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

Five-striped Sparrow, Thick-billed Kingbird, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

An excellent day of target birding in the Atascosa Highlands and Pajarito Wilderness, with 95 species.

Las Lagunas/Palo Duro Creek Golf Course:

We were looking for BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK, and were just about to leave when three flew in and gave us great views.

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks [1]

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks [2]

A female YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was a surprisingly late winter bird.

Yellow-headed Blackbird [3]

We also found ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, a surprisingly early, well grown juvenile PIED-BILLED GREBE, NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, BANK SWALLOW, BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, a late WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, SUMMER TANAGER, and LAZULI BUNTING.

Barn Swallow [4]

Brown-crested Flycatcher [5]

Great Blue Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron [6]

Phainopepla [7]

Phainopepla [8]

Pied-billed Grebe [9]

Ruby Rd:

A BOTTERI’S SPARROW showed well near the Calabasas Campground. Further along the road we found ‘AZURE’ EASTERN BLUEBIRD near Yank’s Canyon.

Botteri's Sparrow [10]

Botteri's Sparrow [11]

'Azure' Eastern Bluebird [12]

We watched from Ruby Road with our fingers crossed as La Sierra Fire continued to smolder in the Peña Blanca Canyon area.

La Sierra Fire [13]

La Sierra Fire [14]

California Gulch Rd:

A NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET continues to show in the same place near Ruby Rd.

Ruby Lakes (aka California Gulch Dam):

A GOLDEN EAGLE drifted over and landed high on the cliffs at Montaña Peak, where they usually nest.

Golden Eagle [15]

The pond also produced BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK, and HOODED ORIOLE.

Confluence of California Gulch & Warsaw Canyon:

We found a pair of FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS feeding on a slope, but they never came out for good views. Later we found another feeding high on a cliff.

Five-striped Sparrow [16]

Five-striped Sparrow [17]

Five-striped Sparrow [18]

Five-striped Sparrow [19]

Five-striped Sparrow [20]

The BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS that have been showing so well lately have suddenly gone very quiet and we never got a view, but we did hear a couple of tiny buzzy calls. Presumably they are on a nest. Also there, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK, an early male VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE. We enjoyed watching a BELL’S VIREO nest.

Bell's Vireo [21]

Bell's Vireo [22]

California Gulch [23]

Arivaca Lake:

Pleasingly, a pair of THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS has returned. Likewise, TROPICAL KINGBIRDS were back and vocal as usual.

Tropical Kingbird [24]

Tropical Kingbird [25]

To complete the set, CASSIN’S KINGBIRDS were present and WESTERN KINGBIRDS along the road nearby.

The lake also produced NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, GREAT EGRET, GREEN HERON, OSPREY, GRAY HAWK, BLACK-NECKED STILT, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, ABERT’S TOWHEE, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK, LAZULI BUNTING, BRONZED COWBIRD, and HOODED and BULLOCK’S ORIOLES. A somewhat lost female RING-NECKED DUCK was a surprising find on a nearby cattle tank.

Black-necked Stilt [26]

Bronzed Cowbird [27]

Common Ground-Dove [28]

Osprey [29]

Summer Tanager [30]

Yellow-breasted Chat [31]

Arivaca Lake [32]

Amado Pond:

The evening LESSER NIGHTHAWK show was impressive, with at least 80 hawking for insects over the water at dusk.

Lesser Nighthawk [33]

Lesser Nighthawk [34]

Lesser Nighthawk [35]

Also there, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, GRAY HAWK, TROPICAL KINGBIRD, and a couple of BANK SWALLOWS mixed in with the regular BARN and ‘MEXICAN’ CLIFF SWALLOWS. Six BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS flew in just before sundown.

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks [36]

Lesser Nighthawk and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks [37]

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks [38]

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks [39]

Gray Hawk [40]

Amado Pond [41]