Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory

The Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO) is a nonprofit membership-supported scientific and educational organization founded in 1996 in Bisbee, Arizona, USA. The mission of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory is to promote the conservation of the birds of southeastern Arizona, their habitats, and the diversity of species that share those habitats through research, monitoring, and public education.

The observatory's founders and current directors are Tom Wood and Sheri Williamson, former managers of The Nature Conservancy's Ramsey Canyon Preserve, and Mark Newstrom.

Monitoring bird diversity

Southeastern Arizona is at a biogeographic crossroads, where the Rocky Mountains meet the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico and the Chihuahuan Desert blends into the Sonoran Desert. Isolated mountain ranges known as "sky islands" are home to a variety of animal and plant species found nowhere else in the United States. The San Pedro River flows north from the mountains of northern Sonora, Mexico providing a highway for millions of migrating birds every spring and fall. The Santa Cruz River and Sonoita Creek also provide riparian habitat for breeding and migrating birds and other wildlife. Much of the best remaining wildlife habitat in the region is in the Coronado National Forest, national and state parks, national wildlife refuges and conservation areas, state wildlife areas, military reservations, and Nature Conservancy preserves.

The Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory has conducted various monitoring projects both independently and in cooperation with public agencies. Its longest-running research project, in cooperation with the United States Bureau of Land Management and Friends of the San Pedro River, is a study of the hummingbirds that use the San Pedro River as a migratory corridor or breeding area.[1][2] Banding sessions are open to the public, which has allowed thousands of visitors to observe research in progress and learn more about hummingbirds, other migratory birds, the ecological significance of the San Pedro River, and other conservation issues. Past projects include migration monitoring and breeding bird monitoring under the MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) Program[3] for the National Park Service and Fish & Wildlife Service. SABO is a participant in the Landbird Monitoring Network of the Americas.[4][5] Informal surveys of wintering raptors are integrated into weekly public tours of the southern Sulphur Springs Valley, between Bisbee and Elfrida.

Ecotourism and outreach

Southeastern Arizona consistently ranks as one of the top five birding locations in the United States. Tens of thousands of birders visit the area each year, making nature-based tourism an important asset to the regional economy. The area's natural attractions also lure active retirees and others interested in relocating to areas with diverse opportunities for outdoor recreation. To cultivate environmental awareness and advocacy among both residents and tourists, the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory offers bird walks, workshops, other educational activities in both Arizona and northwestern Mexico,[6] and volunteer opportunities.

The Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory also supports community-based outreach and economic development programs such as the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival, the Wings Over Willcox Sandhill Crane Celebration, and the Southeastern Arizona Birding Trail.


  1. City of Sierra Vista, AZ YouTube channel: Hummingbird Banding
  2. Davis, Tony. "Tiny bird banded in AZ recaptured after humdinger of a flight", Arizona Daily Star, 2008-08-20.
  3. Institute for Bird Populations: Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) Program Archived 2007-09-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station: Landbird Monitoring Network of the Americas: Member Organizations and Stations. Retrieved on 2009-10-28.
  5. Wilcove, David S. "Border Traffic: The challenge of saving Mexico’s vanishing Thick-billed Parrots". Living Bird, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Winter 2008.
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