Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
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Making Eye Contact
Face-to-face, But Safe
Spring in the Sonoran Desert
Up Close at the Raptor-Free-Flight
Wildlife museum
Far More Than a Museum
Making Eye Contact
Face-to-face, But Safe
Spring in the Sonoran Desert
Up Close at the Raptor-Free-Flight
Wildlife museum
Far More Than a Museum
Face-to-face, But Safe
Mountain Lion. Cougar. Puma. Panther. Any way you call it, it's majestic but fear-inspiring... At the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, on the western edge of Tucson, you can get face-to-face with one of these massive felines; their well-designed habitat includes a high den with a thick glass window. If your timing is right, a catnap will have just ended, and you'll be studied closely. "Desert Museum" might seem like a misnomer. Part botanical garden, part zoo, and part, yes, museum, it's been ranked one of the best in the world. The habitats are well thought-out, and you get a true feel for the flora and fauna of the lush Sonora desert, which straddles the US-Mexico border: from the Sea of Cortez to the mountains, from subtropical coast to saguaros that get the occasional dusting of snow...
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Spring in the Sonoran Desert
Southern Arizona is one of the world's birdwatching meccas, and the hummingbird aviary of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum just west of Tucson is amazing in the spring. My in-laws, my wife and I spent the better part of an afternoon marveling at the diminutive creatures. Inside this impossibly small nest we saw a couple of ten-day-old Costa hummingbirds. Then their mother came back and their eyes opened—snack time! The museum is open at night on Saturday's during the summer, and has a number of different exhibits based on ecosystem, as well as an aquarium as of January 2013.
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Making Eye Contact
Sightings of these big cats in the mountains around Tucson are common enough, but getting THIS close to a mountain lion is sobering... The mountain lion habitat at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, just west of the city, includes a thick-glass window up behind one of the den areas. This cat was snoozing in the afternoon sun when suddenly she lifted and turned, looking me straight in the eye.
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Up Close at the Raptor-Free-Flight
Untethered and in the open, soaring and diving in their natural environment, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, from mid-October through mid-April, you can get up close to desert birds of prey at the Raptor-Free-Flight. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, just west of Tucson, is home to one of the most spectacular and accessible avian demonstrations in the U.S. The docents' instructions are specific: DO NOT raise your arms in the air suddenly as the birds swoop down, and do not let small children sit on your shoulders during the free-flight. The raptors can fly so low that you literally feel the wind from their feathers... The photo above shows a Ferruginous Hawk. Other native birds you'll likely encounter: Peregrine Falcons, Barn Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, Great Horned Owls, Prairie Falcons, Chihuahuan Ravens, and Harris's Hawks--one of only two raptor species that hunt in family groups--think of a pack of aerial wolves... The Desert Museum, adjacent to Saguaro National Park, is one of the best zoos/botanical gardens of its kind in the world. Don't forget the sunscreen...but if you do, the restrooms are all equipped with dispensers...
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Wildlife museum
What the guys at Arizona Sonora desert museum have done is amazing. You forget you are in a museum and get to experience up close coyotes, havalinas, mountain lions and a lot more among the giant Sahuaros.
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Far More Than a Museum
I went to college in Tucson and visit often to see family and friends. The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is one place I always try to visit when I'm in town. It is a beautiful setting and a chance to see many of these animals in as close to a natural habitat as most of us are going to get. I took this picture of a barn owl while it was sitting on the arm of keeper three feet in front of me. Never got that close to any of the cats but close enough.
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