Birding Blog Archives

July 16th, 2011
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July Fun Birding Workshop: Hummingbirds

I was blessed with the excellent company of Jenise Porter from Tucson and Roy and Janet May from Costa Rica for my hummingbird-based July Fun Birding Workshop (round 1 – see below). Roy is President of Asociacion Ornitologica De Costa Rica and was keen to add a few hummers to his US list. On the corresponding trip last year we saw 11 species but I thought that was probably out of reach this summer.

We met early in E Tucson at the carpooling site on Houghton Rd near I-10, where we found the obligatory RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW before hitting the road. There was an attractive sunrise over the Rincon Mountains.

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Sunrise over the Rincon Mountains

Several SWAINSON’S HAWKS were seen en route along highway 90 between Benson and Sierra Vista. Despite the Monument fire which devastated parts of the Huachuca Mountains this summer, it’s still rather beautiful, especially at this time of year.

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Huachuca Mountains

We visited Mary Jo at Ash Canyon B&B and, as per usual, were straight into some really great birding. We concentrated on hummingbirds and were rewarded with BROAD-BILLED, BLACK-CHINNED, ANNA’S, RUFOUS and a peachy female LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD, plus the continuing LUCIFER x COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD hybrid.

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From the left, Anna’s, Lucifer x Costa’s hybrid and Broad-billed Hummingbird (all males)

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Male Black-chinned Hummingbird

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Male Rufous, left, and female Black-chinned Hummingbird

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Male Rufous Hummingbird

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Male Broad-billed Hummingbird

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Female Lucifer Hummingbird

I’ve seen the same juvenile MEXICAN JAY at Ash Canyon the last three times I’ve been, and it doesn’t seem to be progressing from the scruffy mess it was when it left the nest. Mary Jo has seen it scratching itself and thinks it may have mites. It does seem to be surviving perfectly well though.

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Mexican Jay

We also found all three regular myiarchus flycatchers (ASH-THROATED, BROWN-CRESTED and DUSKY-CAPPED), an interesting array of differently-plumaged BLUE GROSBEAKS, several BULLOCK’S ORIOLES, SPOTTED TOWHEE, BUSHTITS and lots more. Please see www.ashcanyonbandb.com for full details of visiting Mary Jo.

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Black-headed Grosbeak

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Curve-billed Thrasher

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Ladder-backed Woodpecker

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Spotted Towhee

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Western Kingbird

It was great to go back to Ramsey Canyon again, which reopened today. To my delight, we quite easily added three – or four – more hummingbird species: BROAD-TAILED, MAGNIFICENT, BLUE-THROATED and a probable ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRD.

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Broad-tailed Hummingbird

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Probable Allen’s Hummingbird

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Magnificent Hummingbird

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Blue-throated Hummingbird

However the highlight was a very entertaining young cinnamon-colored BLACK BEAR, which we watched at close range as it foraged on the ground then climbed a tree and fed on early acorns. Stunning! I’ve given the bear its own blog post. I think it deserved one.

As we drove through the Mustang Mountains and into the expansive Las Cienegas grassland near Sonoita, we saw some more interesting mammals, five PRONGHORNS.

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Mustang Mountains

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Pronghorn

At Paton’s in Patagonia, the hummingbird fun continued as we added species nine and ten, or ten and eleven, depending on how you look at it. They were the expected VIOLET-CROWNED and a gorgeous and very welcome male COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD.

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Costa’s Hummingbird

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Violet-crowned Hummingbird

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Violet-crowned Hummingbird

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Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Also there, GRAY HAWK, INCA and COMMON GROUND-DOVES, BLUE GROSBEAK, HOODED ORIOLE, SUMMER TANAGER and plenty more. As always it was hard to drag ourselves away. My thanks to Michael Marsden for putting on such a good birding show.

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Gray Hawk

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Common Ground-Dove

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Blue Grosbeak

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Summer Tanager

If we’d had time we could have tried for a Berylline Hummingbird at Madera Canyon, but we contented ourselves with our total of ten – or eleven – hummingbird species plus an interesting hybrid. I don’t think it would have been possible to see more, so we were understandably well pleased.

  • I’m running a second Hummingbird Special next Saturday, 24 July. There are still a couple of spaces available, so if you’d like to join me please contact me for more details.

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