American Birding Podcast



Help Keep Ash Canyon, Arizona, Open to Birders! (Video #4)

I had planned a video this week talking about upcoming ABA events, but that will have to wait, as something very important and time-sensitive has come up. Birder access to Ash Canyon, Arizona, is in jeopardy and I strongly urge all of you to join me in speaking out to make sure that this wonderful spot remains open to us. A win here will be a win for all birders, everywhere. Directions on how to help in a moment.

Many of you already know Mary Jo Ballator’s Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast, which has welcomed day use of the grounds by property for the last 9 years without incident. Birders are asked to pay a $5 fee for the privilege of visiting the birdy and beautiful grounds, which are carefully landscaped with native plants and studded with popular bird feeding and watering stations. It’s considered the prime spot to see Lucifer Hummingbird in the U.S.


It’s also a reliable spot to see Arizona Woodpecker, shown here feeding young at a nest on the grounds of Ash Canyon B & B.


Though Mary Jo has welcomed us here for almost a decade with little or nothing in the way of problems or complaints, it is possible that she will be denied a permit to keep operating her small business. The issue revolves around some adjacent property owners wanting to keep birders and other visitors out. While I am sympathetic to privacy concerns, there have been no significant issues here. We have proven ourselves as a community to be good citizens and neighbors. Our impacts have been positive ones.

I’ve recorded this short video urging all of you to act now to help keep Ash Canyon open to birders.

Ready to help out? Here are the details:

Letters (send e-mails, time is short!) should contain a reference to Ash Canyon B&B and to parcel number 104-21-022. They must be received by noon, Friday April 1, Arizona time. Send e-mails to  Mr. Keith Dennis, Cochise County Planning Department, with a CC to Mary Jo Ballator, And while you’re at it, copy me in, if you would:

Please keep your comments brief and positive. I’d like us to be a loud and enthusiastic but still friendly chorus.

Below is the letter I sent. Feel free to borrow from it as you like. I put mine on ABA letterhead to make it look more official, but all you need do is send a simple e-mail. It will help. And it will be much appreciated, by me, by Mary Jo, and by your fellow birders. I bet you’ll get a kick out of doing it, too. Even if you’re never lucky enough to visit Ash Canyon, you’ll have helped us all grow stronger as a community. Thank you.

Ash Canyon letter  003

Big thanks to Richard Fray, who helped spread the word via a post on his blog and to ABA board member Kenn Kaufman, who shared Richard’s post on his Facebook wall, where I saw it.

Thanks also to Charles W. Melton of Near Famous Nature Photography for the use of his bird photographs.

Finally, biggest thanks of all to Mary Jo Ballator. We so appreciate your efforts on behalf of both birds and birders. Best of luck in the hearing!