Sunday, October 21, 2007

Vermilion Flycatcher Love

A week ago I had the opportunity to take bird survey training with Tucson Audubon. I learned how to do point count surveys, transect surveys and a census. With this training I hope to put my passion to use in surveying Important Bird Areas or IBA's here in Southern Arizona. I heard about this training the day before it happened from a gal I just met named Kate. She is an avid birder also and told me about the training. I met her on Thursday and the training was on Friday and Saturday. I rearranged my schedule and made it happen.

We spent Friday morning in classroom work learning about the IBA program and how to take the surveys. On Saturday we did field work and I discovered new birding areas that I didn't even know existed. In walking the survey areas we did practice surveys and I was able to add 5 new birds to my life list. On Saturday, October 13, I saw my first Lawrence's goldfinch, western sandpiper, blue grosbeak and Vaux's swift, but my best new bird I actually saw on Friday in Himmel Park right in Tucson.

It was after class on Friday I drove to the Audubon Nature Center at 300 University Blvd., #120 where I paid my dues to become a member of Tucson Audubon. While there I chatted with the woman who was manning the desk. Tucson Audubon's newsletter is called the Vermilion Flycatcher. I mentioned to her I had yet to see one of those birds. It was she who directed me to the park. As soon as I left the store I drove right over, parked where she said, and looked up into the trees, and there on a twig he sat, aglow in the late afternoon sun.

I sat on the grass with my binoculars and watched this tiny winged gem. His back was the color of mink which ran into a slight mask on his face, but his breast and head were aflame with red. I watched him fly out and catch a bug only to alight on his perch again. He didn't seem bothered by my presence at all, but watched me with his tiny liquid eyes. I sat and watched him for a good 15 minutes and during that time I fell in love. I was amazed by his small size and his brilliant color. How could something so tiny and brightly colored survive in this harsh world? I was thrilled to have seen him and feared for a world where he will no longer exist. I pray that world never comes into being. It is my hope that by participating in the bird surveys I can contribute to the establishment of more Important Bird Areas which could then be protected and preserved so that generations to come can see vermillion flycatchers and other birds and fall in love for themselves.

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