in Rim Country, White Mountains of Arizona & Beyond...

Arizona Game & Fish Dept.

5000 W. Carefree Hwy,

Phoenix, AZ 85086

(602) 942-3000 · www.azgfd.gov


Region I - Pinetop

2878 E. White Mountain Blvd.

Pinetop, AZ 85935



The Hummingbirds of Arizona

By Diane Tilton,

AZGFD Information & Education Manager

Of the 14 species of hummingbirds, four can be commonly found in the White Mountains. Birds, including hummingbirds and doves, are important pollinators throughout the world. Other birds which serve as tropical pollinators include honeycreepers in Hawaii, honeyeaters in Australia and sunbirds in the Old World tropics.  Globally, there are 2,000 bird species that feed on nectar and/or the insects and spiders associated with nectar bearing flowers. Ornithophily is the term for pollination by birds. Try and say that fast five times.

Flowers that are visited by hummingbirds are typically tubular with petals that are recurved to allow the bird access to the nectar. The plants will have strong supports for perching. The flowers are brightly colored (usually red, yellow or orange) and odorless since birds have a poor sense of smell.

Hummingbirds have good vision and, of all the colors, they seem to be extremely attracted to red. Their long bills are designed to reach into the flowers in search of nectar while their faces get dusted with pollen that they then move to another flower to pollinate it. These mighty birds weigh between two and eight grams (a penny is 2.5 grams!). In order to power their hearts that pump 1,200 times/minute and wings that beat 70 times/second, hummingbirds must eat frequently. They consume several times their body weight per day in nectar. They also supplement their diet with small insects. Hummingbird young only eat bugs that their mothers provide.

Let’s look at the four species we find in the mountains of Arizona…

Black-chinned hummingbirds are small and slender with a green back and a fairly straight bill. Males have a black throat with a thin iridescent purple base. Females have a pale throat (female hummingbirds can be difficult to identify). Both males and females have flanks that are glossed with a dull metallic green and a black bill. Black-chinned hummingbirds can often be found perched at the very top of a bare branch. If you’re close by and quiet, you might hear a low-pitched humming sound produced by their wings.

As summer residents in Arizona, the black-chinned hummingbirds are breeding in most of Arizona. They migrate to western Mexico in the winter. The oldest known black-chinned hummingbird was a female who was at least 11 years and two months old when she was recaptured and re-released during a banding operation in Texas.

The tiny calliope hummingbird is the smallest bird in North America, north of Mexico. Both males and females have green underparts. The male has a magenta and white streaked throat. The female calliope has a dull whitish throat and whitish or cinnamon-buff chest and belly (I told you the female hummingbirds can be hard to identify!).


Visit the High Country Hummingbird Festival at Sipe Wildlife Area

Saturday, July 29

The 14th annual High Country Hummingbird Festival will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on July 29, 2017 at Sipe Wildlife Area near Eagar in eastern Arizona. The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers this free and unique opportunity to learn more about the colorful forest hummingbirds of Arizona.

The birding festival will include Sheri Williamson, one of the nation’s foremost experts on hummingbirds. Sheri and her crew will lead a capture and bird-banding event that allows participants to observe researchers up close as they handle, measure and band these small, yet remarkable creatures.

Sheri is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America. She, together with her husband Tom Wood, founded and operate the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO), which is a non-profit scientific and educational organization based in Bisbee. SABO’s mission is to promote conservation of birds of southeastern Arizona, their habitats and the diversity of species that share those habitats through research, monitoring and public education.

Come prepared to spend most of the morning outdoors with the potential of some summer rain. It’s a good idea to bring a camera, as there will be plenty of great photo opportunities, such as taking your picture with a live raptor at the Department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center “critter photo booth” or learning some new skills at the “How to Photograph Hummingbirds” class. There will be informational booths by the Monarch Society, The White Mountain Audubon Society, the U.S. Forest Service and an informational booth where you can learn more about gardening for hummingbirds and other wildlife. While at Sipe, people are welcome to explore the visitor center’s interpretive displays on wildlife conservation, habitats and prehistoric culture.

Every year, Sipe uses up to 700 pounds of sugar to make the hummingbird food for the feeders around the property. This year, we are asking for donations of new, unopened four-pound bags of pure cane sugar to help feed all of these magnificent birds. A donation station will be set up in the Visitor’s Center.

The Round Valley Chamber of Commerce will be providing breakfast items and lunch concessions for purchase.

Pets must be kept on leash and are not allowed near live wildlife. If you plan on leaving your pet in your vehicle, please note that the parking lot is not shaded.

The Sipe Wildlife Area is located southeast of Eagar and Springerville. From Eagar, take Highway 191 toward Alpine for about two miles to the signed turnoff at the top of the first hill. Drive south five miles to the Sipe property on a gravel road suitable for passenger cars.

For more information, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/hummingbird.shtml, follow this event and other local wildlife recreation-related events and programs on the Arizona Game and Fish Pinetop Region Facebook page, or call the Game and Fish office in Pinetop at (928) 532-3680.

Bears Are Active; Time to Make Sure Your Home Un-Friendly

Diane Tilton, AZGFD Region I Information & Education Program Manager

How does the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGFD) mark the start of spring here in the White Mountains? Bear calls! With the longer days and warmer temperatures, the bears are coming out of hibernation and are looking for food. If you, like me, have gotten into the habit of putting out your trash the night before collection day, now is the time to stop. From now until about December, you’ll need to get up early and take the trash out on collection day.

Bears are lazy and love food so your leftovers or bird food is an easy meal for them. When you’re in bear country, which can include both undeveloped forest areas along with residential and business areas, it is important to be aware of possible bear interactions and to reduce the chances for conflicts when possible. The occurrence of injuries to humans by bears is rare, however it can happen. Unfortunately, Arizona’s first-ever fatal bear attack happened in Pinetop in 2011. How we act in bear country can ultimately affect the safety of others recreating or living in the same area.

The greatest attractant to bears is food and most human-bear conflicts are associated with its availability. In the wild, bears use berries, nuts, grasses and insects as food sources. Bears are also attracted to human-generated food sources, including garbage, bird seed, hummingbird feeders, pet food and fruit trees.

The department recognizes the potential risks to humans and bears and can spend a considerable amount of time and resources every year removing and relocating bears. Removing a bear does not solve the READ MORE...

Pinetop Wetland Project Update

Photo and text By Dan Groebner

   On your next visit to the Pinetop Arizona Game and Fish Department office and the trail head for the TRACKS organization maintained Hatchery Trail, you might just hear a new voice emanating from the nearby wetland.  Northern leopard frogs were introduced last summer and survived the winter just fine, announcing their success with resounding croaking and calling this spring as they laid their first egg masses, creating the next generation.  Cooler weather quiets them a bit but this summer you should be able to hear them from the convenient handicapped accessible viewing platform READ MORE...

Get Out Hunting Workshop Offered

   PINETOP, Ariz — In anticipation of the upcoming summer draw for deer hunts, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will hold a “Get Out Hunting” workshop at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23 at Timber Mesa Outdoors in Show Low.  The two-hour workshop will include information on how to apply for big game tags and how the department’s draw system works. Also included will be discussions on resources to help choose where and also when to hunt and where to look for specific information about Game Management Units after you have been successfully drawn for a hunt.

   Registration is not required. Limited seating will be available, please bring a camp chair. Please call the Pinetop Game and Fish office at (928) 532-3680 if you have any questions.  Timber Mesa Outdoors is located at 1191 E. Huning Street in Show Low.


Two kayak classes to be held in the White Mountains

    PINETOP, Ariz — Learn how to paddle at two upcoming kayak classes in the White Mountains. On June 17 the class will be held at Fool Hollow Lake in Show Low. If you’re in the Round Valley area, a second class will be held at Becker Lake on Aug 12. The course class includes instruction on the basic skills required to safely operate kayak, navigational rules, legal requirements and boating emergencies.

The clinics are free and class size is limited. Participants must be at least 10 years of age. Class size is limited to 12. Register online at www.azgfd.com/education/boating/.

    It’s a hands-on clinic, so participants will spend time on the lake with experienced instructors. Kayaks and life jacks will be provided (although registrants can bring their own).

    The June 17 class at will be held at Fool Hollow Lake State Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Classroom portion will be at the Bluebird ramada. Bring a lunch and water.  Fool Hollow State Park is located at 1500 N. Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low.

    The Becker Lake class will be held on August 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The classroom portion will be held at the Heritage Center at 418 E Main St, Springerville, AZ. Then the class will move to Becker Lake which is about 2.5 miles away on Hwy 191. Please bring a lunch and water.

    If you have questions, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department Regional office at 928-532-3680.


June 24 Hatch Toyota Fishing Derby, Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low 7am-11am


July 7 & 8 Women’s Only Fly Fishing Clinic, instruction Friday evening at the Pinetop Regional Office, Saturday morning at Silver Creek outside

Show Low (pre-registration required)


July 29 High Country Hummingbird Festival, Sipe Wildlife Area, Round Valley 8am-Noon

August 12 Kayak Clinic, Becker Lake, Springerville 10 am (pre-registration required)


Oct 7 White Mountain Elk Workshop, Sipe Wildlife Area, Round Valley, Noon-7pm (pre-registration required)


For more information about these events, please contact the Arizona Game and Fish Pinetop Regional office at 928-532-3680


Water for Wildlife

By Evan Lautzenheiser, Wildlife Manager AZGFD

I   t shouldn’t come as a surprise that Arizona is a dry state, especially if you live in one of Arizona’s largest population centers. It is true, most of Arizona is comprised of low desert or Sonoran Desert habitat types. But if you think of Arizona’s high country, you probably don’t think that water, especially year-round water, is limited for wildlife.  We tend to think that when we’re surrounded by big, tall Ponderosas or standing in a stand of aspens that there has to be a water source nearby…a creek, a pond, something. Right?  Wrong.   There are huge tracks of land in the high country, particularly along the Mogollon Rim, that would not have a year-long water source unless we people created them. There are numerous types of constructed waters, with probably even more labels to describe them. These could include trick tanks, guzzlers, spring boxes, dirt tanks, stock tanks, catch basins, lakes, ponds, etcetera.  Some were developed for livestock; some were developed for water storage or flood ...READ MORE...

Leave Baby

Wildlife Alone

By Diane Tilton, AZGFD Information and

Education manager

There’s something about seeing a small, young animal alone that makes us want to save it. But the thing is… most of these animals aren’t in need of rescue. Usually when a young animal is found alone, the mother is close by and just out feeding and will return to care for her young. When humans “help” or “rescue” wildlife, there are often unintended consequences for the animal, including death. Unless there is an extreme circumstance, the best thing you can do for the animal is to leave it alone.


Baby rabbits are usually found under cover, like bushes or debris piles.  Mother rabbits usually feed their young a few times a day, most likely at dawn and dusk. If you find baby rabbits, please leave them alone and recover them if needed. If your pet finds the baby rabbit, return it to the nest if it’s not injured. If it is injured, contact the nearest Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) office for guidance.

Elk and deer mothers will often leave their young hidden in vegetation for several hours while they are out feeding.  If a fawn or calf attempts to follow you, gently push on its shoulders until it lies down.  Don’t attempt to capture the fawn or calf, even if it appears to be sick or injured. Please record the animal’s location and contact the nearest AGFD office.  Once removed from READ MORE...

Male Mallard Photo by George Andrejko AZGFD


Ducks and Other Water Birds Viewing Workshop

Waterfowl viewing workshop for the public will be held at the Pinetop regional office at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 1. The program is free to the public and will consist of a classroom presentation and discussion of waterfowl identification, life history, behavior patterns and their importance to wildlife conservation in Arizona and North America. The presentation will be followed by an optional trip to a local lake to observe waterfowl first-hand.

Participants are advised to dress appropriately for weather conditions for that day and to bring a set of binoculars or spotting scope, if they have them, for improved observation.

To attend any of these workshops, please call the Pinetop Game and Fish Regional office at (928) 532-3680 to register. Registration is not required but is appreciated to ensure proper staffing. The Pinetop Regional office is located at 2878 W. White Mountain Blvd, Pinetop, Arizona.


Wild Things to Avoid!

By Dan Groebner


    Hiking, camping, hunting and fishing are some of the safest healthy physical activities.  You can not only become more physically fit but mental health also gets better with outdoor activities for many people.  When we make efforts to be in the “wild,” we usually want to see, hear and experience wild things.  Fortunately, 99% of those wild things are safe and won't harm us.  However, certain precautions can make the experience even safer and more enjoyable.


    The following information is not intended to scare anyone or be a complete review  Read More...

The Courtship of Birds

By Diane Tilton

Will You Be My Valentine?

You can’t walk into a retail store this time of year without being reminded that Valentine’s Day is near. While wildlife don’t participate in the holiday, they do have some interesting mating strategies. While I was studying wildlife management at the University of Arizona, evolutionary biology was one of my favorite courses, especially when it came to mating behaviors and physical adaptations or sexual selection.

Males’ and females’ reproductive behavior is often very different. Courtship is usually instigated by males and they will often fight for the chance to mate with a female. Females, on the other hand, will seldom fight over males and will often reject the advances of a male. Why the drastic difference? It comes down to the cost of producing sperm vs. the egg. Sperm are inexpensive to make, one male produces enough to sire a lot of offspring. Females will produce fewer eggs because they also have to nourish the young so a lot more energy goes into producing each one. Basically, males can afford to increase their mating success by mating with as many females as possible but females must choose who they believe will provide their offspring with the best genes.

There are some pretty extravagant traits that have evolved as a result of males signaling to females their qualities as a potential mate. Sexual selection is the selection of traits that offer advantages during courtship or the competition for mates or resources. Sometimes by having better, more competitive resources, a male will gain exclusive access to mates that are attracted to the resources those males are in control of.

An obvious example would be in peafowl. The male, the peacock, has a large iridescent tail.  Why would the female (or peahen) favor the long, showy tail? Likely because the peacock’s ability to grow and maintain this dramatic tail, which obviously carries a significant energetic READ MORE...

Keep Wildlife Wild- Please Don’t Feed Them

By Diane Tilton, AZGFD Education and Information

We love our wildlife here in the White Mountains but oftentimes, we do things we think are helping wildlife and we just end up creating problems for the wildlife and our neighbors. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) gets a lot of calls from around the state about nuisance animals. These calls vary from “neighbor’s bird feeder is attracting too many birds and they are creating a mess in their/our yard” to people feeding deer and javelina that are bringing in mountain lions.

I started my career with AZGFD as a wildlife manager (game warden) in the Tucson area. The two years I spent as the urban officer taught me a lot! For one thing, I got very good at herding javelina (imagine trying to herd cats that will bite through a neighborhood while the curious neighbors record you on their cell phones). Another thing I became very proficient in was working with people feeding wildlife.

People feed wildlife for two main reasons:  One, they like to see the wildlife in their yard. Two, they think the animals need the food to survive. I can’t disagree with the value of being able to sit and enjoy a yard with the sights and sounds of birds enjoying the food and water you’ve provided. But, putting out food for other critters is where we start getting into trouble.

In Arizona, it’s illegal to feed wildlife, except for tree squirrels or birds, in counties larger than 280,000 population. That includes Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties. Many counties and cities have developed their own local ordinances to stop attracting wildlife into urban areas.

In Tucson in Pima County, getting people to stop feeding javelina is a big challenge. The javelina herds would get large and often people would feel threatened by them as they were out walking. I once had a case where a woman was throwing food over the fence into the wash for the javelina. She tried to tell me she was feeding the birds but when I asked her what birds she was feeding cooked hot dogs, ground beef, cat food, popcorn and toast, she admitted she was feeding the javelina because she thought they would starve without her.  I talked to her and explained that the javelina should be eating plants, not hot dogs and that she was putting the javelina and her neighbors in danger. I also explained to her that I was going to write her a criminal ticket if she didn’t stop immediately.

Once AZGFD determines that a javelina or any other an animal has exhibited unacceptable behavior, it would need to be lethally removed. That’s easier said than done, since all javelina look alike and they are usually in large groups. Why do we lethally remove them and not just relocate them? Well, if an animal has been determined to exhibit unacceptable behavior, it would be negligent of us to move it and make it someone else’s problem in the future. I once moved two javelina that were in the Tucson Botanical Gardens out into the Silverbell Mountains. ...READ MORE...

So, What's Up With All The

Eagles in The White Mountains Lately?

BY Dan Groebner


That is a question probably asked many times a day every winter about this time.  Anybody taking a hike around Woodland Lake or stopping by the boat landing at Rainbow Lake will tell you it looks like an eagle invasion some days with more than a dozen eagles perched or flying nearby.  Even driving the highways can reveal eagles nearby, both perched in roadside trees or resting casually on the ground.  Ever since they were removed from the Endangered Species list almost 10 years ago, in June of 2007, their numbers seem to keep increasing.  The many summertime residents and visitors only see a few eagles and only near lakes where they have built their nests.  So, how come we see more eagles in the winter?


It turns out that the White Mountains witness an interesting switch in populations of very similar    bird-predators on fish. During the summer, this area is loaded with nesting osprey, also known to some as fish hawks, with dozens of nests from the Black River up its tributaries, through the Greer Lakes area and all the way along the Mogollon Rim to the west.  It's hard to get a line wet without having to compete with Mother Nature's most efficient fisher, especially during the summer months when they are super busy feeding voraciously hungry chicks. In contrast, there are only about a half dozen bald eagle nests on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and adjacent private lands.  With all the high-quality habitat on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, there are undoubtedly at least a few more nests there that are monitored by the White Mountain Apache Tribe's Game and Fish Department but, READ MORE...

Create a

Bird-Friendly Yard

By Diane Tilton, AZGFD • Photo by George Andrejko

Have you noticed that the birds around your house have changed as the weather has cooled down? My hummingbird feeder is long gone since the wee birds have moved on to a warmer climate.

Fall and winter bird feeding can benefit birds and create some exciting bird watching opportunities from the warmth of your house. You don’t need to wait until there’s snow on the ground to start feeding your neighborhood birds. In the fall, there are still plenty of wild food options for the birds but they are also starting to scout out feeders so they are ready when the cold weather arrives. The birds know they need to be ready so they are checking out your neighborhood so they will be ready when they need some supplemental food. If you wait until the freezing weather arrives, the birds will go where they know the food is; they won’t have the time and energy to explore for food in your backyard.

In the winter time, their caloric needs will increase just as natural food sources become limited; feeding birds can be the most beneficial for them this time of year. Birds, like all wildlife, need three things…food, water and shelter. .....READ MORE...

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