Birds of Coldwater Farm

Introduction
My Birds of Coldwater Farm is complete at last. It is an illustrated guide to 146 bird species seen at Coldwater Farm during the first two decades of the Twenty-first Century. I included photographs, conservation status, and comments on species abundance trends at the Farm. Keywords:  Birds, Coldwater Farm, Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, Conservation, Natural History.

Bird Identification

The photographs in this book will give you a name for many of the birds you see. However, you will also want a field guide. You can find one in most bookstores and you can download an app for your phone. Field guides help you distinguish similar bird species and they provide much more information than this book. Away from my desk, I use the Audubon Society Bird Guide app. It has pictures, recordings, range maps, and descriptions of each species’ preferred habitat and its mating, nesting, and feeding behavior. It also describes nests, eggs, and conservation status. At my desk, I use the fabulous Cornel Lab Birds of North America Online. Both the Audubon app and the Cornel Lab website have simple interactive tools that will let you become an instant success at bird identification (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/).

Bird Conservation

With concern for the health and survival of the birds, I dug into the published conservation literature on each species. I found that two species at the Farm, the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo are on the U. S. endangered species list and other species are in decline.

The book is available in all the usual places, but since the bookstores and libraries are closed, you have to buy it online or direct from the publisher. This is the Amazon link. The book’s retail price is $39.95, but if you want a PDF copy, it’s free. Click here.

Rogers, Garry. 2020. Birds of Coldwater Farm, Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, Birds Observed  During the First Two Decades of the Twenty-First Century. Coldwater Press, Prescott, AZ. 177 p.

Most of the birds are shown in the Photo Gallery

American Southwest threatened by heavy-rain monsoons

GR: The article below illustrates the value of scientific analysis. The Southwest Monsoon has always caused flooding. However, memory alone is an unreliable indicator of changes in storm strength; numerical comparison of time periods is better. The analysis mentioned in this article confirms the assertion that climate-change is bringing stronger storms to the Southwest.

Flooding is the primary danger from intense monsoon storms, but around my house you sometimes have to dodge falling branches too. Combining wind and rain-soaked leaves often breaks the brittle branches of the weeping willows surrounding my place. The one below fell on Sunday. It only weighs a few hundred pounds, but over recent years, branches weighing several tons have fallen. The ominous sounds of cracking and crashing lend wings to one’s feet.

Fallen weeping willow branch.

From LabRoots:

“A new study published recently in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology suggests that the North American Monsoon (NAM) is becoming more intense in the United States Southwest, particularly in Arizona. Their results show that while storms are not as frequent as they have been in the last 60 years, the rain episodes are heavier and include high winds, dust storms, and flooding, which often threaten residents and property. This pattern, the study concludes, is consistent with flux caused by climate change.

Monsoons often come on suddenly. Photo: The Arizona Experience

“Because of specific Department of Defense installations in the Southwest, and because the existing models of the NAM do not represent patterns in the climate accurately, the team analyzed Arizona rainfall data from 1950-1970 and compared it with data from 1991-2010. Defining severe weather events as days when the highest atmospheric instability and moisture occur within a long-term regional climate simulation, the scientists found that while the mean precipitation for the region stayed the same during the different time epochs, the later time period had more heavy-rain storms.” –Kathryn DeMuth Sullivan (More: American Southwest threatened by heavy-rain monsoons).

Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona Wins Gold

Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona Wins Literary Classics Gold

July 1, 2017 –Literary Classics International Youth Book Awards (LC) announced award winners today. LC previously awarded Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona the LC Seal of Approval. Today the book was honored with the LC Gold Award.

“Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature for young readers, takes great pride in its role to help promote literature which appeals to youth while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations.”

Literary Classics Awards Ceremony

This year, Literary Classics International presents awards on Sunday September 3, 2017. The awards event includes a round-table discussion for authors, a writers’ conference, book signing, and authors’ reception in conjunction with the Great American Book Festival.

Excerpt and Book Details

The past decade’s droughts, storms, and spreading deserts show that humanity is changing the Earth. Research coming from many sources shows that worldwide animal extinctions are occurring 100 times faster than in Earth’s previous mass-extinction events recorded in the fossil record.

Extinction isn’t the only concern. Total loss of a species results after years of decline. The Living Planet Index, which measures abundance levels of 14,152 monitored populations of 3,706 vertebrate species, shows that a worldwide crash is occurring. On average, monitored species declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

One of the oldest and most familiar citizen-participation activities is the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Wildlife biologists have used the Bird Count to monitor bird species populations. A recent analysis of the Count’s results show that many U.S. bird species are declining. Some of our most familiar birds appear in current counts less than half as often as they did just 50 years ago. For example, over the past 50 years, sightings of Loggerhead Shrikes, a common Arizona species, declined by 72%. The Shrike in the photograph at left is the only one I have seen in 19 years of watching at my place.

Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) wildlife biologists conclude that at least 58% of Arizona’s native birds are definitely declining and . Another 20% are of possible long-term concern. The U.S. Endangered Species Act protects only 1% of Arizona bird species.

The reason for the declining numbers is not a mystery. Researchers have shown that the declines are due to the impact of human activities, chiefly:

  • habitat destruction (building and farming)
  • resource harvests (logging, livestock grazing, and water diversion)
  • habitat deterioration caused by introduced invasive plants
  • habitat poisoning with pesticides, toxic wastes, and in the case of the oceans, acidification due to CO2 increases and increases in organic runoff from the land.

The human impact is a direct result of human construction, land clearing, and resource consumption. Our total global population is nearing 7.5 billion and we are using the Earth’s renewable resources faster than natural processes replenish them.

Unless we control our population and consumption or unless drought, disease, pollution, and rising temperature control them for us, the environmental impacts of our growth will eventually eliminate upwards of 80% of our bird species.

I believe nature conservation was the great challenge of the 20th Century, and we failed the challenge. Human beings are imposing a mass extinction that now appears destined to wipe out most animals on Earth. I hope readers of this book will recognize the danger and help me find ways to stop the extinctions.

Bird Species Numbers

According to the information published by AZGFD, 551 bird species and subspecies occur in Arizona. Regular residents number 451.

  • World estimate: 10,000
  • U.S. estimate: 1,000
  • Arizona total: 551
  • Arizona birds regularly present: 451
  • Arizona regulars of concern (S1 to S3): 260 (58%)
  • Arizona regulars of possible long-term concern (S4): 95 (21%).
  • ESA Arizona regulars listed endangered: 6 (1%)
  • ESA Arizona regulars listed threatened: 1 (<1%)
  • ESA Arizona regulars of concern: 26 (6%)

Book Details

  • Title:               Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona
  • Pages:           128
  • Identifiers: ISBN 978-1539511786 | LCCN 2016918263
  • Subjects: LCSH Dewey-Humboldt (Ariz.) | Agua Fria River Valley (Ariz.) | Birds–Arizona. | BISAC NATURE / Birdwatching Guides
  • Classification: LCC QL684.A6 .R63 2016 | DDC 598.09791–dc23
  • Download a FREE PDF copy.
  • List Price:       $24.95
  • Description:  This book describes the birds seen around the author’s home in the center of Dewey-Humboldt, a small Arizona town. A desert stream, the Agua Fria River, passes through the town and across land owned by the author. There, the river flood plain supports a 20-acre willow-cottonwood forest. Without houses or trails in its core area, the forest is a safe zone for wildlife. Thousands of birds belonging to more than 100 species stop to rest and forage in the small forest. The Southwest Willow Flycatcher (on the U. S. Endangered Species List) and several other rare bird species use the forest to build nests and raise families. The book lists 127 species observed in and around the forest. For each, the book includes seasonal abundance, conservation status, and a photograph.
  • Reviews
  • Purchase from:
  • Independent bookstores with books in stock
    • Gifts and Games, Humboldt Station, Humboldt, AZ, (928) 227-2775
    • Other bookstores can order the book from their distributor.
  • Internet

 

 

Butterflies and Moths of Yavapai County, Arizona

My Butterfly and Moth Checklist, Yavapai County, Arizona is complete. The book includes species lists from the Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) website with minor adjustments from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD). Conservation ranks are from the AZGFD website. All the species names link to photos and descriptions on the BAMONA website.

Yavapai County covers a large, diverse region in central Arizona. It includes mountains with mixed coniferous forests, foothills with evergreen woodlands and shrublands, and wide valleys with desert grasslands. My place is on the edge of a small riparian forest beside the Agua Fria River in Lonesome Valley. The site is home to many butterflies, moths, and other wildlife. The discussion and photographs in the book focus on this area.

The book has only 30 pages. I might have it printed for my use, but I don’t expect to offer it for sale. Since it has color pictures, it will be expensive to print (around $12). The PDF version of the book is free.  Look the PDF over and let me know if you want a printed copy. If there are several requests, I’ll have it formatted and printed.

The PDF has some advantages over a print copy. It has fillable fields and links to species descriptions and photographs. Used on a tablet, it will serve as a notebook and reference for field use.

Specialists reviewed the species lists, but I proofed the introduction myself, never a good idea, so there might be an error or two.  Please add a comment or send an email if you find a mistake (thank you!).

Turtle Update

Turtles at Coldwater Farm

Our turtle population is doing well. I photographed the Sonora Mud Turtle at top left in 2014 and the others today (March 18, 2017). Four of them were basking on one log, but I couldn’t get the shot–perhaps tomorrow.

The turtle at top right is also a Sonora Mud Turtle, but I’m not sure about the two below. All of them are too wary to approach closely. I made these shots with a Nikon Coolpix P510 with the 42x lens fully extended. I’ll update this post if I learn more.

Turtles at Coldwater Farm

Arizona has only six native turtle species and three recognized subspecies. A southern Arizona subspecies of the Sonora Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense longifemorale)  is of critical concern and may soon be added to the U. S. Endangered Species List (or not, sad). All of Arizona’s native and five introduced species are in danger from human activities. Full list with conservation status.

Managing the BLM: Please Help

GR:  The policy of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), “multiple use and sustained yield,” sounds great until you look at the results. Mining and mineral prospecting, cattle grazing, recreation, and energy transmission have led to invasions by alien plants and animals, soil erosion, increasing wildfires, and declining biodiversity. The BLM avoids conflicts with the profit goals of the companies that control our politicians. Thus, the agency responsible for more public land in the U. S. than any other does not hesitate to sacrifice the health and beauty of the land to avoid criticism from the resource harvesters that wish to use, and often abuse, the land. In fact, the BLM has a long history of anticipating the needs of private companies and adjusting polices to help them harvest the land.

As you will see in the item below taken from the Arizona section of the BLM website, BLM encourages public participation in formulating land-use plans. However, the agency often ignores public concerns when company profits are at stake. This might change if public participation grew as large as it has in North Dakota. So, follow the continue reading link at the end of the article and look for BLM public meetings in your area. And go.  Remember, “sustainable use” is meaningless if the use adds roads and depletes the habitat, soil, and wildlife. And remember, we don’t need no more stinking fossil fuels.

“The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Land Use Plans, called Resource Management Plans (RMPs), evaluate and guide the management of resources and uses on public lands over a fifteen to twenty year period. Using the principles of multiple use and sustained yield, BLM Arizona seeks to maximize resource values on public land for current and future generations, ensuring the health, diversity, and productivity of the public land.

“BLM Arizona manages approximately 12.2 million surface acres of public land, and realizes that public involvement is critical in the development and implementation of its RMPs. Throughout the planning process, the BLM uses a collaborative approach involving tribal, State and local governments, other federal agencies, and interested publics in addressing management goals for public land. When RMPs are ready for review and public comment, BLM Arizona makes copies available to field offices and on the Internet. New and revised RMPs are now being developed in the ePlanning database. We encourage you to get involved in the planning process to help determine how the public lands will be managed. Involvement by everyone, who is interested in the public lands, will help ensure that the best overall plan is developed.” –BLM (Continue reading:  Programs: Planning and NEPA: Plans in Development: Arizona | BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT)

Thirty-three Years of Growth in Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona

Growth, The Destruction of Nature in Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona

02-20050924-p1020497Click the link below to go to the Google Earth Engine for a 32-year aerial-photo time-lapse of the growth of Dewey-Humboldt (D-H) in central Arizona. The animation begins in 1984 and ends in 2016.  The later photos in the series are higher resolution than the early ones, but you can still track the changes from beginning to end.

https://earthengine.google.com/iframes/timelapse_player_embed.html#v=34.52835,-112.24596,11.467,latLng&t=1.80

Though citizen efforts have slowed D-H growth, there has nevertheless been a substantial loss of natural vegetation. The greatest losses have been in the upland shrubs and chaparral vegetation of the town’s foothills. Watch the animation for appearance of the Prescott Country Club and the developments in the Blue Hills on the west side of town and along Foothill Road in the east. Substantial chaparral losses are also occurring in the unincorporated areas east of D-H.

There have been no successful efforts by citizens to slow neighboring Prescott Valley’s growth. The greatest losses there have been in the desert grasslands east and north of town. Once occupied by herds of antelope and other wildlife, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has written off the area as a lost cause.

The Google Earth Engine works for any place on planet Earth.  Drag the scene to areas of interest and watch the time-lapse animation there.

“Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona” Available Now

Book:  Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona

“Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona” is now available.  Click here for the book description.

Purchase from:

  • Independent bookstores with books in stock
    • Gifts and Games, Humboldt Station, Humboldt, AZ, (928) 227-2775
    • Other bookstores can order the book from their distributor.
  • Internet

The birds

This section could be titled “Some of The Birds.” The birds below are a sample of the 127 birds I’ve seen in Dewey-Humboldt. Note:  The photos are copyrighted.

Click on a photo for larger image, caption, and photographer.

Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona

Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona

front-cover-with-white-borderThere is a new book on the birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona. The book has photographs, notes on seasonal abundance, and conservation status for the 127 species I’ve seen around my home on the Agua Fria River in the center of town.

My place is on the edge of a small 20-acre willow-cottonwood forest growing along the Agua Fria River. The forest is the dark green patch in the lower right-center of the header photograph. The river is perennial through the forest and there are large stock-watering ponds that are now used only by wildlife. Without houses or trails in its core area, the forest is a safe zone for wildlife. Thousands of birds stop to rest and forage, and many spend their summers there. Rare birds such as the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, Common Black Hawk, and Gray Hawk build nests and raise families.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo by mdf

Yellow-billed Cuckoo by mdf

In August, 2016, Felipe Guerrero identified the calls of mature Yellow-billed Cuckoos near the edge of the forest and we photographed a fledgling.  Western North American populations of the Cuckoo are in steep decline. The species is rare in central Arizona where I live, and rarer still to be producing fledglings here.

The final version of the book will be in print next month. Advance review copies in PDF format are available. Please download a copy and give me your feedback.

>>Download Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona.

Preparing The Book

In 1997, I began making lists of the birds and other wildlife I saw around my 20-acre farm on the Agua Fria River in the town of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona. After a few years, I gathered the lists together in one notebook. While doing this, I researched the various species groups (birds, grasshoppers, mammals, etc.) and compiled lists of all the species known to live in or to visit Arizona. The Arizona Wildlife Notebook, published in 2014, includes lists of all those species categorized in eleven groups (amphibians, ants, birds, butterflies and moths, dragonflies and damselflies, fish, grasshoppers and other singing insects, lizards, mammals, snakes, and turtles). The book gives common and scientific names and estimates of species health and stability. It’s a handy tool for recording species anywhere in the State of Arizona.

Birds of Dewey-Humboldt Arizona, is a chapter from the full notebook with added details and photographs for observed species. The book is a report to my community that I hope stimulates others to record their bird sightings.

I recommend uploading bird sightings to the online checklist program at http://ebird.org. Operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides basic information on bird abundance and distribution at various spatial and temporal scales. Placing sightings on the eBird website will help ornithologists and other naturalists working on bird conservation.

This book has common and scientific names alphabetized by common name, and it has an index. Finding a bird name can be tricky because the common name isn’t always what we think. For instance, the list gives Arizona’s two Robin species as “American Robin” and “Rufous-backed Robin.” The index is often more helpful. For Robins, it lists the species as “Robin, American” and “Robin, Rufous-backed.” It also gives page numbers for both species’ scientific names.

Caveat: My notes on dates of first sightings probably reflect the date I learned to identify a species, not the date the species first appeared near my home.

Protecting Birds

The past decade’s droughts, storms, and spreading deserts show that humanity is changing the Earth. Research coming from many sources shows that worldwide animal extinctions are occurring 100 times faster than in Earth’s previous mass-extinction events recorded in the fossil record.

Extinction isn’t the only concern. Total loss of a species results after years of decline. The Living Planet Index, which measures abundance levels of 14,152 monitored populations of 3,706 vertebrate species, shows that a worldwide crash is occurring. On average, monitored species declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

One of the oldest and most familiar citizen-participation activities is the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Wildlife biologists have used the Bird Count to monitor bird species populations. A recent analysis of the Count’s results show that many U.S. bird species are declining. Some of our most familiar birds appear in current counts less than half as often as they did just 50 years ago. For example, over the past 50 years, sightings of Loggerhead Shrikes, a common Arizona species, declined by 72%. The Shrike in the photograph at left is the only one I have seen in 19 years of watching at my place.

Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) wildlife biologists conclude that at least 58% of Arizona’s native birds are definitely declining and . Another 20% are of possible long-term concern. The U.S. Endangered Species Act protects only 1% of Arizona bird species.

The reason for the declining numbers is not a mystery. Researchers have shown that the declines are due to the impact of human activities, chiefly:

  • habitat destruction (building and farming)
  • resource harvests (logging, livestock grazing, and water diversion)
  • habitat deterioration caused by introduced invasive plants
  • habitat poisoning with pesticides, toxic wastes, and in the case of the oceans, acidification due to CO2 increases and increases in organic runoff from the land.

The human impact is a direct result of human construction, land clearning, and resource consumption. Our total global population is nearing 7.5 billion and we are using the Earth’s renewable resources faster than natural processes replenish them.

Unless we control our population and consumption or unless drought, disease, pollution, and rising temperature control them for us, the environmental impacts of our growth will eventually eliminate upwards of 80% of our bird species.

I believe nature conservation was the great challenge of the 20th Century, and we failed the challenge. Human beings are imposing a mass extinction that now appears destined to wipe out most animals on Earth. I hope readers of this book will recognize the danger and help me find ways to stop the extinctions.

Bird Species Numbers

According to the information published by AZGFD, 551 bird species and subspecies occur in Arizona. Regular residents number 451.

  • World estimate: 10,000
  • U.S. estimate: 1,000
  • Arizona total: 551
  • Arizona birds regularly present: 451
  • Arizona regulars of concern (S1 to S3): 260 (58%)
  • Arizona regulars of possible long-term concern (S4): 95 (21%).
  • ESA Arizona regulars listed endangered: 6 (1%)
  • ESA Arizona regulars listed threatened: 1 (<1%)
  • ESA Arizona regulars of concern: 26 (6%)

Book Details

  • Title:               Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona
  • Pages:           128
  • Identifiers: ISBN 978-1539511786 | LCCN 2016918263
  • Subjects: LCSH Dewey-Humboldt (Ariz.) | Agua Fria River Valley (Ariz.) | Birds–Arizona. | BISAC NATURE / Birdwatching Guides
  • Classification: LCC QL684.A6 .R63 2016 | DDC 598.09791–dc23
  • List Price:       $24.95
  • Description:  This book describes the birds seen around the author’s home in the center of Dewey-Humboldt, a small Arizona town. A desert stream, the Agua Fria River, passes through the town and across land owned by the author. At the confluence of two small tributaries, the river flood plain supports a 20-acre willow-cottonwood forest. Without houses or trails in its core area, the forest is a safe zone for wildlife. Thousands of birds belonging to more than 100 species stop to rest and forage in the small forest. The Southwest Willow Flycatcher (on the U. S. Endangered Species List) and several other rare bird species use the forest to build nests and raise families. The book lists 127 species observed in and around the forest. For each, the book includes seasonal abundance, conservation status, and a photograph.
  • The book will be available from:
  • Independent bookstores with books in stock

    • Gifts and Games, Humboldt Station, Humboldt, Arizona
  • Internet