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March 10th, 2016
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Santa Cruz County Adventuring!

Today was a lot of fun because it was partly about finding birds, but mostly about having an adventure and exploring remote, quiet places. Starting and ending in Rio Rico, we took a circular route through the Patagonia Mountains, San Rafael Valley, Canelo Hills, Las Cienegas, and Box Canyon.

Rio Rico:

A few BLACK VULTURES were roosting at a regular spot by the Santa Cruz River.

Patagonia Mountains:

A fantastic start to the day, we encountered five MONTEZUMA QUAIL in the road – right in the middle of the road – and watched them for several minutes as they just sat there, chilling out, apparently oblivious to our presence. It was a good job that no other cars came along!

Montezuma Quail

Montezuma Quail

At Brush Hill Ranch we found PAINTED REDSTART and GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, as well as this very showy ROCK WREN.

Rock Wren

Rock Wren

Rock Wren

Painted Redstart

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

We also spotted this nest lying on the ground. It’s clearly a nest that had fallen from a large sycamore tree, but I’m not entirely sure which bird was responsible for making it.

Downed nest

San Rafael Valley:

The valley has been quiet all winter, and we were just passing through so we didn’t spend much time looking. We did see a few WESTERN MEADOWLARKS at the side of the road, but not much else.

Canelo Hills:

Again, we were just enjoying the scenery and not birding per se, but we did notice GREATER ROADRUNNER, BUSHTIT, and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW.


Las Cienegas:

A BURROWING OWL was up and about among the BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE-DOG colony.

Burrowing Owl

Black-tailed Prairie-Dog

Black-tailed Prairie-Dog

At Cottonwood Pond, a WESTERN SCREECH-OWL was calling again, while NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW, flitted over the water. The surrounding mesquites held BREWER’S, LARK and LINCOLN’S SPARROWS.

As we drove through the grassland we noted VERMILION FLYCATCHER, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, HORNED LARK, and VESPER and BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS, as well as a group of PRONGHORN.



Box Canyon:

We enjoyed the drive back along Greaterville Road and through Box Canyon, seeing AMERICAN KESTREL and PHAINOPEPLA along the way.

American Kestrel


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