The Preserve


Early birds head up the line at the Preserve snowbird farewell party.

Ann Lange

The Preserve chicks powdered their pin feathers and told their old buzzards to fluff ‘n buff their filoplume, grab a bottle of their favorite nectar and bob on over to the Barazani’s for some beak babble and patio piffle at the annual end-of-the-season snowbird farewell party April 28. Carrabba’s Restaurant grilled up an Italian dinner on site and the winged guests circled above until the sound of the gong, then swooped down on Caesar salad, garlic bread, chicken marsala, broccoli, ziti pasta and tiramisu.

Fair-weathered avian friends will soon be air born, branching out in all directions for exotic adventures to check off on their long bucket lists, leaving the four-season birds to double-check their short bucket lists—ice and liquid therapy. Left alone to survive the swelter, weather the monsoons and battle the insects, the homebirds are busy down at the Dollar Tree stocking up on oven mitts so they can drive with both hands on the wheel, rummaging through the garage for their waders and trying to figure why the heck Noah didn’t just swat those two mosquitoes anyway. The remaining items on the summer To-Do list have been carefully categorized: things we won’t do now because it’s too hot; things we won’t do later because it’s even hotter and things we will never do because it’s the hottest we’ve ever seen.

Many snowbirds are retreating to their second home near family, soon to find out what they have in common with their sprouting grandkids besides bus fare, bibs and bed time. Not a single copy of Technology for Old Dummies has been available at any of the three SaddleBrooke libraries for months, as Grandbirds have been boning up on the latest jargon and devices so they can have meaningful discussions with the toddler techs. Grandkids should come with warnings: They are older than they appear; growing up doesn’t take as much time as it used to; they will make you think you can still do things you really can’t and they make you admit that what they listen to is actually better than Muzak. They always look forward to Gram and Gramps because they know they are just really big kids with really big toys. Over the generations, we have traded Candy Land and Checkers for Nintendo video games, model airplanes for drones, and plastic action figures for Lego Boost Robot, but some things just never change or go out of style – like hugs, piggyback rides and grandparents!

The full-time feathered denizens of the desert, The Cactus Wren, or in Beak Speak, “Campylorthynchus Brunneicapillus,” were recognized in 1931 as the Arizona state bird. These curved beaked song birds, like other song birds, are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They dine primarily on insects, may live 7-10 years, and are likely to be found perched among yucca, mesquite and saguaro fanning their tail feathers. The other full-time desert dwellers, the Brookebirds, like the Cactus Wren, stay put in the Arizona Aviary year-round to enjoy our Grand Canyon State; trim our state tree the Palo Verde; observe our state flower the Saguaro Cactus Blossom to see if it really matures into bright red fruit after pollination; try to count the number of rings on the tail of our state animal; keep an eye out to catch a glimpse of our state butterfly, the two-tailed swallowtail and sit transfixed by the beauty of the Santa Catalina Mountain Range as we each in our own way interpret and reflect upon our state moto: Ditat Deus (God enriches).

So long, fare thee well snowbirds. May the wind be at your back as you flit, you float, you fleetly flee, you fly. Don’t forget to tweet and twitter during summer recess, enjoy your loved ones and may you return safely to the nest!