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Help Save the Paton’s Hummingbird Haven for Birders

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.


Violet-crowned Hummingbird at Paton’s Hummingbird Haven, photo by nebirdsplus

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.

The drive runs until October 15th.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

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  • I just donated $100, and I challenge my fellow ABA board members – and ABA members generally – to do the same.

    Come on birders; let’s step up!

  • Edge Wade

    I saw my lifer Violet-crowned Hummingbird (1995) and lifer Lazuli Bunting (1997) at Paton’s. I try to get there at least once a year. It has been a reliable site for many species. Among them: Gambel’s Quail, Common Ground-Dove, Magnificent, Blue-throated, Black-chinned, Anna’s, Rufous, Broad-billed, (and even once) Lucifer Hummingbird, Gila Woodpecker, Bridled Titmouse, Canyon and Abert’s Towhee, Pyrrhuloxia, Bronzed Cowbird, Cassin’s Finch, Pine Siskin, Lesser and Lawrence’s Goldfinch.

    Many a first-time Arizona birder has been escorted into the Paton backyard to spend an hour or two enthralled by the action at 10 hummingbird feeders , the constantly changing visitors to the feeders at the far end, or the quiet skulkers on the perimeter or at the water feature.

    If you’ve been there and gotten one or more life birds, please acknowledge the joy you experienced with a donation. How about $10 per lifer, or $20? More, if you can afford it?

    If you haven’t been there, look at the list above. See any potential lifers on it? How about contributing something toward keeping this site open so you can experience it. I’ve sent my check (PayPal is also an option).

    Edge Wade

  • Liz and I kicked in our $100, Bob! Looks like things are rolling along well. Come on other birders and join us!

  • Jaymie Arnold

    I remember going to the Paton’s as a teenager on VENT’s Camp Chiricahua. I was blown away by the incredible spectacle of hummingbirds, the Western Screech Owl sitting in his roost and the Grey Hawk that flew overhead. Not to mention all of the other birds I saw. But what really made the place so special in my mind was the mere fact that birding ‘strangers’ were welcomed with so much hospitality into a couple’s backyard to observe birds and other wildlife without any expectations in return. Sure, donations for the sugar fund were encouraged, but people could come into a wildlife haven and make themselves comfortable literally for hours without any catch. I didn’t make a donation to the sugar fund 20 years ago, but I’m definitely making one now!

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