Global Owl Project at the Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festival in Avondale, Arizona.
Early spring in Arizona can be warmer than summertime elsewhere, such as in Belgrade, Serbia, where I came from. Weekend days of 17th and 18th March were of those very sunny and hot days, with temperatures going over 30°C / 90°F – in fact it was reported 36°C / 97°F, which directly in the sun seemed like being in an oven. I appreciate therefore that more than 5800 people came to see what was offered at this Festival. It was in organization of city of Avondale, held in cooperation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Luke Air Force Base and the local communities. My special thanks goes to Heidi Vasiloff and Cathy Wise, two amazing ladies with enormous energy and kindness.
Tres Rios, or three rivers, is the name given to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Base and Meridian Wildlife Area (B&M Wildlife Area) where the Gila, Salt and Agua Fria rivers meet, adjacent to Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. It is also Important Bird Area (IBA), with reason – amazingly diverse wildlife in the middle of the desert!
There were 87 exhibitors located under tents that, at least in my opinion, seemed like from Medieval European time! It was very nice sight for sure. Tent dedicated for Global Owl Project, based in Lizard Lane, was luckily facing the east, and we were spared the intensity of the Arizona sun in afternoon hours. Wind, though, made whole event very unpredictable and interesting, especially when our posters were flying in sand couple of times! During the night, some tents were completely flown like a kite, turning everything upside down. Not ours, luckily…
Amongst exhibitors were many with live animals brought, giving visitors opportunity to encounter them in person. Arizona Game and Fish Department's Wildlife Center and Education Branch had Nature Talks throughout the festival, but many other exhibitors were generous to offer talk about their animals, such are Liberty Wildlife and Falconers Association, even APS, showing how companies, whose main products are, for example, production and distribution of electricity and water, are caring about nature. Plants (Botanical garden), Arizona Association for Environmental Education, Arizona Archeological society, Arizona Recyclers, Arizona State Parks, Audubon Arizona, few rehabilitation and education centers such as Fallen Feathers and Feathered Hearts, USDA Wildlife Services … were amongst exhibitors, making whole event truly celebration of the rich heritage, ecology, history and wildlife of the Gila, Salt and Agua Fria Rivers.
Under the GLOW tent, we offered on one side presentation of the Global Owl Project in brief, together with list of team members. On the other side was a poster with photos of owls that have distribution in Arizona, pellets for those interested in finding out what is on the owl's menu, and at the center of the exhibition were 12 life size Arizona owls, made of wood, together with owl pendants. Funds obtained by selling them were forwarded toward Owl Research. Visitors were also offered with albums of wildlife photography by Doug Grove.
Many visitors were interested in introduction and info on both GLOW and owls of the world, with pointing out species of Arizona. Interestingly, many of them reported about owl sightings and obviously there is abundance of information of Burrowing Owls relocation projects. It was truly pleasure hearing positive thoughts and love (or at least curiosity in positive way) people have about the owls! Many children were eager to dig thru pellets, and parents were cooperative patiently waiting while little ones finished their exploring. For those not so willing to do pellet analysis themselves, there were some prey remains obtained earlier and binocular so they can see molar patterns themselves. Kids were fantastic and I am sure some of them have high chance to move their way toward biological science.
After closing, on Sunday, we finally had a chance to go and enjoy area ourselves. That is where I have opportunity to meet Mel, one brave Western Screech Owl who obviously had collision with a car and as the result head injury, but recovered just fine and now had dedicated family to take care about it. If you ever have a chance to visit this area, you have my warmest recommendation. In close vicinity there is a pair of Barn Owls, whom we had chance to see, and of course, collect some very fresh pellets. Overall impression of the whole festival: FANTASTIC!
Owl Regards from Tanja Sova