A great day of spring birding, from Green Valley to the Santa Rita Mountains, with 85 species and loads of photos.
The LEWIS’S WOODPECKER continues at Madera Highlands, in pecans in the park to the west of S. Campbell Ave (there are two parks). Also there, both CASSIN’S and newly-arrived WESTERN KINGBIRDS, and HOODED ORIOLE.
The fruit on the mulberry trees to the southwest of Madera Canyon/Whitehouse Canyon Rd, just west of the railroad, are ripening, and hosted 50+ CEDAR WAXWINGS. It will be fun to keep on eye on these trees for the next few weeks.
BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW popped up in the desert south of Madera Canyon Rd.
Three NEOTROPIC CORMORANTS flew over, heading somewhere or other. At the southern end of S. La Canada Drive, we found HARRIS’S HAWK and GILDED FLICKER, and more desert species.
The female BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER was on the nest between the parking area and the concrete creek crossing just down the road. The hackberries have really leafed out in the past few days, but the nest is still just about visible from the road.
A pair of RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS was up canyon, above the oak grove about 0.75 miles from the parking area.
Also in the canyon, GRAY HAWK, COSTA’S and RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS, HAMMOND’S, GRAY and PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHERS, CASSIN’S VIREO, a surprise TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE, HERMIT THRUSH, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, LAZULI BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.
The female BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD that was just starting to build her nest on March 23rd is now sitting on a fully formed nest. As with the gnatcatchers, the hackberries are leafing out, making the nest more difficult to see.
There was lots of other cool wildlife in the canyon.
The best was saved for our drive out around lunchtime, when we found two gorgeous SONORAN GOPHERSNAKES on the road. The first one was one of the largest snakes I’ve ever seen in Arizona, a good seven feet long at least.
Madera Canyon Rd:
A BOTTERI’S SPARROW was carrying nesting material at mile marker 9, but it looked more like it was smoking something!
At Santa Rita Lodge, a female CASSIN’S FINCH, plus WILD TURKEY, MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD, RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, and ARIZONA WOODPECKER, among the excellent feeder action.
This silhouetted image really shows the shape of Cassin’s Finch as opposed to the more familiar House Finch, especially the large, pointed, straight-edged bill.
The WILD TURKEY flock that lives around Santa Rita Lodge were at their most entertaining, the males starting to get very frisky. The slow, coordinated displays are fun to watch, as are the fights that break out afterwards!
Metalmarks seem to be one family of butterflies which really like hummingbird feeders, this ZELA METALMARK proving the point.
Madera Picnic Area produced BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, PAINTED REDSTART, and HEPATIC TANAGER, as well as good views of several cute and vocal CANYON TREEFROGS, which were bleating like goats, as they do.