Monday, July 16, 2012

Curved-billed Thrasher

Forty-four years ago Erika and I did our college senior thesis along the Mexican border with Arizona at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. A lot has changed since then. Now southern Arizona seems like a war zone. The visitor center is named after Kris Eggle, a ranger who was murdered by Mexican drug smugglers. Over 150 miles of illegal roads traverse the monument. Dangers possibly encountered in area include "heat, lack of water, spiky plants, poisonous snakes and the possibility of encounters with armed smugglers and illegal immigrants" ( Nevertheless, the monument assures potential visitors that automobile accidents resulting from fatigue and speed are your most pressing worry.
You can not even visit William's Springs, where we did much of our research. The rangers on duty did not seem overly impressed with our history, although they did express surprise that water flowed at William's Springs 44 years ago (but see photo below). One of the few options for tourists is driving the 21-mile Ajo Mountain Drive. One of the common birds here is the Curve-billed Thrasher. This ground-feeding thrasher is found in the southwestern United States south to central Mexico. It has a relatively broad habitat tolerance and wide feeding preferences--insects, seeds, fruits and seeds. It is threatened, however, by human development of the landscape (Tweit 1996).

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