Beneath the streets and sidewalks of downtown Tucson lies the original site of Camp Lowell, which stood for eight years on Sixth Ave. before the malarial influences of the nearby Santa Cruz forced the move north to Pantano Wash. History-minded birders keep a special place in memory for Camp Lowell and its most famous ornithological inhabitant, Major Charles Bendire.
It was during his time here that Bendire collected the first rufous-winged sparrows and Bendire’s thrashers known to science, and it was during his time here that he had his famous adventure at the nest of the zone-tailed hawk.
Those were red-letter days all, but what was a more normal birding day like for Bendire? He told us in 1890:
Large flocks [of terrestrial birds] would frequently alight on the open ground about my camp, especially about the picket line where the cavalry horses were tied up at night and fed, and at such times they would allow themselves to be approached rather closely, and it was generally an easy matter to select such specimens as one wanted while they were searching for food.
Far easier nowadays to just fill a pocket with millet.