By Karen McBride
[Editor’s Note: This column was written and published in the Green Valley News in 2006 so please do not call any phone numbers listed and ignore the upcoming events as they are already past!]
Madera Canyon is a haven for hummingbirds. The mild climate, cool elevations, and lush riparian corridors of this Sky Island provide excellent living conditions for many species from North American, Central America and Mexico. They migrate up the Sierra Madre Occidental to nest and summer in our canyons. This year, flowering plants that are attractive to hummingbirds abound after our winter rains in bright patches larger than I’ve seen in years past. It should be a great summer to watch hummingbirds. Grab your binoculars and put on your walking shoes. This might be the year of the Starthroat!
I’m writing my May column early so that I can tell you about some upcoming hummingbird doings in our area. First, on the weekend of May 13-15 at the Tucson Convention Center, the Hummingbird Society is presenting its “Festival of Hummingbirds.” This annual event begins with a hummingbird field trip on Friday, May 13 (advance reservations required), and includes a Gala Reception Benefit at the Westward Look Resort on May 14 that offers a raffle prize of a trip for two to the fabulous Xandari Resort and Spa in Costa Rica. Proceeds of the Gala and raffle will support the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum hummingbird aviary.
In addition to those two events, there will be a wide variety of programs and speakers; a Nature’s Pallette Wildlife Art Show; a bus trip to the Desert Museum; a Nature Expo both Saturday and Sunday with booths of non-profits, artisans, and businesses; and a hummingbird garden tour of the Tucson Botanical Garden—something for everyone, from beginner to research scientist. What better place to “meet kindred spirits, to find those who share your particular fascination with the world’s smallest and most beautiful family of birds.” For complete information, log on to www.festivalofhummingbirds.org/2005/ or call 1-800-529-3699.
In MaderaCanyon on Monday, May 16, we will continue the hummingbird festivities with “A Birds-Eye View of Madera Canyon.” You must park at the Proctor parking lot just past the Welcome Station and a free shuttle will run every 20 minutes from 6:20 a.m. until 10:20 a.m. up to the Chuparosa Inn where George West will be banding hummingbirds. He will also describe the techniques of banding and discuss the results of his many years of research.
Also, docents will be at the Proctor Pavilion to lead short walks on the Proctor Trail (handicapped accessible) and will describe the flora and fauna of the area. There will be coffee, tea, and donuts at the Proctor Pavilion.
Don’t forget to bring your parking passes or be prepared to pay the required daily $5 parking fee. Yearly passes can be purchased for $20 at the two gift shops in the Canyon and are also good for Sabino Canyon and Mt. Lemmon. If you have a Golden Age Passport, simply place it on your dashboard and your fee is waived. Or, if you need to obtain any of the Golden Passports, they are available at Tumacacori National Historical Park.