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

Mountain Plover, Rufous-backed Robin

If it works, keep doing it! We went back to Catalina State Park and the Santa Cruz Flats to enjoy the great birding currently at these two sites. I’ve done this day a few times lately, but it’s worth repeating, especially when it’s so successful.

Catalina State Park:

Catalina State Park [1]

We started by watching the creek in the spot where a variety of birds visit. It was again busy with a succession of species coming down to drink and bathe in the cool, running water.

Black-chinned Sparrow [2]

Lincoln's Sparrow [3]

Green-tailed Towhee [4]

We teamed up with a couple we met who were also looking for the Rufous-backed Robin (I’d taken them out a few years ago) and spent a while looking for the robin, but we couldn’t locate it in the time we had available. We were compensated with two of continuing WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, the wintering NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, stunning VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, and close views of typical desert species such as RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW.

Rufous-winged Sparrow [5]

Rufous-winged Sparrow [6]

Rufous-winged Sparrow [7]

Vermilion Flycatcher [8]

White-throated Sparrow [9]

White-throated Sparrow [10]

Reluctantly, we started to leave the park and head towards the flats. My phone rang, and it was my former clients, who were now watching the RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN! We hadn’t even reached the park entrance, so we performed a quick u-turn and a minute later we were enjoying close views of this rare bird. It’s great when birders cooperate.

Rufous-backed Robin [11]

Rufous-backed Robin [12]

Rufous-backed Robin [13]

Santa Cruz Flats:

The flats were as good as ever, with MOUNTAIN PLOVERS at the sod farm, SAGEBRUSH SPARROWS in the usual spot, a couple of PRAIRIE FALCONS and all the expected species.

Burrowing Owl [14]

Horned Lark [15]

Sagebrush Sparrow [16]

Sagebrush Sparrow [17]

Another great day of winter birding in SE Arizona!