We've enjoyed visits to the Tucson area over the past several years during different times of the year. Besides being a birder's mecca, the area boasts the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, an excellent introduction to desert habitats. The museum hosts a walk-in aviary, a walk-in hummingbird aviary, and hiking trails through numerous plant and animal exhibits which display desert flora and fauna. The museum also houses the Center for the Sonoran Desert Studies which conducts the museum's educational and scientific functions and which serves as a hub for research, education and conservation of the Sonoran Desert Region.
When we were in Tucson this past May we were joined by friends Dave and Betty Dunsmore (their first ever birding trip to southeastern Arizona). At that time Carol and I became annual members of the museum which scored us guest passes which we were able to share with Dave and Betty.
Now, on our way back from California, we again found ourselves in the Tucson area. And being parked at an RV resort a mere 15-minute drive from the museum, we'd be crazy not to visit as often as possible!
Having visited the museum at various seasons of the year we've come to realize that no matter how many times we visit, there's always something new to see and learn. It just so happened that on the weekend of October 14,15,16, the museum was holding it's annual "Festival of Flight". This year the festival had been expanded to include bats and butterflies with the name expanded to include "Wings over the Desert".
Often times during the year the museum holds special 'members only' events. Kicking off the festival this year was a day early members only behind the scenes preview of the "Raptor Free Flight" program.
The 'free flight' program displays various captive birds that the museum has acquired over the years. The birds are rehabilitated species that no longer can survive in the wild but have been trained to 'fly free' in close proximity to people in order to more closely observe and learn about each species.
|Great Horned Owl|
|Desert Pack Rat|
|Sonoran King Snake|