For birdwatcher Karen Nickey, avians just didn't cut it anymore.

"There are limits for most people to how much you can do that," Nickey says.

So she found a new focus--in butterflies.

"Butterflies give you a new outlook for that sense of adventure of going out and finding what you can find," she says.

Nickey is now president of the Southeast Arizona Butterfly Association, which was established in the 1990s as a chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.

SEABA organizes monthly programs, field trips and community outreach to encourage appreciation and protection of these iconic insects, which begin their lives as caterpillars and then famously transform.

SEABA member Fred Heath joined the local group after becoming a member of the North American Butterfly Association, and he leads multiple field trips so people can explore the area and make their own discoveries. He says the hobby has evolved over the past few decades so that protecting the insects is part of the mission.

Decades ago, many serious hobbyists trapped and killed their specimens by pinning them into a collection, but the emphasis now is on observation, identification and photography.

"It's a great excuse to get outside," Heath says. "Butterflies don't come out unless it's nice and warm and sunny and you can sleep in."

SEABA is holding its annual Sabino Canyon/Santa Catalina Mountains Spring Butterfly Count on Sunday, March 25th, starting at 9 a.m. Participants are meeting at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center Pavilion and volunteers are encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact:

Karen Nickey, president of SEABA

Fred Heath, Co-chair field trips