Date: 7/14/20 9:20 pm
From: Eric Hough <thebirdwhisperer22...>
Subject: [AZNMbirds] [EXT]CAZ: Hassayampa Preserve/Rest Area important notes, Streak-backed Oriole
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The nesting female STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE is continuing to be seen at Hassayampa River Preserve near Wickenburg (Maricopa County) as of 12 July 2020.

****IMPORTANT REMINDERS: the Preserve is only open currently from THURSDAY-SUNDAY from 7:00am-4:00pm (trails close at 3:30pm), and closed Monday-Wednesday. In the near future, we may be able to return to the Wednesday-Sunday schedule, but we will let the public know when this happens. We have become aware that some birders submitted an eBird list from yesterday (Monday, 13 July) when the Preserve was closed, therefore indicating that they were trespassing. Besides being illegal, this poses potential hazards for both the visitor and the Preserve, and is a loss of revenue for the park. The budget for the Preserve and our other Maricopa County Parks comes mostly from park user fees, which go towards helping with the upkeep of the parks and for the public programs and other amenities that visitors enjoy. The Preserve’s fee is only $5 per person for ages 13 and up.

It does not matter from how far you’ve traveled to see the bird, it is up to you to research the hours and days of operation for any public location before you visit. This information is available on our website ( <>), the Facebook page for the Hassayampa River Preserve, and has been mentioned repeatedly in posts to the AZ/NM listserve and “Arizona Birding” Facebook group. There is no excuse for trespassing when the Preserve is closed.

Furthermore, we have witnessed that the vegetation off trail around the nest, both behind and beyond the barriers, has been trampled down significantly over the past few weeks. While it is ok to be a few feet off trail to avoid the ants on the sand, we do not want birders going beyond this. The barriers are meant to provide a buffer to the nesting bird so we can avoid stressing the bird and potentially attracting predators to the nest. We have been trying to keep an eye on birders during the mornings we are open in case people are going off trail or beyond the barriers, but based on the flattened grass right by the nest, it is clear that people have been sneaking in for unnecessarily close-up views and photos. We have been accommodating birders in getting to still see the nest and the bird by having the barriers to buffer the nest, but we may need to reconsider the situation if visitors are not respecting our rules. If you witness bad behavior among fellow birders, please either say something to them or immediately let our staff know at the Visitor Center so we can deal with it. PLEASE STAY ON/NEXT TO THE TRAIL AND BEHIND THE BARRIERS!

It is also important to note that the Hassayampa River at the U.S. 60 Rest Area two miles southeast of the Preserve headquarters can only be birded from the parking area currently. The area beyond the fence is part of the Preserve and we now have signs stating that access beyond the fence is prohibited. This area has long been visited by people simply hopping the fence to access the river and in the past, a blind eye had been turned to this. However, we have a duty to protect the Preserve’s natural resources and people have been abusing the land, especially during the increased visitation during the current COVID-19 pandemic. People are increasingly leaving trash, trespassing beyond fences, and cutting/trampling vegetation, and possibly collecting/poaching wildlife, which is why we have recently put up the signs. In the future perhaps this situation will be reassessed, but please comply with all signed rules and regulations.

As an alternative birding spot along the Hassayampa River, the Kerkes Trailhead in Wickenburg is always accessible and is an eBird hotspot. It lacks surface water for most of the year at this stretch, but has stands of cottonwood-willow forest and mesquites that attract many of the same species found further downriver. <>

Good birding,

Eric Hough
Interpretive Ranger
Hassayampa River Preserve
Maricopa County Parks

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