Sunday, April 22, 2012

Birding Southeast Arizona

By Luke Musher

As I mentioned yesterday, I spend a day birding in the Madeira Canyon and Patagonia last week.  Though short, it was a successful trip, and I got lots of good year birds and even a few lifers.  My friend Will and I camped the night before at the Bog Springs Campground in Madeira Canyon, but I didn't spend very much time owling, so the only owl I got was Whiskered Screech-Owl, a lifer for me.  The next morning I started hiking before 6am freezing my butt off, but getting great bird.  Black-throated Gray Warblers, Scott's Oriole, Bridled Titmouse, Hutton's Vireo, and Bewick's Wren among others were all singing and I eventually got great looks at all of these (except HUVI).  I walked to the Santa Rita Lodge and watched the feeders for a while seeing 5 species of hummingbirds including Broad-billed, Broad-tailed, Anna's, Black-chinned, and after much waiting a gorgeous male Magnificent Hummingbird (appeared very briefly so no photos).  Also at the feeders were several dozen Chipping Sparrows, 8 or so Lazuli Bunting, several Black-headed Grosbeaks, Mexican Jays, a beautiful male Scott's Oriole.  

I then walked up to the amphitheater, picking up Hepatic Tanager and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher along the way.  Finally I began hiking down the mountain stopping again briefly at the lodge, and the Madeira Picnic area, and then worked my way down the trail to the Proctor Road Parking Area.
Blue-gray Gnatchatcher, Madeira Canyon, AZ
Lot's of great birds along this stretch of trail.  Highlights for me included Arizona Woodpecker, Rufous Hummingbird, Dusky-capped, Ash-throated and Western (Cordilleran/Pacific-slope) Flycatchers, Cassin's Kingbird, Cassin's Vireo, Verdin, Lucy's, Wilson's, Black-throated Gray, and Townsend's Warblers, and Canyon Towhee.

Black-headed Grosbeak (w/ Lazuli Buntings in background), Santa Rita Lodge, AZ
Lazuli Bunting, Madeira Canyon, AZ
Mexican Jay, Madeira Canyon, AZ
Scott's Oriole, Santa Rita Lodge, Madeira Canyon, AZ
Canyon Towhee, Madeira Canyon, AZ
From there, Will met me with the car and we drove to Patagonia.  We stopped very briefly at the Florida Wash and had boatloads of Bell's Vireos singing. In Patagonia we met up with Frenchie (whom we worked with at PRBO) who is now working on a project looking at heavy metal build up in populations of Song Sparrows in the Patagonia area.  French and her boss, Michael Lester, took us around the area looking for various things from hummingbirds to cormorants. We got great birds despite missing others such as Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Rufous-backed Robin, and Neotropic Cormorant.  Our time was limited though so the birds we did get were still great.  Some highlights/new day birds included, Zone-tailed and Gray Hawks, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Costa's Hummingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Gila Woodpecker, Bullock's and Hooded Orioles, Lark Bunting, Western Grebe, several species of waterfowl, Gray and Vermillion Flycatchers, Plumbeous Vireo, Painted Redstart, Green-tailed and Abert's Towhees, and Pyrruloxia.
Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Paton's Yard, Patagonia, AZ
Zone-tailed hawk, Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, Patagonia, AZ


  1. I love that Violet-crowned shot, nice one. What's that Zone-tail holding?

    1. Thanks! We weren't ever that sure what it was holding. I'm pretty sure it's a mammal and possibly a squirrel. In some other photos it looks like there may be a busy tail hanging down. Can't really make it out all that well in any of my photos, though.