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

Five-striped Sparrows at California Gulch

A highly enjoyable day with my good friends, Jim and Pauline, with an emotional end to a long quest for a certain sparrow…

Arivaca Lake:

This excellent but under-watched site was lively as always, including CINNAMON TEAL, PIED-BILLED GREBE, GRAY HAWK, VERMILION FLYCATCHERS feeding young, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, RUFOUS-WINGED and LARK SPARROWS, LAZULI BUNTING, and HOODED and BULLCOK’S ORIOLES. We’d hoped to find Thick-billed Kingbirds as this is a regular site, but they weren’t around. Maybe they’re late, or maybe they’re not coming back this year. Time will tell.

Yellow Warbler [1]

Most surprising was a male SUMMER TANAGER, which can often be a hard bird to get good views high in the cottonwoods, taking a shine to us and perching within a few feet of us in a mesquite. Quite stunning!

Summer Tanager [2]

Summer Tanager [3]

Summer Tanager [4]

Summer Tanager [5]

Summer Tanager [6]

A pair of SWAINSON’S HAWKS were along the road, a regular site for this attractive summer hawk.

Swainson's Hawk [7]

Swainson's Hawk [8]

Confluence of California Gulch & Warsaw Canyon:

One particular FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW has been very good to me lately, showing well while the others continue to be elusive, as is normal until they start singing just before the monsoon season. Today we found its mate as well, which was keeping its head down in the usual fashion, but the showy bird was especially showy today.

I’d taken Jim and Pauline to the gulch before to look for Five-stripes, without success. Today was, therefore, a big deal for all of us, and it couldn’t have gone any better. I can always tell when seeing a particular target bird means that little bit more to my clients. Rather than jumping up and down and whooping with delight, they went silent, fixed it with a steely gaze, and took it all in with perhaps a little mist in their eyes. It was a real honor to share this moment with two of my longest-standing and favorite clients.

Five-striped Sparrow [9]

Five-striped Sparrow [10]

Five-striped Sparrow [11]

Five-striped Sparrow [12]

Five-striped Sparrow [13]

Five-striped Sparrow [14]

Five-striped Sparrow [15]

Five-striped Sparrow [16]


Rufous-winged Sparrow [17]

Ruby Lakes (aka California Gulch Dam, NOT at Ruby):

We spent a while hanging out at another under-birded yet productive site, enjoying ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD with a bunch of fluffy ducklings, GRAY HAWK, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, VERMILION FLYCATCHERS feeding young, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, LARK and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS, SUMMER TANAGER, and LAZULI BUNTING.

Ruby Lakes [18]

We also enjoyed the dragonflies perching along the water’s edge.

Mexican Amberwing [19]

Variegated Meadowhawk [20]

Peña Blanca Canyon:

We had just enough time to run up the canyon a short way to see if the WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL was showing at the entrance to her nest hole, which she was, kind of – we could just see the top of her head!

Whiskered Screech-Owl [21]