birds

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) range from southern Arizona, south Texas and Louisiana, through parts of Mexico and Central American to Brazil. Their range is expanding northward.

These large ducks (body length about 22 inches, wingspan 37 inches) are reddish brown, have a black belly, white wing patches, and a pink to orange bill. They are long-legged, long-necked, and are sociable and noisy. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes them as “boisterous.”

My own experience with these ducks is confined to the mixed-species aviary at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Often, a gang of these noisy ducks will follow me around, pecking at my legs and attempt to untie my shoelaces.

Whistling ducks can be found in marshes, ponds, and lakes where they feed on aquatic animals such as snails. Their main diet, however, consists of seeds and grains. Whistling ducks frequent grasslands and agricultural areas where they feed on many agricultural crops including sorghum, millet, corn, rice, and wheat. They also eat insects and spiders.

Whistling ducks are casual about nesting. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: they usually nest in tree hollows where a limb has broken or the trunk has rotted away. They typically don’t build a nest; they lay their eggs directly on whatever debris has collected there. Cavity openings range from 5–12 inches across. When nesting on the ground, they make a scrape or a shallow bowl of grasses, with thick vegetation overhead, such as willow, mesquite, or cactus. They typically lay 9 to18 eggs which are incubated for 25 to 30 days. Hatchlings are nearly independent upon hatching.

About the noise. Whistling ducks do not make the “quacking” noise of other ducks. Rather they have a range of sounds. Listen here.

According to ASDM, United States populations are increasing, probably because of nest boxes. This species was rare in Arizona before 1949 but has since become a rather common nesting bird.

Attack of the Phainopepla

phainopepla-1

The Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) is a pretty bird, but around my house one has been pretty messy. For several weeks, a male Phainopepla has been feasting on the berries of a desert mistletoe plant. It has been peeping in the window. At times it attacks its reflection by pecking at the window and flying up and down the glass. It is apparently trying to drive off what it thinks is a competitor. Does he look angry?

The Phainopepla is a crested bird slightly smaller than a cardinal. It has a body length of 7- to 8 inches and a wingspan of 11 inches. The males are shiny black with red eyes, long tail and a white patch on the wings which is conspicuous in flight. Females and immature birds are all gray. The name “Phainopepla” comes from the Greek for “shining robe,” a fitting description of the shiny, jet-black plumage of the adult male. The Phainopepla is one of the four species of silky-flycatchers and the only one that occurs in the U.S. The others inhabit Mexico and Central America.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

“… the Phainopepla is unique in taxonomy, distribution, and behavior. It is particularly notable for its enigmatic pattern of breeding twice each year, in two different habitats.” It breeds in both the desert and in arid woodlands.

Cornell says that “An individual Phainopepla eats at least 1,100 mistletoe berries per day, when they are available.” (My visitor deposits the remains of these sticky berries on my window ledge and ironwork.)

“The Phainopepla exhibits strikingly different behaviors in its two habitats. In the desert, it is territorial, actively defending nesting and foraging sites, while in the woodlands it is colonial, with as many as four nesting pairs sharing one large tree.

“The Phainopepla rarely drinks water, even though research indicates that it loses about 95 percent of its body mass in water per day. Instead, it gets the water it needs from its diet of mistletoe.” Phainopepla also eat other berries and flying insects.

According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum:

“This bird nests in early spring in mesquite brushlands, usually well up in a stout fork or horizontal branch of a tree. The smooth, slightly glossy eggs usually number two to three per clutch, and are grayish-white or pinkish, finely and profusely spotted with black, pale lavender, or gray. The eggs are incubated by both sexes (possibly the major portion by the male) for 14 to 15 days. The young are tended by both parents and leave the nest at 18 to 19 days.”

The Phainopepla, when pursued by predators or handled by humans, mimics the calls of other birds; imitations of at least 13 species have been recorded. (Listen to sounds)

As the supply of mistletoe berries dwindle, my Phainopepla is now spending about half his time attacking a neighbor’s window which is a little closer to the berry source.

phainopepla-male

 phainopepla-range-map

Eurasian Collared-Doves

eurasian-collared-dove-6

Have you seen this bird? Collared doves have been showing up in my backyard for the past few years. They flock with other doves and I rarely seen more than one collared dove at a time.

The Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) is about 12 inches long and has a wingspan of about 14 inches which makes it larger than a Mourning dove and about the same size as a White-winged dove.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

“Eurasian Collared-Doves made their way to North America via the Bahamas, where several birds escaped from a pet shop during a mid-1970s burglary; the shop owner then released the rest of the flock of approximately 50 doves. Others were set free on the island of Guadeloupe when a volcano threatened eruption. From these two sites the birds likely spread to Florida, and now occur over most of North America.”

Eurasian Collared-Doves eat mainly seeds and cereal grains. They will occasionally eat berries, plant greens, and bugs. Their principal habitat appears to be urban and suburban areas, especially where people put out bird feeders. They may also occur on farms.

“Mainly ground foragers, they peck at grain and seeds scattered beneath backyard feeders and on feeding platforms, or spilled at farmyards. Flocks of 10 to several hundred doves may gather at prime spots. Although they can feed peacefully in mixed flocks, Eurasian Collared-Doves will also chase off other birds, including Mourning Doves, cardinals, and Blue Jays.” (Cornell)

Nesting (source, Cornell):

“The male dove brings the female twigs, grasses, roots and other nesting materials, which he sometimes pushes directly under her. Over 1 to 3 days she builds a simple platform nest, which may include feathers, wool, string and wire. A pair often uses the same nest for multiple broods during the year, and may renovate old nests.

“Males show females potential nest sites in trees and on buildings, giving a low- pitched, slow koo-KOO-kook call at each site (listen here). Nests are usually built 10 or more feet above the ground. In warmer regions, Eurasian Collared-Doves can nest year-round, which may help explain their success as colonizers.”

“Eurasian Collared-Doves are one of very few species that can drink “head down,” submerging their bills and sucking water as though drinking through a straw. Most birds must scoop water and tip the head back to let it run down into the throat.” (Cornell)

Eurasian Collared-Doves may be mistaken for Ringed Turtle Doves which are slightly smaller and lighter in color. According to the Sibley Guide to Birds, the Ringed Turtle Dove is a domestic variety, not a naturally occurring species, and it fares poorly in the wild.

See also:

Mourning Doves

White-winged Doves

Steller’s Jay – noisy and bold

Stellers jayThe Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is the largest of the Jays. It ranges from British Columbia, through the Rocky Mountains and into Mexico. It is most commonly found in evergreen forests from 3,000- to 10,000 feet of elevation. In the southwestern U.S. and Mexico it also inhabits arid pine-oak woodlands.

These birds have a body length of 11- to 13 inches and a wingspan of 17 inches, making them slightly larger than a scrub jay. This crested bird has a dark gray head, neck and back, and a blue body. There may be inconspicuous white streaks above the eyes and on the forehead. (See Google images)

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes that “Like other jays, Steller’s Jays are bold, inquisitive, intelligent, and noisy. Steller’s Jays spend much of their time exploring the forest canopy, flying with patient wingbeats. They come to the forest floor to investigate visitors and look for food, moving with decisive hops of their long legs.”

Cornell also notes: “Steller’s Jays have the dubious honor of being one of the most frequently misspelled names in all of bird watching. Up close, the bird’s dazzling mix of azure and blue is certainly stellar, but that’s not how you spell their name. Steller’s Jays were discovered on an Alaskan island in 1741 by Georg Steller, a naturalist on a Russian explorer’s ship. When a scientist officially described the species, in 1788, they named it after him – along with other discoveries including the Steller’s sea lion and Steller’s Sea-Eagle.”

The Steller’s Jay shows a great deal of variation in appearance throughout its range, with some populations featuring black crests and backs, and others blue. One black-crested form in southern Mexico is surrounded by eight other blue-crested forms.

Steller’s Jays are very intelligent and opportunistic. Steller’s Jays usually travel in pairs or family groups. They have a complex social and communication system, with a variety of calls, postures and displays. For instance, a spread wing shows submission, and a raised crest might mean attack, while a folded crest might mean retreat. Steller’s Jays also have strict hierarchy and dominance patterns.

They may mimic the screams of hawks and Golden Eagles. When they are mellow, females make rattling sounds, while males may make “gleep” sounds. They also have a variety of loud, raucous calls that are repeated in patterns of three.

They feed mainly on acorns and pine seeds, but will raid other bird’s nests for eggs and nestlings. They also will eat small reptiles, nuts, berries, fruits, and insects. You might see them pounding on hard seeds and nuts with their beaks to order to open them. They have distendable esophagi that are able to carry acorns and nuts. These foods are often cached for the winter or saved for eating at a later time. They are carefully covered and hidden. Steller’s Jays are often found in campgrounds cleaning up the goodies left by campers!

The wing beats of these jays are below the horizontal line when they fly, and the crest on their heads lays flat while they are in flight. They are known to work together to mob predators to protect their young. (Source)

According to Audubon:

Steller’s Jays are omnivorous. Diet is about two-thirds vegetable and one-third animal matter. Feeds heavily on pine seeds, acorns, and other nuts and seeds, especially during fall and winter; also eats many berries and wild fruits, sometimes cultivated fruit. Especially in summer, eats many insects, including beetles, wasps, and wild bees. Also eats spiders, birds’ eggs, table scraps, sometimes small rodents or lizards.

In courtship, male feeds female. Adults are quiet and secretive while nesting, but become noisy and aggressive if nest is threatened. Nest site is in tree, usually coniferous; sometimes in deciduous tree or shrub. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky ragged cup of twigs, weeds, moss, dry leaves, cemented together with mud and lined with fine grass, rootlets, and pine needles. Bits of paper often added to nest.

The female lays three to five bluish-green eggs that are spotted with brown or olive. Eggs hatch in about 18 days and nestlings fledge in about three weeks. Both male and female bring food to the nest.

The male and female form a monogamous pair which stay together year round.

You can listen to songs and calls of the Steller’s Jay from Cornell here.

Cornell says you can attract these Jays to your backyard feeder by putting out peanuts or other large seeds. Cornell also says that these Jays are excellent mimics with a large repertoire. They can imitate birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, chickens, and some mechanical objects.

I took the photos for this article in the aviary of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The Steller’s Jay there was very interested in my shoelaces. He tried to pull them out several times.

Related articles:

American Kestrel

Barn Owls

Burrowing owls

Cactus Wren

Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl – is it a real species?

Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxias and Phainopeplas

Cooper’s Hawks – swift predators

Creatures of the night – Nighthawks and Poorwills

Crested Caracara

Curvebilled Thrasher

Gambels Quail

Gila Woodpecker

Gnatcatchers

Great Blue Heron

Great Horned Owl

Great-tailed Grackle

Harris’ Hawks, Wolves of the Air

Mourning Doves

Parrots in the desert?

Peregrine Falcons

Ravens and Crows

The Red-tailed Hawk, a varied and versatile predator

Roadrunner, a wily predator

Verdins

Vultures, the clean-up crew

Way of the Hummingbird

Western Screech Owl

Western Tanager

White-winged Doves

Burrowing Owls

Burrowing owl group

Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) range from western Canada, through the western United States and southward all the way to the tip of South America at Tierra del Fuego. A separate subspecies is found in Florida and the Caribbean Islands. These owls prefer open land, deserts, prairies and grasslands. They often occur at the edges of disturbed agricultural land, housing developments, and golf courses.

Burrowing owl range mapThe Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has recently acquired two young burrowing owls which will soon be made available to Docents to handle and interpret.

Burrowing owls are relatively small, with a body length of 7 to 10 inches and a wingspan of about 22 inches. Unlike other raptors where the female is larger than the male, burrowing owl adult males and females are about the same size. They have long legs and short tails.

True to their name, burrowing owls live underground. They may dig their own burrows in soft soil, but more often appropriate holes dug by other animals such as squirrels, prairie dogs, or skunks.

They feed during both the day and night and are most active in early morning and at dusk. They feed on insects, rodents and small reptiles. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The Burrowing Owl collects mammal dung and puts it in and around its burrow. The dung attracts dung beetles, which the owl then captures and eats.” It seems they are ranchers.

The female lays five to ten white eggs in the burrow which hatch in about four weeks. The chicks stay in the burrow for about 40 days until they are ready to fledge. For protection, the chicks can make a noise very similar to a rattlesnake. Listen to the various calls from Cornell here. The one that sounds like a rattlesnake is the “Juvenile alarm call” at the bottom of the list. See 5 minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gdU6FHSlXk

Burrowing owls are social and may live in colonies. See more images here.

Related articles:

Barn Owls

Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl – is it a real species?

Great Horned Owl

Western Screech Owl

The Great-tailed Grackle

If you ever see or hear a Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus), you will know why it has that name. It has a very large tail and makes a great variety of sounds. The sounds have been described as “rusty gate hinge” and “machinery badly in need of lubrication.” It also has a variety of sweet sounds. Listen to recordings from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology here.

Grackle

The male grackle has a body length of 18 inches and a wingspan of 23 inches. It is a uniform iridescent purple-blue but looks black. It has a striking yellow eye. The female is smaller with a body length of 15 inches and a wingspan of 19 inches. She is black on top and brownish below, see a great photo here by Tucsonan Joan Gellatly.

This grackle is native to the southwestern U.S., Mexico, and Central America. These birds occur in open to semi-open habitat including farms, fields, river groves, thickets, city parks, grocery store parking lots, and my backyard.

Their diet includes plant matter (such as corn, sorghum, oats and fruit), insects, reptiles, small fish, aquatic invertebrates, and eggs and nestlings of other birds.

According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum:

“The Great-tailed Grackle nests in colonies; both males and females may have more than one mate. The nest site varies but is usually in dense vegetation near water. The bulky, open, cup-shaped nest, which may be a few feet to over 20 feet above the ground, is made of twigs, weeds, grass, rushes, and other available material. Bluish eggs (three to five) with brown scrawls hatch in thirteen to fourteen days. The young, which are fed only by the female, leave the nest about three weeks after hatching.”

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

“In winter, enormous flocks of both male and female Great-tailed Grackles gather in roost trees. These winter roosts can contain thousands of individuals, with flocks of up to half a million occurring in sugarcane fields in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley.”

“In 1900 the northern edge of the Great-tailed Grackle’s range barely reached southern Texas. Since the 1960s they’ve followed the spread of irrigated agriculture and urban development into the Great Plains and West, and today are one of North America’s fastest-expanding species.”

In general, where people go, grackles follow. These birds are very social.

There are two other grackle species: the Boat-tailed Grackle inhabits the southeastern U.S. and the Common Grackle inhabits the mid-west and eastern U.S. and southern Canada.

For information on other birds of the Sonoran Desert see:

American Kestrel

Barn Owls

Cactus Wren

Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl – is it a real species?

Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxias and Phainopeplas

Cooper’s Hawks – swift predators

Creatures of the night – Nighthawks and Poorwills

Curvebilled Thrasher

Gambels Quail

Great Blue Heron

Great Horned Owl

Harris’ Hawks, Wolves of the Air

Mourning Doves

Parrots in the desert?

Peregrine Falcons

Ravens and Crows

Roadrunner, a wily predator

Vultures, the clean-up crew

Way of the Hummingbird

Western Screech Owl

Ravens and Crows

Three big, black birds share the skies of the southwest: the Common Raven (wingspan 46 inches), the Chihuahuan Raven (wingspan 43 inches), and the American Crow (wingspan 39 inches).

Raven

They also share other characteristics. All are completely black; all are omnivores; all are smart and adaptable.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes each as follows:

The Common Raven: “Not just large but massive, with a thick neck, shaggy throat feathers, and a Bowie knife of a beak. In flight, ravens have long, wedge-shaped tails. They’re more slender than crows, with longer, narrower wings, and longer, thinner ‘fingers’ at the wingtips.”

The Chihuahuan Raven: “A big black bird of the southwestern deserts, the Chihuahuan Raven is intermediate between crows and ravens in many ways. It has the shape of a raven but is the size of a crow.” The Chihuahuan Raven is featured in the free-flight program at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

The American Crow: “A large, long-legged, thick-necked bird with a heavy, straight bill. In flight, the wings are fairly broad and rounded with the wingtip feathers spread like fingers. The short tail is rounded or squared off at the end.”

The Common Raven has a large range which includes Mexico, the western U.S. and much of Canada. The Chihuahuan Raven occurs in southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Chihuahua, Mexico. The American Crow occurs in much of the U.S. and Canada, but is usually absent from southern Arizona.

Common Raven range

Chihuahuan raven range

Crow range map

Crows are very social and often occur in large flocks. Ravens are more aloof and usually occur singly or in pairs.

The Ravens thrive among humans and in wildlands. One study showed that Common Ravens can distinguish between gun shots and other loud noises. The gun shots means there may be a carcass available. They are acrobatic flyers. A breeding pair is very territorial and will hunt together. Common Ravens can mimic the calls of other birds. Ravens are found in almost any habitat within their range including agricultural fields, grasslands, deserts, mountains, and forests, even tundra.

American Crows are “inquisitive and sometimes mischievous, crows are good learners and problem-solvers, often raiding garbage cans and picking over discarded food containers. They’re also aggressive and often chase away larger birds including hawks, owls and herons.” Crows are found more often in fields and forests.

For more information, see the Cornell articles: Common Raven, Chihuahuan Raven, American Crow.

See also:

American Kestrel

Barn Owls

Cactus Wren

Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxias and Phainopeplas

Cooper’s Hawks – swift predators

Creatures of the night – Nighthawks and Poorwills

Gambels Quail

Great Blue Heron

Harris’ Hawks, Wolves of the Air

Observations on Mourning Doves

Parrots in the desert?

The greater roadrunner, a wily predator

The Great Horned Owl

Vultures, the clean-up crew

Way of the Hummingbird

Western Screech Owl

Wind turbines versus wildlife

In our quest to find greener sources of energy, what at first seems like a good idea leads to some not-so-green unintended consequences. Such is the case with wind turbines and wind farms.

In an article in The Spectator (a British publication, not the American Spectator), zoologist Clive Hambler notes:

“Wind turbines only last for ‘half as long as previously thought’, according to a new study. But even in their short life spans, those turbines can do a lot of damage. Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, this century at least, renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change.”

“Every year in Spain alone — according to research by the conservation group SEO/Birdlife — between 6 and 18 million birds and bats are killed by wind farms. They kill roughly twice as many bats as birds. This breaks down as approximately 110–330 birds per turbine per year and 200–670 bats per year. And these figures may be conservative if you compare them to statistics published in December 2002 by the California Energy Commission: ‘In a summary of avian impacts at wind turbines by Benner et al (1993) bird deaths per turbine per year were as high as 309 in Germany and 895 in Sweden.’”

This danger to birds and bats is not confined to Europe. An article in the Washington Times by Paul Driessen notes:

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and American Bird Conservancy say wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese and other birds every year in the United States, along with countless insect-eating bats.

“New studies reveal that these appalling estimates are frightfully low and based on misleading or even fraudulent data. The horrific reality is that in the United States alone, “eco-friendly” wind turbines kill an estimated 13 million to 39 million birds and bats every year.”

In the recent “fiscal cliff” negotiations, it seems crony capitalism triumphed over good sense. Lobbying by the wind industry saved its subsidy, the Production Tax Credit, which was set to expire at the end of 2012. The “cliff” deal now extends that subsidy through 2013 thus costing American taxpayers $12 billion, and encouraging use of a very expensive, very unreliable, and to wildlife, a very lethal form of “green” energy production.

See also:

(human) Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

Electricity generated by wind power may raise temperatures and costs

Wind farms raise local and regional temperatures

Thorium, another alternative energy choice

Great Blue Heron at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Heron-ASDM-carole-DeAngeliThe Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) has a new resident Great Blue Heron. He occupies a refurbished cienega exhibit in the grasslands habitat between the prairie dogsand the rattlesnakes.

I’m told by museum staff that this individual heron can’t fly because he was injured as a chick. Apparently, an eagle snatched him out of the nest and flew away with him, but something caused the eagle to let go. The baby heron fell to the ground which resulted in a broken wing and a broken leg. Fortunately, this happened at a place where the injured chick was soon discovered and brought to a vet for rehabilitation. The injury to the wing, however, was not fully fixable. So, this particular heron individual now has a good job at ASDM.

Although one might not expect to see a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in the Sonoran Desert, they have an extensive range (see map below) and occur throughout much of North and Central America wherever there is water.

The Great Blue Heron is a big bird. It stands 45- to 54 inches tall and has a wingspan of 66- to 79 inches. It weighs 5- to 8 pounds.

Normally, these herons feed on fish while standing or wading in water. They have a very quick head and neck thrust as they stab with their long bill. They also feed in open fields and go after amphibians, reptiles, insects, rodents, and other birds.

According to ASDM: “Great Blue Herons breed in colonies. The male chooses the nest site and displays to attract a female. The nest site is typically in a tree 20 to 60 feet above the ground or water, although shrubs are also used as nest sites. The female lays three to five eggs in a platform nest made of sticks. The eggs, which are incubated by both parents, hatch in 25 to 30 days. The young are fed regurgitated matter by both parents. Young are able to fly after about two months.”

heron-range-mapAccording to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: “Great Blue Herons are most vocal on the breeding grounds, where they greet their partner with squawking roh-roh-rohs in a ‘landing call’ when arriving at the nest. A disturbance can trigger a series of clucking go-go-gos, building to a rapid frawnk squawk that can last up to 20 seconds. If directly threatened, birds react with a screaming awk lasting just over 2 seconds. Chicks give a tik-tik-tik call within minutes of hatching.

“Both male and female Great Blue Herons snap their bill tips together as part of breeding and territorial displays, a behavior that may be analogous to a songbird’s territorial song. Paired birds often ‘clapper’ at each other, chattering the tips of the bill together.” Listen to the sounds here courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

You can see this heron in both saltwater and freshwater habitats, from open coasts, marshes, sloughs, riverbanks, and lakes to backyard goldfish ponds. I know one person in Tucson who has seen them in the backyard ponds. They also forage in grasslands and agricultural fields.

Come out to the Desert Museum and greet its newest resident.

 

Festival of Flight at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Birds, bats, bugs, and butterflies all have one thing in common: flight. These animals will be featured during the Festival of Flight at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on October 14, 15, and 16, from 8:30am to 5:00pm each day.

 ASDM invites you to: “Spend the day enjoying raptor programs, live bat encounters and lectures, tequila tasting, hummingbirds, live bugs, special presentations, hands-on science exploration and much more! Families of all ages can enjoy fun winged-themed arts and crafts projects. There will be a special menu at the Ironwood Restaurant that will give you the opportunity to enjoy a meal that is directly connected to biodiversity while you enjoy live music throughout the Museum grounds.”

Take a free photography class October 15 & 16 at 10:00 a.m. (Pre-registration required).

Did you know that the bumblebee bat is the smallest mammal or that butterflies taste with their feet? You may be wondering what tequila tasting has to do with flight. Tequila and similar spirits come from agave plants which are pollinated by bats, hummingbirds, moths, bees, and other insects.

Come to ASDM and learn many surprising facts.

See the Desert Museum Festival of Flight page which includes some natural history and a schedule of events here.

See description and schedules for other daily events here.

The normal daily Raptor Free Flight program will resume after its summer hiatus on October 14th, and continue through April 15th, 2012 (10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. daily, weather permitting).

 See you there.