Also see the Summaries and Photo Gallery

of other recent California (

and Arizona ( MBWeeks

following this 2023 California - Arizona summary  




January 14 - 21 and January 22 - 29, 2023

It was too rainy on the San Diego portion of the CA MBWeek (which slowed both us and the birds down), then too much snow on the ground in the San Jacinto Mts (only McCall Park was very active), before we settled in with decent weather on the last three days. And then it was on to Arizona for three of us who joined four others and faced other challenges – colder-than-normal temperatures most days with below-freezing readings each morning...a slow and inefficient (incompetent?) staff at the car rental place at PHX...two unpleasant experiences with motel desk clerks in Casa Grande...and the unfortunate withdrawal by Scott and Dory from the MBW due to health issues.

On the plus side, though, we did manage to escape some seriously icy, snowy, and cold conditions back in MN, and the birding overall turned out surprisingly decent. On the CA portion we came up with nearly 200 species (196, to be exact – which is about average for this MBW). Then in AZ, where fewer water birds are present, our total reached 171, which is a bit better than average (this MBW’s list ranges widely between about 150 and 180). Combining the two MBWeeks, there was a total of 251 species in all, which is as well as we’ve ever done when doing these back-to-back trips, and nearly 120 of these were “non-Minnesota” birds – see those boldfaced in the list below.

While everyone has their own favorite birding memories from these MBWeeks, I’ll be presumptuous and assume these few of my favorites match at least some of yours. In California, our first full day included countless thousands of Black-vented Shearwaters streaming by La Jolla, a successful search for California Gnatcatchers along the San Dieguito River, and a surprisingly cooperative Lewis’s Woodpecker at Santee Lakes. The next day was highlighted by three rarities (Yellow-billed Loon, Long-tailed Duck, Eurasian Wigeon) in various parts of Mission Bay, lots of Surfbirds and a lone tattler (plus a rogue wave!) at the south jetty by the dog park, and finally some pesky munias at Lake Murray at day’s end.

We tracked down a Hammond’s Flycatcher in Balboa Park before leaving rainy San Diego behind for the San Jacintos, Borrego Springs, and the Salton Sea, and this MBW ended with some birding in AZ with a relatively easy Crissal Thrasher in Yuma, plus a confiding Bendire’s waiting for us to park at the thrasher flats west of Phoenix, which also featured several Brewer’s Sparrows.

The AZ MBWeek then began with a Pacific Loon at Tempe Town Lake, and our second day was probably our most successful one in AZ. We finished with all five thrashers (LeConte’s, Bendire’s, and Sage at the thrasher flats, less-cooperative Crissals in nearby Buckeye, and Curve-billed back in Phoenix); the day also included a field along Baseline Rd with an estimated 580 White-faced Ibis, our first Rosy-faced Lovebirds (aw!) at Encanto Park, and a Eurasian Wigeon at another park not far away.

Before we left town, there was time to track down a male Williamson’s Sapsucker at Chapparel Park, and the next morning in the Santa Cruz Flats we found 45 Mountain Plovers, a pair of Burrowing Owls, and a Lewis’s Woodpecker, while in the afternoon near Tucson we relocated a Rufous-backed Robin at La Posta Quemada Ranch.

We had our coldest mornings in and around Sierra Vista before we moved on to Patagonia and Nogales. The penultimate day of this MBW featured Hepatic Tanagers and a heard-only Black-capped Gnatcatcher at Montosa Canyon, Lawrence’s Goldfinches at Canoa Ranch, and some quintessential Arizona species at the Santa Rita Lodge feeders. And before heading for the Tucson airport, there was time to finally see the Rose-throated Becard in Tubac, Chihuahuan Meadowlarks along Elephant Head Rd, plus a Cassin’s Kingbird and Greater Pewee on the same fence line by Reid Park.




January 14 – Early afternoon arrival in rainy San Diego; mostly washed-out attempts

to bird Famosa Slough and parts of Mission Bay; first of 3 nights in suburban Miramar.  

January 15 – La Jolla, San Dieguito River, Santee Lakes, Lindo Lake, and Tecolote Nature Center.

January 16 – SucceBssful return to Mission Bay / Kendall-Frost NWR, Tecolote, Robb Field / Dog Park / South Jetty, South Cliffs Blvd, and Lake Murray Regional Park (for munias!).

January 17 – Balboa Park, Cabrillo National Monument / Rosecrans Cemetery, and drive to Hemet via parrot-less El Cajon for first of 2 nights.

January 18 – Idyllwild & vicinity (especially McCall Park) in the snowy San Jacinto Mts.

January 19 – Borrego Springs & vicinity in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Vendel Rd / Unit 1 df Sonny Bono NWR, and first of 2 nights in Brawley.

January 20 – Most of day at the receding Salton Sea & vicinity, including Vendel Rd, the "seawall", NWR headquarters, Calipatria's world-famous flagpole and world- famous date shakes in Westmoreland; Riverview Cemetery, hummingbird-less feeders on Willard St, and Cattle Call Park in Brawley.  

January 21 – Travel to Phoenix for end of MBWeek, mostly via birding in Arizona: i.e., West Wetlands Park in Yuma, desert flats and sod farm along I-8, and the Bendire's / Brewer's thrasher flats at Baseline & Salome.  


January 22 – Arrival in Phoenix, with afternoon at Tempe Town Lake and Gilbert Riparian Preserve / Water Ranch; first of 2 nights in Tempe.

January 23 – Baseline & Salome thrasher flats (with LeConte's + 2 others), an ibis-

infested irrigated field along Baseline Rd, Robbins Butte, Sunrise Dr in Buckeye (for "sage" sparrows and another thrasher), Encanto Park (lovebirds!), and Biltmore on the Lakes (a wigeon and thrasher #5).

January 24 – Kiwanis and Chaparel parks in Phoenix, Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, and night in Casa Grande.

January 25 – Santa Cruz Flats (especially Evergreen Sod Farm) and La Posta Quemada Ranch; first of 2 nights in Sierra Vista.

January 26 – SV''s EOP (sewage ponds!), San Pedro House, Whitewater Draw and vicinity, Ash Canyon, and after-dinner owling (without owls) at and Miller Canyon.

January 27 – Tony Battiste's B & B feeders, Paton's feeders in Patagonia, Patagonia Lake State Park, Kino Springs, and first of 2 nights in Nogales.

January 28 – Amado sewage ponds, Montosa Canyon, Canoa Ranch, Madera Canyon, and a search for the De Anza Trail in Tubac.

January 29 – Successful return to Tubac, Elephant Head Rd, cowbird-less Kennedy Park, Reid Park & vicinity, and Tucson airport for flights home.

Bird List

boldfaced species = “non-MN” birds (i.e., Casual, Accidental, or not recorded in MN)

• CA = California MBW (incl. those seen in AZ on Jan. 21)

• AZ = Arizona MBW

• species not annotated CA or AZ were found on both MBWeeks

Snow Goose

Ross's Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose          CA

Brant          CA

Cackling Goose          CA

Canada Goose

Wood Duck          CA

Blue-winged Teal          CA

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler


Eurasian Wigeon

American Wigeon


Mexican Duck          AZ

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback          AZ


Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Surf Scoter          CA

Long-tailed Duck          CA


Hooded Merganser          CA

Common Merganser          AZ

Red-breasted Merganser          CA

Ruddy Duck

California Quail          CA

Gambel's Quail

Wild Turkey          AZ

Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe          CA

Eared Grebe          CA

Western Grebe

Rock Pigeon

Band-tailed Pigeon          CA

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove          AZ

Common Ground Dove          CA

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove

Greater Roadrunner

Lesser Nighthawk          CA

Rivoli’s Hummingbird          AZ

Anna's Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird          CA

Allen's Hummingbird          CA

Broad-billed Hummingbird          AZ

Violet-crowned Hummingbird          AZ

Ridgway's Rail          CA

Virginia Rail          CA


Common Gallinule          CA

American Coot

Sandhill Crane

Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet

Black Oystercatcher          CA

Black-bellied Plover          CA


Semipalmated Plover          CA

Mountain Plover          AZ

Whimbrel          CA

Long-billed Curlew

Marbled Godwit          CA

Black Turnstone          CA

Surfbird          CA

Stilt Sandpiper          CA

Sanderling          CA

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper          CA

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe          AZ

Spotted Sandpiper

Wandering Tattler          CA

Willet          CA

Greater Yellowlegs

Bonaparte's Gull          CA

Heermann's Gull          CA

Ring-billed Gull          CA

Western Gull          CA

California Gull          CA

Herring Gull          CA

Royal Tern          CA

Black Skimmer          CA

Pacific Loon          AZ

Common Loon

Yellow-billed Loon          CA

Black-vented Shearwater          CA

Brandt's Cormorant          CA

Pelagic Cormorant          CA

Double-crested Cormorant

Neotropic Cormorant          AZ

American White Pelican

Brown Pelican

Least Bittern          CA

Great Blue Heron         

Great Egret         

Snowy Egret          

Little Blue Heron          CA

Reddish Egret          CA

Cattle Egret          CA

Green Heron          

Black-crowned Night-Heron          CA

White-faced Ibis          

Black Vulture          AZ

Turkey Vulture          


White-tailed Kite          

Golden Eagle          CA

Northern Harrier          

Sharp-shinned Hawk          

Cooper's Hawk          

Gray Hawk          AZ

Red-shouldered Hawk          CA

Red-tailed Hawk          

Rough-legged Hawk          AZ

Ferruginous Hawk          

Western Screech-Owl          AZ

Great Horned Owl          

Burrowing Owl          

Belted Kingfisher          CA

Lewis's Woodpecker          

Acorn Woodpecker          

Gila Woodpecker          

Williamson's Sapsucker          AZ

Red-naped Sapsucker          AZ

Red-breasted Sapsucker          CA

Nuttall's Woodpecker          CA

Ladder-backed Woodpecker          

Hairy Woodpecker          CA

Arizona Woodpecker          AZ

Northern Flicker          

Gilded Flicker          AZ

Crested Caracara          AZ

American Kestrel          

Merlin          CA

Peregrine Falcon          CA

Prairie Falcon                    

Red-masked Parakeet          CA

Rosy-faced Lovebird          AZ

Rose-throated Becard          AZ

Cassin's Kingbird

Greater Pewee          AZ

Hammond’s Flycatcher          CA

Gray Flycatcher

Black Phoebe

Say's Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher

Hutton's Vireo          AZ

Cassin’s Vireo          AZ

Plumbeous Vireo          AZ

Loggerhead Shrike

Steller's Jay          CA

California Scrub-Jay          CA

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay          AZ

Mexican Jay          AZ

American Crow          CA

Chihuahuan Raven          AZ

Common Raven


Mountain Chickadee          CA

Bridled Titmouse          AZ

Oak Titmouse          CA

Horned Lark

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow          AZ

Barn Swallow          CA

Bushtit          CA

Wrentit          CA

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Cedar Waxwing


Red-breasted Nuthatch          CA

White-breasted Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch          CA

Brown Creeper

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

California Gnatcatcher          CA

Black-capped Gnatcatcher          AZ

Rock Wren

Canyon Wren          AZ

Cactus Wren

Bewick's Wren

Marsh Wren

Curve-billed Thrasher          AZ

Bendire’s Thrasher

California Thrasher          CA

LeConte's Thrasher          AZ

Crissal Thrasher

Sage Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

Western Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird          CA

Townsend’s Solitaire          AZ

Hermit Thrush

Rufous-backed Robin          AZ

American Robin

Scaly-breasted Munia          CA

House Sparrow

American Pipit

House Finch

Cassin’s Finch          

Red Crossbill          AZ

Pine Siskin          AZ

Lesser Goldfinch

Lawrence's Goldfinch          AZ

American Goldfinch          CA

Rufous-winged Sparrow          AZ

Black-throated Sparrow          CA

Lark Sparrow          

Chipping Sparrow          

Brewer’s Sparrow          CA

Dark-eyed Junco          

Yellow-eyed Junco          AZ

White-crowned Sparrow          

White-throated Sparrow          AZ

Golden-crowned Sparrow          CA

Sagebrush Sparrow          

Bell's Sparrow          

Vesper Sparrow          AZ

Savannah Sparrow          

Song Sparrow          

Lincoln's Sparrow          

Canyon Towhee          AZ

Abert's Towhee          

California Towhee          CA

Rufous-crowned Sparrow          AZ

Green-tailed Towhee          AZ

Spotted Towhee          

Chihuahuan Meadowlark          AZ

Western Meadowlark

Red-winged Blackbird

Tricolored Blackbird          CA

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Great-tailed Grackle

Orange-crowned Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler          AZ

Townsend's Warbler          CA

Painted Redstart          AZ

Hepatic Tanager          AZ

Northern Cardinal          AZ

Pyrrhuloxia          AZ

Lazuli Bunting          AZ


Black Oystercatcher  ~  Rose Shea photo

Black-necked Stilt  ~  Rose Shea photo

Yellow-billed Loon  ~  Rose Shea photo

Sage Thrasher  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Lewis's Woodpecker  ~  Rose Shea photo

Red-faced Parakeet  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Hammond's Flycatcher  ~  Rose Shea photo

Bighorn Sheep  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

San Jacinto Mountains  ~  Rose Shea photo

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park  ~  Rose Shea photo

Salton Sea  ~  Rose Shea photo


Eurasian Wigeon  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Mountain Plover  ~  Raymond Tervo photo

Pacific Loon  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Burrowing Owl  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Arizona Woodpecker  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Rosy-faced Lovebird  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Greater Pewee  ~  Raymond Tervo photo

Vermilion Flycatcher  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Verdin  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Bridled Titmouse  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Bendire's Thrasher  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Yellow-eyed Junco  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Lawrence's Goldfinch  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Chihuahuan Meadowlark  ~  Raymond Tervo photo