A Tucson Meet Your Birds event at Sweetwater Wetlands on Saturday, March 4, aims to introduce area residents to the wonders of winged wildlife in Southeastern Arizona — a region that attracts more than 500 bird species throughout the year.
The free event, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the wetlands near Prince Road and Interstate 10, is hosted by the Tucson Audubon Society and Tucson Water, operator of the wetlands.
Birding experts from the Audubon Society will be stationed around the tree-lined paths and ponds at the 20-acre wetlands, employing spotting scopes to help visitors get a close-up view of birds. Binoculars will be available for visitors to borrow while touring the site.
Wildlife rehabilitation groups plan to have live hawks, owls, reptiles and desert animals available for viewing, and water experts will provide information on water conservation and wetlands operations.
Food trucks will provide refreshments for sale.
YEAR OF THE HUMMINGBIRD
Tucson Audubon has designated 2017 as “the Year of the Hummingbird,” and the tiny, colorful little birds will get special attention at Saturday’s event.
“Hummingbirds are incredibly easy to get to know,” said Keith Ashley, resource development director for Audubon. “You don’t need binoculars — just a feeder or a couple of native plants will bring them into your yard. Once they get comfortable, they’ll buzz right up to your face and say hello — especially if the feeder is empty.
“What a great little ambassador for connecting with all the amazing birdlife we have here in the Tucson area.”
A large number of hummingbird species flit and flutter around southeastern Arizona.
“The number we use is that every year, 13 species show up reliably,” Ashley said. “There are four more species that are occasionally found.”
Some of the species commonly spotted around Tucson are Anna’s, broad-billed, Costa’s and black-chinned hummingbirds.
Tucson Audubon is encouraging “hummingbird hotspots” throughout the city, in both private yards and public venues. The organization also has created a citizen science project in which Tucsonans can help gather scientific data about hummingbird populations and species distribution.