April 11, 2012

Migration Celebration

by: Crista Alvey


Today’s post is by Crista Alvey. Crista is a marketing intern for the City of Phoenix through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds. She is working to increase awareness of the need to protect migratory birds in urban settings through traditional and social media.

Did you know that Rufous hummingbirds migrate enormous distances every year, following the cycles of the flowers and insects they depend upon for food? These little hummers fly from as far south as Central America to as far north as Canada and Alaska. On their way, they may pause in your yard, looking for a safe place to eat and rest.

The City of Phoenix and Arizona Audubon invite you to come learn how to protect hummingbirds and other migratory birds and provide them with much needed food and shelter at the Migration Celebration this Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15, at the Rio Salado Audubon Center.

Hummingbirds are part of a network of pollinators that account for the propagation and survival of 75% of flowering plants. A full one third of the food we harvest depends on pollinators. Hummingbirds and other migratory birds contribute additional essential services of controlling insect populations, dispersing seeds, and providing the aesthetic and emotional benefits we all enjoy.  However, the populations of pollinators and migratory birds are in decline due to loss of habitat as a result of urban development.

In the Phoenix valley, much of the area’s bird habitat was lost due to the construction of dams in the early 1900s that stopped the natural flow of the Salt River, Rio Salado. In order to address this loss of habitat and recreation, the City of Phoenix launched a major restoration effort which restored 600 acres of habitat along the river. This area is home to a variety of Arizona wildlife, including a recorded 200 species of birds.

The City of Phoenix is continuing its conservation efforts with the help of a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to promote the protection of migratory birds. Using this funding, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department partnered with Arizona Audubon to install a migratory bird and pollinator garden full of native wildflowers, succulents, trees, and shrubs at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project.  Over the course of seven months, and with the help of many motivated volunteers, invasive plants and cobbles were removed, topsoil was added, native plant species were chosen that attract hummingbirds, and over 500 plants were put in the ground.

Now the flowers are blooming, and the area is being transformed into critical habitat for pollinators and migratory birds. This garden will serve as a wildlife habitat, a beautiful place to visit, and a resource to teach residents how to develop their own bird gardens. The garden also incorporates bird viewing areas appropriate for all visitors, including those with limited mobility, which will increase the level of bird monitoring at Rio Salado and will encourage people with disabilities to get involved with birding.

Migration Celebration attendees will be able to explore this newly planted migratory bird and pollinator garden while learning about hummingbirds and other migratory birds, butterflies, and bats from Audubon volunteers, staff, and local biologists.  Join us to see live animals and enjoy crafts, games, and activities for the whole family. For those interested in a more detailed look at our many migrant species, come down on Saturday at the start of the event for a series of talks on hummingbirds and more.

Migration Celebration
Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15, 2012, 9am – 3pm
Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center
3131 S. Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ, 85040
Admission and parking are free
For more information, contact Audubon Arizona at 602-468-6470

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the author.

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3 Responses

  1. Jeff Spellman says:


    This sounds like a lot of fun learning about the migratory birds that pass through the Phoenix area and stop at the Rio Salado for some rest, food and water. The weather forecast is for rain on Saturday and maybe Sunday. Will there by things to do inside if it’s raining?

  2. Crista Alvey says:

    Jeff, it should be a blast! If it does rain, which is currently forecast to pass by early Saturday morning, there will be free crafts indoors and a speakers’ series from 10 am to noon.

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