Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Petrified Forest National Park

I had never been to the Petrified Forest National Park.   It didn't sound very interesting to me, but this park had a bird I needed to get on my lifelist.....the Scaled Quail. For rock people, I imagine this is a little piece of heaven.  Just don't steal any of the rocks or you'll go to hell. The park rangers asked us, "Do you have any rocks in your vehicle?"  I thought to myself, "Yes.  They're all over my car floor." But I figured out quickly what she was asking and replied, "No."  Then I asked her a question.  "Have any good birds been seen here lately?"  She shrugged her shoulders and said simply, "I only know things about rocks. But I can phone a friend at the Rainbow Lodge."  Wait?!!  Rainbow Lodge?!!  Sounds like a fun gay bar. But then my reverie snapped back to reality.  This was Arizona.
"Hello?" asked the friendly lady on the other end.
"Oh hi there, my name is Chris and I'm a birder.  I'm just wondering if you've had any sightings of the Scaled Quail or other birds?"  Ebird has very little documentation on this park for this year which made it difficult to play detective.
The mysterious Rainbow lady answered, "Nothing lately, but there are birds around the Visitor Center." 
At this point, I said to myself, "You've got a real mystery here Chris.  Go see what there is to see.  Use your ears to locate."  Without seeing the trailer to the movie, I drove down the 28 mile road expecting the unexpected. 
Right away, I began to see birds.  Not lifebirds, but birds that allowed me closer views!  Horned Larks ruled the park. Common Ravens sat and posed for me up close.  I was just inches away from this bird!
Horned Lark
But I needed a little support and called upon King Tuzigoot for help.  And from the ancient Petrified Forest near the Crystal(Meth) Forest, he arose.  "I call upon the King to rise from these ancient trees turned rock!", I shouted. He was as majestic and as friendly as I remembered him since our last visit.  The King informed me that these rock logs were all that was left since the time of dinosaurs.  It had been a forest at one point.  But with time, the trees turned into rock and crystal....hence the name Crystal Forest.  He didn't know what Meth was.  I told him it was bad stuff and we moved on.
His eyes picked out the rock wrens jumping around on these ancient artificacts.  Very cool!  Thanks Tuzigoot!  They blended in well with their surroundings and I almost missed them!
Rock Wren
I also found birds.....on rock.  I wondered what birds once lived on these great lands. 
If that wasn't enough, we arrived at a very colorful desert on the old Rte. 66.  They weren't lying when they said this desert appeared painted.
Common ravens stole the show.  There were so many nesting pairs that I became fascinated with their behaviors on this trip.  They are extremely intelligent birds.
But the King wasn't having any of it.  "No more birds!", he said.
The Horned Lark watched.....

 ....as the King went nuts.......

.......the Common Raven flew.....
And on this day along 28 miles of glorious Arizona highway, we counted 15 species.  The Scaled Quail was a no show. This was a great and classic Arizona trek worthy of the name.

Red-tailed Hawk  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Black Phoebe  1
Say's Phoebe  5
Cassin's Kingbird  3
Common Raven  7   3 Pairs Nesting
Horned Lark  21
Rock Wren  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Brewer's Sparrow  1
Vesper Sparrow  1
Black-throated Sparrow  4
White-crowned Sparrow  4
House Finch  10
Lesser Goldfinch  4


  1. You are too funny. Seems the King allowed some birding time. I could watch the Ravens all day.

  2. Wiem , że kochasz ptaki, ale ja w takim niesamowitym miejscu chyba zapatrzyłbym się na skamieniały las i widoki, a ptaków nie widziała. Pozdrawiam.
    I know you love birds, but I think such an amazing place zapatrzyłbym the petrified forest and the views, and the birds are not seen. Yours.

  3. Wonderful, interesting post Chris and very amusing :) Love the rocks and geology - and the Horned Lark is a great bird :)

  4. I love your explanation for "meth" :-)
    I only remember the Petrified Forest for the wind and the black birds... and chasing the kids too :-)

  5. I love that place up there. I need to go back up and spend a day or two.

  6. the horned lark would thrill me. what a gorgeous area! love the geodes. my kinda place. i love rocks.

  7. Great photos Chris. The horned lark is awesome. It looks like he is wearing a crown.

  8. An interesting place, that horned lark is beautiful, but the rocks are quite amazing.

  9. What a wonderful adventure. Many years ago I visited the Painted Desert and Petrified forest but what a pity I wasn't a birder then. You do see some wonderful birds in your travels!

  10. Chris, Great posting today. I have been to the Painted Desert, and other areas out that way. It is so different than here on the shores of Lake Michigan with such abundant water so near. And yes, here we do have gay bars! None called Rainbow Lodge either.

  11. Hi Chris, We went to the Petrified Forest in 2011 (for the first time) and loved it... BUT-- I wasn't looking for birds at all --and don't think I saw any (or noticed any)... We just loved seeing all of the petrified wood and the petroglyphs. AND--the Painted Desert was awesome also... We'll have to go back sometime when I can looks for birds too!!!

  12. Great photos and I like the way you have told of your day's activities. Even if you didn't get the bird you wanted you still got a good list for the day.

  13. That horned lark is a great capture - what a stunning little guy.

  14. Cool place. I like rocks. The King was having fun.

  15. They will be there next time! Nice story.

    Strange that you said you need to go to the coast - my next trip is to central Australia - you go to the sea, I go to the desert!

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW.

    Stewart M - Melbourne.

  16. What a wonderous tale! Loved it...great sightings of birds, rocks and loads of other grand wonders!!!!! What a day!!!!! ;)


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