Thursday, November 27, 2014

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum


The day before Thanksgiving we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and ended up spending over 6 hours there. This museum has everything - birds of prey flying free less than a foot over our head, all sorts of animals, desert plant life, walk-in aviaries and lots of educational exhibits. And, of course, exhibits of snakes and other reptiles. I'd much rather see them behind the glass than out on a hiking trail. So far, I've been lucky.

The first thing we saw that was totally impressive was an exhibition of birds of prey free flying to different perches in an open desert environment. The bird handlers would put a little a piece of food on a branch of a dead tree and the bird would swoop down from another tree, within inches of our heads. All these birds were adopted when they were separated from their mothers due to various reasons. They were taken care of by humans, and as such, did not know how to hunt or take care of themselves in the wild. They only let one bird out at a time, or multiples of the same breed. At one time, they had four hawks out at the same time. They had Peregrine Falcons, Great Horned Owl, Barn Owl, Harris Hawks and more. This was a highlight of the day. Several times as they flew over the crowd, I could feel the breeze stirred up by their wings - what an amazing display!


They had a cactus garden and in spite of the time I've spent in the desert so far, there were varieties I had not seen. Some of them were imported and rare, but others can be found in this area. It isn't time for cacti to bloom, but I did see one with blooms on it - rare for this time of year.


There was a pond with an otter and a beaver as well as fish. We could view the otter and his antics through an underwater window to his world. I think he enjoyed playing with the humans that were on display. The coyotes, wolves and javalinas refused to pose for photos but the bighorn sheep didn't care. For such a large animal, they are very light on their feet as they pranced around their rock mountain.


There were two aviaries, one strictly for hummingbirds and the other for jays, parrots and other birds. Of course by then, I had used up my camera battery and had no power to take more photos, unfortunately. It was great to see those little hummingbirds zipping around through the trees and plants. They didn't seem bothered by the humans that were watching them, but came up to them within a foot or so.

And, of course, cats - this was one of two and the only one awake during the afternoon. 

Anyone who is in the Tucson or southern Arizona area should plan to visit this amazing place.


1 comment:

  1. what a beautiful experience. . .definitely adding this one to the Must Do List. . .thanks!