Arizona Gives Day – 4/6/2022
If you love the Verde, you know that water in Arizona is a major issue. Long-time Verde River residents have noticed the flows of the Verde getting smaller and smaller over time. If we do nothing, the Verde might dry up! Can you imagine the Verde Valley without water?
The amount of water in the Verde is threatened constantly by an ever-growing collection of issues, including climate change, groundwater pumping, invasive species, and development. Less water in the Verde means less habitat for wild animals like our beloved birds. Aquatic mammals like beavers and otters will be forced to move elsewhere. The sweet sounds of birdsong will fade away from springtime in the Verde Valley. But, there is hope: at Friends of the Verde River, we work hard to keep water in the Verde, and we look toward the future for innovative solutions to protect this vital, life-giving resource.
Protecting water in our arid climate takes a multi-faceted approach that involves interconnected partnerships and extreme dedication. At Friends, we work to keep water in the river, protect and restore native habitat (which helps maintain river flows), and educate and inspire river stewards to care for our waters and habitats into the future.
You can help! Give today during our Arizona Gives campaign through April 6, 2022, and you can help protect water and habitat. For this campaign, we’re featuring five special bird species that rely on the waters of the Verde River Watershed. These five species all have two things in common:
1. They rely on a healthy flowing Verde River system to survive.
2. They rely on healthy native watershed habitats to survive.
Our hired Veteran and Arizona Conservation crews work to repair and preserve vital native habitats.
Our national bird, the Bald Eagle is an iconic sight of the Verde River Watershed’s streams, rivers, and lakes. To hunt their prey, Bald Eagles perch in the tall trees of the Verde’s rare and precious Fremont Cottonwood forests. They use the strong, sturdy trees of the Verde River’s riparian forests to build their nests. As generalist predators, fish is a big part of Bald Eagles’ diet. They need rivers with clean water and healthy forests to survive. To protect Bald Eagles and make sure they have habitat for hunting and raising their young, we must work together to keep the Verde River healthy and flowing.
Great Blue Heron:
Anyone who has spent time along the Verde River system has likely seen a Great Blue Heron. These statue-like birds stand tall among the bank-side grasses and reeds of flowing water. They are also found around ponds, wetlands, lakes, and fields. The hundreds of kinds of fish, amphibians, reptiles, rodents, birds, and other small mammals found in the Verde Watershed make this area a wonderful home for hungry herons. Big birds like Great Blue Herons have big appetites! Healthy rivers create rich habitat for small animals, so by keeping the Verde River and its tributaries flowing, Friends of the Verde River helps keep these beautiful birds well-fed.
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher:
One of the Verde River’s Endangered species, Southwestern Willow Flycatchers are in trouble. This beautiful, secretive, and fierce little bird has struggled greatly under the pressures of low river flows, damage to river-side habitats (like willow forests), and invasive species. By working to replace invasive species with native ones, and by protecting vital stream-side habitat, Friends of the Verde River helps this endangered species survive into the future.
The vibrant Summer Tanager is a warm weather visitor to the Verde Valley, otherwise this colorful fruit-eater spends the cooler months in Central America. If you see a bright splash of red or yellow in the forests along the Verde, that may be a Summer Tanager! Their sweet melodic song fills the Cottonwood forests from May through summer’s end. Sadly, this species is in decline, and Summer Tanagers are becoming rarer and rarer in nearby watersheds like the Lower Colorado River. By protecting habitat and river flows, Friends of the Verde helps maintain the habitats that Summer Tanagers rely on, so their song can be heard for a long time to come.
A federally-listed Threatened species, the Mexican Spotted Owl is a silent, watchful beauty that is found in mixed-conifer forests, such as the fir and pine forests found along Oak Creek, a major tributary of the Verde River. Mexican Spotted Owls are found in the northern territory of the Verde Watershed. They rely on healthy, connected habitats, with enough water for the big trees they need for nesting and hunting. Mexican Spotted Owls help us understand the importance of protecting diverse habitats and keeping our mature forests healthy.