Call of the Wild

Harris Hawk 2 by Tom Jones

Harris Hawk 2 by Tom Jones

Ken Duquaine

Last March, members of the Sun Lakes Camera Club (SLCC) were treated to a Zoom presentation of the wildlife of Costa Rica by Phoenix Camera Club member Cindy Marple. The exotic diversity of that small country’s wildlife is truly amazing. Unfortunately, those of us who enjoy photographing wildlife aren’t necessarily in a position to jet off to Costa Rica. So, where might one go here in our own state to find interesting subjects? Fortunately, there are many exciting possibilities.

Bird photography—particularly birds in flight—requires some special photographic techniques, as demonstrated by the Harris Hawk photo by member Tom Jones, which was selected by the Arizona Game and Fish Department as the July image in their 2020 calendar. One nearby favorite of bird photographers and nature lovers is the 110-acre Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert. This oasis in the Sonoran Desert has been cited by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area and features approximately 298 species of birds, along with many insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. Its 4.5 miles of trails offer many opportunities to observe and photograph an abundance of wildlife. There is no charge for admission; they are located at 2757 E. Guadalupe Road in Gilbert, contact 480-503-6744.

If mammals are your thing, the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) in Scottsdale is worth investigating. A “hidden gem” that is little known, even to locals, the SWCC is a nonprofit organization devoted to rescuing wild animals that have lost their homes for various reasons. This is the only sanctuary in Arizona able to care for bears, mountain lions, and Mexican gray wolves and is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association. Other animals that can be seen are bobcats, coati, coyotes, deer, fox, javelina, owls, tortoises, and skunks. A variety of tours and special events are available but must be scheduled in advance; go to and contact 480-471-9109 for more information.

Venturing a little farther afield, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson is not to be missed. This is a three-in-one facility combining a natural history museum, botanical garden, and a zoo in a single location. One of the most visited attractions in Southern Arizona, the Desert Museum features a large number of Sonoran Desert animals including a walk-in aviary, a hummingbird aviary, and a Riparian Corridor. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, tickets must be reserved in advance, and it should be noted that cash payments are not being accepted at this time; go to or contact 520-883-1380 for more information.

The Sun Lakes Camera Club (SLCC) meets the first and third Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in the Navajo Room of the Sun Lakes Country Club, from October through April. During the summer, the club meets on the first Thursday of each month in the Ceramics Room of the Cottonwood Country Club. For more information about the SLCC and its activities, call SLCC President Lynn Thompson at 480-734-0040, Vice-President Judy Daidone at 480-216-3062, or Past President Jan Ballard at 602-621-3344, and visit our website at