Open Mic: Birding opens up a new appreciation for the Sonoran Desert

At the mic: Alfredo Vasquez was born and raised in Tucson and is a senior at City High School. He has interests in wildlife conservation, learning new languages, traveling the world, playing music, reading, and camping. Alfredo is an active member in the Ironwood Tree Experience youth outdoor programs where he enjoys overnight camping trips and birdwatching. With ITE and on his personal pursuits, he has visited Tonto National Monument, Canyon de Chelly, Chaco Canyon, the Gila National Forest and the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa. Alfredo hopes to have a career providing solutions for human-wildlife conflicts.


In 2014 I was given the opportunity to go birding for the first time as part of a new All About Birds Program. Without previous experience, I decided to take the offer the staff at Ironwood Tree Experience (ITE) gave me. All About Birds is a partnership between ITE, the Sonoran Joint Venture, and Tucson Audubon Society. The goal? Connect southern Arizona youth to the natural world through birds.
The first outing I went on, which took place in Pima Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, opened my eyes to a new world. During the field trip, previously unnoticed beauties of the Sonoran Desert began to appear before my eyes. The desert never seemed so alive before. Being exposed to species like the Verdin, the American Kestrel, and the Cactus Wren, along with birding experts, changed my perspective on the distinctiveness of this region of the world I live in.
Being taught straightforward birding skills in All About Birds has opened many doors for me. Just knowing how to use binoculars has given me the opportunity to share interesting wildlife with friends on other trips. I now realize that being able to share information about birds to others has many benefits. For instance, birds are part of the complex food webs that occur in nature. By knowing the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzles that connect food webs, a person can start making decisions to help conserve even the most unconsidered of species, which are sometimes birds. Just as a smile can change someone’s day, the spread of knowledge can determine the future of a species.


All About Birds is made possible through the support of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Heritage Fund Program.



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