Recently, I went on a trek with a good friend from Wisconsin, Flat Landon. He wanted to know what it was like to live in the state of Arizona.
|Stanley loved the California Poppies!|
So he put on his seat belt and off we went.
Rule 1. Always bring water with you. The desert is hot and dry. Water is very important during a hike. So Landon brought along a reusable plastic bottle to fill with water. He wanted to reduce the amount of plastic bottles thrown away. What a smart guy!
Landon pretended to smile. But deep down, I knew he was hurting. I've also fallen into several cactus myself during my hikes. It really hurts!
As we moved into the mountains and along the great Salt River, Stanley asked me, "Why is the Rusty Blackbird so important? It's just a bird."
|The Rusty Blackbird!!!|
Landon was shocked! He thought all endangered creatures were only found outside the US. When he discovered that we had endangered mammals, birds, frogs, etc in the United States, he was sad. I told him to keep hope. When I was his age, there were only 22 California Condors left in the wild. But today, after conservation efforts, there are over 425 Condors alive.
Just then, wild horses caught Landon's attention! "What are those doing here?" I told him that they were the last of the wild horses in the West. He responded, "Like from the time of cowboys?" Yes. Now while I knew that these horses weren't good for the natural habitat of the Salt River, I kept it to myself. It's good to let kids dream. For now, it was a magical moment.
Then Landon asked me what we could do to help out the Rusty Blackbird. As I was about to respond, I noticed Landon walking along the rocks not paying attention. As he was about to put his foot down, I yelled, "WATCH OUT!! YOU'RE ABOUT TO STEP ON A RATTLESNAKE!"
Landon screamed. And I screamed with him. Rule 3. Don't step on snakes. He was about to throw rocks at the snake. When I stopped him from doing so, he asked me why we shouldn't kill the snake. I told him that while I'm not a big fan of snakes, they serve a very important role in nature. "But you screamed too?" And I may have messed my pants a little. My response was quick. "In the desert, we have to watch where we step at all times." He smiled, "Wow! You've got to keep your eyes open all the time. Cactus, snakes, heat....what else?" I thought about telling him about giant spiders and cats, but a snake was enough for one day.
"Landon, you are the future caretaker of this planet. The Rusty Blackbird migrates through Wisconsin in spring. You asked me what you can do to help. I'll tell you. Today, we are going to record this bird and report her online to help scientists figure out a way to save her species and protect her home."
"So even I can save the Rusty Blackbird?", he asked. "YES. We ALL can." For 25 minutes, we observed this special bird feed with the other birds along the shores of the river.
After a wonderful day out, Landon was exhausted from the sun and the desert adventures. Once we returned back to Tucson, we submitted all the necessary data into ebird and AZFO. Landon told me that he had a fun day out and wanted to go birding some more. YES! A future birder!
I told him that we would go birding in the morning, but for now it was time to sleep. Then he saw bats hanging from his ceiling. However that is another story. The Sonoran Desert is one of the most spectacular places on this planet.
Landon will have lots of stories to share when he heads back to Wisconsin:) Until next time....