Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Blues

Broad-billed Hummingbird Male
Southern Arizona is a great place to experience a new adventure every day. Today, we visit the Santa Rita Lodge in beautiful Madera Canyon. 

While I was doing my 85 minute sit, I was shocked by all the blue birds around me.  Many times, I hear people asking, "Why are our birds in North America so drab and brown?"  I suppose when compared to our tropical neighbors, the birds tend to be more brown.  But I wouldn't say drab. Perhaps they weren't looking in the right place?

Blue Grosbeak male; female is yellowish-brown
It was a cool and breezy afternoon at the benches. While I was there, I noticed several birders who were intent on finding birds.  We started speaking and I gave them the rundown on what birds could be seen here.  I told them I was looking for a Varied Bunting on this stationary count.  And they told me that they needed a Blue Grosbeak.  Together, we put our eyes to the task and teamed up.  

male Varied Bunting
As I sat there thinking about the "brown bird comments", I began to question it.  I didn't see many brown birds on this visit but I did notice a color theme for the day. Among the blues and purples and lavenders, there were Mexican Jays, Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Magnificent Hummingbirds, Varied Buntings and scads of Blue Grosbeaks. 

Mexican Jay-the jay that I am most familiar with except perhaps the Stellar's Jay.  These two birds are the most common jays for Southern Arizona birders.
I also began to think about hummingbirds since Santa Rita Lodge is known for their summer hummer fun.  Almost every hummingbird known to the US comes to their feeders except the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and a couple hummingbird species from Texas. In my yard alone, I've had 5 different species visit!

Black-chinned Hummingbird
My work is about to begin. I have spent a lot of time reading and researching for my trek into southern Mexico this summer.  This chart below shows my work on hummingbirds over the past 4 years.  I have only been able to photo document 24 of the 25 hummingbirds seen.   

The only hummingbird I have not been able to capture on camera is the Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird.  The conditions were terrible when I saw this beautiful hummer in Guatemala.  There are 356 hummingbirds in the world which means I have a lots of fun trips to plan:)  The Americas are exciting for me. I could focus my lifetime in these places and be happy. 

Top to bottom and left to right. I have many of the male species here as they are very distinct from each other. 
Rufous Hummingbird, Rufous Sabrewing, Violet-bellied, Rufous-tailed, Broad-tailed
Mountain-gem, Broad-billed, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, Lucifer, Blue-chested Hummingbirds
White-eared, Plain-capped Starthroat, Anna's, Allen's, Costa's Hummingbirds
Violet Sabrewing, Black-chinned, Long-billed Hermit, Violet-crowned, Blue-throated Hummingbirds
Magnificent, Lucifer(again:), Ruby-throated, Azure-crowned, Calliope

Here is a video from my treks around North America.  Excuse the shaky camera.  My cell phone is MUCH better with movie clips than my actual camera....but my camera can get closer to the birds.    Stay tuned for more fun.  Until next time, happy birding!

Elegant Tern at Lakeside Park in Tucson
This week's rare bird alert. We had yet another rain storm blow in this past Tuesday. On a hunch, I went to check out the same place where I found a second Least Tern for Tucson and discovered yet another great tern!  This Elegant Tern made its' way to Tucson and hung out at Lakeside Park. Normally this bird is found along the Pacific Ocean. This year is the year of terns in the Old Pueblo!  Pretty exciting stuff. 


  1. Here in this part of Texas the ruby throated variety is the ONLY hummer! At least we have other spectacular birds!

  2. Funny, but I don't consider all browns drab! So I think many brown birds are quite beautiful. ;) The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummer I have ever seen. It must be delightful to see so many varieties.

  3. I love hummingbirds in all colors. It is a pity that in us they do not. The video of the birds is sympathetic and interesting. Regards.

  4. I too sometimes think of our birds as drab and brown until a blue bird or tanager fly by. Great shots as always. Look forward to this Mexican journey.

  5. Always love your posts on hummingbirds Chris - you are so lucky to be able to see them in the wild and your own garden! Great post and I look forward to your Mexico trip :)

  6. Thats a wonderful montage of hummers! I really look forward to seeing some more one day!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne (for a few days!)

  7. Some great colors in this post, Chris, but there's nothing wrong with brown!!

    Best wishes - - - Richard

  8. Your blues are beautiful The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only hummer we see here.

  9. Chris, good thing that sign doesn't say, No Birding! You always find ways to make birding fun and educate others as well! Nice job!

  10. Hi that is a wonderful collage of man beautifulbirds and i liked the video. I don't know whether you know or not, but you can stabilise the video in YouTube

    1. Thanks Margaret. I'll check that out. I hate my shaky hands with that camera:)

  11. Oh, Chris I just love Madera Canyon...when we took our Anniversary trip, staying at Chuporosa Inn that long weekend we made so many wonderful sightings just sitting on the patio. It was amazing! We had hoped to see a Trogon and perhaps a few others, but were thrilled with the sighting we did have. My camera was very new and I wasn't sure what I was doing, either, which made my pictures less than acceptable but I did get a ton of pictures and some video as well. It was wonderful! Loved your video too!!

  12. Hi Chris, Blue is my favorite color. Especially after seeing all your pretty birds. Congrats on the rare tern sighting. Awesome photos and post. Happy birding!

  13. Very pretty birds. You have a nice collection.

  14. I wonder if the fewer there are of a bird (or anything, for that matter) the more you hold your breath in excitement when it appears. Hummingbirds are few and far between where I live. I just have to see one and think my summer's been made. :) Love the colour blue on birds, makes them even more magical.

  15. You can't beat a Hummingbird for me. Amazing shots.

  16. Of course RED is always my favourite - but in this case, I'm happy to make an exception for BLUE!

  17. love all the little hummer pics......


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