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May 23rd, 2011
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Fan-tailed Warbler at Madera Canyon

Exciting news came through on the email this afternoon. Gary Rosenberg had found a FAN-TAILED WARBLER at Madera Canyon. Fan-tailed Warbler is an extremely rare bird in the USA, with seven or eight previous records here in SE Arizona, one in New Mexico, one or two in Texas and I think that’s about it. So, as soon as I could, I jumped in the car and drove south.

Fan-tailed Warblers are famous for being one-day birds – even one-hour birds – so I was pleasantly surprised on my arrival to find a group of birders watching it at close range near the amphitheater. Easy!

And… wow! What a fantastic bird.


Fan-tailed Warbler


Fan-tailed Warbler


Fan-tailed Warbler


Fan-tailed Warbler

It was a real character, constantly flicking and wagging its tail and never keeping still for a second.

Fan-tailed Warbler is unique, in its own genus, Euthlypis.  I’d seen them before, in southern Mexico nine years ago, but I didn’t see them for as long or as close as I saw this bird. Evidently it had never met a human before. It was totally oblivious and unafraid of the crowd of admirers it had drawn. Like most of the birds I’ve tried to photograph in the past few months, I was looking straight into the sun the whole time, but these aren’t too bad. I’m sure that, if it hangs around, there will be amazing photos of it. Laurens Halsey got some really nice looking shots.

I wasn’t aware of its Latin name before I left the house, but as I was watching it I was reminded of Lachrymose Mountain-Tanager, a bird I saw in Ecuador. This was due to the ‘tear marks’ shared by both species, which give the tanager its name. It turns out that the full Latin name for Fan-tailed Warbler is Euthlypis lachrymosa.

This was my fifth new bird for Arizona this year, and it took my state list up to a relatively flaccid 374.


Madera Canyon


4 comments to Fan-tailed Warbler at Madera Canyon

  • Mark Korducki

    Great photos of a stunning bird. There was one in Big Bend National Park about 3 summers ago and I believe some older Texas records. Definitely a rare ABA bird though.

  • Maggie Pearson

    Hello Richard,

    Went along with Rosie and Diana out early this morning to see the Fan-tailed at Madera Canyon. No luck! Rosie saw him on Tuesday and thought we might see him today. Did see a number of firsts for me!!

    See you on Sunday. Maggie

    Oh, is your workshop to Madera Canyon open to anyone? We had thought the 12th was for Mt. Lemmon..duh!!!

    Cheers, Maggie

    • Richard

      Thanks Maggie. Shame you missed it. Sorry about the mix up with Mt Lemmon vs Madera Canyon for my June workshop. Another mistake by me I’m afriad! I had it on the calendar as Mt Lemmon but it should be Madera Canyon. I’m doing a Mt Lemmon workshop in August.

      See you on Sunday! 😀

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