- Southeast Arizona Birding Guide, Richard Fray - https://www.arizonabirder.com -

Fan-tailed Warbler at Madera Canyon

Exciting news came through on the email this afternoon. Gary Rosenberg [1] 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.

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Fan-tailed Warbler

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Fan-tailed Warbler

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Fan-tailed Warbler

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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 [2] 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.

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Madera Canyon