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Santa Cruz Flats Raptor Survey

 

Ferruginous Hawk, 16 January 2021 Photo by Muriel Neddermeyer

 

Many hawk species winter in southern Arizona, some in relatively large numbers, augmenting resident populations. Santa Cruz Flats in Pinal County is particularly noteworthy for drawing these winter visitors. Located along the basin of the Santa Cruz River, which flows northwest across the county towards the Gila River, the area encompasses approximately 350 square miles and has an average elevation of 1,700 feet. It is primarily agricultural, and abundant rodents, thousands of wintering sparrows, and a big population of doves offer a ready food supply for raptors. Palms, cottonwoods, pines, and clumps of tamarisk and palo verde provide roosting sites for owls.

 

Red-tailed Hawk (rufous form), 16 January 2021 Photo by Loyal Johnson

Crested Caracaras, first reported from this area in 1965, appear to be increasing. Although the numbers observed in the winter are higher than other seasons, they are seen year-round as some pairs nest in the area. A large population of Black Vultures also resides at this location, although total numbers are not well known. Turkey Vultures, while common in summer and numerous during migration, are rare in the winter.


Annually assessing the number of raptors wintering in this area establishes a potentially useful baseline for evaluating plans that could significantly alter the habitat and wildlife at the Flats. A summary of the first 15 years of the count can be found in Arizona Birds. The 17th annual survey will be 15 January 2022.


For more information, please contact the survey coordinator, Doug Jenness, dougjennessATgmail.com.

 

 

 



If you are interested in participating in the Santa Cruz Flats Raptor Survey, Contact

Area Coordinator
Doug Jenness
l:dougjennessATgmail.com.

Count Results

 

Crested Caracara - Photo Muriel Neddermeyer

 

Updated Saturday, April 18, 2009
©2005
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