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

Target Birding With a Difference

A really different and interesting day of target birding, because we weren’t looking for the usual targets…

Montosa Canyon:

Today was all about seeing certain birds in certain plumages, which made for a pleasant change and presented a bit of a challenge. Our number one goal was getting good views of a female or immature VARIED BUNTING. We had no trouble finding a male, but it took longer to find a confiding ‘brown’ one. We managed excellent views in the end, and saw them again elsewhere, so it was a successful mission.

Adult female Varied Bunting [1]

Adult female Varied Bunting [2]

The canyon was quite birdy early morning, with BELL’S and WARBLING VIREOS, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, and NASHVILLE and BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS all seen from the road.

Montosa Canyon [3]

Montosa Canyon [4]

Mount Hopkins Rd:

My next challenge was to find a RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW in juvenile plumage. They don’t hold that plumage for long, but there were bound to be some around, and a couple of stops at the side of the road a mile or two west of Montosa Canyon did the trick. Straight away we had good but fairly brief views of a brownish, dark-billed juvenile, after which it was easy enough to see the adults, but the juveniles kept low.

Rufous-winged Sparrow [5]

Rufous-winged Sparrow [6]

Rufous-winged Sparrow [7]

Also in the mesquite habitat along the road, we found several GREATER ROADRUNNERS, and a few singing CASSIN’S and BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS, which are expected at this time of year, but also a few surprises: a COMMON GROUND-DOVE, a migrant YELLOW WARBLER, and two juvenile SCOTT’S ORIOLES.

Amado Pond:

A two-minute stop mid day gave us NEOTROPIC CORMORANT and ‘MEXICAN’ CLIFF SWALLOW, and not a lot else.

Potrero Creek, Rio Rico:

A TROPICAL KINGBIRD was calling again near the truck stop.

Ruby Rd:

Both BOTTERI’S SPARROW and BLUE GROSBEAK were added to the list.

Peña Blanca Canyon:

Our final target was to try to locate a female or immature ELEGANT TROGON. We eventually got good views of an adult male – normally the plumage people want to see – but the others eluded us.

Somewhat typically, on a day we weren’t even trying for it, we stumbled into fabulous close views of a RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER.

Rufous-capped Warbler [8]

Rufous-capped Warbler [9]

Rufous-capped Warbler [10]

Also in the canyon in the heat of the afternoon, we were able to locate GRAY HAWK, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, DUSKY, PACIFIC-SLOPE, and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S VIREO, NASHVILLE, MacGILLIVRAY’S and WILSON’S WARBLERS, PAINTED REDSTART, CHIPPING SPARROW, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, and more VARIED BUNTINGS, for a very successful day with a difference.