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Memories of Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Summer Tanager - Piranga rubra
I met this male Summer Tanager at the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum near Superior, Arizona. This was my third visit to this location. I expect it won’t be my last.

Travel fifty-four miles east from the I-10 freeway on US-60 in Phoenix, and just 3 miles short of Superior Arizona is a jewel of a location for nature lovers called the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Named for an early 20th Century strip-mining magnet, I find it ironic that a man guilty of causing some of the worst scars on the face of the earth could be responsible for such an interesting place as this two square mile oasis, this exotic island of botany from around the world.

If you are a purist, devoted to native vegetation, you may object and point out that this place is a monument to man’s will to dominate nature by replacing that which evolved here with species that originated on some other part of the planet. While I’m aware of such a mindset, I find the exhibits here amazing.

The bird encounters I’ve had here have been rewarding. The native avifauna doesn’t seem to mind at all, the exotic plants growing in the various gardens on the grounds. I admire the devotion the staff has to maintaining the more than 1200 acres within the arboretum.

There are many trails winding through the grounds. Some ascend the slopes that line the canyon, some traverse the dry-washes and circle around to explore the various garden elements established here. Visitors will find tall forested areas, a small lake and many intermediate habitats. In season, all these areas promise meetings with resident birds, those passing through, and those who will spend summers or winters sheltered here. It’s a revolving door for many species. It’s a living laboratory for plants, insects, reptiles, and of course those birds.

Picketpost Mountain - Scenery
I woke to this sunrise scene and I spent the early morning at the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum near Superior, Arizona. The day was sunny and the birds were friendly.

I’ve visited this place only three times, so with my limited experience I can’t begin to describe all potential meetings that might be in store for folks spending time here. As a photographer, the possibilities are endless. I’m content to chase birds when I’m here, but the floral or the fine-art photographer could explore these grounds and never exhaust all the possibilities.

My first visit here was in 2019 on October 23rd in the fall season. The second was on the outbound leg of my Texas expedition on the 24th of February 2020. My third and most recent, was this May 26th, as I returned from Texas. I’ve never been disappointed with the bird meetings I’ve had here, and I look forward to my next visits.

Review the gallery below for samples of the meetings I’ve had at this special location. If I’ve mis-identified any of the subjects, kindly let me know.

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