Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Return of the Wrenegades

It's that time of year again when the Wrenegades unite and try to find as many bird species as we can in one day!  All the money raised goes towards Tucson Audubon.

Northern Cardinal in my yard
While it's exhausting, we have such a great time together.  Months of preparation are set into motion.  

The Hooded Oriole has just returned back to Tucson! 
On May 1st, the team reunites.  And it's going to be epic!  This year I plan to use the live feature on Facebook to chronicle our journeys.  Should be quite fun:)

We begin with smiles at midnight and end with "zzzzz's" the next day
Captain Jennie MacFarland leads the team.  Tim Helentjaris carefully schedules the routes.  I am the team recorder.  Sara Pike and Matt Griffiths are the publicity gurus and first officers of our mission.  They keep us on track and on time!

Black Phoebe at a local patch
We begin in darkness and typically end in darkness:)  It's an intense journey into the mountains, grasslands and desert landscape around Southern Arizona as we race against time to find as many birds as we can.

Lesser Goldfinch feeds from local wildflowers near my home
There are several routes I enjoy very much which include, of course, the grasslands.  You never know what you will face.  Take for example last year.  We had a rabid skunk chase us off a trail while searching for some secretive birds.

Rabid Skunk territory! Be careful Tim!
At about 2 AM, we had a Flammulated Owl fly over our heads as one of the members had to use the bathroom.  As the person gets to the outhouse in the middle of the woods, our team member shouts out, I hear an OWL!  This little owl was right over their head:)  We all had a good laugh.

A Common Black Hawk returns to a nest I monitor every year.
There is nothing like falling asleep in a van waiting to hear the "gobble gobble" of Wild Turkeys as the sun rises.

Blue-winged Teal dot the waterfowl counts
As many of you know, I do a lot of travel around the country and world to find our birds.  I am proud to live in one of the "birdiest" places on this planet.  Much of our habitat is protected or will be protected thanks in part to Tucson Audubon's work with the public and researchers.  And it takes money to keep this operation going.  Arizona has great birding but it's better thanks to these folks!

I would never bird urban Tucson at night but when we join together, nothing stops the Wrenegade!

A Birdathon Big Day is an important way to share the excitement of being outdoors and watching birds while raising funds to support the programs that make this region a better place for us all to live(or visit!) and enjoy.

The crew finds their second wind
Since 1987, Birdathon has garnered support for birds and bird-friendly habitats, and for Tucson Audubon's work to conserve these unique natural resources and to educate our community on their importance. 

Anna's Hummingbird hangs out at a local park feeding from the wildflowers
If you would like to donate, just click on the link here and scroll a little ways down. We are the Wrenegades with Jennie Wren. It's safe and secure.  A login is not required after you go to the donate button.  Every little bit counts. Our journey begins on May 1st.

Yellow-eyed Junco
 Until next time friends.....


  1. Sounds like a great, if tiring day, in a good cause with the spice of the unexpected adding to it!

  2. Sounds like past Birdathons were fun, and rewarding, times, Chris. Well done you for supporting such a worthy cause.

    I wish you and the rest of the Wrenegades every success (birds and fund-raising) on May 1st. All the best - - - Richard

  3. So great photos of birds! I hope that I can see hummingbird one day…
    This kind of campaign like Birdathon are very important.

  4. Lots of great birds here today. I think my pick today was that Hooded Oriole.

  5. Very beautiful and colorful birds.

  6. Oh man..........do I EVER wish I could be there. I envy y'all.

    And such magnificent birds photos Chris. Magnificent.

  7. I think that junco swallowed a balloon! He's rather fluffed up and beautifully plump. We're headed for Sedona, Arizona this summer. I'm so excited to see that area. None of our trips are necessarily birding trips, but as always, we are on the look out just the same. I love birds. We should see a few.

  8. Well Chris, if your Wrenegades see the birds as good as your photos then I reckon you will all have the most wonderful day as well as raise lots of cash. Birdathons and bird counts do capture the imagination of many a Joe Public who would otherwise find something less good to donate to.

    Here's wishing you and the team every success. Cheers.

  9. Sounds a wonderful idea, great birding, great fun while raising funds :) Love all your photos and I hope you and the team have a very successful day. I look forward to reading all about the day in a month or so :)

  10. I can't tell you how much my hubby would love this sort of excursion, since acquiring his new camera he is such a keen birder! You captured some amazingly coloured beauties here Chris.


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