Birding Blog Archives

March 26th, 2011
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Sweetwater, Ft Lowell Park

I spent the morning birding Sweetwater Wetlands with my friend Jonathan Hanridge from Pinetop, Arizona.


Sweetwater Wetlands

There were plenty of highlights as Tucson’s best birding site continues to impress. My favorites were four male BULLOCK’S ORIOLES, although the HARRIS’S HAWKS are always in with a shout. BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRDS have joined the ANNA’S and were seen in a couple of spots. LINCOLN’S SPARROWS were plentiful, especially around the Hidden Pond at dawn.


Red-winged Blackbird

SORAS were once again out and about and relatively easy to see. A pair of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, absent on my previous couple of trips, completed the teal trifecta with the popular CINNAMON and BLUE-WINGED TEALS prominent on the first pond in particular.



Warbler numbers seem to have increased, with an especially high number of ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS today (50+). We didn’t find any unusual species, just the expected YELLOW-RUMPS, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, LUCY’S and YELLOW WARBLERS. We located a singing CASSIN’S VIREO while an adult BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was lurking in the cattails.


Orange-crowned Warbler

I didn’t carry the scope today but even with binoculars we were able to pick out three BLACK-NECKED STILTS and two WILSON’S SNIPES in the recharge basins with the usual KILLDEERS and LEAST SANDPIPERS.

A large mixed flock of swallows, several hundred strong, was roosting early morning on the power lines over the Santa Cruz River. By mid morning they were all over, and comprised of mainly TREE and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS with a few VIOLET-GREEN and two BARN SWALLOWS for good measure.

In the afternoon I visited Fort Lowell Park with my friend Ed Tobin. During the first 15 minutes we were treated to a surprisingly good raptor display. We watched an AMERICAN KESTREL pounce on prey and then perch nearby, giving great views. Soon after we spotted a RED-TAILED HAWK passing over, most likely migrating through. We weren’t the only ones to see it; one of the local COOPER’S HAWKS took offense and a fericoius encounter ensued, the Red-tail slinking off into the distance. A second Red-tail cruised by soon after, followed by a pair of HARRIS’S HAWKS. First one, then the other perched on top of the same telephone pole. They were quickly followed by the kestrel, which wasn’t happy about their presence and performed a dive bomb. We were thrilled with what we were seeing.


Harris’s Hawk


American Kestrel

Elsewhere in the park and surrounding desert we found the usual mix of species. Migrants were thinner on the ground than at Sweetwater but still in evidence.



We returned to Ed’s house where his feeders have attracted his best ever yard birds, a couple of splendid male BULLOCK’S ORIOLES. Ed is understandably delighted to have these special birds coming to the oranges, grape jelly and fruit bowls he’s diligently provided in the hope an oriole might stop by. Well done Ed! 😀


Bullock’s Oriole


Bullock’s Oriole


Bullock’s Oriole


Curve-billed Thrasher


Ed’s Thrasher Haven

With spring firmly underway but a great many new birds still to turn up, my 2011 Arizona year list keeps ticking along and is now up to 195 species.

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