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Sparrows were front and center today among a decent winter haul of 77 species in Santa Cruz and Pima Counties, without visiting any water sites.
Rock Corral Canyon:
We saw an impressive 17 emberizid (sparrow) species today, 15 at Rock Corral Canyon alone. A Sparrow Big Day would be a lot of fun – one for the future.
I keep saying it, but this is a beautiful canyon, and one with huge birding potential. Today, it was hopping with birds!
The highlight was another brief view of a FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW, possibly two, a little further up canyon from the previous sighting, on the slope to the right just before you enter an oak grove. GPS: 31 32.875, -111 5.95. It was feeding near a few other sparrows (Rufous-crowned, Chipping) under a rock ledge, but was probably only associating with them by happenstance as they are normally solitary or in pairs.
We also found DARK-EYED JUNCOS of the usual three flavors, GREEN-TAILED, SPOTTED and CANYON TOWHEES, RUFOUS-CROWNED, RUFOUS-WINGED, CHIPPING, BLACK-CHINNED, and LINCOLN’S SPARROWS in the canyon and BREWER’S, VESPER, BLACK-THROATED and GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS on the grassy ridge as we drove out.
Non-sparrows included a pair of BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS (along with BLUE-GRAY and many BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS), RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, DUSKY FLYCATCHER, CASSIN’S and HUTTON’S VIREOS, ROCK, CANYON, HOUSE and BEWICK’S WRENS, CRISSAL THRASHER, and BLACK-THROATED GRAY and TOWNSEND’S WARBLERS.
The usual Sonoran desert species included COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD and GILDED FLICKER.
Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon:
A bunch of target species was duly ticked off at this super feeder site in just a few minutes, including WILD TURKEY, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, MEXICAN JAY, BROWN CREEPER, PAINTED REDSTART, YELLOW-EYED JUNCO, HEPATIC TANAGER, and PINE SISKIN. Thanks, Steve!
We didn’t get into the canyon until mid-afternoon and it was extremely quiet, with just HAMMOND’S FLYCATCHER, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, PAINTED REDSTART, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW and a nice flock of WESTERN BLUEBIRDS worth a mention.
Queen’s Creek Veteran’s Memorial Park, Sahuarita:
Arriving at dusk, we managed to find a single MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, plus VERMILION FLYCATCHER, HORNED LARK, and a nice flock of LARK SPARROWS as the sun went down.