White-eared Hummingbird


Huachuca Mts. & other SE AZ birding magnets
18-21 Aug 2006
by Henry Detwiler

Carol, David, and I toured some of the hummingbird hot-spots in SE Arizona, and also did a little "owling", "sparrowing", and "flycatchering".  In between the birdwatching we looked at butterflies, reptiles, and a few mammals.
species--bird list is at the bottom of the page
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.   


I met Carol & David right at 10:00am at the Tucson airport.  We picked up the rental van, loaded up my scope & bags, and headed out to see some birds.  Our first stop was the Hwy 80 bridge over the San Pedro River just south of Benson.  Ten Mississippi Kites of varying ages perched in a couple of large, partially dead cottonwoods.  At that stop we also saw our first Gila Woodpecker, Lesser Goldfinches, and a female Vermilion Flycatcher--a great start!

Huachuca Mushrooms

Carol & David

From there we headed south to Carr Canyon in the Huachuca Mts.  We were welcomed by Mexican Jays, Western Wood Pewee, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Hepatic Tanager feeding along the flowing creek.  These orange fungi had sprouted following the summer rains.

We eased up the rocky mountainside and searched for the Aztec Thrush in the large choke cherry across from the Reef Townsite Campground.  We found Yellow-eyed Junco, American Robin, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Hermit Thrush, and lots of Spotted Towhees--but no Aztec Thrush.

Back down the mountain we went, and shifted over a couple of canyons to Mary Jo Balator's B&B to watch the first of several hummingbird shows.  Among the many species buzzing around, we finally had excellent looks at Lucifer Hummingbird--a SE AZ specialty.

Magnificent Hummingbird


In the grasslands along Ramsey Canyon we first heard, and then spotted, Cassin's and Botteri's Sparrows.  Here also was  our first Greater Roadrunner.  Our next stop was the premier hummingbird viewing spot in the nation--Beatty's Miller Canyon Guest Ranch.  We visited both the Public and CAS viewing areas.  The CAS was the more interesting, with high numbers of Broad-tailed Hummers whizzing about.  And of course, beautiful male White-eared, Magnificent, and Blue-throated Hummingbirds. 

White-eared Hummingbird 


Pipevine Swallowtail

This striking swallowtail was but one of the many butterflies.  We eventually tore ourselves away and headed back to Ramsey Canyon.


Broad-tailed Hummingbird

At the Ramsey Canyon Nature Conservancy Preserve we hiked a bit, watched (and heard) our first Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, identified this spiny lizard from the new AZ Reptiles & Amphibians field guide, visited the feeders at the adjoining B&B (where we picked up our first Violet-crowned Hummingbird), and then scurried back to our van as the thunderstorm broke.


Yarrow's Spiny Lizard

Painted Redstart

The Painted Redstart is usually the most commonly spotted warbler in SE AZ.  It is both colorful and has a pretty little rolling song.  This trip was no exception, and we saw them at most of our canyon-land stops.  This individual was feeding in close proximity to another redstart along the main trail at Ramsey Canyon.  At times it came within a few feet of us, but never pausing long enough for a good photo.

Our next stop after a deli lunch break was Ft. Huachuca.  At Scheelite Canyon we donned our rain jackets and started the climb up along the creek in search of the famed Spotted Owls.  A Canyon Wren and some Bridled Titmice called in the distance, but the rain had really quieted the area down.  Then, a mere 1/4 up the trail, as I was adjusting my jacket, David called out "Look up to your right!"  And there it was--a magnificent Spotted Owl, slightly ruffled looking, surveying the humans who had invaded its territory.  After enjoying the marvelous views and snapping a few pics, we headed back downhill.  Several minutes later we heard barking, and then quick as a flash, a bulldog and a second half-breed were at our knees, barking furiously. 


Garden Canyon Pictograph

Spotted Owl in Scheelite Canyon

Almost simultaneously, we heard a guy running headlong down the trail and calling to his dogs.  After a tense couple of seconds he reached us, leashed the beasts, and apologized profusely. Up the canyon, the pictograph site offered  only ancient painted eagle  representations.  Sawmill Canyon was also very quiet.  Not until we reached the low grasslands did we start seeing birds again: Violet-green Swallows, Blue Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Canyon Towhee, and a Turkey in a tree.

Following a tasty sushi dinner at Tokino's, we headed back to Carr Canyon for some owling.  Poorwills called at the mouth of the canyon, and after parking past the stream crossing we head a single Elf Owl, and subsequently a Western Screech-Owl.  But no amount of searching or patience revealed these birds, or prompted them to call again.  I caught several glimpses of a Ringtail, but with no more owls to chase, we headed home.


On the way to Sonoita Creek, early Sunday morning, we had some nice birds in the grasslands.  A Cassin's Sparrow posed well, as did an early Lark Bunting.  At the Patton's we dropped in to get excellent  looks at the resident Violet-crowned Hummingbirds.  This Gila Woodpecker also flew in for a photographic opportunity.

Gila Woodpecker

 Tiny Checkerspot

At the Patagonia Roadside Rest we missed the Thick-billed Kingbird, but did see a number of beautiful butterflies, including dozens of these Tiny Checkerspots.

On to Page 2, Kino Spring and Madera Canyon

SE AZ, 18 - 21 Aug 2006
# Species
1 Great Blue Heron
2 Great Egret
3 Snowy Egret
4 Green Heron
5 Black-crowned Night Heron
6 Mallard
7 Cinnamon Teal
8 Mississippi Kite
9 Cooper's Hawk
10 Swainson's Hawk
11 Zone-tailed Hawk
12 Red-tailed Hawk
13 American Kestrel
14 Wild Turkey
15 Gambel's Quail
16 Montezuma's Quail
17 Common Moorhen
18 American Coot
19 Killdeer
20 Black-necked Stilt
21 Lesser Yellowlegs
22 Least Sandpiper
23 Black Vulture
24 Turkey Vulture
25 White-winged Dove
26 Mourning Dove
27 Inca Dove
28 Common Ground-Dove
29 Yellow-billed Cuckoo
30 Greater Roadrunner
31 Western Screech Owl
32 Whiskered Screech Owl
33 Elf Owl
34 Spotted Owl
35 Magnificent Hummingbird
36 Lucifer Hummingbird
37 White-eared Hummingbird
38 Berylline Hummingbird
39 Broad-billed Hummingbird
40 Violet-crowned Hummingbrd
41 Blue-throated Hummingbird
42 Black-chinned Hummingbird
43 Anna's Hummingbird
44 Calliope Hummingbird
45 Broad-tailed Hummingbird
46 Rufous Hummingbird
47 Belted Kingfisher
48 Elegant Trogon
49 Arizona Woodpecker
50 Acorn Woodpecker
51 Gila Woodpecker
52 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
53 Northern Flicker
54 Buff-breasted Flycatcher
55 Western Wood Pewee
56 Pacific Slope Flycatcher
57 Black Phoebe
58 Eastern Phoebe
59 Say's Phoebe
60 Vermilion Flycatcher
61 Brown-crested Flycatcher
62 Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
63 Cassin's Kingbird
64 Western Kingbird
# Species
65 N. Beardless Tyrannulet
66 Loggerhead Shrike
67 Bell's Vireo
68 Hutton's Vireo
69 Western Scrub Jay
70 Common Raven
71 Chihuahuan Raven
72 Purple Martin
73 Violet-green Swallow
74 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
75 Bank Swallow
76 Cliff Swallow
77 Barn Swallow
78 Bridled Titmouse
79 Verdin
80 Bushtit
81 White-breasted Nuthatch
82 Brown Creeper
83 Cactus Wren
84 Canyon Wren
85 Bewick's Wren
86 House Wren
87 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
88 Hermit Thrush
89 American Robin
90 Northern Mockingbird
91 Curve-billed Thrasher
92 European Starling
93 Phainopepla
94 Red-faced Warbler
95 Wilson's Warbler
96 Yellow-breasted Chat
97 Painted Redstart
98 Common Yellowthroat
99 Black-throated Gray Warbler
100 Virginia's Warbler
101 Yellow Warbler
102 Hepatic Tanager
103 Summer Tanager
104 Western Tanager
105 Spotted Towhee
106 Canyon Towhee
107 Abert's Towhee
108 Rufous-winged Sparrow
109 Rufous-crowned Sparrow
110 Chipping Sparrow
111 Lark Sparrow
112 Black-throated Sparrow
113 Lark Bunting
114 Song Sparrow
115 Yellow-eyed Junco
116 Cardinal
117 Pyrrhuloxia
118 Black-headed Grosbeak
119 Blue Grosbeak
120 Lazuli Bunting
121 Red-winged Blackbird
122 Eastern Meadowlark
123 Great-tailed Grackle
124 Brown-headed Cowbird
125 Bullock's Oriole
126 House Finch
127 Lesser Goldfinch
128 House Sparrow

Photos Henry Detwiler