"Welcome Back Buzzards" March 21,
Saturday, from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
7:00-8:30 Vulture Viewing
8:30-10:00 Guided Bird Walk
9:00-1:00 Wildlife Rehabbers Living Exhibit of Raptors, Reptiles & Mammals
March 21 brings the Spring Equinox, observed by cultures from the ancient Greeks to Aboriginal Australians; the Arboretum has a day filled with events starting just after sunrise with the annual 'Welcome Back Buzzards' seasonal send-off .
Events are included with adult admission of $10; free to BTA annual members and AZ state parks pass-holders. Arrive early for the 7am special opening Saturday to see the famous flock of Turkey Vultures perched on the cliffs before they depart to spend their day soaring the skies; world-traveled ASU Professor Dave Pearson will be the guest 'Vulture-ologist' from 7:00-8:30, talking about the big black birds, answering questions and sharing his appreciation for the soaring scavengers until the vultures take to the skies -- typically by 8:30am.
Pearson and others will guide birdwalks through the gardens at 8:30, and from 9:00-2:00 volunteer wildlife rehabbers from the Arizona Game & Fish Department will have a popular living exhibit of raptors and reptiles set up near the Smith Building, so kids and adults alike can have closeup views of a real, live Turkey Vulture along with hawks and owls. View a Bye Bye Buzzards Day event video by Arboretum Volunteer Mike Rolfe
ASU Professor Dave Pearson is our special guest for the morning, and will be stationed near the Desert Legume Garden "talking about TUVUs" from about 7:00 am until 8:30, when he will lead a bird walk around the grounds in search of other BTA birds, mammals and critters.
Turkey Vultures return in March. Spring and Summer months are spent here at the Arboretum. By late September the huge birds began to depart, heading south to spend the Winter months in Mexico. By early October, they're gone.
Wildlife can be unpredictable, but usually our resident birds take to the skies by 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. and are circling overhead and away to roam and forage for the rest of the day. At 8:30 a.m. volunteers will lead a guided birdwalk along the main trail, teaching us to identify birds of the Arboretum. Even if you arrive late, count on seeing at least one charismatic vulture up close and personal. Arizona Game & Fish Department wildlife rehab volunteers will bring "Ed the Education Turkey Vulture" and a selection of other photogenic birds and critters for visitors to see and photograph.
Turkey Vultures are fascinating birds, scavengers that are adapted to feast on roadkill and survive broiling Arizona summer heat. Usually by mid-March anywhere from 20-50 Turkey Vultures have returned from Wintering in Mexico to roost each night in our Eucalyptus grove and volcanic cliffs of the Picketpost Mountain escarpment, gliding away an hour or two after sunrise each day to forage for roadkill and other carrion. The birds typically reside here from March through late September before departing to spend fall and winter months in Southern Arizona and Mexico.
Turkey Vultures have a unique defensive technique: they vomit to repel a threat. Sure, their habits may be a little repulsive, but turkey vultures are a gentle, charismatic and misunderstood species and they're quite worthy of celebration.
San Juan Capistrano boasts the seasonal migration of swallows -- but this corner of Arizona asserts its own bragging rights each year with the seasonal migration of the species Cathartes aura as they glide overhead on wings that span six feet. In past years our resident flock has been numerous, which is why the Arboretum allows early 7 a.m. admission at so visitors may view the vultures perched in the towering Eucalyptus trees and sunning themselves on the rocky cliffs of Magma Ridge.
After sunrise the morning air warms and thermal columns begin to rise, the birds take wing and catch the upward spiral air currents - performing an impressive circling aerial ballet as they depart in search of carrion. On Bye Bye Buzzards Saturday, September _______, we'll gather again at 7:00 a.m. to scan Magma Ridge for the birds.