We found 69 bird species today between the Huachuca Mountains, Las Cienegas and Patagonia, but the mammals really stole the show. I took lots of photos!
Esplendor Resort, Rio Rico:
Four JAVELINA were at the side of the entrance road at dawn.
As we headed out, a pair of ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARDS flew over Potrero Creek, and a smart GRAY HAWK was perched next to S. River Rd.
Ash Canyon B&B:
I love going to Mary Jo’s wonderful Ash Canyon B&B . We didn’t see a Lucifer Hummingbird today, but the hummers on show included a few RUFOUS and a gorgeous male CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD.
The SCOTT’S ORIOLE show was sensational!
We also enjoyed extremely close views of NORTHERN FLICKER, ACORN and LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKERS, SPOTTED TOWHEE, RUFOUS-CROWNED and LINCOLN’S SPARROWS, as well as the delightful ambiance and company. It’s a photographer’s paradise and a must-visit site for any birder in SE Arizona. Thanks Mary Jo!
The avian highlight was a TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE.
Otherwise, it was incredibly quiet early afternoon, and we had to work hard for WILD TURKEY, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, HUTTON’S VIREO, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, BUSHTIT, AMERICAN ROBIN, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, PAINTED REDSTART, and HEPATIC TANAGER. We couldn’t find either of the rarities that had been present recently, Tufted Flycatcher or Flame-colored Tanager.
We did find a pair of HOUSE WRENS which were fairly typical of those at higher elevations in the Huachuca Mountains. Some authorities treat the Mexican subspecies of HOUSE WREN as a seperate species, BROWN-THROATED WREN, but the ones here, and in the Santa Rita Mountains and other areas in SE Arizona, are more like intergrades. They aren’t at all brown-throated, they display somewhat, but not very barred flanks, and a reasonably prominent pale supercilium, but I’m not convinced that they deserve to be split.
Just after we watched the House Wrens, a big male WHITE-NOSED COATI (Coatimundi) sauntered into view and gave us stunning views at very close range. Wow, what a fantastic animal! He was hunting for food by flipping over big rocks with ease. I hadn’t realized they were so strong.
There were also three extremely tame COUES WHITE-TAILED DEER which blocked our path for a while.
Whenever I see a small, orange-ish butterfly at a hummingbird feeder, I always suspect ZELA METALMARK. They love hummingbird feeders!
Driving past the fort, I spotted a familiar shape in the sky. It’s the only place I’ve seen drones flying, even though they regularly patrol the border (presumably at very high altitude). This is where they are based.
One distant BURROWING OWL was on show at the BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE-DOG site.
As we left, I noticed a RED-TAILED HAWK in the long grass at the side of the road. It just had that look about it that made me say “I think it’s caught a snake”, at which point it took flight, struggling to carry a wriggling SONORAN GOPHERSNAKE. It was a big one as well, five or six feet in length. We left the hawk to eat his dinner in peace.
A quick drive through the grasslands produced VERMILION FLYCATCHER, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, HORNED LARK, VESPER and GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS, a few LARK BUNTINGS, ‘LILIAN’S’ EASTERN MEADOWLARK, and a couple of small groups of PRONGHORN.
Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, Patagonia:
We only had a few minutes, but our brief visit at dusk added a few more to the list, including INCA DOVE, BLACK-CHINNED, ANNA’S, BROAD-BILLED and VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRDS, CASSIN’S KINGBIRD, GREEN-TAILED, CANYON and ABERT’S TOWHEES, and a much-appreciated male NORTHERN CARDINAL to end a great day.