Tucson Audubon Director Michael McDonald recognizes the Sonoita Peep Squeaks for their succesful participation in a recent birdathon. (From left) Front row: Axel Stephens, Maximus Stephens, Miranda Cass, Celine Schlappy, Anderson Porter, Cameron Peake, Rosier Peake. Back row:  Audrey Stephens, McKenna Cass, Cami Schlappy, Michael McDonald. Photo by Katherine Cudney

The Sonoita Peep Squeaks raised over $3,000 during the Tucson Audubon Society’s 2022 Birdathon. The team members were between three and 11 years old and included Celine Schlappy, Anderson Porter, Rosier Peake, Cameron Peake, Miranda Cass, McKenna Cass, Maximus Stephens, Axel Stephens, and Audrey Stephens. Adult leaders were Katherine Cudney and Cami Schlappy. 

For 30 days, participants tried to see as many species of birds as possible. Members collected pledges and also set out to achieve the bonus challenges set forth by a generous sponsor, Marcia Grand. Challenges included categories such as $10 per species of snake, $5 per active bird nest, $5 per species of butterfly, $500 for an eagle, $50 for a turtle, and $100 for five species of hummingbird. 

Highlights included a viewing of a first in the U.S. sighting of a white-tipped dove, an active golden eagle nest, a bald eagle, and a violet-crowned hummingbird.

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Axel Stephens, of Sonoita, searches for birds during the Birdathon. Photo by Katherine Cudney

These sightings were facillitated by expert birders and generous individuals and groups. The organization ‘Wild About the Grasslands’ loaned the team eight pairs of field explorer binoculars. Katherine Cudney Artworks donated ten “Birds of the Southwest” fold-out pocket guides. Louie Dombroski and Pat Hedrick provided expert guidance at Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Katherine Cudney, Pat Hedrick, and Cami Schlappy took birders to Patagonia Lake. 

Team members also birded on their own in locations including Parker Canyon Lake, Reid Park, Box Canyon, Fort Huachuca, Flagstaff, and Harshaw Creek. 

Final tallies included 130 species of birds, 18 species of butterflies, five species of hummingbirds, a turtle, two eagles (bald and golden), 29 active nests, and three species of snakes. This raised over $3,000 for the Tucson Audubon Society. 

After the final tallies, Sonoita Peep Squeaks were honored for their achievement by having Tucson Audubon Executive Director Michael McDonald travel to Sonoita Fairgrounds to congratulate the team members. 

The Sonoita Peep Squeaks received the ‘youngest birders’ award, congratulations for their efforts, and were presented with Audubon t-shirts. Team members celebrated with cake, games, and awards. They are already looking forward to Tucson Audubon Birdathon 2023 and adding to their birding skills