Monday, July 2, 2018

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - Part I

There are three large (hot) deserts in North America (Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Mojave). Deserts are defined as areas with less than 10 inches of rainfall per year. There are cold deserts as well, the Great Basin being the largest in North America. Las Cienegas is 45,000 acres where the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts meet. 

Empire Ranch, part of Las Cienegas, began in 1871 with 160 acres and grew to over 180 square miles. It was the site of over 50 films with a wide range of stars like John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Burt Lancaster, and Steve McQueen. It remains a working ranch today as part of Las Cienegas in a cooperative agreement with the US Bureau of Land Management.

Las Cienegas is a diverse wildlife area with a stable population of Pronghorn (often seen), Javelinas, Gray Foxes, Coyotes, White Tailed Deer, and the endangered Black Tailed Prairie Dog among other animals. As far as birding it has a wide range including many of Arizona's sparrows, all four Kingbirds, both Meadowlarks -- and several raptors.  There is also a spring in Empire Gulch which provides water above ground for a hundred yards or more. This creates a diverse riparian area with warblers, grosbeaks, cardinals, tanagers, and other birds.

I'll spend the next few posts sharing photos from Las Cienegas. First, the Pronghorn:

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