The Birdman of SBR: Jim Hoagland

Linda Shannon-Hills

Have you seen a person walking around with binoculars and a long lens on his camera in the SaddleBrooke Ranch community, on the nature trail or in an arroyo? Welcome Jim Hoagland, a recent resident of SaddleBrooke Ranch, also known as the Birdman.

One day, I began to see these beautiful images of birds posted on our SBR Facebook page. The images were stunning. I connected with Jim and asked if we could talk further about his passion for birds and photography. Jim says, “I have always been fascinated with nature from an early age. Our family would explore the woods near my hometown of Covington, Ind., doing mushrooming, making maple syrup, and growing Christmas trees. I was familiar with birds such as the cardinals, robins, jays, and wrens, but was not a “birder” at that time. It was in February 2013, at the young age of 62, that my birding obsession began when some friends invited me to travel with them to Belize. I was blown away by the beautiful colors of the tropical birds we would find. My spark bird was the gorgeous Trogon and I have been hooked ever since.”

After that, the San Joaquin Audubon Society (SJAS), in Stockton, Calif., became Jim’s birding home. SJAS provided him great birding mentors through those beginning years. He went on to serve on the board and as the field trip coordinator until moving to SaddleBrooke Ranch in June 2020.

Jim went on to say, “Since we have vacationed in Arizona many times, I have enjoyed birding in Madera Canyon, Catalina State Park, Oracle State Park, Sierra Vista area, the Chiricahua Mountains, as well as many other places in Arizona. My wife, Glenna Matthews, and I enjoy traveling the world as well as the U.S., where I can add to my life list of over 1000 species of birds so far; many I have been able to capture with my camera. We also love the different cultures of the world in somewhat remote and pristine areas.”

In the short three months, Jim has already recorded 76 bird species on the SBR property. He uses Ebird, an online database for bird observation. Ebird provides scientists, researchers, and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. It was established in 2002 by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. According to Ebird, Pinal County has recorded 412 species, and Arizona recorded 560 species.

Each month, Jim plans to post more birding articles in the SaddleBrooke Ranch Roundup. Don’t hesitate to ask him about birds if you see him around the neighborhood. Jim points out “every day is a different day with different birds staying in our area and stopping off while migrating north or south.”

Check out SBR on Facebook where Jim often posts his photos of birds he has seen in our area. In the future, he would like to lead field trips, when life is safer. You can reach him at [email protected].

Thanks Jim for sharing your passion with us at SaddleBrooke Ranch.