Saturday, October 27, 2012


Yes, I live in a desert, and no, we don’t have a coastline here in southern AZ. But we are fairly close to the Gulf of California, and we get a lot of shore birds passing through and/or spending the winter right here in Tucson and in other parts of southern Arizona.

If you like ducks (and who doesn’t?) there are a number of places in the Tucson area where you can see them.        

Ducks in Reid Park, Tucson, Arizona

Sweetwater Wetlands, a sewage treatment plant fairly near my home,  does not smell sweet but harbors water birds all year round, and particularly in the cool/cold months. Water birds also frequent Aqua Caliente Park, a beautiful nature preserve in the far eastern part of Tucson, that is fed by natural warm springs. The city of Tucson itself is graced with a number of large city parks with ponds and artificial waterfalls and fountains.

I visited one of these parks, Reid Park, twice in the last ten days. Reid Park, which also has a zoo and a golf course, is in the center of town. Its two large ponds not only attract ducks, they also draw migrating and overwintering waterfowl of many different sorts. Last week, for example, I saw a cormorant, a great blue heron, and a seagull! The park itself is grassy and dominated by large evergreen, palm, and eucalyptus trees, which many of the waterfowl seem happy to perch in.

Here are some of the beautiful birds I saw on my recent visits:

Great Egret neck 10-16-2012 9-26-32 AM 1021x2681                 Great Egret best 10-16-2012 9-26-43 AM 2821x2588

These photos are of a Great Egret that was visiting the pond. I watched it swallow a fairly large fish, which you could follow down that long, slender neck. It’s a gorgeous bird that seems to like to roost in a eucalyptus tree.

Ring-necked duck best 10-25-2012 9-13-58 AM 1608x1158                 Coot 10-25-2012 9-04-23 AM 928x1384

These are two of my favorite ducks, the ring-necked duck on the left, which I like because it is beautiful and because it has a prominent ring on its bill (a much fainter one on its neck); and the coot, which is beautiful shiny black and has blue feet with weird-looking toes, padded for walking on marshy ground. The first time I saw a coot’s feet, I thought they looked like blue crayfish.

Finally, I saw a large, gorgeous bird I had never seen before, a black-crowned night heron, which posed both in a tree and beside the pond:

Black-crowned night heron in tree 10-25-2012 9-10-43 AM 1939x2487             black-crowned night heron on ground 10-25-2012 9-14-57 AM 2403x2257


  1. Anonymous3:06 PM

    Sorry I missed the night heron, I saw one at sweetwater and I was impressed, it had its head feathers displayed. S

    1. Too bad we don't have a big duck pond at the Park. Can you imagine?

  2. The large pond outside my office is currently host to a great blue heron that drops in periodically. We don't have nearly the variety you do, but I've seen a lesser heron and a grebe (I think) and most curiously, some sort of sandpiper (we are nowhere near the coast). And a varying number of Canada geese. Oddly, no ducks!

  3. We get killdeer in local parks that don't even have water features, and I think they are shore birds too. I'd love it if we got Canada geese, but I've never seen one here. Arizona, especially southern Arizona, attracts a huge number of birds, either residing, flying over, or just visiting for the winter. I think we have the second-largest number of species next to Florida. Or Texas.