Nature’s Way: SBR Cuckoos Honored by TAS at Recent Gathering

Left to right: Diana Rosenblum, Karen Vanderwall, Ethan Myerson, Jim Hoagland, and Carrie Gelsey. Cuckoos not pictured: Laurie McCoy, Jim Bradford, Deb Sandin, Kathy Williams, and Rick and Sheree Gillaspie.

Jim Hoagland

The Tucson Audubon Society (TAS) held a Wrap-Up Party for their 2023 Birdathon Fundraising teams at Bawker Bawker Cider House in Tucson on May 25. The SBR Cuckoos were one of 29 teams (and 111 participants) who raised more than $88,000—exceeding their campaign goal of $70,000. Representing the SBR Cuckoos at this gathering were team members Jim Hoagland, Karen Vanderwall, and Carrie Gelsey. On behalf of the entire team, they accepted the “Best Bucks for Birds” award, which was awarded to the team that had raised the most money for TAS.

The Cuckoos also exceeded their goal of $7,500 by collecting more than $10,500 from our wonderful friends and neighbors here at the Ranch! This is the third year in a row that the Cuckoos have participated in the TAS Birdathon Fundraiser event, raising more than $21,000 for TAS. They use these funds to protect birds, restore critical habitats such as our stately saguaros, and provide opportunities for people to learn about and enjoy recreational birding.

The TAS Birdathon ran from April 7 through May 7 this year. The SBR Cuckoos kicked off their fundraising campaign with a meet and greet gathering on the Event Patio on March 28 with more than 50 guests attending. Guest speakers from TAS were Luke Safford, director of education and engagement, and Ethan Myerson, director of development/communications. Donations and pledges worth $2,500 were collected prior to the team even heading out to their 24-hour freestyle event, which started at 6 p.m. on April 25.

The 24-hour freestyle activities concluded on April 26 at 6 p.m. The Cuckoos began their search on Edwin Road near Catalina looking and listening for owls. One hundred and twenty-six species later (detailed list link:, they finished at the SBR pond with an unexpected group of Willets. Yes, they did get the Greater Roadrunner this year (actually two), but with only a few minutes left on the clock. You can read all about their adventures and see some great photos on the TAS website at

The SBR Cuckoos team of Karen Vanderwall, Carrie Gelsey, Rick Gillaspie, Sheree Gillaspie, Laurie McCoy, Jim Bradford, Deb Sandin, Kathy Williams, and Jim Hoagland would like to thank the SBR Community, our family, and friends for their support this year. Many of you helped put the Cuckoos over-the-top by making fun challenge pledges based on everything from number of species seen—exceeding more than 100 species—and photographing owls and roadrunners. Without your participation, we never would have been able to accomplish such a lofty goal.

We invite you to join the birding community for the upcoming Southeast Arizona Birding Festival 2023. It is the premiere festival and runs from Aug. 9 through 13, with lots of field trips, presentations, and a great exhibition hall. The event is held here locally at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tucson.

So, what will the Cuckoos do next year to top this? The team is already strategizing and will let you know next March. Until then, happy birding!