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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cibola NWR – Our Home for January and February


Last February, we stopped by Cibola National Wildlife Refuge to visit RVing friends Joe and Murlene Anderson who were volunteering at the refuge. We wrote about that visit here.

(As an aside, Joe is a fabulous photographer. You can check out some of his work at his Nature Thru Photos site.)

At the time, little did we know we would not only visit the refuge again but also sign up to volunteer at the Refuge.  We have done plenty of campground host volunteer work at places like Ridgway State Park in CO, Galveston Island State Park in TX and Glacier National Park in MT. This would be different!!

Cibola NWR sits on the Arizona side of lower Colorado River about 22 miles south of Blythe California and 65 miles north of Yuma, AZ. The Refuge encompasses about 18,000 acres set aside in 1964 as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, which now includes 561 Refuges spanning all 50 states.

Cibola, along with Imperial and Kofa National Wildlife Refuges make up one of the countries largest NWR complexes of over 700,000 acres of desert, mountain and riparian habitat.

Currently, much of the work at the Refuge is focused on ridding the area of invasive species such as salt cedar, and returning it to its natural habitat of cottonwood and willow.

One of the things that attracted us to Cibola was the wildlife. Thanks to the Colorado River the refuge is able to support over 2000 acres of farmland and seasonal “loafing” ponds, which provide a perfect habitat for the birds. Yes, Cibola is all about the birds. 

The refuge is an important wintering ground for the huge flocks of Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes. We also see lots of Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Black-Crowned Night-Herons large flocks of Snow Geese and White Pelicans. There are also plenty of hawks, falcons and eagles.

A couple of our favorites are the Burrowing Owls and our very own Anna’s Hummingbird – who we named Bedazzled or BD for short. My hope is to get BD to eat from my hand before we leave in March. I could go on… but there are over 250 varieties of birds that have been sighted here.

Besides the birds we have seen lots and lots of deer, wild burros and a bobcat (Sorry, I wasn’t able to get a picture of the bobcat.)

Out our front window, we look over desert BLM land with the Trigo Mountains as a backdrop and some remarkable Sunrises! In fact, right across from the entrance to the Refuge is access to some great boondocking sites (only about 50 miles from Quartzite) not to mention unlimited 4 wheeling opportunities.

Out our back, lie the Refuge, the Colorado River and the Chocolate Mountains – a perfect setup for some amazing sunsets.

Ok, besides bird watching, exploring the refuge taking trips to Yuma, and the other Refuges, and just plain enjoying the beauty of our surroundings…we do work. Our volunteer commitment amounts to three days a week. JoAnne helps with the visitor center. 

In fact, a couple of days ago they played host to over 100 school children ranging from kindergarten to 8th grade.

Sometimes I help in the visitor center but more often I work with Joe on any number of maintenance and construction projects. Last week we started building a shelter. We have also been replacing the fencing along the northern border of the Refuge. Suffice it to say, there is plenty to keep us busy.

We are only 2 weeks into our stay here…but so far we’re loving it!

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