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blackburnian

Trip Report- SE AZ and CO

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Hey birders,

I recently returned from a two-week trip to AZ, NM, and CO. I had never birded AZ before so as you can imagine the anticipation was high. I had done MT and WA in previous years, but those were my only birding ventures out west prior to this. It was a bit overwhelming at times, but overall it ended up being a massively successful trip.

Lifers will be in bold.

Day 1:

My father and I arrived in Phoenix at around 9 AM on Saturday, June 8th. Wanting to beat the most intense heat of the day, we headed directly for Desert Botanical Gardens, just south of Phoenix. We figured it would be a solid spot to acclimate and familiarize ourselves with both the climate and the birds. Before we got there, we saw the first of MANY White-winged Doves, a lifer for my dad, but a bird I had seen previously on the east coast and a couple of roadside Great-tailed Grackles. 

48127785938_8b0b7f069e_k.jpgIMG_9832 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48127773921_3c33c61d74_k.jpgIMG_6946 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48127810378_bf7f9ff78c_k.jpgIMG_0178 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Once we got to the actual gardens, the lifers came quickly. Common birds of the SW like Verdin, Cactus Wren, Abert's Towhee, and Curve-billed Thrasher were among the first to greet us.

48127804316_1241ec1b70_k.jpgIMG_6790 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48127838528_ea844522ec_k.jpgIMG_6801 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48127932703_568931fab2_k.jpgIMG_0059 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48127996402_8fb169981d_k.jpgIMG_9887 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48127911411_51b099525c_k.jpgIMG_6667 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

We saw the trip's only Costa's Hummingbirds and Gilded Flicker, which quickly displaced our first (of many) Gila Woodpecker from its perch.

48127902016_cb64321375_k.jpgIMG_0103 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48127908106_ef52e8e904_k.jpgIMG_9968 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

I also thought this darker Collared-Dove stood out nicely among his peers. 

48127935133_d75ac55908_k.jpgIMG_0077 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

On the way back to the car, we spotted a Gambel's Quail skirting across the parking lot, a common sight in this part of the country. 

48127914581_fac10777f1_k.jpgIMG_6738 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48127947833_c5741fb37e_k.jpgIMG_6746 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

From the Gardens, we headed off to find our most important target of the day...

 

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Posted (edited)

Day 1, cont'd.

We really only had one necessary target on Day 1, due to their extremely localized and restricted range. Fortunately, following a tip from eBird, they proved easy to find in a small city park pretty much in the middle of Phoenix.

My favorite bird of day 1, Rosy-faced Lovebird:

48128098137_8c6d60f659_k.jpgIMG_7067 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128052388_6ebf1d3611_k.jpgIMG_7032 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128055028_3d47c563ce_k.jpgIMG_7008 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128095467_510947c2e8_k.jpgIMG_7001 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

An obliging Gila Woodpecker was also in the area. 

48128045978_7fb30863e9_b.jpgIMG_0325 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

I'm going to leave this as an independent post because the next one is rather busy.

 

Edited by blackburnian
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Day 1, cont'd. 

To finish off our first day, we drove from Phoenix to Tucson in order to a) get to our base hotel and b) bird the famous Sweetwater Wetlands.

Right out of the car, Lesser Goldfinches, Yellow Warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds, and White-winged Doves were seemingly in a craze, probably because of the nearby Cooper's Hawk.

48128103861_e7f0d09315_b.jpgIMG_7173 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128198477_259f1b7d49_b.jpgIMG_7266 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128194037_93293ae075_b.jpgIMG_7183 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

As we started walking the trails, we started hearing Lucy's Warblers and had brief views of a Vermilion Flycatcher

48128227682_783111f9c9_b.jpgIMG_7239 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128107641_60e74fb9f6_b.jpgIMG_7257 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128126501_38049e3c1d_b.jpgIMG_7632 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

It didn't take long though to find our main target, Tropical Kingbird. It, along with a brilliant male Vermilion, put on quite the show for at least a half hour. One of the highlights of the trip, to watch these two beautiful flycatchers in action. 

48128199267_43fc6950b4_b.jpgIMG_7573 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128114296_29a95451c1_b.jpgIMG_7299 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128169643_1567cabfb9_b.jpgIMG_7361 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128166593_24a8ff0b15_b.jpgIMG_7379 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128208417_0e524e29f9_b.jpgIMG_0871 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Next, we had stellar views of a Greater Roadrunner taking a dirt path, a perfect way to end our first day in AZ. 

48128212607_a49dfe22cd_b.jpgIMG_7606 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128150278_a421089ae9_b.jpgIMG_7618 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Plus, this. 

48128210707_fa21e53a1a_b.jpgIMG_7692 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

13 lifers for day 1. Day 2 would bring more typical SE AZ birding. 

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The above photos, for some reason, are a bit blurred. If you care, slightly clearer versions can be seen on Flickr by clicking on them. I’ll try to have at least half of Day 2 up by tonight, 

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Day 2, Pt. 1

We awoke, anxious and excited, well before sunrise in order to make the 1 and a half drive down to Sierra Vista. We had made an appointment to visit a yard that had regular Montezuma Quail visits. We were not disappointed by one of Arizona's most notoriously difficult birds. We had ridiculous looks at multiple pairs that came in to feed and drink. 

48128515877_ffaf68139a_k.jpgIMG_7889 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128463808_90c4648939_k.jpgIMG_7978 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

But the quail were not the only things to see. The yard, as many are in SE AZ, was very active. Anna's, Black-chinned, and Broad-billed Hummingbirds were buzzing about while Western Kingbirds and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker made brief stops at the suet. Tons of Lesser Goldfinches were a constant presence, amongst them one Pine Siskin lingering from the winter season made an appearance. 

48128490708_1a3884a629_k.jpgIMG_7993 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Canyon Towhee, Eastern Meadowlarks, and the trips only (surprisingly) Pyrrhuloxia were also around. 

48128469996_10e11ba9eb_k.jpgIMG_1004 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128434361_169c28a824_k.jpgIMG_8028 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128562542_a4cc59c993_k.jpgIMG_7893 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128480223_dee6862c7e_k.jpgIMG_1146 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

The owner had mentioned he had Botteri's Sparrow in the fields beyond his yard, but it a came a surprise to all of us when one visited the feeder area. I was excited to get that bird so early and so effortlessly. 

48128463926_1e8c347bb9_k.jpgIMG_7863 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128539152_8d9f560192_k.jpgIMG_1070 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Naturally, I was asking the owners for advice on some of my more difficult targets. When I mentioned I did not expect to find Harris's Hawk due to their sporadic reports in AZ, he said there was a place down the road where they bred and were seen regularly. After thanking our gracious hosts, we drove a couple miles down the road and sure enough, we found two Harris's Hawk, in addition to trip birds Bullock's Oriole and Say's Phoebe. 

48128592507_cd48eb0e09_k.jpgIMG_8136 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128601762_b71da2b9d4_k.jpgIMG_1454 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48128598537_baa8c38a84_k.jpgIMG_8074 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

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Day 2, Pt. 2

After a successful morning made even better by the Harris's Hawks, we headed up to Mt. Lemmon, about an hour N of Tucson. I had always wanted to bird here and it didn't disappoint. It was also nice to escape the heat and get in some high elevation birding.

On the drive up, we saw trip birds Violet-green Swallow, Acorn Woodpecker, and Violet-green Swallow. I had heard Rose Canyon was a good spot, so we payed the small fee and pulled over at the first campground we saw. Immediately the sounds of Hermit Thrushes, Plumbeous Vireos, and Greater Pewee filled the forest, and curious Steller's Jays came into investigate, as well as numerous Yellow-eyed Juncos. Here we also found maybe the coolest looking squirrel I've ever seen.

48129268508_d16dd289b8_k.jpgIMG_8305 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129253856_4e44add0d9_k.jpgIMG_8319 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129280268_dfb7aa862b_k.jpgIMG_8331 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129278148_4cd9e5804b_k.jpgIMG_8516 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129241981_8b0c4e60e1_k.jpgIMG_8545 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129331592_94454ae2ba_k.jpgIMG_1661 by Jim Joe, on Flickr
 

As we were trying to get better looks at the vireos, I spotted a beautiful Olive Warbler, one of the most anticipated birds of the trip. 

48129271693_16df3efb2c_k.jpgIMG_1701 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129273388_cd71fbcb66_k.jpgIMG_1741 by Jim Joe, on Flickr
 

 

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Day 2, Pt. 3

Further up, we found Black-headed Grosbeak, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Cordilleran Flycatcher

48129336511_144042c728_k.jpgIMG_8674 by Jim Joe, on Flickr
48129364426_e816cb63f9_k.jpgIMG_8680 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129424362_bdfc218718_k.jpgIMG_8700 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

While scanning the skies for the sough-after Zone-tailed Hawk, a Red-faced Warbler, maybe my most wanted bird, popped just a few feet in front of me. Unfortunately, it disappeared. We did see several more that day (and later in the trip), but the views weren't quite as close. 

48129390413_c8487ff816_k.jpgIMG_8718 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

To finish at Mt. Lemmon, we staked out the hummingbird feeder at the visitor's center, which was swarming with Broad-tailed Hummingbirds. Eventually the shockingly large and stunning Rivoli's Hummingbird made a visit. 

48129368538_427e20b429_k.jpgIMG_8809 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129439152_ebc7f7c561_k.jpgIMG_8840 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129379643_db0370da46_k.jpgIMG_8881 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129370183_5fe6979eb8_k.jpgIMG_8894 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129443372_a8e7ee4885_k.jpgIMG_8860 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129383898_c869abb812_k.jpgIMG_8870 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

After a brief nap back at the hotel, we headed back to Sweetwater in hopes of Lesser Nighthawk. Since we had time to kill before dusk, we did one more loop around the lake and napped brief, unsatisfying looks at lifer Bell's Vireo, as well at looks at a pretty cool looking snake. After that, on a tip from a local, we found a spot just outside the wetlands where the dried up Santa Cruz River Basin can be seen. I had been told this was a good spot for nighthawks. Like clockwork, a bit after sunset, several Lesser Nighthawks started working the area. My 500th ABA lifer. 

48129372343_757e336e6e_k.jpgIMG_9024 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129435412_8b67d55a88_k.jpgIMG_9089 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129346091_5feb2466ca_k.jpgIMG_9059 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129433697_c38bc19755_k.jpgIMG_9107 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

 

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Great photos.

1 hour ago, Bird Brain said:

Wish I could "like" all your photos but I only have so many "likes"! 

Me too.:classic_angry::classic_angry:

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Day 3, Pt. 1

Day 3 (June 10) was maybe the busiest day of the whole trip and will be broken up into several installments. There are a lot of pictures. You've been warned. 

This day's birding focused on the Patagonia area, specifically the De Anza Trail, which was hosting two major rarities at the time. 

Our first stop of the day was part of the De Anza trail known as Clark's Crossing, just south of Tubac, AZ. Our target was a Green Kingfisher, a good rarity for southern AZ and more importantly, a lifer. On the drive in, two Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks flew over, a lifer for my dad.

Unfortunately and fortunately, we made a wrong turn (a common theme this day) and ended going a good mile in the wrong direction. But man were there birds. Bewick's Wrens, Bell's Vireo, Summer Tanagers, Yellow-breasted Chats, Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Lucy's Warblers, and Vermilion Flycatchers were everywhere, serenading the shrubbery with song. Amidst the madness we had very brief views at a vocal pair of the trip's only Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets and the first of many Bridled Titmouse

48129550686_fe477f455d_k.jpgIMG_9594 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129634227_376904745b_k.jpgIMG_9604 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129688912_0800d4a56d_k.jpgIMG_9247 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129601046_6d1d9aa7f3_k.jpgIMG_9243 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129615453_3e51bd7e3f_k.jpgIMG_9283 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

The best shot of the incredibly uncooperative Bell' Vireo of the trip:

48129628721_ddabec8b87_k.jpgIMG_9127 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129650818_6120294995_k.jpgIMG_9182 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129736077_1002f57e01_k.jpgIMG_2893 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

The next post will detail what happened once we finally did make the right turn. 

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Day 3, Pt. 2

After this accidental yet birdy detour, we found the river, and thus were heading toward the location where the kingfisher was being seen. But the trail was still active, despite it already being mid-morning. Blue Grosbeaks, a heard only Gray Hawk, roughly a billion Phainopeplas, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, and a heard-only Yellow-billed Cuckoo added to the usual crowd. 

48129600473_61356df2ce_b.jpgIMG_9784 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129624603_b0c33e0cda_b.jpgIMG_9359 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129729317_830ebea99d_b.jpgIMG_2506 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

After finding yet another Tropical Kingbird, I spotted a family of Vermilion Flycatchers across the river. Except, wait, what? Is that a kingfisher just below them? Yes, it was our Green Kingfisher. We slowly crept towards it as it offered prolonged views before flying down river, not to return during our visit. 

48129620998_2ddfd8afb0_b.jpgIMG_9487 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129618148_c5b45f5de3_b.jpgIMG_9437 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129747442_b15aa3c4fe_b.jpgIMG_2607 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129744922_9462b7d76a_b.jpgIMG_2627 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Edited by blackburnian

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Posted (edited)

Day 3, Pt. 3

On the way back from the kingfisher spot we heard another Gray Hawk and stumbled upon a couple of young Great Horned Owls. 

48129654446_c6a3caf2b1_b.jpgIMG_2789 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

After the success of Clark's Crossing, we headed into the small town of Tubac, ate at a hole in the wall café, and picked up the trail again closer to Tubac. This time our target rarity was Rose-throated Becard. There are currently 4 active nests along the trail, a remarkable number for this ABA code 3 vagrant. 

The parking lot held our first Cassin's Kingbirds of the trip as well as our too-long-delayed lifer Inca Dove

48129680162_184988b4e4_b.jpgIMG_9515 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129626717_aa16f13e7c_b.jpgIMG_9571 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129555376_f6a195b39b_b.jpgIMG_9627 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129646536_54a94dfffd_b.jpgIMG_2909 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Over the course of the next 45 minutes we would fail miserably to find the Becard "colony" until we ran into a local who gave remarkably precise directions. An hour and a half later we were looking at a female Rose-throated Becard tending to its impressive nest. It was one of two we would see. 

48129653862_a70316c6ce_b.jpgIMG_9753 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129596528_1f5ba1157e_b.jpgIMG_9754 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129655487_a2fdeb9da9_b.jpgIMG_9786 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Edited by blackburnian
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Day 3, Pt. 4

We counted ourselves fortunate to have found both rarities and moved on to our next stop, Patagonia Lake State Park. This was a brief stop, but a productive one, despite the triple digit temps. We had Black-crowned Night-Heron, an apparently rare Osprey, baby coots, our first sighting of a Gray Hawk, albeit incredibly distant, and our target, Neotropic Cormorant. I will spare you the photos as we got better ones later. 

48129695268_89b051c6b9_b.jpgIMG_3150 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129573356_f3cf98c422_b.jpgIMG_9901 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Next was an unsuccessful stop at the Patagonia roadside rest area for Thick-billed Kingbird, although we did pick up trip bird White-throated Swift. 

From there we moved on to the famous Patton Hummingbird center, which is really a yard that is kept up by hard-working volunteers. It certainly lived up to the praises. Canyon and Abert's Towhees, Lesser Golfinches, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Black-chinned and Broad-billed Hummingbirds, and Gambel's Quail make up some of the more common visitors. 

48129609798_26e1b54ca3_b.jpgIMG_9917 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129603368_efe72f32b0_b.jpgIMG_9922 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129707278_d8f620fb25_b.jpgIMG_3207 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129661733_12064bff48_b.jpgIMG_0107 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129642648_201fe25600_b.jpgIMG_0092 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129618311_dbba2dbbda_b.jpgIMG_0084 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129663878_b20806023c_b.jpgIMG_0057 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129611681_19951848e3_b.jpgIMG_0028 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129614118_445377e7aa_b.jpgIMG_9198 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

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Again, the last couple posts have come out slightly blurry. I don’t understand why. It’s a slight difference, but bothers me nonetheless. The rest of Day 3 will be out tomorrow. 

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Interesting about the Green Kingfisher. I looked on E Bird and found four other photos (All different people.) that were in that spot on that limb.

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Day 3, Pt. 5

As great as the baby Gambel's Quail were, we were at Patton for one reason and it only took a few minutes for one to show.

Violet-crowned Hummingbird:

48129580501_7d55123e0a_k.jpgIMG_9952 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129675646_b76109bcf9_k.jpgIMG_3241 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129759792_f11b0abc7c_k.jpgIMG_3254 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

After our fill of hummingbird feeders, we leisured on over to the "gardens", complete with a small pond and a ton of flora. The birds definitely liked it. Lucy's Warblers, Blue Grosbeaks, our trip's only Black Phoebe, and several hummingbirds came in for a drink. 

48129697658_003613fccc_k.jpgIMG_3460 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129678276_d8c93a075e_k.jpgIMG_3446 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129632296_65d3affb78_k.jpgIMG_0123 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129643253_772c46c3da_k.jpgIMG_0152 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

To finish our busiest day, we figured we'd give the Thick-billed Kingbird one more try at the roadside rest area. It was getting dark, so we figured our chances were low, especially since it was so earlier in the day. When we pulled up, it was equally if not more still. But then my dad said he saw a bird "swoop up from a limb and back down." That got my attention, and moments later we were looking at a Thick-billed Kingbird.

48129624976_a68cf3b23c_k.jpgIMG_0257 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48129713347_dee2b52a95_k.jpgIMG_0256 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Day 4 won't be up for several days, but it was my favorite day of the trip. So, predictably, Madera Canyon. 

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Day 4, pt. 1

Madera Canyon is probably the most famous birding spot in Arizona, and certainly one of the most renowned in the whole country. It was the spot I was most looking forward to in the Sky Islands, and it more than exceeded my already lofty expectations. By the end of day 4, it had earned its place in my birding locations hall of fame. 

Most of Day 4 was spent around the famous Santa Rita Lodge feeding station. Upon arrival, we briefly drove the road to the top, just to see the spectacular scenery and get familiar with Madera Canyon. We had planned on only stopping at Madera for a bit (sort of a scouting mission, as we were a day ahead of schedule already), but we liked it so much we spent the remainder of the day there. On this drive we saw the first of many Wild Turkey outside Kubo Lodge. 

48173118907_dcdd7f9216_k.jpgIMG_0347 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Immediately after stepping foot out of the car at Santa Rita Lodge, a family of Bridled Titmouse greeted us as well as what seemed like hundreds of Broad-billed Hummingbirds and our of the ever-present and inquisitive Mexican Jay. More turkeys were present as well.

48173167352_aac92588a8_k.jpgIMG_0366 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173161162_f79e31090f_k.jpgIMG_0495 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173155512_bb6aab79ff_k.jpgIMG_0423 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173123872_162b40b9e8_k.jpgIMG_0442 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173150312_9d632bae22_k.jpgIMG_0482 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Once we got settled down in the viewing area, we were amazed at the constant activity and variety of birds. Over the course of day 4, we probably spent at least 4 hours just sitting, conversing with other birders, and enjoying the birds themselves. One of the main draws of the feeder station is the killer views of a huge number of hummingbirds, most notably Broad-billed, Black-chinned, and Rivoli's. 

48173247617_74ce1b8798_k.jpgIMG_0943 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173297327_d09ec4135c_k.jpgIMG_0992 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173251512_cde6e5d699_k.jpgIMG_1004 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173213511_efe5d735a0_k.jpgIMG_0827 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173373707_f140971084_k.jpgIMG_3874 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173293456_c3b76372af_k.jpgIMG_3890 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173364317_e519f864a7_k.jpgIMG_4036 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173315951_4447f70740_k.jpgIMG_1300 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173319012_307603d77a_k.jpgIMG_1352 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

 

 

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Day 4, Pt. 2

Other birds that are a constant presence at the feeders include Acorn Woodpeckers, White-winged Dove, cowbirds, Bridled Titmouse,  House Finches, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Lesser Goldfinch. 

48173292817_403548906b_b.jpgIMG_0847 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173144772_dfe45e8ecd_b.jpgIMG_0513 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173137896_07563e65be_b.jpgIMG_0819 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

But the real magic of the feeder station, at least for a first time visitor to SE AZ, is the relatively unexpected drop-ins of more sough-after lifers among the more regular visitors. We were treated to multiple visits from Varied Bunting, Arizona Woodpeckers, and single visits from Hepatic Tanager, Scott's Oriole, and Rufous-crowned Sparrow

48173128602_41cf9b296b_b.jpgIMG_0620 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173156726_1036bc40a4_b.jpgIMG_0708 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173195772_7cf1c2d4de_b.jpgIMG_0714 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173134046_b637e518f6_b.jpgIMG_1032 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173209856_445b45960a_b.jpgIMG_1097 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173204686_de09be496f_b.jpgIMG_1113 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173199556_685e784a40_b.jpgIMG_1126 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173264732_67b7b14558_b.jpgIMG_1131 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173270037_835224622e_b.jpgIMG_1271 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173283901_58fa46f2a4_b.jpgIMG_4135 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173352797_391db683ea_b.jpgIMG_4171 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

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Day 4, pt. 3

A few more misc photos from the feeders, including some Black-headed Grosbeaks and a flyover Gray Hawk seen while fruitlessly scanning for Zone-tailed:

48173346127_49d0f958a4_k.jpgIMG_3978 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173378442_dae742f622_k.jpgIMG_3567 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173249406_267841b12a_k.jpgIMG_1225 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173387402_3b56467c10_k.jpgIMG_1142 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173313977_f9fd274fac_k.jpgIMG_1157 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173259632_e2805f89d0_k.jpgIMG_0916 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173142341_928bb9450c_k.jpgIMG_0866 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173205512_a9e0657fa5_k.jpgIMG_0807 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173382877_9cf2b3b9a0_k.jpgIMG_1166 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

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Posted (edited)

Day 4, pt. 4

Aside from the birds actually utilizing the feeders, we had two incredible experiences with SE AZ specialties at the feeder station area. The first came when what we later learned was the resident White-nosed Coati came down from a tree and literally walked through the patio/sitting area. It was a bit...exciting, as it got well within 10 feet of us. We were absolutely stoked to see this beauty of an animal so close, as we weren't sure we were going to see one on the trip at all. It actually ended up being one of two we would see at the feeder area that day. We know because the resident coati (named Al after Pacino in Scarface) has a huge scar down his partially-missing snout, making him stand out from the more typical one that visited later in the day. 
Al:

48173139877_7d70afc105_k.jpgIMG_0589 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173057186_0d7fc098cc_k.jpgIMG_0649 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173191872_813a4e6756_k.jpgIMG_0672 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173236647_05df419919_k.jpgIMG_0733 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

The second individual:

48173382577_31cf9fc68e_k.jpgIMG_1312 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173332147_e174e64d36_k.jpgIMG_1321 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

The second experience came about an hour into the feeder sit when I finally realized that the sound coming from up the hill, a sound that had been present the entire time, was actually the barking of an Elegant Trogon. We walked probably 15 yards up the road from the lodge, and sure enough, sitting calmly in shaded tree, was maybe Arizona's most famous bird. 

48173261611_ee28b1a895_b.jpgIMG_3746 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173153156_fbd37ea8f9_b.jpgIMG_0760 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173200457_8cc71e4cd1_b.jpgIMG_0788 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

48173223422_3b8c345198_b.jpgIMG_0802 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

Edited by blackburnian
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Day 4, pt. 5

One of the birders we ran into at the feeders informed us of a Northern Pygmy-Owl nest at the picnic area. We would visit the nest periodically through the day. We very briefly saw the bird exit the nest once, and at dusk, enter it, again, very briefly. This was awesome as this was a bird I had only ever previously heard in WA state. Still waiting for those amazing views though. 

As the sun set, we left the feeders, and traveled to the aforementioned nest. After dark, we were treated to a chorus of Mexican Whip-poor-wills and Elf Owls, with one Common Poorwill and two distant Whiskered-Screech Owls accompanying them. It was truly an amazing experience to hear all of these birds in full song. We briefly saw one whip-poor-will, but the Elf Owls ended up being the MVP of the night. We heard at least 7 and had SPECTACULAR views of 4 of them. Viewing these tiny owls were definitely one of my all-time favorite birding experiences. We didn't try much in the way of night photography but did manage one POOR shot of an Elf Owl on a wire, nonetheless. Obviously, this picture doesn't even come close to doing these beautiful birds justice or our amazing looks at them, but I think it is cool to at least have something. 

48173327522_279e1ea5f6_b.jpgIMG_1362 by Jim Joe, on Flickr

To finish off my favorite day of the trip, I very briefly spotted a Ringtail at the feeder station well after dark. We would return to Madera the next day, as we still had some targets in the area. 

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Awesome trip report so far... congrats on all the birds. One day I will bird AZ. Maybe I'll have to suggest a business trip there...

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Very sorry for the long delay. Been busy. 

Day 5, Pt.1

Having been so successful at Madera on Day 4, we only had a few targets remaining in that area on day 5. We arrived back at Santa Rita Lodge mid-morning for a brief scan of the feeders. Nothing was really happening aside from a brief visit from a male Varied Bunting and a lazy squirrel relaxing in the parking area. 

48351251911_6d46788fee_k.jpgIMG_1370 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

We then moved on to the amphitheater to look for our main target of the day, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. It took less than five minutes to locate the bird by its unique, squeaky call, and even less time to get eyes on it. It was unbelievably obliging. An Arizona Woodpecker was also in the area. 

48351320196_edefff25b4_k.jpgIMG_1433 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

48351447282_80625456f4_k.jpgIMG_1439 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

48351309271_e990e159c7_k.jpgIMG_1507 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

48351436067_6deb52cf89_k.jpgIMG_1522 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

At this point in the trip, I was getting very worried about missing one of my most wanted targets. We had checked hundreds of Turkey Vultures, as one does in SE AZ, yet we were disappointed every time. But just as I was getting in the car in the amphitheater parking lot, I saw vulture-like bird and immediately thought it looked off. Zone-tailed Hawk! Finally! I sprinted across the parking lot in order to get a few confirmation photos. 

48351433242_991335f827_k.jpgIMG_1626 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

These two lifers were our two remaining targets at Madera, so it was nice to get them within minutes of each other. Happy, we headed to Box Canyon. 

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Day 5, Pt. 2

Box Canyon Rd., just east of Madera Canyon, was hosting two rarities at the time. One, the Five-striped Sparrow, is extremely localized in the United States, and Box Canyon happens to be one of two reliable locations in the country to see them (the other being California Gulch many miles SW of Box Canyon). Within several minutes of exiting the car exactly 6.7 miles down the road, we heard one. This singing male was not only our second Code 3 rarity, but a very cooperative and showy one at that. 

48351432862_a30a365209_k.jpgIMG_1888 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

48351427962_9309e0e5e9_k.jpgIMG_1918 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

48351407462_f1f5fc166a_k.jpgIMG_4554 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

48351279331_6244bb0172_k.jpgIMG_4557 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

Our first Ash-throated Flycatcher of the trip was also in the area, as well as Hepatic Tanager, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, Cactus Wren, and Broad-billed Hummingbirds. A Mexican Whip-poor-will also called briefly despite it being a couple hours from dusk.

48351293521_ac2f207001_k.jpgIMG_2027 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

48351399957_555a9a0563_k.jpgIMG_2029 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

The second rarity along Box Canyon Rd. was Lucifer Hummingbird. A female was reliably being seen on a nest not far from the sparrow spot for around a month, and the male was seen in the area on occasion. I'll go ahead and say that over Days 5, 6, and 7 we would spend hours looking for this nest. It proved virtually impossible to find, despite seemingly exact coordinates. This was by far the most frustrating and testing bird of the trip. Needless to say, we failed to find it on Day 5. 

As the sun was setting, we got eyes on several Lesser Nighthawks, as well as the only Rufous-winged Sparrows of the trip. We never did get any decent pictures of the sparrows as the light was just too low. We did manage some shots of a nearby Roadrunner though.

48351421867_cd5224bff9_k.jpgIMG_2157 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

48351403482_23edf0d8d3_k.jpgIMG_2169 by Ryan Justice, on Flickr

 

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