Arizona's Paton Center: More than a Place to Build Your List

By George Fenwick

A dedication ceremony at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds was held this past weekend by Tucson Audubon Society (TAS). It was the culmination of a year's quick work by ABC to purchase "Paton's"—a premier birding and hummingbird spot in Patagonia, Arizona—with help from Victor Emanuel and TAS, and to transfer the property to TAS for long-term stewardship. The Violet-crowned Hummingbird (pictured, above) is the center's flagship species.

ABC President George Fenwick (left) and Victor Emanuel of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, who helped lead the effort to protect this special place, were on hand to celebrate the Paton Center. Photo by Jeff Rusinow

ABC President George Fenwick (left) and Victor Emanuel of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours helped lead the effort to protect this special place and were on hand to celebrate the dedication. Photo by Jeff Rusinow

I generally skirt such events but felt obligated to attend this one—and I am so glad I did. TAS is a terrific group with great staff and board members, and the celebration matched their talents. It was good to catch up with many of the donors in attendance and heartening to meet enthusiastic young TAS staffers and volunteers.

TAS leader Paul Green, along with Victor Emanuel, gave fine talks crediting the many people who played important roles in protecting the Paton Center. I, too, offered a few words, thanking the participants and TAS generally.

Blue Grosbeaks can also be seen at the Paton Center. Photo by Mike Parr, ABC

Blue Grosbeaks can also be seen at the Paton Center. Photo by Mike Parr, ABC

I also talked about means and ends in bird conservation. Birding centers such as the Paton Center are, in my opinion, means to a conservation end. It is at places such as these that we can bring young people into a love of natural history.

Furthermore, adults can be educated that places like Paton don't just spontaneously emerge, but instead result from concerted efforts by partnerships of people interested enough to lend a hand.

Another favorite hummingbird to spot at the Paton Center is the Broad-billed Hummingbird. Photo by Greg Homel/Natural Elements Productions

Another favorite to spot at the Paton Center is the Broad-billed Hummingbird. Photo by Greg Homel/Natural Elements Productions

On the other hand, if Paton is just a place to build year lists or add life birds, then our efforts will not have been worth it. Birding is a fantastic pastime that I enjoy myself, but if we cannot convert more birders into taking part in conservation, the places we value so much in our hobby—and the places that generate our birds—will become fewer and fewer.

So, to my many birding friends, enjoy the Paton Center and support TAS efforts to make it a world-class center. But also get involved in bird conservation whenever and wherever you can: It is needed.


 

DSC00092George H. Fenwick has served as President and CEO since ABC's founding in 1994. Prior to that, he worked in a variety of capacities during 15 years with The Nature Conservancy, including Director of Science and Chair of the Last Great Places Campaign Steering Committee. He received a Ph.D. in Pathobiology from Johns Hopkins University.

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