CONTENTS:  What is the Maricopa Audubon Society • Be A Friend, Be A Friend! • Events & Programs • Annual Meeting & Banquet • Notes & Announcements  • In Memoriam, Joyce Fibel • Birdathon 2003 • From the Editor • Photo Quiz • Scalping Arizona's Forests • Field Trip Review   •  Classified Ad • Field Trips  •  AZ Special Species - Common Black Hawk • Field Observations • Carefree Christmas Bird Count Summary •  Photo Quiz Answers 

Rufous-Backed Robin photographed by  Jim Burns at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum State Park in Arizona in December, 2002 with Canon EOS 1V body, Canon 400mm f/2.8 lens and Fujichrome Velvia film.






When National Audubon adopted its strategic plan, which later evolved into its 2020 Vision, two NAS board committees were formed-one's purpose was to see to the formation of a state office in each state.  The other was to define an Audubon chapter.  Four years later the first committee had seen to the formation of 18 state offices.  Ted Eubanks, now departed from NAS, was in charge of the second committee and reported at the NAS board meeting in Tucson that his committee was still unable to get a handle on the definition of an Audubon chapter.  I think the reason for this is that each of the 500 plus Audubon chapters in the U.S. is different from every other chapter.

Fifty years ago this July, Harry and Ruth Crockett, birding pioneers in Maricopa County for many years, announced that they were forming a birding club.  At the first meeting in July 1953, they elected a president and newsletter editor-James Warner, and called themselves "The Maricopa Audubon Society".  The first newsletter, "The Roadrunner", was published in August of that year.  Soon thereafter the group decided to apply for individual National Audubon membership cards.  To do so, each member signed a personal pledge to support conservation of bird habitat.  By July 1954 the group had 51 members.  Maricopa Audubon Society became a branch of The National Audubon Society in July 1954.  The 52nd member was assigned to the chapter by National Audubon at around that same time.  In January 1955, Dr. Abe Margolin became the group's first Field Trip chairman.  In February 1955 the first Great-tailed grackle was spotted in the County, and on April 10, 1955, the first nesting European starlings were discovered at MacDonald's River Ranch!

Of interest is the published financial report for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1956-Income was $143.44 in dues share from NAS and $5.00 from the sale of NAS armbands-Total Income was $148.44.  Expenses were: Roadrunner expense--$80.16, and all other expenses--$40.27, for a total of Expenses of $121.43.  For the following fiscal year the group received $88.75 in dues share from NAS, out of total receipts of $101.85, and spent $55.55 for Roadrunner publication expenses out of total expenditures of $116.24.  In the two years presented, dues share represented 97% and 87%, respectively, of the chapter's total income, while the newsletter expense represented respectively 66% and 48% of the chapter's total expenditures.  In the fiscal year ended May 31, 2002, dues share (which NAS is phasing out) represented 36.5% (our largest revenue source) of our total income, while Wren-dition publication and mailing expense represented 43.9% of our total expenditures (more than 2 ½ times as much as our next largest expenditure!

In April 1959 a Maricopa Audubon sanctuary was discussed, and the following committees were formed-program, field trips, publicity, education, membership, conservation, finance, social, and sanctuary.  In March 1957, Bix Demaree was elected vice-president, and in May 1960 she was elected president.  In May 1962 Janet Witzeman was elected secretary.  Bob Witzeman was elected vice-president in May 1966 and has been on the board ever since.

In April 1966 the Roadrunner  states: "Our membership is made up of the people who believe in the program of the National Audubon Society, of which MAS is an active branch, and we are interested in saving the out-of-doors and the wildlife found there."

In 1980, when I was president, we voted to change the name of our newsletter to "The Cactus Wren-dition".

So, who are we?  In my opinion we are a bunch of birdwatchers ("birders", if you will) providing a meeting place and birding-related activities for our fellow birdwatchers in the community, while fostering an ethic of seeking to save ". . . the out-of-doors and the wildlife found there, through conservation efforts and environmental education."
Here's the problem. We are currently publishing four Cactus Wren-ditions a year. We would like to go back to six a year. The Wren-dition is being mailed out to approximately 2,100 joint NAS and MAS members. The cost is a little over $2,000 per issue. NAS formerly covered this expense with dues share payments that were sent to the chapters. NAS is phasing out this item. This fiscal year we received $6,400 in dues share from NAS. Next fiscal year we will receive the same. Thereafter, it appears as if this revenue source will have run dry.

Your MAS board has spent many hours trying to decide how to resolve this dilemma. What we have come up with is that only local members who become "Friends of Maricopa Audubon" will receive the Cactus Wren-dition after the next two issues. The annual cost of being an individual or family 'Friend' will be a donation of $20 or more. As a 'Friend' you will receive a membership card. You'll continue to receive the Wren-dition in the mail, and there will be other perks as well. For example, you will receive a free raffle ticket at each membership meeting you attend, a 10% discount off books and other items purchased at the book table at the monthly meetings, and a 10 % discount off the per person price of our annual banquet.

Obviously, we are hopeful that your 'Friends' donation each year will cover not only the cost of receiving your Wren-dition, but programs, field trips, conservation action and environmental education, too.

Please make your $20 or more check payable to Maricopa Audubon Society, put 'Friend' in the lower left-hand corner of the check, and mail it to: Herb Fibel, Treasurer, 1128 E. Geneva Drive, Tempe, Arizona, 85282-3940. Your 'Friend' membership card will be sent to you by return mail.

Please be patient with us as we segue into this new system.

CONTENTS:  What is the Maricopa Audubon Society • Be A Friend, Be A Friend! • Events & Programs • Annual Meeting & Banquet • Notes & Announcements  • In Memoriam, Joyce Fibel • Birdathon 2003 • From the Editor • Photo Quiz • Scalping Arizona's Forests • Field Trip Review   •  Classified Ad • Field Trips  •  AZ Special Species - Common Black Hawk • Field Observations • Carefree Christmas Bird Count Summary •  Photo Quiz Answers 

Rufous-Backed Robin photographed by  Jim Burns at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum State Park in Arizona in December, 2002 with Canon EOS 1V body, Canon 400mm f/2.8 lens and Fujichrome Velvia film.



Meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month, September-April, at the Phoenix Zoo Auditorium.  Meetings start at 7:30, and feature a speaker, book sales, refreshments, and a chance to socialize with fellow MAS members.  Non-members welcome!

Join us for a pre-meeting dinner at Pete's 19th Tee, 1405 N Mill Avenue, Tempe (at the Rolling Hills Golf Course) starting at 6:00 p.m.  Except for the September meeting which will be our annual potluck starting at 6:30.  Each attendee is invited to bring a platter of his or her favorite h'ors de oeuvres, sufficiently large enough to serve at least six people.  We'll provide the eating utensils, the plates, and the drinks, bring a friend and enjoy swapping birding stories.  The regular meeting will begin at 7:30. Meals average about $5.00 with a variety of choices on the menu.  Join us!

February 4:  Mike Rupp “Birds of the Salt River – Gillespie Dam to Coon Bluff”.  The owner of Rupp Aerial Photography, Inc., Mike Rupp successfully combines vocational and life interests.  His documentary-style video presentation contains superb footage of birds and assorted creatures along this stretch of the Salt River.  Having flown and birded around the Phoenix area for twenty years, Mike has just published “The Birdseye Guide to 101 Birding Sites, Phoenix”.  This book is currently available directly through Rupp Aerial (602-277-0439), at the Wild Bird Center in north Scottsdale, and at the Phoenix and Mesa locations of Wide World of Maps.  Additional outlets will be available in the future.  Mike has graciously agreed to have copies of this book for sale and will do a book signing for those interested. (, select Birding Guide on the home page.

March 4:  Jim Burns “El Canelo Ranch, Texas.  Jim Burns, MAS writer/photographer, highlights his partnership in the 2002 Valley Land Fund Photo Contest with Monica and Ray Burdette, owners of El Canelo Ranch, north of Raymondville, Texas.  The ranch is known in the birding world for the Ferruginous Pygmy-owls nesting in the yard at the inn.  Jim is a regular contributor to the Wren-dition through the Photo Quiz and articles on Arizona’s Special Species.

April 1:  Peter Moulton “Beyond Birds – Dragons and Damsels in Arizona”  We’ve all seen them – those creatures with gossamer wings, hovering and zipping about, sometimes found in a shrike’s beak!  Join us for a glimpse into the world of dragons and damsels (dragonflies and damselflies) and you will be amazed at their attitudes, habits and colors.  Trained as a 

biologist, MAS member Pete Moulton has been an avid birder and naturalist for over 30 years.  He has a life-long interest in . photography, and became fascinated with photographing these diminutive animals that share many habitats with the birds we all enjoy seeing.  Think they’re always around water?  Are they territorial?  Join us for an engaging evening among Arizona’s dragons and damsels

May 6, 2003:  Dan Fischer “Early Southwest Ornithologists – On The Trail Of Pioneering Birders”.  MAS is very pleased to have Dan Fischer as the guest speaker for our annual banquet.  Dan has traveled the southwest for over fifty years, photographing birds and exploring our diverse environments.  Dan and his wife live in a stone house in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeast Arizona, which he says isn’t as warm or as cool as you would think it should be!  He will be talking about his recent book, which reveals the regions’ avian diversity as he traces 100 ornithologists from 1528 to 1900.  As Col. Thomas Henry wrote in 1853, there “are to be found many curious birds, peculiar to the country.”  Copies of the book will be available for sale and Dan has graciously agreed to do a book signing for those who are interested.  Please plan to attend our last event until next fall.  (for more information on the book, visit  and type Dan Fischer in the search bar.)

Speakers wanted:  If you have ideas for speakers, or if you would like to make a presentation yourself, please contact Cynthia Donald, Program Chair, at (602) 791-5157 or

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  Committees/ Support


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Activist Alert: 
Shawn Bauer 
Arizona Audubon 
Council Rep:

Herb Fibel 
Audubon Phone
Book Store
Richard & Karen Kaiser
Field Observations
Janet Witzeman
Web Page
Michell Fulton
Maricopa Audubon Web Site 


Bequests are an important source of support for the Maricopa Audubon Society.  Your chapter has dedicated itself to the protection of natural world through public education and advocacy for the wiser use and preservation of our land, water, air and other irreplaceable natural resources.

You can invest in the future of our natural world by making a bequest in your will to the Maricopa Audubon Society .  Talk to your attorney for more information on how this can be accomplished.

It feels odd to be thinking about our Annual Meeting and Banquet in January, when it is not until May, but with quarterly Wren-ditions, thinking ahead is necessary.

On May 6, 2003, Maricopa Audubon Society will celebrate the completion of its 50th year of providing a meeting place, programs, and activities of interest to birders and would-be birders, and of fighting to save those special places where a wide variety of avian wildlife can be found.  Come share the fun, toast our accomplishments, elect a new board, and enjoy an excellent program, at Shalimar Country Club, 2032 E. Golf Ave., Tempe (one block north of Southern, midway between Price and McClintock).

We are pleased to present as our guest speaker, Dan Fischer, who lives in a stone house in the Chiricahuas, and who has traveled extensively photographing birds and exploring Arizona's diverse environments for over 50 years.  Dan is the author of "Early Southwest Ornithologists-On the Trail of Pioneering Birders," in which he traces 100 ornithologists who birded Arizona between 1528 and 1900.  Copies of his book will be available for sale, and he has graciously agreed to do a book signing for those who are interested.

A buffet dinner, which will feature cuisine to suit everyone's taste, will be $25 a person ($22.50 with your 'Friends' membership card).  The cash bar and hospitality hour will begin at 6:00 p.m., and the buffet will begin at 7:00.  Dress is casual.

Reservations are a must.  Make your reservations early by calling Herb Fibel at (480) 966-5246, or Cynthia Donald at (602) 791-5157.  You may pay at the door or you may mail your check to: Herb Fibel, Treasurer, 1128 E. Geneva Drive, Tempe, Arizona, 85282-3940.

This is going to be a very special event that you won't want to miss.


Nominating Committee for Annual Board Elections:  On the back page of the Wren-dition you will find the names of the present officers and directors of Maricopa Audubon.  You will probably note that many of these people have been on the board for a long time.  However, it is not because any of these people have a "lock" on any of these positions.  Au contraire, it's because we have not been able to find anyone else willing to undertake any of these tasks.  If you would like to serve in any position on the board, you need only be a National Audubon member assigned geographically to this chapter, or a local member or "Friend".  Just let a member of the nominating committee know of your interest, and your name will be placed in nomination at the annual meeting.

Our Nominating Committee for the upcoming MAS year is: Jim and Lynn Blaugh, (Co-chairs), (480) 491-2509; Polly Schmidt, (480) 946-7526; and Charlotte Norrid, (480) 967-4957.

Basha's donates to Help Preserve Arizona:  Give the cashier the charity code #29039 between 9/1 and 1/31 each year and Basha's will donate 1% of your total to 18 conservation & environmental groups including: az wildlife federation, audubon arizona, tucson audubon, native seeds/SEARCH, grand canyon trust, gray hawk nature center, oracle land trust, trout unlimited, wild at heart, az recycling coalition, southwest wildlife rehabilitation & education foundation, az association for environmental education, mcdowell sonoran land trust, willow bend environmental education center, four corners school of outdoor education, grand canyon wildlands council, maricopa audubon society, and land & water fund of the rockies.  For more information go to  or call 480-969-3682.

Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch suffered much damage in the April fire that swept through the ranch.  There is both an immediate and a long-term need for volunteers to assist with a wide-range of tasks as the Research Ranch implements a recovery and restoration plan.  If you are interested in helping please call Sam Campana at 602 468 6470 for information.  Please do not just show up without calling.

The Birdseye Guide to 101 Birding Sites, Phoenix:  A new guide published by Rupp Aerial Photography.  The maps are excellent, it is all in color and is $23.95.  For more information check  Also catch the author, Mike Rupp, at February's meeting.

Birding in Cuba:  February 15-24, 2003. Under a license from the U.S. Treasury Department, Grand Canyon University is offering an adult education class on the birds of Cuba that includes a 10 day trip to the major birding areas of Cuba.  The focus of the trip will be to locate and study the 21 endemic birds of Cuba, as well as birds rarely found elsewhere in North America (Ivory-billed woodpecker?!?)  The cost is between $2,500 and $3,000.  Linda and Tom Rawles will be leading the trip.  For more information contact Linda at or at (602) 279-5900.

For a detailed itinerary email the editor and it can be sent via email.  In Winging It, ABA's newsletter, is information for 2 more approved study trips to Cuba.  These trips are sponsored by Manchester Community College.  For information contact Gary Markowski at 860-354-5590 or  The dates are February 13-22 and February 27- March 8.

Are you looking for a fun way to volunteer by sharing your birding skills? Boyce Thompson Arboretum is looking for birders who would like to lead bird walks. BTA offers guided birdwalks each Sunday morning from 8:30-10:30 during the spring and fall migrations. The spring series runs Feb. 16th through early May. A crew of volunteers rotate birdwalk duties. Contact Paul Wolterbeek,  Volunteer Program Coordinator,  520-689-2723.

Hawk Stalk: Feb. 22, Pete Dunne will be our celebrity leader on the last Hawk Stalk of the season. The cost is $100 per person, and the trip will be limited to 10 participants (we already have 4 but will keep a waiting list).  For more information, call at 520-432-1388, e-mail at, or check out the web at

Basic Birding Class by Herb Fibel:  resumes March 20.  The classes are sponsored by the Tempe Parks and Recreation Department, Outdoor Recreation Section, and will take place on Thursday evenings from 7-8 p.m., at the Pyle Adult Center in the city complex at Rural and Southern.  The class runs 7 weeks and will include 3 field trips.  If you would like to learn basic bird identification skills, this class is for you.  You don't need to live in Tempe to sign up, but pre-registration is a must.  Tempeans can register February 18th or thereafter, and non-Tempeans can register February 24th and thereafter.  Be sure to call (480) 350-5200 and ask for Lynda Myers, Recreation Coordinator.

The ALEUTIAN GOOSE FESTIVAL:  A Celebration of Wildness, March 21-24, 2003. 140 Marine Way-Crescent City, California 95531, 707-465-0888 ~ email, check out the web site at Once on the Endangered Species List with only 800 birds, this magnificent goose now numbers 40,000+ and has joined the elite group of species that have recovered enough to be taken off of the endangered list. Our festival guests are treated to the sight of tens of thousands of these birds lifting off Castle Island at dawn filling the sky over the Pacific.

ABA Annual Convention:  June 2-8, 2003 in Eugene, Oregon.  Call the ABA or check their website for more information.

More birding and nature festivals.  and

Audubon Adventures:  Give the gift of discovery and share your love of the environment.  The program is designated for students in grades 4-6.  Introduce an entire classroom (up to 32 students) to the wonders of nature for just $35 (plus shipping charges).  You can select your favorite school or let Audubon do it for you.  For orders:  call 800/813-5037.

Maricopa Audubon T-Shirts. For information, contact Laurie Nessel at (480) 968-5614 or

Do you have an interesting story to tell about birding?  Please forward your submissions to the Editor—Deva Burns.  Check the back page for address/e-mail.  Actually, attaching an article to an e-mail is the absolute easiest way to submit an article.  If you have pictures or slides, you do need to send those to me directly.  Remember, all articles may not be published the first month after receipt.


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By Laurie Nessel

Maricopa Audubon Society lost a longtime, dedicated member when Joyce Fibel, 76, passed away on November 14th. Joyce, wife of Herb Fibel, served MAS in various capacities over the years including secretary and mailing chairman. Birding is an obsession for many of us and it was heartwarming to see Joyce and Herb enjoy and promote birdwatching together. 

Bob Witzeman told me about the time he and Herb and Joyce were passing through Gila Bend on a birding trip.  They stopped at a Dairy Queen-like store on the east side of town.  While they were ordering, Joyce remarked that she had worked there some 40 years ago.  She had an interesting time reminiscing with the store's staff about the "good 

 old days." That was when Gila Bend was on the main road to the coast.  So many of our chapter members in these earlier times must have unknowingly met and been served by Joyce. 

Over the years, Joyce was always most gracious and generous at sharing her home and her time on behalf of the chapter. She was also an accomplished pianist and talented still-life painter. She was originally from Toledo, Ohio. We will miss her. 

Donations in Joyce's memory can be made to the Maricopa Audubon Society, Foundation for Senior Living, The Alzheimer's Association or Hospice of the Valley.

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Last updated: March 10, 2003
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