Where We Be
Sonora Desert Museum -- Tucson, Arizona
It's official -- we're fans of the Sonoran Desert with its serene beauty and abundant wildlife
We had a terrific day at the Sonora Desert
Museum. "Museum" is something of a
misnomer since almost all of the activities are
outdoors; it's more like a combination desert
botanic gardens and zoo. Whatever you call it,
it's incredibly well done -- and rightfully the #1
attraction in the Tucson area per TripAdvisor.

One of the highlights for us was definitely the
hummingbird aviary, a plant-filled enclosure full
of hummingbirds flitting freely among us. Often
they would hover just inches away. We got to
see hummingbirds feeding their young and
sitting on their extraordinarily tiny nests.

Another highlight was the Raptor Free Flight
exhibitions. At 10 am we saw Chihuahuan
ravens, a peregrine falcon, a prairie falcon, a
ferruginous hawk, and a great horned owl. The
rescue birds were totally free but used to being
fed. Their handlers would discreetly place bits
of meat in the crook of a tree or a saguaro then
duck back down. The birds would fly from perch
to perch to get the meat, soaring just inches
over the heads of the crowd to get to the food.
You could hear the whoosh of their wings as
they passed! We give the Sonora Desert
Museum our highest recommendation -- this is
a place not to miss.
This prairie falcon put on quite a show for us at the raptor free flight exhibition
A hummingbird sits in her nest keeping her chicks warm
Prairie falcons have a cruising speed of 45 mph
They often hunt by flying fast and low -- like right over our heads low!
Their impressive wingspan averages 40 inches
This coyote seems to be enjoying the cool morning air
This is a javelina (pronounced "have-a-leen-a"). We also saw these in Big Bend National Park in Texas.
Most of the animals were awake and alert in the morning -- like this bobcat
Two bobcats keep each other company
This amazing creature is a barn owl. We were blown away by its beauty.
Barn owls have the best hearing of any creature ever tested
Unusual desert bloom
The hummingbird aviary was a personal favorite -- we visited it twice
Note to self: never enter a staring contest with a great horned owl
Here she is feeding her chicks. We could see their tiny beaks sticking up.
Some of the most beautiful things in the world come in small packages
Hummingbirds can beat their wings up to 80 times a SECOND!
This horned owl flew just inches over our heads -- we could feel the whoosh of air as he swooped by
This roadrunner is being trained for future free flight exhibitions
Bighorn sheep are found in the mountains and foothills of the Sonoran Desert
Here you can see his wingspan as he lands with a tidbit of raw meat in his beak
The American kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. It rapidly beat its wings, hovering over its prey.
Mexican wolves are the most endangered species of wolf in the world
This odd picture of two bighorn sheep looks like a Picasso painting
Mountain lion perched on high
Don't do it!
Yikes! This bighorn sheep makes it look easy.
This is no "desolate desert"
On top of all the amazing wildlife, we really enjoyed the rich desert scenery here
During our final flight exhibition, we watched a family of Harris hawks hunting together – something only Harris hawks do
Dead saguaros have a skeletal beauty all their own
Hummingbirds weigh about as much as a penny and their hearts beat about 1,200 times per minute
The Sonoran Desert has made us rethink what a desert environment can be like