ACS biologists present western yellow-billed cuckoo survey results at Arizona Field Ornithologists (AZFO) 2018 Annual Meeting

In October, ACS biologists Stephanie Cobbold and Laura Stewart attended the AZFO meeting in Ajo to present a poster describing the results of their 2018 western yellow-billed cuckoo surveys along the Upper San Pedro River for a bridge replacement project on State Route 80. The poster depicted 41 distinct cuckoo detections made over the course of four formal surveys of the 169-acre site, and 12 additional detections made during ACS’ southwestern willow flycatcher surveys in the same survey area. ACS’ field observations suggest the presence of established breeding territories throughout the survey area, in both hydroriparian vegetation and in mesquite bosque with little to no adjacent hydroriparian vegetation. At the meeting, ACS biologists discussed the importance of surveying scattered mesquite bosques in agricultural or rural residential settings in proximity to drainages containing hydroriparian species, and explained how these results will inform environmental conservation measures for this project. Based on field observations, one possible breeding territory, seven probable breeding territories, and one confirmed territory were documented within the survey area. During the surveys, ACS biologists had detected several cuckoo pairs and breeding behaviors such as food carrying and a copulation event.