News from the Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center: Humans aren’t the only snowbirds escaping the gloom of northern winters for Arizona sunshine. The Paton Center for Hummingbirds abounds with birds visiting from higher latitudes—recent northern visitors to the yard that have managed to find perches not already taken by Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-crowned Sparrows include Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Green-tailed Towhees, and Red-naped and Williamson’s Sapsuckers. Some raptors that nest to the north don’t appreciate the “not available” stickers placed over their favorite menu items, so they follow their food source south. Thus we have Sharp-shinned Hawks and Merlins vying with the resident Cooper’s Hawks for feathered snacks.
Not all avian winter visitors to Patagonia are coming from the north. From the east we’ve had visits to the yard from a White-throated Sparrow, an Eastern Phoebe, and a Northern Parula. From the west, Lawrence’s Goldfinches on winter vacation from California occasionally drop into the trees surrounding the pond. We even get one species that wanders north from Mexico in the winter, the much sought after Rufous-backed Robin. One spent a month this fall playing hide and seek with birders in a fruit-laden pyracantha bush in the Paton Center back yard.