July 27th, 2014
An outstanding end to an outstanding tour, with more great SE Arizona specialty birds for a four-day total of over 150 species!
Ruby Road, west of Nogales:
Juvenile GRAY HAWK near the Calabasas Picnic Area.
We heard, but failed to see, an ELEGANT TROGON, although we didn’t go more than a half mile down canyon. The supporting cast included a calling MONTEZUMA QUAIL, GRAY HAWK, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, four ‘Azure’ EASTERN BLUEBIRDS (three along nearby Ruby Rd), VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.
A couple of FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS were located before getting to the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. We didn’t go further.
Oro Blanco Wash, 7 miles southeast of Arivaca:
This nice riparian/mixed area is always birdy, and today was no exception, with GRAY HAWK, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, LUCY’S WARBLER, a couple of singing CASSIN’S SPARROWS on the adjacent grassland, VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.
Same as yesterday, including the BANK SWALLOW.
Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon:
A/the PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT was more cooperative for our group today, showing well on the right side of the feeder on the gift shop deck (its favorite feeder port) after about 20 minutes of tense searching.
Proctor Road, Madera Canyon:
A juvenile SCREECH-OWL roosting awkwardly on a tree limb, being mobbed by all and sundry, provided an ID conundrum. I suspect it was a WHISKERED, despite the low elevation, but I’ll have to study my photos and ask opinions for a final ID, if it’s even possible.
My grateful thanks to four wonderful participants for a highly enjoyable and successful Fun Birding Tour!
July 26th, 2014
An epic third day of the Fun Birding Mini-Break, with 88 species and lots of big SE Arizona specialty bird highlights.
Miller Canyon Rd area, Hereford:
After seeing the expected SCALED QUAIL along S Rockwood Dr, we were stunned to see a male MONTEZUMA QUAIL walk casually across S Silverstone Ave and stroll in plain view across one of the gravel front yards, somewhat down canyon from the expected habitat.
Las Cienegas, southern entrance:
Lots of GRASSHOPPER, BOTTERI’S and, pleasingly given their scarcity so far this year, multiple CASSIN’S SPARROWS.
Three BRONZED COWBIRDS on the Patagonia Union High School sports field.
Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, Patagonia:
At least four VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRDS were buzzing the feeders every few minutes, while GRAY HAWK, INCA DOVE, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, and NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET provided more entertainment. Thanks to Larry Morgan for his invaluable help and hard work. Please support Tucson Audubon by visiting and making a donation.
Patagonia Roadside Rest:
Two adult THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS were busy catching large flying insects, as one or two vocal juveniles demanded more from the largest sycamore tree above the picnic table.
Also, GRAY HAWK, and VARIED BUNTING.
17 BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS, including a pair with six small juveniles. I only counted five juveniles before – where was the extra one hiding?
The EARED GREBE, RING-NECKED DUCK, NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (now only one), TROPICAL KINGBIRDS, and LAZULI BUNTINGS continue, and were joined by a BANK SWALLOW.
A female ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was a nice surprise just above the dam.
A couple of BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS were found near the water tank.
A RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER was located fairly easily in the ‘usual’ place at the top of the oak grove, where the trail peters out.
Also, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, INDIGO and VARIED BUNTINGS, and HOODED ORIOLE.
Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon:
We were skunked by the Plain-capped Starthroat between 5:00 pm and dusk. It was last seen at 4:45 pm.
Proctor Road, Madera Canyon:
We failed to hear any nightjars, but a vocal and showy WESTERN SCREECH-OWL was of some consolation.
July 25th, 2014
Day 2 of my July Fun Birding Mini-Break exceeded the high quality of day 1, which I didn’t think was possible!
Westward Look Resort, Tucson:
A couple of COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRDS were among the usual desert species, and a GREAT HORNED OWL was roosting in a eucalyptus.
At least two ELEGANT TROGONS, the first seen at the 1.7 mile parking area, the other was up near the dam.
A pair of BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHERS was just below the dam, which is about a half mile up canyon from the 1.7 mile parking area.
Also, at least six ARIZONA WOODPECKERS, two or more RED-FACED WARBLERS (around the dam), and a GRACE’S WARBLER (same area). I’ve never seen so many SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS there (at least 15) and WESTERN WOOD-PEWEES have reached plague proportions!
The gate across the canyon entrance was halfway closed when we left (displaying the ‘Closed Due to Live Bear Sighting’ sign), so you may want to check with the Fort if you’re planning a visit in the coming days. To be fair, we did see a large mother Black Bear with a small cub alongside the road at about the 1 mile mark.
Beatty’s Guest Ranch:
We didn’t detect any unusual hummingbirds in a fairly brief visit, but we did enjoy fabulous views of all the usual suspects. A ZONE-TAILED HAWK was overhead. Thanks to Tom and Tom for their help, as always.
Ash Canyon B&B:
Male LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD came in to feeder 9 and 0 just after a rain shower.
The ‘Costifer’ Hummingbird (COSTA’S x LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD hybrid) was in several times, so beware. It’s an interesting and instructive bird.
Also, MONTEZUMA QUAIL calling from the hillside, GRAY HAWK, BROWN-RESTED FLYCATCHER, and SCOTT’S and BULLOCK’S ORIOLES. Thanks Mary Jo!
Private site in Huachucas:
A pair of MONTEZUMA QUAIL provided me with probably my best ever prolonged views of this enigmatic and handsome species.
Carr Canyon (lower parking area):
ELF OWL and WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL both put in an appearance after dark.
July 24th, 2014
The first day of my current mini-tour produced some excellent birding.
Lisa Frank Ave, Tucson:
Four BURROWING OWLS.
Randolph Park, Tucson:
TRICOLORED HERON and WOOD DUCK still.
Reid Park, Tucson:
Continuing RING-NECKED DUCK and two NEOTROPIC CORMORANTS.
Incinerator Ridge Rd, Mt Lemmon:
GREATER PEWEE, CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHERS, immature male OLIVE WARBLER, and RED-FACED WARBLER, all in the first 200 yards.
One of the most surprising birds I’ve ever found, an adult ‘Gambel’s’ WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was feeding on the seeded tree stump outside the Living Rainbow Gift Shop. I don’t know how many July records there are for SE Arizona, but I can’t remember hearing of any (Finding Birds in SE Arizona does indicate a few). Photo © Jessica Smith.
Also there, four PINE SISKINS overhead. I did check what month it was, and it was apparently July!
Alder Picnic Area (near Inspiration Rock):
Two BAND-TAILED PIGEONS and a RED CROSSBILL flew past.
Rose Canyon Lake:
CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHERS, a couple of GRACE’S WARBLERS, and a couple more PINE SISKINS.
March 26th, 2014
Please sponsor me, or join my team, the Birds of Fray, to support this year’s Birdathon. The annual Birdathon benefits Tucson Audubon Society’s conservation program.
The Birds of Fray take flight this year on April 6th. You can sign up for the Birds of Fray team by visiting the Birdathon website.
Why should you join our team? Well, we’ll be leaving Tucson early in the morning (but at a reasonably civilized hour, somewhere around sunrise) and heading to Sweetwater Wetlands, Madera Canyon and Patagonia, in a fairly laid back attempt to see and hear more than 100 species in one day. We’ll see a lot of birds, and have a lot of fun!
Plus, it will be my birthday! Come and help me celebrate.
Can’t make it? Then please consider sponsoring our team. You can make a secure online donation by clicking here. All donations go directly to Tucson Audubon’s excellent conservation program, which benefits birds, wildlife, habitat and people in southeastern Arizona.