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I really love the SW Wings Birding Festival , both the main festival in August and the relatively new ‘Spring Fling’ field trips in May. I had the pleasure of leading a fun and enthusiastic group on today’s trip to Carr Canyon. We ended with an excellent list of 76 species.
We had our first good bird before we even left the parking lot in Sierra Vista, with a BRONZED COWBIRD perched up in a mesquite tree.
We started birding in earnest in the desert habitat along Carr Canyon Rd where we found typical desert and grassland species such as GAMBEL’S QUAIL, CACTUS WREN, CANYON TOWHEE and PYRRHULOXIA. We also found both ASH-THROATED and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS.
We stopped again where the habitat began to transition to woodland, adding calling MONTEZUMA QUAIL, PLUMBEOUS and HUTTON’S VIREOS, WILSON’S WARBLER, BULLOCK’S and SCOTT’S ORIOLES, and WESTERN TANAGER. Another stop in the lower oak zone gave us more new birds, including DUSKY and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, and SUMMER TANAGER.
However, Carr Canyon is best known for its exceptional high elevation habitat, so we spent most of our time in this zone. As usual, the Reef Townsite Campground was good to us, with plenty of specialty birds. BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER proved to be common, as it was here last year. It took a while but we all got good views of GREATER PEWEE. Unfortunately a pair of OLIVE WARBLERS refused to come down from the treetops so those views were limited.
We also added ARIZONA WOODPECKER, WARBLING VIREO, WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, calling PYGMY NUTHATCH (which we never saw), BROWN CREEPER, HERMIT THRUSH, GRACE’S, BLACK-THROATED GRAY, and TOWNSEND’S WARBLERS, PAINTED REDSTART, YELLOW-EYED JUNCO, HEPATIC TANAGER, and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK.
After lunch we hiked up to Sawmill Spring, which turned out to be a great move. On our way up we found a splendid NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL.
We didn’t have long to watch the spring, but even in mid-afternoon it was hopping with birds. Our main target here was VIRGINIA’S WARBLER, and two came in to drink in just 15 minutes. The spring was also visited by GRACE’S, BLACK-THROATED GRAY, TOWNSEND’S, HERMIT, and WILSON’S WARBLERS, WESTERN TANAGER, LAZULI BUNTING.
This area also held WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, more BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHERS, HEPATIC TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, YELLOW-EYED JUNCO, and PINE SISKIN. A WESTERN SCRUB-JAY on our way back to the van was a good way to end an enjoyable field trip.