Welcome Back Buzzards
7:00-8:30 Vulture Viewing with ASU Professor Dave Pearson
8:30-10:00 Guided Bird Walk with Dr. Pearson and Friends
March brings the Spring Equinox, observed by cultures from the ancient Greeks to Aboriginal Australians - at the Arboretum one sure sign of Spring is the return of our seasonal resident flock of Turkey Vultures in March. Join ASU Professor Dave Pearson for a morning observing the big, black birds March 25.
Events are included with adult admission of $12.50; free to BTA annual members and AZ state parks pass-holders. Arrive early for the 7am special Vulture Viewing Saturday to observe our famous flock of Turkey Vultures perched on the cliffs before they depart to spend their day soaring the skies; world-traveled ASU Professor
ASU Professor Dave Pearson will be the guest 'Vulture-ologist' stationed near the Desert Legume Garden from about 7:00 am until 8:30 "talking about TUVUs", sharing a few jokes 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. Dr. Pearson and other guides will lead a bird walk through the gardens at 8:30 in search of other birds, mammals and critters.
View a Bye Bye Buzzards Day event video from a few years back, by Arboretum Volunteer Mike Rolfe
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 mid- 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.
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. We also celebrate a "Bye Bye Buzzards" day in September, gathering again to scan Magma Ridge for the birds.