Monday, July 27, 2020

The Second Spring

This Northern Bobwhite(subspecies Masked Bobwhite) is an endemic to Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.  They disappeared from the wild when ranchers destroyed their habitat decades ago.  But with conservation efforts and a lot of volunteer work, this bird may once again make a comeback.  
This time of year in Southeastern Arizona is truly magical. It's dangerous, exciting and full of surprises.  Oh it's still hot and muggy, but the summer rains combined with shorebird migration "change" the Arizona birding into a unique third period of birding or what we call here, the Second Spring.  


Ash-throated Flycatcher
Before I get started with this week's post, I wanted to give you some information about a species that no longer lives here in Southeastern Arizona, the Masked Bobwhite(a most likely extinct-in-the wild subspecies of Northern Bobwhite).  If you live in Southeastern Arizona and would like to help bring back a species that has been extirpated from the wild, click on this link here. They are also looking for volunteers to help out with the reintroduction of these very important quail.  Here's a message from the coordinator. "We need a volunteer who can come out to the refuge and conduct general quail care (you'll be trained) on Sundays. We need a real commitment to do it every Sunday. It's about an hour worth of work but could be more if you also want to help with vegetation management. If you're interested please contact Stan Culling stan_culling@fws.gov 520-823-4251 x103 Thank you!"

the parent female Hooded Oriole feeds her young one
Now onto this week's exciting times. These next 3 months of birding in Southeastern Arizona are some of the hardest and yet most rewarding times in the state.  Cassin's Sparrows begin nesting here as the monsoon rains hit the grasslands. Several other species are actively nesting like the Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Buff-collared Nightjars.  Meanwhile bird species like the Lucy's Warblers, Bell's Vireos and Hooded Orioles are feeding their young!  It's really a complicated range of birding here! One group is just beginning to nest while another is feeding young!

Costa's Hummingbird
On top of that, hummingbirds are beginning to move through the area.  The first hummingbirds to move south are the male Rufous Hummers.  Other species like the Plain-capped Starthroat also pop in for a visit.  They aren't breeding here, but they are searching for food sources.  Local hummingbirds like the Costa's Hummingbird above are finishing up with their nesting season.  It's really fascinating stuff and makes Arizona birding interesting and different from other parts of the country. 

Black-tailed Prairie Dog
 This past week, I wanted to do some photography work.  I headed out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to check out the wild birds breeding on their grounds.  It did not disappoint! 


Also of note?  If you're into reptiles and amphibians, this is the time of the year to visit. The rains, along with that heat, gets these critters moving.  So while you're watching birds, enjoy the herp show going on. 

Desert Spiny Lizard
 During this time of year, birders need to be careful with torrential rains, flooding and running washes.  They also need to bring water with them at all times.  If there's an issue with your vehicle, you want to make sure you have an extra larger container of water with you. 

Rufous Hummingbird
 I surveyed ONLY 2 places this past week, The Desert Museum and Agua Caliente Park.  This means that I spent an hour to four at these locations.  I made other smaller stops from my vehicle.  Those counts were 20 minutes or less. These stops are primarily to check for migrating shorebirds. (And to build up my strength again to hike longer distances)


Couch's Spadefoot
 Due to the Covid pandemic, I have been working almost every day in my yard/garden.  It has been incredibly rewarding.  Soon our butterfly show will also begin.  We've put in these amazing pollinator plants around the property and it has increased our hummingbird and butterfly numbers in Midtown Tucson.  I am really excited about August and September as we see butterfly numbers really increase.  I've created little butterfly islands to make the watering easier.  


I'm a huge turtle, toad and frog fan.  During an important birding quest this week, I observed lots of amazing frogs and toads come alive and begin to breed in the rain puddles.  It's incredible that we have such diverse amphibian life in our desert.  Every time I see a frog or toad here, I just think about how crazy it is that they can survive in this climate. 

A Sonoran Toad actively feeds from a colony of ants nearby
 Now onto this week's chase.  Staying closer to home this year in Pima County, I've been trying to find new bird species within the county and add new ticks.  Well, another interesting species, the Painted Bunting makes their way into Arizona during the monsoon season.  They aren't common but it isn't unusual to find one here during these next 3 months. They're often far away and difficult to see in the shade.  But I can now say that I have a decent photo of this bird.  It's just taken me a few years. 


naked eye view
We had stunning close up views of this bird casually feeding off the roof of the visitor's center and around the nearby garden below.  The bird was very actively feeding which leads me to believe that he will be a one day wonder.  


the western subspecies of a male Painted Bunting
What does an Arizona sunset look like during monsoon?  This is looking out our window towards the Catalina mountains. This is not an exaggerated picture.  Monsoon is truly a unique Arizona treat.  We hope for more rain this year.  August usually provides us the much needed precipitation. 


I refuse to sit and watch the world pass me by.  While we "recovered" from Covid and are no longer contagious, we still experience some moments of coughing and fatigue.  During my trek with a friend to the desert museum, I wore my mask, walked around for 4 hours in the humid temps and almost passed out.  I felt terrible.  Thankfully, my friend understood that I needed to go home.  Once I got home, I crashed and slept several hours.  I let my body recharge a few days and tried it again.  The second time was better, but when I overdo it, I do a little coughing....and sleep:)  Apparently this is normal.  This is yet another reason why people need to wear masks, wash hands and social distance.  It takes forever to feel better. 

Burrowing Owl
As we approach the month of August, I plan for several new birds for that life list.  Plan A and B were taken away from me.  But Plan C has been one I've been waiting to take off the shelf and dust.  Hopefully it will happen.  Stay safe and until next time....

19 comments:

  1. Beautiful birds I like how a mummy bird feeds her little bird child.

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  2. Hello, Chris

    I hope the Masked Bobwhite makes a comeback. The birding sounds wonderful there, I would love to see all the different hummingbirds. The Hooded Oriole photos is awesome. Love the cute frogs and the Burrowing Owl. The Painted Bunting is a beautiful bird. Take care and stay safe. I hope you have a great Plan C. Have a great day!

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    1. Me too Eileen. We've had good results for the first time in a couple years. There was a disease in the breeding pens that had to be taken care of and then there was the issue of releasing them in the wild not aware of predators. But they are trying something new this year and I think it's brilliant. 20 percent of the released birds have survived in the wild. The habitat has been reclaimed form the ranches for 2 decades so they have miles and miles to spread out in this pristine habitat. I'm crossing my fingers but I am hopeful we'll make things better. We have really worked hard as a group of people to restore Arizona and make it a better place. I think the state on a whole is doing a great job MINUS the water rights fight happening. But people don't want their riparian areas affected nor do they want the ugly mining stains on the landscape. Our state is changing and I'm loving it.

      Plan C was cancelled. So it's house project money now:) You do the same!!! Hugs. Chris

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  3. wow that is a lot of birding going on! great photos.

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  4. Odd to think of Arizona getting monsoons as always think of it as only desert-like. Heating up and very dry here so spending time enjoying hte birds in our back garden. You get some beautiful birds coming through. Glad you are getting out and about.

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    1. I know. It was really strange for me as well when I moved here....2 decades ago?!!! Oh gosh, writing that is weird. Take care of yourself and thank you for stopping by!

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  5. Your post makes me wish I had paid better attention to wildlife when I grew up in Nevada. Now I live in the east and the wildlife is mostly different from yours. Enjoyed looking at all your wonderful photos. Wishing you well in your recovery from Covid.

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    1. You still can Yvonne. Everywhere I've gone on this planet is full of amazing wildlife. But we all have those regrets. I have quite a few of them. Thank you for the well wishes. Be safe and enjoy your week! Chris

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  6. Hola Chris, entiendo que habéis sufrido los devastadores efectos del Covid19... Siento que lo hayáis pasado tan mal y que aún sigáis bajo los efectos... Es un virus maldito... Nosotros en España y en especial Madrid hemos sufrido una situación muy crítica sobre todo a partir de Febrero... A día de hoy siguen los rebrotes y sigue la gente contagiándose de manera otra vez alarmante... Yo no se si fui una de las primeras en contagiarme a mediados de Enero, porque tuve una gripe muy mala, y extraña para mi entender... Lo pasé muy mal... Igual tuve Covid19... He tenido mucho miedo durante el confinamiento... Y lo sigo teniendo.. Pero hay que vivir... Ya hemos empezado a salir al campo y a fotografiar, fui con mi madre unos días al mar, qué alegría, aunque con mucha precaución... Esperemos que no volver al confinamiento... Te envío un abrazo muy fuerte.. Y espero que pronto volváis a la normalidad... Memories from Spain...

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    1. Hace más que un mes que entró el virus dentro de nuestros cuerpos. Y sufrimos mucho durante la primera semana. Ahora, el dolor y la tos es menos. Y de acuerdo....es un virus horrible. Es super posible que te contiagiaste en enero. Tenía algunos amigos aquí que sufrieron algo muy extraño por 4-5 días y eso es precisamente la duración de este virus. Gracias Ana y muchos abrazos. Estoy alegre de que estes mejor y bien. Es un tiempo difícil para todos nosotros, especialmente para nosotros. Queremos estar afuera viendo buenísimas cosas. Ahora estamos recurperandonos lentamente. Gracias a dios no tuvimos que irnos al hospital como otras personas. Espero que un día podamos buscar aves en España. O aquí en Arizona despues de esta pandemica. Abrazos de Arizona. PD. Odio este presidente aquí. Es parte del problema. Espero que haya cambios en noviembre!

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  7. Hace más que un mes que entró el virus dentro de nuestros cuerpos. Y sufrimos mucho durante la primera semana. Ahora, el dolor y la tos es menos. Y de acuerdo....es un virus horrible. Es super posible que te contiagiaste en enero. Tenía algunos amigos aquí que sufrieron algo muy extraño por 4-5 días y eso es precisamente la duración de este virus. Gracias Ana y muchos abrazos. Estoy alegre de que estes mejor y bien. Es un tiempo difícil para todos nosotros, especialmente para nosotros. Queremos estar afuera viendo buenísimas cosas. Ahora estamos recurperandonos lentamente. Gracias a dios no tuvimos que irnos al hospital como otras personas. Espero que un día podamos buscar aves en España. O aquí en Arizona despues de esta pandemica. Abrazos de Arizona. PD. Odio este presidente aquí. Es parte del problema. Espero que haya cambios en noviembre!

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  8. What wonderful images of these gorgeous birds! Hummingbirds are so beautiful as are your other photos. Thanks for sharing them. I do hope you both get fully recovered soon.

    I'm so happy to see your link at 'My Corner of the World' this week!! Thanks for linking up with us.

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    1. Of course! Thanks for hosting! have a great weekend and week ahead! Thanks for the well wishes. Chris

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  9. Gorgeous photos as always - the prairie dogs are so sweet. Good luck on the butterfly garden - look forward to seeing some photos of the butterflies. Do hope you recover fully soon Christ.

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    1. They are pretty cute. Thank you! I can't wait. I don't moth like you do but I really enjoy the fluttering around the property. we're almost there fully recovered. I never want to feel this way again. It's nasty!

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  10. Take care. Give yourself a little grace. Our city now has a mask mandate. My hubby and I have been wearing them in most places since late April. Our issue here is there are still some large events like a 3 night rodeo this weekend that is getting packed. Worried we'll have a lot of cases soon.
    Your photo of Rufous Hummingbird is my favorite.
    Take care!!

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    1. That's how it began here. They should be smart and cancel that event. It will pass. They are NOT being smart. We have death here in great numbers and terrible sickness spreading. No one took it seriously. And now, no one is joking about it. School I think will be cancelled for the whole semester until the vaccine is released. It's pretty serious stuff. Take care!

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