Paton's Hummingbird Haven

Photo Group
Violet-crowned Hummingbird
Photo by: 
Mary Nemecek

If there was a national landmark for birders, it might very well be the Paton’s Hummingbird Haven in Patagonia, AZ. Marion and Wally Paton had no idea when they purchased the home in the 1970s that it would become famous. The Patons created a bird oasis on the fringes of the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve that attracts and showcases up to 15 species of hummingbirds. The Patons then generously opened their backyard to birders, with their now famous sign “Hummingbirders Welcome”.

For no more than a voluntary contribution in the sugar water donation box, you can stay as long as you want and enjoy the amazing hummingbird show. Of the many species (15 have been documented) you can see there, the Violet-crowned Hummingbird is the most famous as this tiny back yard is the most dependable spot in North America to see it.

An estimated 30,000 birders from around the world visit their back yard each year. The Patons continued to improve their yard- for both the birds and the birders. They installed water features, canopies, chairs and a board by the gate to record the birds seen that day. The numerous feeders, typically 9 or more, go through 6 quarts of nectar a day.

After Wally and Marion passed away. The local Audubon chapter, friends and the community have kept the feeders filled and the gate open. Now a more permanent solution is needed. The effort to purchase the home and keep it as a mecca for birders and the hummingbirds needs support.

The American Bird Conservancy is leading a fund raising campaign to save the home. They are halfway to their goal and the campaign continues until October 15. For those of you who have been and/or those who just want to protect this treasure you can read more and donate at www.abcbirds.org/paton/.

**The Paton House fundraiser was successful and the property was saved and continues to welcome Hummingbirders today!

By Mark McKellar

SUMMER 2013