The Winter Sparrows tour and workshop in Southeast Arizona is part of ABA’s Institute for Field Ornithology (IFO) program, which endeavors to:
- hold workshops and courses for improving field skills and ornithological knowledge;
- make known ways in which birders might con tribute to the scientific or aesthetic appreciation of birds in their natural habitats;
- encourage cooperation between amateur and professional ornithologists;
- contribute to the conservation of wild birds;
- provide a convenient location for all to work, to study, and to discuss birds.
During IFO events, there is always an emphasis on helping workshop attendees improve their field skills and increase their ornithological knowledge—goals ultimately intended to enable you to more effectively engage in activities that will benefit future bird conservation efforts. It has never been a goal of IFO workshops to merely identify and record as many bird species as possible within the time allotted for the courses. IFO instructors try to remain focused on their workshop topics, while the day-to-day organization of most IFO workshops strives to provide a healthy blend of indoor learning activities, along with extensive time spent in the field reinforcing information presented in the classroom. (from The ABA’s Institute for Field Ornithology: A Brief History)
Sierra Vista is situated in the heart of southeastern Arizona, one of the finest birding locations in the U.S. Southeastern Arizona is part of the Sky Islands, a region known for its rich diversity of bird species and habitats. Sierra Vista is located at the base of the Huachuca Mountains and is near several riparian corridors, grassland plains, and agricultural communities. Over the course of this trip, we will visit the Huachuca Mountains, San Pedro River National Conservation Area, Patagonia Lake State Park, Whitewater Draw, BLM Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, Sulphur Springs Valley, Santa Cruz River, and San Rafael Valley.
Winter is an excellent time to observe many species of sparrow and longspur migrants that overwinter in this region in addition to the local resident breeders. Potential highlights include Botteri’s, Rufous-winged, Black-chinned, and Baird’s Sparrows and Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspurs. Other birds of interest that may be seen include Ferruginous Hawk, Scaled Quail, Bendire’s Thrasher, and Mountain Plover.
Homer M. Hansen is the author of the G.I.S.S. Series bird identification guides and has been bird watching in the southwest since 1995. Homer is a native of Willcox, Arizona, and was chairman of the annual Wings Over Willcox Birding & Nature Festival for 17 years. He feels fortunate to have grown up surrounded by Sandhill Cranes in winter and Cassin’s Sparrows in summer. Homer has given numerous workshops and tours on raptors, sparrows, flycatchers, warblers, bird vocalizations, and other aspects of bird ecology over the years and is a regular presenter and trip leader for Arizona birding festivals. He is also the course instructor for the Tucson Audubon Society’s specialty birding workshops.