This article speaks specifically to Paton’s Birder Haven in southeast Arizona, Marion and Wally Paton’s backyard. Paton’s became a birding mecca over the last few decades thanks to the legendary generosity of a couple who enjoyed feeding the birds and decided to open their gate to allow the public into their backyard.
Due to the foresight of the Paton family and the partnership of the American Bird Conservancy, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours and Tucson Audubon Society, along with thousands of generous supporters, this little piece of birding paradise has been saved in perpetuity. It isn’t always the case that parcels of private property such as this are saved, but privately held land is playing an increasingly important role in the survival of the birds. The United States is home to more than 800 species of birds – 30% of these are listed as endangered or threatened. The greatest threat to the birds is the loss of habitat!
Today, 60% of the land in the United States is privately owned and over 100 species of birds have 50% or more of their breeding distribution on private lands. Government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in addition to non-profit agencies such as National Audubon and The Nature Conservancy, are working to conserve privately held land by offering assistance to landowners to promote bird conservation projects. As a result, private landowners are contributing enormously to bird habitat conservation. According to The State of the Birds 2013, Report on Private Lands, projects are underway demonstrating efforts on private lands do result in significant bird conservation - “private lands have critical conservation value, and landowners and managers can measure their yield not only in bushels and head and cords, but also in bluebirds, hawks and canvasbacks.”
Saving Paton’s Birder Haven in Patagonia, Az., was a major conservation effort on the part of several non-profits and thousands of individual supporters. Thanks to this extraordinary partnership, there is at least one Hummer Haven that will be saved for future generations of bird watchers and naturalists.