings in an area that experienced a human caused wildfire three years ago in 2018 on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (BANWR). Morgan Walter and Geoff Bland, leaders of the Burned Area Recovery Project with the USFWS and Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, organized the group with the help of Reta Rutledge, vice president of the Friends of BANWR. This was the fourth planting in the same burned area. The previous three […]

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Among Friends 17 March 2021 Wood Ducks

by Walt Anderson OK, I admit it. I’m a Duck Fan (Go Oregon!). But when it comes down to choosing favorites, the colorful, extravagant Wood Duck ranks right up there. These beautiful birds are not common in Arizona; in fact, the Breeding Bird Atlas published in 2005 only had nesting records from Yavapai County, specifically in Prescott and the Verde Valley. In the last couple years, they have nested at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge at Honnas Pond, which is good news, but climate change is predicted to impact them severely as Arizona’s few wetlands may not have enough […]

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