Southeast Arizona Specialties, July 2014
by Henry Detwiler

Two full days of fine target birding with Scott!

91 species seen  Click here for bird checklist

Scott Fitgerald

Scott and I started our quest for target birds on Thursday evening, after driving down from the Phoenix airport. We walked along Proctor Road listening for nightjars, and soon had our Buff-collared Nightjar, along with the much more common Common Poorwill.Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher


An early start the next morning saw us patrolling Madera Creek above and below the main picnic area for an out-of-season Rufous-backed Robin, and then greeting lots of hummingbird species at the Santa Rita Lodge. The robin was nowhere to be found, but we did see and hear several vocal Sulfur-bellied Flycatchers.



Dozens of Broad-billed and Black-chinned swarmed around the feeders at the lodge, occasionally joined by a Magnificent or Anna's. And several times we were treated to the rare Plain-capped Starthroat. After a few hours with no sight of our quarry--the White-eared Hummingbird, we pressed on to the Huachuca Mountains in search of our next specialty.



Magnificent Hummingbird

We arrived at Mary Jo's Bed and Breakfast (and magnificent feeding station) with a carry-out lunch just after 11:30 a.m. Not thirty seconds after we sat down to eat and watch, a handsome male Lucifer Hummingbird graced one of the mesquite feeders. We ate our lunch, visited with Mary Jo for a bit, and then paid a visit to Tony Batiste in his fine yard. Blue-throated HumminbirdThen it was back to Madera Canyon to continue our search for the White-ear.


We heard that someone had spotted our hummer at Madera Kubo, so we drove up there and began another stake-out. We added more Magnificent Hummingbirds and our first Blue-throated Hummingbird, but no sign of any bird with a big fat white eye stripe.








A nice surprise was two Whiskered Screech-Owl babies poking their heads out of a big knot in a sycamore tree--the same tree where Suzanne and I had seen an adult Whiskered Screech-Owl the week before.

Whiskered Screech-OwlWhiskered Screech-Owl










Five-striped SparrowVaried Bunting


On Saturday morning we blazed a trail for California Gulch, arriving shortly before 8:00 a.m. Even before reaching the bottom of the canyon we heard the first of several Five-striped Sparrows singing from the hillside next to us. As we walked along the dry creek bed we spied a few more of these extreme southern-Arizona visitors, as well as a good showing of Varied Buntings. We had a final good look at our first bird just before we began our hike up out of the canyon.



Then it was back north to Madera Canyon for one final search. Persistence paid off, and not five minutes into his vigil, Scott scored with a good look as the White-eared Hummingbird came into feed at one of the small nectar feeders at the back side of Madera Kubo. Thanks, Cora!

Black-headed Grosbeak


We hiked some in the upper canyon, and spent more time at Santa Rita Lodge, but didn't find any more rarities. Fortunately, the residents are always great to see, such as this Black-headed Grosbeak. Santa Rita Mountains

Late in the afternoon the monsoons really started building up, and before long the entire range was inundated. After hiding out under the tarps at the Santa Rita Lodge, we finally cried "Uncle" and headed back to the lowlands.




The next morning I dropped Scott off at the Phoenix airport, where he headed back north to a nice cool, pleasant summer's day in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, I headed back to a nice scorching day in Yuma. Another fine birding weekend had come to a close.

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