Arizona Winter Birding Festival a Winner for Conservation March 13, 2007
On the heels of the success of 2005's 30th Anniversary Celebration, VENT hosted its Arizona Winter Birding Festival, January 10-15, in scenic Tucson, Arizona. Long revered as a summertime birding haven, southeast Arizona is also a sensational wintertime birding destination.
For the event we assembled a talented cadre of leaders that included Victor Emanuel, Kenn Kaufman, Barry Zimmer and Barry Lyon. Kenn is one of the foremost field observers in North America, whose interests have expanded beyond birding to include mammals, butterflies, insects, and plants. As the author of numerous books on natural history, and as a familiar face on the speaking circuit, we were thrilled to have him with us!
Though the main focus of the festival was on celebrating the winter birding season, we felt strongly about including a conservation theme to the proceedings. Conservation of birds and their habitats is a topic we wholeheartedly embrace, and we knew when we organized this event we wanted to do what we could to support the efforts of those whose hard work enables thousands of birders annually to come to southeast Arizona and enjoy its fabulous birdlife.
The Tucson Audubon Society is among the more effective conservation-minded Audubon chapters in the country. Its record of securing vitally important habitat and working constructively with local landowners is excellent. This is the kind of organization we like to support.
Included in the Festival fee paid by every participant was a $50 contribution to Tucson Audubon, to be used specifically for habitat protection and restoration. Our event was held at the Embassy Suites in south Tucson, and joining us for the final night was Executive Director of Tucson Audubon, Sonja Macys, and Director of Citizen Science for National Audubon, Paul Green.
Following dinner, Barry Lyon presented Sonja a check for $950.00. In her acknowledgment, Sonja detailed how Tucson Audubon's conservation focus is on preserving and restoring riparian and upland desert habitats, much of which has been lost in the last 100 years to grazing, groundwater pumping, river canalization, farming and rapid urban development. Finally, she made a short presentation, complete with aerial maps on how our contribution would be used to protect and restore important bottomland habitat along the Santa Cruz River south of Tucson.
VENT has been operating tours to Arizona for more than twenty years and in order to ensure that the tradition continues, we proudly support the work of Tucson Audubon.