Arizona WRAN News: September, 2019
Chapter Highlight: Yellow-billed Cuckoo Surveys
Everything about Western Yellow-billed Cuckoos makes them a challenge to survey. They are in Arizona for only a short time, and during the hottest months of the year - typically arriving in June and leaving in September. They are known for their expert secrecy and are far more often heard than seen. They rely on dense cottonwood/willow forests found along Arizona’s streams and rivers – perfect for producing the large insects they need to feed their fast-growing young, but tricky to access and navigate for surveyors.
This year, despite the challenges, our team surveyed 60 kilometers across six watersheds, spotted cuckoos nearly 300 times, and identified 44 potential breeding territories. You may be wondering how we get so much done in such a narrow survey window. The answer: Arizona’s Audubon chapters are dedicated to protecting the Important Bird Areas in their backyards and are willing to put in the work to make it happen.
Sonoran Audubon Society:
For nine years and counting, the Sonoran Audubon Society has been surveying Western Yellow-billed Cuckoos on the Agua Fria River, the heart of the Agua Fria National Monument Riparian Corridors IBA. This year, they documented occupancy and likely breeding on two routes within the IBA and confirmed nesting on a third. Thanks to their work over the years, the Bureau of Land Management has been able to enact several management strategies that benefit cuckoos and the Agua Fria – vehicle exclusions, winter-only grazing, and active restoration.
Prescott Audubon Society:
Since 2016, the Prescott Audubon Society has been surveying the Verde River within the Upper Verde State Wildlife Area IBA. During the 2019 survey season, they surveyed eight kilometers of the Verde and identified an equal number of potential breeding territories. When asked about their favorite part of the effort, you’d expect (chapter members being bird fanatics and all) that it’d be the great birding they get to enjoy on one of Central Arizona’s most intact riparian areas, but you’d be surprised. For these surveyors, their favorite parts about surveying for Western Yellow-billed Cuckoos come from working as a team – recruiting new surveyors, learning from each other in the field, and making a conservation impact that is bigger than they could achieve on their own.
Are you a member of your local Audubon chapter? They are more than just bird experts. They are conservation advocates, educators, community organizers, and community scientists and it’s because of them that Audubon has the capacity to take action from the local to national scale. Click here to find a chapter near you and learn how they can put you to action for Arizona’s rivers and birds.
Want to dig deeper into the issues affecting Arizona's Rivers and water? Check out the blog entries below:
- Arizona Legislature Wraps up with Wins for Birds, Water, and Public Lands. June, 2019.
- In the Field—Western Rivers Bird Count. June, 2019.
- International Infrastructure Issues Threaten Arizona’s Santa Cruz River. May, 2019.
- Audubon’s Jennifer Pitt Honored with Leadership Award for Colorado River Work. May, 2019.
- Arizona Needs to Resolve Long-Running Lawsuit in Order to Protect Rivers. April, 2019.
- A Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Is in Place—Now What? April, 2019.
- Bipartisan Colorado River Drought Plan Signed into Law Averting Potentially Catastrophic Outcomes for People and Birds. April, 2019.
- Outdoor Recreation Along Arizona’s Waterways is a $13.5 Billion Industry, Ranked Higher than Golf and Mining, New Report Says. April, 2019.
- Bipartisan Colorado River Drought Plan Overwhelmingly Passes in Congress. Audubon Says: “Win for People and Birds in the Arid West.” April, 2019.
- New Federal Rule Would Reduce Protections for Water in the West, Harming People and Birds. March, 2019.
- How Craft Beer Is Helping Save Water In the Colorado River Basin. March, 2019.
- The Drought Contingency Plan and How We Got Here. March, 2019.
- After Major Progress in Arizona Water Policy, Audubon Continues the Cause. February, 2019.
- Audubon Gives Testimony In Support of Funding to Remove Invasive Plants Along Arizona's Rivers. February, 2019.
- Historic Agreement Reached in Arizona to Avert Devastating Water Shortages in the West: Audubon says “critical step in protecting 36 million people and 400 species of birds”. January, 2019.
- Audubon: Pass the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan. January, 2019.
- What is Going on with Water Planning in Arizona? December, 2018.
- What happened in Vegas? When it comes to water, this doesn’t stay in Vegas. December, 2018.
- Eight Natural Resource Issues for the next U.S. Senator from Arizona. November, 2018.
- 10 Things You Should Know About Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act. October, 2018.
- Balancing the needs of rivers, riparian habitat, and housing while ensuring environmental protections and sustainability for Arizonans. August, 2018.
- Dense forests, encroached meadows, and devastating wildfires: How Audubon and the Arizona Elk Society work together to protect rivers in the West. August, 2018.
- Using less and paying more. A conundrum it seems, until you dig a little deeper. July, 2018.
- Connecting the Dots: From DCP and Lake Mead to Protecting Flowing Rivers and Habitat: Why birders and wildlife advocates should care about Lake Mead. June, 2018
(To see stories from across the Colorado River Basin, visit National Audubon's Western Water News page.)
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