Memorial Day Weekend, Southeast Arizona, 2014
by Henry Detwiler

A fine weekend of photographing birds with Suzanne in southeast Arizona

116 species seen  Click here for bird checklist

Black-and-white Warbler

Our first good bird, A RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, was right where we'd spent the night, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. From there we headed south to Madera Canyon and birded the Proctor Road area. Suzanne heard a BLACK AND WHITE WARBLER, which we soon located in a large mesquite, where she snapped this awesome shot!summer tanager

It was a treat to see SUMMER & WESTERN TANAGERS, BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER, and VARIED BUNTING. This SUMMER TANAGER was in a tree along the trail from the Proctor Road parking lot.

Up the canyon at the Santa Rita Lodge we photographed lots of beautiful birds. Among them were both BLUE & BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS, MEXICAN JAY, and ARIZONA WOODPECKER.



Broad-billed Hummingbird



As always, the hummingbirds in both spots were spectacular, brilliant BROAD-BILLED, BLACK-CHINNED, and MAGNIFICENT.

gray hawk




In Box Canyon we saw and heard CANYON and CACTUS WRENS. At the Paton's the activity was high, and we got some fine looks (and photos) of CURVE-BILLED THRASHER, LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER, BRONZED COWBIRD, LARK SPARROW, 2 YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS, a gorgeous male VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD, and a GRAY HAWK across the road. Plus, we met up with our friend Deb Finch, who we hadn't seen in a couple of years!


Northern Pygmy-Owl


We camped that night at the west end of Gardner Canyon, and were treated to a symphony of night birds: several WHISKERED SCREECH-OWLS, an ELF OWL, two GREAT HORNED OWLS, a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL, and two COMMON POORWILLS. The NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL started calling at 0430; when it was bright enough, at 0530, we tracked it down and snapped a few pics.


We hiked along Cave Creek for a while, and then worked our way down Gardner Canyon in search of MONTEZUMA QUAIL to photograph. We flushed a female, but it was too fast for us--bird wins!




Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanaager

I've never seen as many Hepatic Tanagers in one location before. They were one of the first species to sing at dawn, and we kept hearing and seeing them throughout the day. A handsome bird with a beautiful song. Take a look at these two fine photos by Suzanne.


At the Patagonia Roadside Rest, we had excellent views of a posing THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD. The hillside was alive with PHAINOPEPLA, LUCY'S WARBLER, and a couple of CANYON WRENS. Above us, WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS circled and twittered. A short run up Flux Canyon Road gave us great photo ops for both BLACK-THROATED SPARROW and VARIED BUNTING.




Back in Gardner Canyon we spent our second night farther down the road, in the heart of quail country. A BLACK-CHINNED SPARROW, ROCK WREN, and CANYON WREN called from the mountainside across from our site. Whiskered Screech-Owl


A WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL camped out with us, singing all night. Early the next morning we spotted two male MONTEZUMA QUAIL at a cattle watering hole, but they too disappeared before we could get any shots off. BOTTERI'S SPARROWS were singing in the grasslands, along with hordes of CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS.


Plumbeous Vireo





A quick trip over to Mt Lemmon put us there mid-morning. Along the Willow Canyon Canyon Road we found nesting PLUMBEOUS VIREOS and HOUSE WRENS. The vireo was in a beautiful cup nest in a low oak, the wren was in a cavity of a pine tree.

House Wren






A BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER called incessantly from a hillside, as did a GREATER PEWEE. We got wonderful looks at the flycatcher, but it never posed long enough for any good shots. The pewee remained mostly hidden up on the hillside, giving us only fleeting glimpses. PINE SISKINS called and flew overhead as YELLOW-EYED JUNCOS fed underfoot. Along Incinerator Ridge Road we had what was likely the prettiest bird of the trip--a gorgeous RED-FACED WARBLER.

Up at the Iron Door Restaurant we watched BROAD-TAILED and MAGNIFICENT HUMMERS as we ate a tasty lunch--and then it was back downhill and back to summer in Yuma.

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