Our Mission is to inspire appreciation and understanding of the beauty, biodiversity and legacy of Cave Creek Canyon through volunteer work and outreach programs.

A Winter Wonderful Land - February 2021
By Cecil Williams
Photo by Rene Donaldson

Photo by Statia Dougherty

Photo by Tom Shields

Photo by Michael Baer
Photo by Fred Espenak
The Joy of Jays
By Joy Mendez
Steller's Jay
Photo by Peg Abbott
of Naturalist Journeys
We live within Cave Creek Canyon, and our backyard is usually dominated by Mexican Jays so much so they have been the source of a long-term study started by Dr. Jerry Brown and now continued by Dr. Piotr Jablonski. However, this winter, they’ve had company with four Steller’s Jays that have found our property a good place to escape the cold. Their stunning black crest and blue body makes them easy to recognize as they hop across our yard or fly from branch to branch.
Steller’s Jays generally are seen up in the higher elevations of the Chiricahua Mountains. On occasion, we have spotted them around our house but not for long. This winter, however, they are hanging out, scolding us whenever we or our dogs wander outside, checking out our grassy area for a tasty morsel to eat and tolerating the Mexican Jays that would probably prefer them to move on to other territories. We enjoy having them a part of our backyard scene as their personality and antics keep us entertained while we watch them from our kitchen window.

Mexican Jay and Steller's Jay
Photo by Joy Mendez
Cassin’s Finch
By Bob Rodrigues

Cassin’s Finches are birds of northern and western coniferous forests and breed as far south as northern Arizona. Cassin’s Finches occur during winter in some years in southern Arizona. This winter there have been a number of sightings of Cassin’s Finches in the Portal area as well as other mountain ranges in southern Arizona. They have been seen at a number of locations up Cave Creek Canyon and often come to bird feeders. Cassin’s Finches have also been seen at our bird feeders on Foothills Road. Most of the Cassin’s Finches we have been seeing are females although a few males have also appeared. 

Cassin’s Finches resemble House Finches but they are a bit larger and chunkier, have a more pointed bill, and often appear slightly crested. Female Cassin’s Finches have a distinctive face pattern that makes them fairly easy to differentiate from female House Finches. Watch for them with other seed-eating birds in the forest and at your feeders.
Female Cassin's Finch
Photo by Bob Rodrigues
Male Cassin's Finch
Photo by Bob Rodrigues
What Brings You
Two to Cave Creek Canyon?

By Laura Paulson

The promise of lovely new birds lured us to southeastern Arizona several years ago during our annual migration from our usual deep south Texas wintering grounds to our summer work on the Oregon coast. Rodeo and Portal offered a quick jump off the Interstate without much extra drive time to eat up the few discretionary days we had available. We fell head-over-heels in love and had to find a way to return. A Forest Service listing on a few months later gave us that chance. We signed up for the month of April and the rest is history. To this day, we still have not seen much of what else SE AZ has to offer because it is hard to leave "home" once we are here. 

We were so fortunate to be part of Friends involvement with the Visitor Information Center from the early days. FOCCC had taken over the VIC in between the time we signed up and the time we arrived. The Road Crew was in residence at the time and there was no RV site available so we dry camped in the VIC parking lot, making it easy to shadow and learn from all the local volunteers who were helping to piece things together that spring. Reed and Mike welcomed and supported us. The reigning expert, Ron, was our primary trainer and we learned so much from Bud and Debb, Tony, Alan, Laura, Rolf, Barbara, Dave and other locals. Now, not only were we in love with the birds and the beauty but the local community as well. When we get here, we are home.

My passion is birds. Steve's passion is taking care of me and our planet, especially with his delicious plant-based-whole food cooking and lovingly hand-roasted fair-trade, organic, shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee.
We both love to share. Stop by the VIC and say "hello". Steve might even make you a cup!
Tumbleweed Work Day at Willow Tank
Photos by Tony Donaldson
Article by Rene Donaldson
Observing the 50th anniversary of World Wetlands Day on February 2, ten hard-working volunteers met at Willow Tank and bashed the aggressive, non-native, dried-out and miserable Russian thistles (more commonly known as “tumbleweeds”) to oblivion. A huge thank-you to all who sweated and labored to demolish these skeletons.

The purpose of the World Wetlands Convention is to raise global awareness about the critical role of wetlands for people, wildlife and our planet.
Volunteer Debra Herczog
Volunteer and President of FOCCC Reed Peters
Volunteer Jessica Pretty
Board Member, 'Ace' VIC and Weed Pulling Volunteer - Rolf Kolford
Volunteer Mary Sue Waser
Volunteer Aaron Smith

IRA Charitable Gifts To Benefit Cave Creek Canyon

Individuals age 70.5 and older can donate their IRA mandatory annual distribution or even more each year from their IRAs to Friends of Cave Creek Canyon without counting the distribution as income.

The ability to make this gift directly from IRA accounts is now a permanent part of the U.S. tax code. The gift amount counts toward your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), and your taxable income is lowered by the amount of your qualified charitable distribution (QCD). Gifts must be completed before December 31 to be eligible in the current tax year.

Important points to consider: You must be at least age 70½. 
  • The gift should come directly from your IRA account, in the form of a check. 
  • The gift may come from a Traditional or a Roth IRA (special exclusions may apply to other types of IRA accounts). 
  • Although there is no tax deduction, there is NO income tax on the withdrawal.
What are the advantages?
  • Benefit FOCCC's work in a meaningful way today.
  • Meet your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).
  • Pay no income tax on the amount withdrawn for your gift.
How do I give?  Please have your IRA plan administrator send a check to:
ATTN: Office of Gift Planning, FOCCC,  PO Box 16126,   Portal, AZ 85632

Accompanying paperwork should identify (1) your name and address, and (2) whether your gift is intended for a specific program or for Friends of Cave Creek Canyon's general programs. 
FOCCC's Tax ID # is 27-3531633       
FOCCC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisers  before engaging in any transaction.

A Special Thank You to our Generous Members !

Lifetime Members ~ One Time $1500 Donation
Mike Leuthold
Denise and Ed Newbold
Pat Parran
Denise Ward
Mike and Cecil Williams
Sustainer's Circle Members
Kirby Alguire
Tom Arny
Bob and Bettina Arrigoni
Charles and Mary George
Bill and Sally Hague
Paul Hirt and Linda Jakse
Fritz and Gayle Jandry
Don Hollister
Claudia Kirscher
Rae and Jim Ludke

Patrick McNamara
John and Karin McQuillan
Barbara and Pete Miller
Cecilia Raak
Tom Roseman and Paula Baldwin
Lee Simpson
Andrew & Ellen Stepniewski
John and Linda Sumner
Jeff and Alice Wakefield
Bob and Sherry Zoellick.

Help us thank our Business Members  who have given generously to Friends Of Cave Creek Canyon. 

Without their assistance, we would be hard pressed to accomplish our goals.

Click on their names to check out their websites.  
A.S.K. Pest Control 
Ed Newbold Wildlife Artist
Painted Pony
Sky Island Grill & Grocery  
Daussin & Associates
Migration Taco
OL' Morani Ranch 
Sky Island Rolfing  
Terry Miller
Umphres Propane