Search of the Week: “what birds are protected in arizona”

Virtually all of them, and most by federal and state law.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted to protect America’s native birds, including the elegant Snowy Egret, from commercial exploitation.

Almost all birds native to the United States, whether migratory or not, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This includes songbirds, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, roadrunners, birds of prey, waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, seabirds, etc.

State laws can be more restrictive than federal but not less, so the MBTA represents the minimum level of protection for the native birds it covers—and it’s one of the strongest wildlife laws in the world. It was enacted in response to the wholesale slaughter of egrets, herons, and other charismatic birds for the feather trade. (It also put an end to market hunting of native birds, but this came too late to help the Passenger Pigeon.)

The MBTA allows the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to issue permits for managed recreational hunting of most traditional prey species, lethal control of “nuisance” birds, and live capture and possession of raptors for falconry (in states where falconry is legal), but commercial exploitation is strictly prohibited. That means you can buy a state hunting license and federal and state “duck stamps” and legally shoot your limit of waterfowl, but you can’t sell them or any part of thereof (including mounted trophies). With some exceptions for migratory gamebirds (including captive-bred ornamental waterfowl and the aforementioned taxidermy), you also can’t keep protected birds in captivity (even for altruistic reasons) or have their feathers, bones, nests, or eggs in your possession without a scientific,  educational, or religious/cultural permit.

Native “upland/nonmigratory gamebirds” —quail, grouse, Wild Turkey, and (in Texas only) Plain Chachalaca—are under state jurisdiction. States often regulate hunting of introduced game species such as pheasants and partridges, but most nonnative species—House Sparrows, European Starlings, Rock (Domestic/Feral) Pigeons, Eurasian Collared-Doves, Indian (Blue) Peafowl, feral chickensferal parrots, escaped (but non-breeding) domestic* or pet birds, etc.—have little or no legal protection anywhere in the U.S. except whatever might be afforded by county or city ordinances (which may have priority over state ordinances).

Disclaimer: IANAL. This is just a brief summary of common situations where the MBTA applies. It’s up to you to read federal, state, and local laws and understand how they apply to your situation. If in doubt, consult the appropriate government agency for advice.

* Special regulations apply to Mallards and Muscovy Ducks, since they exist in the U.S. as both domesticated (captive and feral) and native wild birds.

Dispatches from the West preview: September/October 2012

Male Montezuma Quail by Sheri L. Williamson

Male Montezuma Quail by Sheri L. Williamson

Montezuma Quail are the topic for my final “Dispatches from the West” column in the September/October issue of WildBird magazine. Here’s a teaser:

Our hearts pounded as we drank in every detail of his harlequin plumage. The quail stared back, and we could almost hear the gears slowly turning in his head. It finally seemed to dawn on him that he’d been spotted, and he slowly turned and strolled away, watching us over his shoulder.

This is usually where I encourage you to subscribe if you don’t already, but it’s too late. After being informed that WildBird was downsizing and no longer able to publish my column, I was saddened (but not surprised) to learn that the magazine will soon cease publication entirely.

WildBird‘s parent company, Bowtie Incorporated, publishes annual special issues on popular topics, and I hope to contribute to any issues covering wild birds. I’ll also be releasing my past columns and articles, along with other selected writings, in e-book form later this year. Thanks and best wishes to the staff of WildBird for so many years of reading enjoyment, and thanks to the subscribers and newsstand readers for supporting the magazine.

Search of the Week: “when do hummingbirds have babies in arizona”

Image

A female Anna’s Hummingbird on her nest at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in central Arizona. Females of this species normally have extensive red iridescence on the throat but rarely on the crown.

October to September. Seriously. Anna’s Hummingbirds nest as early as mid-October in Tucson, and Violet-crowned and Broad-billed hummingbirds may nest in spring and again during the late summer “monsoon,” fledging young as late as mid-September. No one species nests year round, but Arizona’s 11 breeding species cover 11 months of the year.

Addendum for the rest of the U.S. and Canada: In southern California, where the climate is mild and Anna’s, Allen’s, and Costa’s are year-round residents, active hummingbird nests can be found any month of the year. In coastal central California, with resident Anna’s and migratory Allen’s, the seasonality is similar to Arizona, with a hiatus starting in late summer and lasting until late fall or early winter.

The nesting season shrinks as you go further north, inland, and/or higher in elevation. Anna’s nest from mid-winter to late summer in coastal southwestern British Columbia, but the smaller, migratory Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds don’t even arrive at the northern edges of their ranges until mid to late May, respectively. Exceptionally late northern nests, such as an active Ruby-throated nest in Ontario, Canada in early September (Birds of North America), may represent females taking advantage of abundant late summer resources to get in a third (or even fourth) nesting attempt, while increasingly early arrival and nesting dates are expected in response to climate change.

For more detailed information on hummingbird life cycles, including isochron migration maps for the four most common and widespread species, see A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America.

With apologies to Poe

Since Birders On The Border doesn’t get as much traffic as LB&E, I thought I’d give my most recent post over there some additional exposure:

THE CHICKENS

Inspired by actual events.

Once upon a summer swelter, while I weltered in my shelter,
Reading backlogged emails, each more urgent than the one before,
As I toiled, resisting napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my kitchen door.
“‘Tis the FedEx guy,” I muttered, “tapping at my kitchen door –
Only this, and nothing more.”

The timing was inopportune, for in the midday heat of June
I hide indoors awaiting monsoon storms their cooling rains to pour.
Eagerly I wait and wonder, when will storm clouds roil and thunder,
Lightning tear the sky asunder, bringing coolness I long for,
Bringing long-awaited coolness that we desert rats adore,
And our peace of mind restore?

But the raps were not repeated, so I chose to remain seated
Avoiding summer air so heated by not going to the door,
There were emails to be sending, other business issues pending,
I should really not be spending time on phantoms at the door
Wasting Facebook time on chasing phantoms tapping at my door,
Though my butt grew numb and sore.

Back to my computer turning, my paycheck to resume earning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, lightly on the kitchen door.
“Surely,” said I, “that is someone who has braved the hellish noon sun
A delivery errand to run, and this knock I can’t ignore,
A package or a letter, too important for me to ignore.”
I rose, and strode toward the door.

Turning now the shining brass knob I was greeted by a small mob
Of hot chickens gathered on the porch before the kitchen door:
Joni blond and partridge Pearlie, brainy Grace and Bonnie burly,
Thinking they’d be let in, surely, if their Mom they did implore,
They gazed at me so pitifully, a ploy they hoped I would fall for.
And then they walked right in the door.

Through the kitchen four spoiled hens stroll, past the fridge and to the dog’s bowl,
Checking here and there for crumbs and morsels dropped upon the floor,
No rustic roost was ever finer than a La-Z-Boy designer
Plush and cushiony recliner Dad and Mom worked hard to score,
Soft recliners far more comfortable than carpet or bare floor,
Soon festooned with chickens four.

“Out!” I cried, “Before the pooping starts and I’m reduced to scooping
Guano from the furniture, the carpet and the hardwood floor!
You’re common barnyard fowl” I chided, “and you’re tragically misguided
If you think you’ll be abided as you foul my hardwood floor,
Foul my chairs, my tufted carpets and the oak upon my floor.”
Quoth the chickens, Brahk-ahk borrr?

Then these winsome fowl beguiling my stern visage into smiling
By the charm and innocence of the countenance they wore,
“Though you’ll no doubt make some crappies and you have no chicken nappies,
I do love to see you happy, though your messes I abhor.
I will let you roam a while until you start to soil the floor.”
Then Joni pooped upon the floor.

“Out!” I cried, my patience snapping, “Why such frequent need for crapping?
Oaks long dead don’t need your guano – take your butts back out the door!
You’re not princesses,” I berated, “so you shouldn’t look deflated
When you find you’re reinstated in your coop behind your door,
Safe from my wrath and coyotes, locked behind a sturdy door.
Quoth the chickens, Brahk-ahk borrr?

As I chased them toward the doorway, they began to act like wild prey,
Dodging, ducking hands, the chickens managed to evade me more
‘Round the living room we gyred until I became so tired
And so hot I near expired and flopped down upon the floor,
So tired and hot that I forgot what I was chasing chickens for.
They clucked in triumph, Brahk-ahk borrr!

And the chickens, never flitting, still are sitting, still are sitting
On the arms and backs of chairs I tried to keep them off before,
And their eyes are smug and gleaming as they ponder how their scheming
Did prevail against my screaming as I chased them ’round the floor.
And these fowl from off my chairs and out my house and out my door
Shall be evicted… nevermore.

Birders On The Border: With apologies to Poe

Birds + clay + Arizona = FUN!

I recently connected with a kindred spirit in master polymer clay artist Carol Simmons. Carol also shares my passion for nature in general and birds in particular, so it didn’t take much wheedling and prodding on my part to convince her to team up for a clay + birds workshop in southeastern Arizona next April May!

Carol will share her techniques for creating and using her exquisite intricate cane veneers, and I’ll lead optional low-key, beginner-friendly bird walks and field trips. Casa de San Pedro Bed & Breakfast has been tapped to host the workshop, and early April mid-May birding along the San Pedro River is a colorful and inspiring experience (so are the breakfasts!).

For more information as the workshop develops, please bookmark Carol’s class and workshop schedule.

UPDATE: The workshop is scheduled for May 13-19, 2012 at Casa de San Pedro Bed & Breakfast. Fees and registration information to follow.

Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast: an endangered hummingbird hot spot

A female Lucifer Hummingbird, one of Ash Canyon B&B's star attractions

Hummingbird enthusiasts and other bird lovers around the world have been following the complex and contentious controversy over access to Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast in southeastern Arizona.

Resentments that had apparently been festering for years erupted after the Cochise County Planning & Zoning Commission granted owner Mary Jo Ballator a special-use permit to formalize the day-visitation portion of her operation. Owners of several neighboring properties responded by filing an appeal to have the permit revoked.

Yesterday, the county commissioners held a hearing to consider this issue. The neighbors were allowed to air their objections, including irrelevant complaints about trespass by hunters and hikers and transparently self-serving claims that 1) feeding is harmful to birds(!), 2) the Plain-capped Starthroat that summered with Mary Jo in 2002 and 2003 was a random, one-time thing(!!), and 3) Lucifer Hummingbirds can be seen in many locations(!!!).

I wasn’t the only member of the audience flabbergasted when one complainant took the stand with a copy of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds in hand, sticky notes marking passages he hoped would support these claims. When my turn came to testify, I spent most of my precious three minutes refuting disinformation and defending my book’s integrity instead of praising Mary Jo’s exemplary hospitality to both birds and people.

Despite expert testimony and passionate testimonials from many members of the birding community (including over 350 letters of support), the issues of traffic, noise, privacy, trespassing, and easement interpretations remained, and the commissioners voted 2-1 to revoke the permit. There’s still hope that a compromise can be worked out to allow Mary Jo to continue welcoming visitors while reducing their impact on neighbors. Otherwise, the easement issue may end up being decided in court.

For the time being, Mary Jo will continue to welcome her friends in the birding community on a limited basis. She now has only 6 parking spaces and can no longer accommodate RVs or buses. With this change in operations comes a reduction in income, so Mary Jo needs our support more than ever. If you’re lucky enough to visit her yard this spring or summer, please make a generous contribution to the feeder fund.

Though I doubt she’ll ever see this post, I’d like to thank (again) Bisbee’s representative on the Cochise County Board of Supervisors, Vice-Chair Ann English, for casting the sole vote in support of Mary Jo and against the appeal.

“Out the Window” preview: March/April 2011

Here’s a teaser from my “Out the Window” column in the March/April 2011 issue of WildBird magazine:

Cactus Wren. Say’s Phoebe. Cassin’s Kingbird. Western Tanager. Killdeer. Curve-billed Thrasher. American Kestrel. Bullock’s Oriole.

Dawn was barely breaking, and it sounded like someone was playing A Field Guide to Western Bird Songs at top volume outside our bedroom window.

Ordinarily I enjoy birding by ear, but after working on a project into the wee hours of the morning I needed a little more face time with my pillow. Rolling over, I pulled back the curtain and squinted up at the slim form silhouetted atop the mesquite tree…

Not a WildBird subscriber yet? This link to Amazon.com will get you six colorful, information-packed issues (a full year), and your purchase will also benefit the conservation and education programs of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. Single copies of Wildbird are also available at newsstands and bookstores.

You’ll find WildBird and other birding magazines plus field guides, feeders and accessories, seeds for hummingbird-friendly plants, and more at SABO’s online shop, The Trogon’s Nest, powered by Amazon.com.