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

June 2021

Incredible Fight of Scott's Orioles
Article and Photos by Bob Rodrigues
There was a male Scott's Oriole feeding on oranges near the ground when another male Scott's Oriole flew into the top of a nearby Sycamore and began singing. The feeding oriole immediately took off and engaged the singing oriole at the tree top. I was able to get these shots as the two birds fought and tumbled toward the ground.
Note the foot of one grabbing the other's foot.
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Article and Photos by Lori Conrad
It's not often that we are able to experience the cuteness that is the Northern Saw-whet Owl in our lower canyons. Usually they are found much higher up in elevation, like at Barfoot or Rustler Park. Starting this past April, one or more were heard calling at dusk in a few different areas near and along South Fork, which was cool in itself. Then a bit later in the month, a pair was found nesting in a sycamore by the parking area berm at the end of the South Fork road! Evidently, a pair had used this same nest hole about 20 years ago, according to a local expert. We had personally witnessed Whiskered Screech-Owls using this same cavity for several years in a row, so a very well used tree!
We were not able to ever see one of the adult owls, but we were fortunate enough to see two of the babies in and around the nest cavity, & perching in nearby trees after fledging, before they dispersed to parts unknown. Little butterscotch fluff balls! It was quite the treat!
Photos by Alice Wakefield
Cave Creek Canyon and Flame Skimmer
Bridled Titmouse

Mexican Jay
Male Tree Lizard
[Photos by Tony Donaldson, Article by Rene Donaldson]
At first the attractant was grape jelly, but when the larder and stores were emptied, it segued into fruit, strawberry, and eventually applesauce mixed with grape jelly. The unquestionable favorite was strawberry jam. The mixed applesauce concoction, a desperate last choice, was tolerated. 

For two weeks in May we hosted between 25 and 35 Western Tanagers on three feeders, our highest count ever, although 2018 was a memorable year. Where will the applesauce take them? The answer is “farther north” to higher elevation forests of aspen, spruce, pine, and fir to breed. Oh, a few may hang around our area but the majority have cooler climes in mind where fruit and insects are more plentiful. What a colorful and fun season they were. Dare we hope to see them again next year?
Thank You To Our Hosts
by Mike Williams, photos by Cecil Williams

In 2015, FOCCC assumed the management of the Visitor Information Center after the Forest Service, being short of funds, closed the facility. [Our first purchase was 2 "Open" flags]. The second job was to find volunteers.

It was suggested to us that we look into the full time RV groups. We registered on a site called  Steve and Laura Paulson found us and have been with us for a few months every year since. They were experienced hosts and taught us a lot. We were fortunate that they were even able to stay longer this year. For the months of April and May they also acted as interpretive guides on South Fork Cave Creek Rd. every Saturday morning. They also referred many different hosts to us including Rick and Joan Schneider.

Rick and Joan have been returning every year since. Last year they took the place of other volunteers that could not come because of Covid. Most of our scheduled hosts all had to drop out but Rick and Joan stayed through and allowed us to remain quasi-open.   

The Paulsons and the Schneiders have been so helpful for so many years with many different aspects of the Visitor Information Center. The Friends of Cave Creek Canyon was very pleased to bestow Honorary Lifetime Memberships on both of them.  
Rick & Joan Schneider
Steve & Laura Paulson
Article by Rene Donaldson Photos by Bob Rodrigues

Twenty-nine totally exhausted White-Faced Ibis hung out sleeping and resting at Willow Tank on Sunday, April 11, until local photographer Bob Rodrigues arrived and captured them not only relaxing but also feeding and flying, spooked by a Northern Harrier. This large flock spent the night and then moved on. Since then smaller groups have been seen and on the morning of April 20 there was a not-so-fatigued flock of ten. 

White-Faced Ibis are travelers, spending the winters in warmer parts of North, Central, and South America. In summer they wander the west—the northern Great Plains and southern Canadian prairies. They do not breed in Arizona but will take advantage of marshes like Willow Tank to rest and probe their long, curving bills into moist soil, searching for earthworms and other invertebrates. I like to think they are devouring bullfrogs.

If you have never seen a White-Faced Ibis, you will be perplexed by its name and rewarded by its shimmering iridescent feathers of bronze, green, and purple. The white face mask is harder to see (easier in breeding plumage) but Bob Rodrigues nailed it in several of the accompanying photos. 

Willow Tank is a good place to pick up these occasional migrants. Recent sightings include a male Wood Duck, Sora, Spotted Sandpiper, and Merganser. 
Editor's note: FOCCC has provided the support and funding to keep Willow Tank operating as a wildlife refuge for the last 8 years. This refuge is on the private property of Larry Rivers and FOCCC appreciates his support of the refuge. While it is not in Cave Creek Canyon it is of major importance to wildlife. Willow Tank is one of the only two important sources of water on the eastern side of the Chiricahua Mountains. It is also a source of water for firefighting.
A Sure Sign of Spring - Baby Gambel's Quail
Photo by Debra Davison
Photo taken near the Visitor Center. There were 6 babies, probably only a few days old, about 1.5" big!
Cave Creek Canyon: Revealing the Heart of Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains 2nd Edition $19.95

Two ways to order online

Available in person at:
Cave Creek Canyon Visitor Information Center
Portal Store & Café
Sky Islands Grill & Grocery
Chiricahua Desert Museum
A Special Thank You to our Generous Members !

Lifetime Members ~ One Time $1500 Donation
Jacqueline Foutz
Mike Leuthold
Pat Parran
Steve & Laura Paulson
Reed Peters
Rick & Joan Schneider
Delia Scholes
Denise Ward
Mike and Cecil Williams
Sustainer's Circle Members
Kirby Alguire
Tom Arny
Thomas & Mary Cartwright
Walt Mayberry & Kay Copenhaver
Charles and Mary George
Bill and Sally Hague
Paul Hirt and Linda Jakse
Don Hollister
Pi Irwin & Zsombor Zoltan
Fritz and Gayle Jandry
Claudia Kirscher
Rae and Jim Ludke

Patrick McNamara
John and Karin McQuillan
Barbara Miller
Cecilia Raak
David Rorick
Tom Roseman and Paula Baldwin
Lee Simpson and Howard Szczech
Andrew & Ellen Stepniewski
John and Linda Sumner
James Judy Taylor
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 Islands Grill & Grocery  
Daussin & Associates   
Migration Taco
OL' Morani Ranch 
Sky Island Rolfing  
Terry Miller
Umphres Propane
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