Southeast Arizona
15-18 May 2009
 by Henry Detwiler

A long weekend trip with friends Al & Helga to find some regional AZ specialties--we saw the target birds and some awesome reptiles, too!

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos. border  


Suzanne, the girls, and I arrived in Madera Canyon around 8:30 p.m.and were greeted by calling Elf & Whiskered Screech-Owls. Later on, we saw the Elf Owls flying about, and I got this photo next to their nest in the telephone pole. We also heard a Whip-poor-will calling in the distance.

e;f pw;
Elf Owl

acorn woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

wild turkey
Wild Turkey

On Saturday morning we met Al & Helga, who'd spent the previous day birding Mt. Lemmon. Wild Turkeys were strutting about and gobbling on the lodge grounds. We started down at Proctor Road, where we missed the Varied Bunting, but saw some fine-looking Summer & Western Tanagers.

Moving up-canyon to Madera Kubo, we were greeted by the singing Flame-colored Tanager. It took a while, but if eventually came down for a quick taste of jelly. Other beautiful birds in the immediate area were Acorn & Arizona Woodpeckers, Hepatic Tanager, and Hooded Oriole.

flame colored tanager
Flame-colored Tanager

arizona woodpecker
Arizona Woodpecker

We made a quick stop at Florida Wash, which turned up numerous Bell's Vireos and a few Rufous-winged Sparrows. It was already pretty toasty outside, so we didn't linger in the sun.

rufous-winged sparrow
Rufous-winged Sparrow

california quail
Gambel's Quail

We drove through Box Canyon to the Paton's, where we enjoyed Blue Grosbeak, Northern Cardinals, Lark Sparrows, and the hummingbirds: Anna's, Black-chinned, and Violet-crowned. In the lot next door this Gambel's Quail was calling from a wood pile.
A short stop at Kino Springs before dinner turned up a young Gray Hawk and this cooperative Canyon Towhee. We had no luck with the Tropical Kingbirds, but did turn up a pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks lurking in the tall grass. canyon towhee
Canyon Towhee

vermilion flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatcher

We also found a couple of beautiful red birds: Vermilion Flycatchers and a resplendent Summer Tanager.

summer tanager
Summer Tanager


five-striped sparrow
Five-striped Sparrow

Soon we had a pair in view, and that was followed in due order by a pair of Varied Buntings farther down the gulch!

Early on Sunday morning, we all piled in our cars and headed down Ruby Road to seek our targets. Our first stop was in a wooded oak-grassland valley, where a short walk flushed a pair of Montezuma Quail. Driving on to California Gulch, we hiked down from the old road from the north end. Even before we hit the first stream crossing, we could hear the Five-striped Sparrows calling from the hillside.

five-striped sparrow
Five-striped Sparrow

brown vine snake
Brown Vine Snake

We stopped for a short but productive hike in Sycamore Canyon on the way back to Nogales. Another pair of Montezuma Quail flushed from the side of the trail, and along the stream, I picked up our first Brown Vine Snake. At the base of the canyon walls, Rufous-crowned Sparrows hopped about in the brush.

rufous-capped sparrow
Rufous-crowned Sparrow

We dropped the girls off at the motel, and then continued our search for avian delights at Rio Rico Ponds. Here we finally found a Tropical Kingbird, along with a flock of 22 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks enjoying a brief rain shower.

black bellied whistling duck
Black-bellied Whistling Duck

ryellow warbler
Yellow Warbler

Along the DeAnza Trail adjacent to the San Pedro River we saw a number of beautiful Yellow Warblers.

ladder-backed woodpecker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker

I did a quick jig and jumped way clear of the snake. Al said he'd never see me move so fast!

As we were heading back through a cow pasture to the car, we watched a pair of Lucy's Warblers harassing this Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Then, on my next step, I felt something moving beneath my left foot as I lowered it. Looking down, I saw this Western Diamondback peering up at me!

western diamondback
Western Diamondback

bronzed cowbird
Bronzed Cowbird

On Monday morning we stopped at Blue Haven Road south of the Paton's to look for the Sinaloa Wren. We heard it sing a few nice clear snippets of song, but never got so much as a glance. This cowbird with a deformed beak was perched across from the Paton's place. After a quick stop there, we hightailed it home trough the 110-degree desert! Can't wait to return.

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