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

Peña Blanca Canyon, Rio Rico, Patagonia, Las Cienegas

Yesterday worked out well, so we replicated it. We had another exciting day of classic SE Arizona monsoon birding, from Peña Blanca Canyon to Las Cienegas, again totaling 85 bird species, but with an added nationally rare butterfly.

Rio Rico Ponds:

A good start, with BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS, ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, a WHITE-FACED IBIS, and overhead BLACK VULTURE. NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW were nearby.

Peña Blanca Canyon:

The RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS were in the same place as yesterday, which is about 1.25 miles down canyon when measured from Ruby Rd. It’s possible to drive the first 0.7 miles in a high clearance vehicle.

Rufous-capped Warbler [1]

Rufous-capped Warbler [2]

We saw both male and female ELEGANT TROGONS.

Elegant Trogon [3]

Also in the canyon, GRAY HAWK, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, DUSKY-CAPPED, ASH-THROATED, BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S VIREO, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, PAINTED REDSTART, BLUE GROSBEAK, VARIED BUNTING, BRONZED COWBIRD, and HOODED ORIOLE.

Canyon Wren [4]

The SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS have fledged their young, and were noisily protecting them. The babies are rather cute, with small bills and short tails.

Adult Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher [5]

Juvenile Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher [6]

On our way back to the car, a noisy mob of small birds alerted us to the presence of a predator. Among the flock was a BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER, the rest being BRIDLED TITMICE and BEWICK’S WRENS. We soon found the source of the flock’s displeasure, a sneaky SONORAN WHIPSNAKE hidden among the branches.

Sonoran Whipsnake [7]

Sonoran Whipsnake [8]

Sonoran Whipsnake [9]

Peña Blanca Canyon is really hot right now, and not just for birds. We were lucky enough to find a nationally rare butterfly, an ELF, feeding on monsoon blooms along with many other insects.

Elf [10]

Elf [11]

Tiny Checkerspot [12]

Patagonia Roadside Rest:

Two THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD babies have left the nest and were atop the dead snags with their parents.

Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, Patagonia:

Among the birds crowding the feeders at this iconic SE Arizona birding site were INCA DOVE, VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, ABERT’S TOWHEE, SUMMER TANAGER, and BLUE GROSBEAK.

Violet-crowned Hummingbird [13]

Abert's Towhee [14]

Northern Cardinal [15]

Summer Tanager [16]

We had fun watching YELLOW-NOSED COTTON RATS at close range.

Yellow-nosed Cotton Rat [17]

Las Cienegas:

BURROWING OWLS continue at the BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE-DOG site. While there, I was delighted to hear, and then see, a COMMON NIGHTHAWK, an uncommon summer resident of a few grassland sites in SE Arizona. It was, surprisingly, my first at this site, and my first in Pima County.

Common Nighthawk [18]

Black-tailed Prairie-Dog [19]

Black-tailed Prairie-Dog [20]

Black-tailed Prairie-Dog reintroduction site, Las Cienegas [21]

You don’t often get close views of CASSIN’S SPARROW, but today was an exception. We found one bird that was a bit mad, landing right in front of us.

Cassin's Sparrow [22]

Cassin's Sparrow [23]

Cassin's Sparrow [24]

A COMMON GROUND-DOVE was at Cottonwood Pond. Also in the area, a couple of WHITE-TAILED KITE, SWAINSON’S HAWK, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, HORNED LARK, BOTTERI’s, LARK, BLACK-THROATED, and GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS, BLUE GROSBEAK, and ‘LILIAN’S’ EASTERN MEADOWLARK.

Black-throated Sparrow [25]

Greater Roadrunner [26]

Lark Sparrow [27]

White-tailed Kite [28]

Tarantula [29]

Tubac:

As we ended the day, SWAINSON’S HAWK, LESSER NIGHTHAWK, and ‘MEXICAN’ CLIFF SWALLOW passed by.

Undisclosed Site:

The BARN OWL continues at the regular roosting site.

Barn Owl [30]