In 1994, I was a young birder at the ABA/Victor Emanuel Nature Tour’s Camp Chiricahua. We spent time at all of the southeast Arizona hotspots, including the backyard of a generous couple of Arizonans where we, like thousands of other birders had over many years, enjoyed a Violet-crowned Hummingbird. Those generous birders were, of course, Marion and Wally Paton.
Since the passing of Wally and Marion a few years ago, the question of what would happen to their home has been an open one. Friends and neighbors have maintained the property and its fantastic feeders, but that solution was necessarily temporary.
Enter the American Bird Conservancy who, with the help of Tucson Audubon and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, have entered into a contract with the Paton family to acquire the property and maintain it in perpetuity as a bird sanctuary.
$100,000 has already been raised, but the remaining $200,000 needs to come from birders and those who have realized the importance of such a place, not only for its value as an accessible site to see and enjoy these remarkable and often rare birds, but as a landmark of the birding and nature community.
Once the site has been procured, Tucson Audubon will take on the long-term management. They intend to maintain the home as a public birding site in the manner that Marion and Wally happily watched it become. In this way it will be there for future birders as it was for my Camp Chiricahua colleagues.