Cuckoos Are Back Again With “The Big Day”

Jim Hoagland

Each year the Tucson Audubon Society (TAS) conducts a Birdathon to raise funds to support the important work they do. Their mission is “inspiring people to enjoy and protect birds through recreation, education, conservation, and restoration of the environment.” They provide educational Zoom programs, field trip outings, and in-person socials such as the “Birds ‘n’ Beer” meetups at local establishments. The funds also support the Tucson Audubon Society’s offices and wonderful gift shop downtown, the Mason Center on W. Hardy Road, and the amazing Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia.

For the fourth year, SaddleBrooke Ranch will field a team of birders to participate in Tucson Audubon Society’s Birdathon fundraiser. The team is called the SBR Cuckoos, a name chosen to honor one of the rare bird species of our area, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, as well as the fact that we are “a little cuckoo over birds.”

The SBR Cuckoo team this year includes Jim Hoagland, Laurie McCoy, Jim Bradford, Deb Sandin, Karen Vanderwall, Rick and Sheree Gillaspie, Tim DeJonge, Ben and Nancy Eisenstein, and Gerry and Claire Tietje. The Cuckoos have achieved remarkable milestones in their previous Birdathons: A Grand Champion award for the first year and Highest Fundraiser for the other two years, all thanks to the amazing generosity of the residents of SaddleBrooke Ranch.

The SBR Cuckoos have chosen to continue the format of “The Big Day, Free Style,” where we attempt to identify as many bird species as possible in a 24-hour timespan. Our plan this year is to divide the team into three units and cover as many of the “Hot Spots” of south Pinal County. Our Birdathon will begin on the evening of April 23 looking or listening for owls and finish 24 hours later on April 24. Our goal is to exceed last year’s count of 126 bird species.

We are honored to help support such a great organization as the Tucson Audubon Society and hope you will join us with your pledges. There are two ways to donate, and no amount is too small to help us achieve our goal of $5,000. The first is to donate a fixed dollar amount. The second, which is more fun, is to make a pledge that challenges the team. It could be something like $1 per bird species, or $5 for each soaring raptor species, or $25 for each owl species. Let your imagination run wild! Please make your donations and pledges at on or before April 23.

As an incentive for everyone who pledges of $25 or more, you will receive my 2025 bird desk calendar with the wonderful photos you have come to know and enjoy.

Many SaddleBrooke Ranch residents continue to enjoy our wildlife at the ranch, but none more than the beautiful birds of the desert. Each month I lead a group of residents on the SBR nature trail. Come join us some month.

Thanks to everyone in advance for helping the SBR Cuckoos achieve their goal and supporting the work of the Tucson Audubon Society.