134166aThere are several bird watching opportunities coming up over the next several weeks. Close to home, we have the third annual Sedona Hummingbird Festival sponsored by The Hummingbird Society. This event takes place from Friday, Aug. 1, through Sunday, Aug. 3, at the Sedona Red Rock High School on Upper Red Rock Loop Road. Tthere will be hummingbird experts from around the world presenting programs on a variety of topics.

This year’s event will have a special emphasis on gardening to attract hummingbirds. There will be garden tours, sunrise breakfast tours at homes with huge numbers of hummingbirds, and there will be the opportunity to witness hummingbird banding at private residences. The lobby of the Sedona Performing Arts Center at Red Rock High School will be transformed into a “hummingbird marketplace.”

In addition to the emphasis on hummingbirds, there will also be bird watching trips to Page Springs Fish Hatchery and to Oak Creek Canyon. For more information about the Hummingbird Festival, visit the Hummingbird Society website at www.hummingbirdsociety.org. Many of the events have a fee and require reservations and the advance purchase of tickets.

That same weekend is the 23rd annual Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista, Ariz. The festival starts on Wednesday July 30, and runs through Saturday Aug. 2.

This is a great time of year to go birding in Southeastern Arizona. The monsoon rains of July and August result in a second spring, and many bird species wait until this time of year before singing and nesting. Many species such as Botteri’s and Cassin’s sparrows become more observable because of increased activity.

Hummingbird migration will be in full swing, and it is possible to see anywhere between 10 and 14 different hummingbird species this time of year in and around the Huachuca Mountains. Places like Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast, Beatty’s Guest Ranch in Miller Canyon and the Nature Conservancy property in Ramsey Canyon are world-famous hummingbird viewing destinations, and this is the best time of year to visit.

The festival offers workshops, seminars and guided field trips to places as far away as the Chiricahua Mountains, Sonoita and Patagonia Lake. Participating in guided bird walks increases the likelihood of seeing many of the rare specialty birds found in Southeastern Arizona including elegant trogon, sulphur-bellied flycatcher and rare owl species, such as Mexican spotted owl and whiskered screech owl.

Last year, my wife and I attended this festival and had a vendor booth where we sold binoculars and spotting scopes. This year, Ryan, the Prescott store manager, and I will be going down. We have every intention of birding before and after our vendor booth is open each day! I’m looking forward to seeing some really exciting bird species. For more information about the festival, visit their website at www.swwings.org.

And finally, the Tucson Audubon Society will be hosting its Bird and Wildlife Festival from Aug. 13-17. This festival specializes in providing guided bird walks to prime Sonoran Desert habitats and to the Sky Islands of Southeastern Arizona.

The term “sky islands” was first used in 1967, to describe the scattered mountain ranges that are isolated from each other by valleys (seas) of grassland and desert. These mountain ranges host a combination of habitats which translates into a diversity of wildlife. This is especially true of the number of bird species that can be observed in this part of Arizona. For more information about this upcoming event, visit their website at www.tucsonaudubon.org.

Until next week, Happy Birding!