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

Chiricahua Mountains and Sulphur Springs Valley

A big day, driving from Sierra Vista to Portal and Paradise in the Chiricahuas, then back over the mountains and into the Sulphur Springs Valley, ending at Whitewater Draw at dusk. Lots of miles and lots of highlights among 71 species.

Rodeo, NM:
A covey of about eight SCALED QUAIL flushed at the side of the road and gave a brief flight view. A quick stop by the roadside revealed a large flock of LARK BUNTINGS, a few BREWER’S SPARROWS, and a few GREEN-WINGED TEAL on the wastewater pond.

Portal is an absolute pleasure to visit, every time!

Portal, Arizona [1]

Cave Creek Ranch, Portal:
With many thanks to Reed at Cave Creek Ranch, we enjoyed the wonderful feeder birds, which included a couple of BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS, a wintering RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, INCA DOVE, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, CANYON WREN, CEDAR WAXWING, a tan-striped WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCOS of the Gray-headed, Pink-sided and Oregon varieties (including a partially leucistic Gray-headed Junco), and YELLOW-EYED JUNCO.

Acorn Woodpecker [2]

Blue-throated Hummingbird [3]

Blue-throated Hummingbird [4]

Blue-throated Hummingbird [5]

Blue-throated Hummingbird [6]

Bridled Titmouse [7]

Bridled Titmouse [8]

Canyon Wren [9]

Canyon Wren [10]

Canyon Wren [11]

Canyon Wren [12]

Northern Cardinal [13]

Leucistic Gray-headed Junco [14]

Pink-sided Junco [15]

Pink-sided Junco [16]

Yellow-eyed Junco [17]

Cliff Chipmunk [18]

Foothills Rd Feeders, Portal:
The Crissal Thrashers didn’t show, but we enjoyed the abundant feeder birds, which included WESTERN SCRUB-JAY, ABERT’S TOWHEE, BLACK-THROATED SPARROW, and loads of NORTHERN CARDINALS and PYRRHULOXIAS, as well as CURVE-BILLED THRASHERS, which in the Chiricahuas are of the Eastern subspecies oberholseri (“Plateau Thrasher”) and not the Western subspecies palmeri (“Palmer’s Thrasher”) which is prevalent throughout the rest of SE Arizona. One of the main plumage differences, the more defined breast spots on a whiter background color, can be seen on the photo below.

Black-throated Sparrow [19]

Black-throated Sparrow [20]

Curve-billed Thrasher (Eastern) [21]

Western Scrub-Jay [22]

Western Scrub-Jay [23]

George Walker House, Paradise:
We couldn’t stay long, sadly, and missed out on Juniper Titmouse, but the rest of the yard visitors were excellent, especially the showy ARIZONA WOODPECKERS.

Onion Saddle, Chiricahuas:
We eventually found a MEXICAN CHICKADEE, but if hardly showed itself, to our frustration.

Sunizona, Sulphur Springs Valley:
A BENDIRE’S THRASHER was sat up nicely by the roadside.

Bendire's Thrasher [24]

Bendire's Thrasher [25]

Slover Rd, Sulphur Springs Valley:
A very brief search turned up at least one skulking SAGEBRUSH SPARROW in the usual spot. A couple of FERRUGINOUS HAWKS were hanging around.

Whitewater Draw:
Even though we didn’t arrive until the sun was almost down, we still had time to enjoy the spectacle of thousands of SANDHILL CRANES. The presumed male GREAT HORNED OWL was in the barn, and was joined just after dusk by its mate (who may be on a nest nearby), the pair then performing an enthusiastic duet of hoots before departing the barn to hunt.