Posts Tagged ‘Arizona Sonora Desert Museum’

Javalinas at the Entrance© AME

Javelinas at the Entrance © AME

This week we visited one of Tucson’s premier attractions, the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Over the West Mountains, the Desert Museum is pressed up against the foothills between Pima County’s Tucson Mountain Park and the western unit of Saguaro National Park.

Looking South from Patio © AME

Looking South from Patio

In the midst of this sweeping Sonoran desert landscape overlooking the Avra Valley, the Museum is home to 1200 plant types as well as 166 birds, 100 mammals, 276 amphibians, 531 reptiles, 11,000 fishes (their latest accomplishment is a brand new aquarium(!) spotlighting the Sonoran desert’s Colorado River and its terminus, the Sea of Cortez), and 620 invertebrates.

Harris Hawk© AME

Harris Hawk

Besides the new aquarium, along the two plus miles of paths there’s an earth sciences center, 22 gardens, a small animal room, a hummingbird pavilion, and natural habitat displays of native beavers, cats, javelinas, coyotes, bears, deer, wolves, parrots, prairie dogs, big horn sheep, tortoises, coatimundis, snakes, and raptors.

We were treated to a free flight raptor show featuring barn owls, falcons and hawks. Where we stopped to watch the show we soon discovered the nearby woman with the headset and leather glove was one of the handlers, who, with a tasty morsel, lured a Harris hawk to land on her hand.

Nest Sitting© AME

Nest Sitting

We also spent a long time in the hummingbird pavilion where the local species are nesting right now. Because the hummers aren’t in the wild, they’re provided with dog hair and other bits which, combined with cobwebs, are used to construct the tiny nests.

A highly trained army of docents patrols the grounds, providing information on everything from the plant and animal life to water fountain locations.

The Museum celebrated its 60th anniversary Labor Day 2012. From its humble (and dusty) beginnings, it has grown into a premier interpretative, educational and research facility, with a mission “to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert.”

It’s exactly that emotional bond—love, appreciation and understanding—a visitor feels viewing the animals held in “gentle captivity” as well as the carefully tended desert grounds. It’s the perfect introduction to this magnificent Sonoran desert.

Bobcats Nap© AME

Bobcats Nap


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