It had always been referred to as Paton's Place, or more specifically, Paton's Hummingbird Haven. In the early 1970s Wally and Marion Paton noticed a Violet-crowned Hummingbird (an uncommon species) in their backyard, so they decided to put up some feeders. And the rest, they say, is history. When birds (not just hummingbirds) started visiting their place, they decided to open their premises to the public, just asking for donations to maintain the feeders. Wally passed away in 2001 and Marion in 2009. Their daughter, Bonnie Paton Moon, decided to sell the property to the Tucson Audubon Society who promised to continue the legacy of her parents.
We have visited the Paton's Hummingbird Haven four times in the past 10 years. It was one of the birding areas we went to outside of California when Cynthia and I were still new in our our birding adventures. Here's a composite of the photos taken there through the years. Top left was in 2005, top right in 2006, lower left - 2007 and finally lower right, 2015.
As expected, Paton's backyard was teeming with birds. Spring is not best time to see hummingbirds in Arizona so there were only a few at the feeders. We only had a glimpse (and no picture) of the resident Violet-crowned. Compensating for the lack of hummingbirds, we had great looks at the other local birds. One of them was the colorful Lazuli Bunting
and Northern Cardinal.
The most common bird was the rather drab Pine Siskin.
Other visitors were the White-winged Dove
the Gila Woodpecker
and the Curve-billed Thrasher.
After having our fill at Paton's we visited Patagonia Lake. This is a huge State-run park and there were picnic tables and even an RV Camp. The good news is there is also a wilderness trail - and this is where the birds are. The most common of which - so common that every hundred feet or so, there will be at least one of them busily hunting for insects - the dynamically colored Vermillion Flycatcher.
The reed-filled lakeshore hosted three species of ducks:
and the Green-winged Teal
A sure find at the lake is the uncommon Neotropic Cormorant.
This was the end of our 2 full-day birding trip to Arizona. Going back to Paton's place brought back nice memories. We were glad that the local bird clubs were taking good care of this place and continuing to preserve the efforts of Wally and Marion Paton.
Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Andean Condor
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