Sunday, April 8, 2018

March Madness

Hello everyone!  First I'd like to apologize to my readers for not keeping up with the comment section.  It has been a very busy month with visitors and birds.  My schedule booked up in March fast and that was when I realized that I needed to write things down on a calendar:)

Hooded Oriole
Somehow I manage a full time job while getting all this other stuff done.  And I wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world. 

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
April and May are also packed with a busy schedule as we get ready for our huge fundraising event for Tucson Audubon, THE BIG DAY! The Wrenegades will once again join together and search for as many bird species as we can in one day to raise money for Southern Arizona's birds and the protection of their habitats.  Sara Pike is one of the fabulous team members and donations can be made here

Rivoli's Hummingbird
I'm also excited about several guests coming to visit this month and next as we find as many of their birds as we can for their life lists.  Then it'll be on to San Carlos, Mexico for some ocean birding.  Our summer trek will be a surprise. It'll be interesting to see where we end up since we haven't planned anything concrete yet:)

A Steller's Jay knows an opportunity when it see one.  But do these people know?
 But in the meantime.  I had a blast with my friend Kristen, her daughter Kayla and Kelly.  They did some fun hiking around Northern and Southern Arizona.  I wish they had more time.  Both are park rangers and LOVE to hike and see what there is to see.  

Steller's Jay
We had a beautiful visit up in Northern Arizona at Walnut Canyon National Monument. We did some great hiking around the area and found lots of excellent birds in the process. 

Montezuma's Castle is one of the many historic and beautiful national monuments of Arizona
 I was paying attention to the birds while they enjoyed the historic cliff dwellings of the ancient people.  We kept an ebird checklist and Kelly and Kristen were able to add new birds to their lifelist. 

We headed down to Montezuma's Castle near the Prescott/Sedona area and Kelly found this *almost* hidden Common Black Hawk along the riparian area.  It is nesting here.  And from the information I've gathered from ebird and the local park rangers in this area, there may be as many as TWO pairs of Black Hawks nesting along this stretch of river.  That is always encouraging news to hear.  This isn't always an easy hawk to spy in Arizona outside of migration. 

Common Black Hawk
Before their arrival, we headed to Ashurst Lake outside of Flagstaff to do a waterbird count.  Ashurst Lake is great for gulls and other shorebirds migrating through the area.  It's also a somewhat dependable area for the very nomadic Pinyon Jays. 

Ashurst Lake
During our visit, we watched a juvenile Bald Eagle go after an Osprey with food.  In fact, Bald Eagles are kind of like sky pirates:) However, this Osprey outmaneuvered the Eagle. 

Juvenile Bald Eagle goes after an Osprey
Another great hotspot near Flagstaff is the Kachina Wetlands.  Here we counted sparrows and ducks during a nice walk around the area. 

Kayla looks at frogs
The birding in Flagstaff isn't like birding Southern Arizona, but it's still fun.  There are several bird species you can add here that you can't in other areas.  During our visit, we heard the unmistakable drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker (which I wasn't expecting to find so early in the year nor in this area).  Thanks to Kristen, she pointed out the loud rapid drum.  The bird only did it one other time and from high up a Ponderosa Pine.

A gorgeous Savannah Sparrow

We checked other spots and it was very pleasant. One area that I'd really like to explore is Humboldt Peak which is VERY high and holds a few specialty birds.  My nemesis continues to be the Dusky Grouse. 

Then we headed down to Southern Arizona and while it was hot, it was great to be back here. Migrating birds never looked so good. 

Black-chinned Hummingbird
There are lots of Hummingbirds. 

And that "secretive" American Bittern at Sweetwater. 

And lots of crested and colorful birds. 

This male Northern Cardinal below was very vocal and hopped around me as I did a count at Sweetwater Wetlands. 

Shy birds were out and about walking around reeds. 

An outed Sora
One day we had an amazingly cold morning full of rain and wind.  It was beautiful!  The birds were so active!

Abert's Towhee
Birds are wonderful.  As I approach final exams with my students, I feel the stress and anxiety that they feel.  Our walks are very relaxing. And necessary:)

After the ladies left, I had some alone time and went to Agua Caliente Park after a stressful day at work to just connect with nature.  During that evening, I just listened to the bird song and followed their voices along the trail. 

Bullock's Oriole
If I ever lose my eyesight, and I hope I never do, it's my ears that will navigate my birding.  My blog will revert to audio sounds instead of photos.  I love bird song so much and it's what I use to find birds.  Without my ears, I'd be lost. 

A Gray Hawk banks to the side
If they whisper a cheep or throw me a chip note, I will find them. Rattles make it too easy:) Recently, I was with a friend in a wash where we spotted a well known and very chatty birder.  I've never seen birders scatter as much as they do when they see this individual.  It's okay to talk while you bird but NOT all the time.  How in the world will you find birds when your talking?  They'll all fly off!  Anyhow, we tried our best to dodge away from this individual.  It didn't work:(

A Common Yellowthroat stops for a moment to reflect:)
It was nice to come back to Southern Arizona. 

It's also nice to not feel the pressure of finding a new life bird.  We can wander wherever we like. And find whatever it is that wants to be found. 

Louisiana Waterthrush
Some winter birds are still hanging on while others are getting ready to leave. 

Next week, we'll take you to Mt. Lemmon for the start of warbler migration. 

As we say good-bye to our wintering birds, 

We say hello to our summer residents.  We'll also get to meet lots of great people in the process. That's the adventure of birding.  Arizona birding is some of the best birding in the United States.  

Until next time......


  1. What a wonderful post and great to have gone biring with these 3 lovely ladies. Lovely selection of bird images

  2. A super post and photos. You have certainly been busy and great to see all the wildlife you have encountered.

  3. Wow a great post with some stunning photos.
    Have a good week and take care Diane


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