SOUTHEAST ARIZONA MBWEEK SUMMARY

January 14 - 22, 2017


One would think that reports of staked-out rarities at the time of a tour would be welcome news. Curiously, though, such is not necessarily the case. If there are too many of them, the time spent searching for them can cut into the time needed to look for other things. While it was fantastic for us to relocate the Nutting's Flycatcher at California Gulch (a lifer for all, including Jeff and me!), this side trip took up most of Day 5. Exciting as well was finally seeing the Rose-throated Becard along the de Anza Trail on Day 8, though most of the day before was spent coming up empty looking for both the becard a staked-out Rufous-backed Robin on this trail. And our first vigil at the alleged Rufous-backed house was rewarded by a Ruddy Ground-Dove on Day 4, although we spent too many hours then and on Day 8 waiting in vain for that robin to emerge into view from its back-yard hiding place.


But don't get me wrong here – for us to connect on these three rarities was quite a feat, especially considering that they were so elusive (almost as difficult as those robins), and many other birders were never able to find them! Still, it would have been nice to have more time to look for other birds missing from our list – things like geese, cranes, thrashers, and sparrows at Whitewater Draw and vicinity; tyrannulets, bushtits, Rufous-capped Warbler, Painted Redstart, and others at Madera and Florida canyons; and we could have used more time trying to improve the looks we had of Elegant Trogon (at The Gulch) and Black-capped Gnatcatcher (at Patagonia Lake).


Besides more time, we could have also used better weather on some days. Witness the 40-degree temperatures and steady rain as we tried to watch the feeders at Madera Canyon on Day 7, and it was again around 40 the next day at Florida Canyon as this time we faced snow/sleet showers, strong winds, and a swollen creek that precluded any access beyond the parking lot. And there were no thrashers to be heard on our two visits to those desert flats west of Phoenix as it was too cool and overcast for anything to sing.


Our final species total managed to reach an even 150 – as expected, given our retraints of time and weather, this was below our average for this trip (previous MBWeek totals here in winter have ranged between 158 and 170). Still, we had a long list of special and memorable birds in addition to those five rarities highlighted above. In all, we found 67 "non-Minnesota" birds, with probably the best of these including the Violet-crowned Hummingbird at Paton's, the flock of 22 Mountain Plovers right near the road and the Ferruginous Hawks at the Santa Cruz flats, both Whiskered and Western screech-owls on the same morning near Sierra Vista, a good variety of woodpeckers (especially Acorn, Red-naped Sapsucker, Arizona, and Gilded Flicker), Rosy-faced Lovebirds in Phoenix (Jeff's other lifer), both Hutton's and Plumbeous vireos, the five wren species at Boyce-Thompson, no fewer than three Crissal Thrashers, handsome Black-throated Gray Warblers, Canyon Towhees perched on our minivans' mirrors, an abundance of Abert's Towhees at Gilbert Water Ranch, side-by-side Sagebrush and Bell's sparrows at the thrasher flats, a striking Yellow-eyed Junco in the rain at Madera, and much more.



Itinerary


January 14: Arrival at PHX; late afternoon option to Kiwanis Park; dinner at Joe's Crab Shack and first of 2 nights in Tempe.


January 15: Thrasher flats @Salome Hwy & Baseline Rd, Estrella Mountain Park, Encanto Park, and Scottsdale Ranch Park; dinner at Claim Jumper.


January 16: Gilbert Water Ranch, Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, and Oak Flat campground; dinner at Red Estilo Mex and night in Casa Grande.


January 17: Santa Cruz flats (especially Evergreen Turf Farm and Baumgartner & Wheeler house), El Rio Open Space, and Reid Park; dinner at Cattletown and night in Tucson.


January 18: California Gulch (via Arivaca Rd, Ruby Rd, and Warsaw Canyon Rd), Paton's feeders in Patagonia; dinner at Steak Out and night in Sierra Vista.


January 19: Pre-dawn owling in Miller Canyon, San Pedro House, Sierra Vista WTP, return to Paton's feeders, Patagonia Lake State Park, and Amado sewage ponds; dinner at Cow Palace and first of 2 nights in Tucson.


January 20: Tumacacori part of de Anza Trail, Tubac portion of de Anza Trail, and Madera Canyon; late lunch/early dinner at Cow Palace.  


January 21: Return to de Anza Trail @Clark Crossing Rd area, Florida Canyon, Saguaro Nat'l Park West, Mile Wide Rd, and return to Baumgartner & Wheeler; dinner at Carlito's and final night in Tempe.


January 22: Morning option to Salome Hwy & Baseline Rd, and return flights home from PHX.



Bird List


• boldface type = "non-Minnesota" birds (i.e., those absent, Accidental, or Casual in MN)


Canada Goose

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard

Cinnamon Teal (dozens at Patagonia Lake S.P.)

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Merganser

Ruddy Duck


Gambel's Quail


Wild Turkey


Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe


Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground-Dove

Ruddy Ground-Dove (a great consolation prize on Day 4!)

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner


Magnificent Hummingbird (briefly in the rain at Madera)

Anna's Hummingbird (ubiquitous)

Violet-crowned Hummingbird (a juvenile at Paton's)


Virginia Rail

Sora

American Coot


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


Killdeer

Mountain Plover (close views at the turf farm)


Long-billed Curlew (along Baseline Rd on Day 9)

Least Sandpiper

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe

Greater Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron


Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Harris's Hawk (near Florence Jct)

Red-tailed Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk


Western Screech-Owl (roosting at San Pedro House)

Whiskered Screech-Owl (almost too easy to see at Miller Canyon)

Great Horned Owl

Burrowing Owl (along Jackrabbit Tr on Day 2)


Elegant Trogon (briefly at The Gulch; also heard at Patgonia Lake)


Belted Kingfisher


Acorn Woodpecker

Gila Woodpecker

Red-naped Sapsucker (Paton's)

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Arizona Woodpecker (also in the rain at Madera)

Northern Flicker

Gilded Flicker (Mile Wide Rd on Day 8; also briefly in Scottsdale)


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Merlin

Peregrine Falcon

Prairie Falcon


Rosy-faced Lovebird (Encanto Park)


Hammond's/Dusky Flycatcher (needed better looks)

Gray Flycatcher (easy to ID when tail-dipping)

Black Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Say's Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Nutting's Flycatcher (at The Gulch!)


Rose-throated Becard (de Anza Trail!)


Loggerhead Shrike


Hutton's Vireo

Plumbeous Vireo


Mexican Jay

Chihuahuan Raven (especially in Sierra Vista)

Common Raven


Horned Lark


Northern Rough-winged Swallow


Bridled Titmouse


Verdin


White-breasted Nuthatch


Rock Wren

Canyon Wren

House Wren

Marsh Wren

Bewick's Wren

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Black-capped Gnatcatcher (2 less-than-cooperative birds at Patgonia Lake)


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Western Bluebird

Hermit Thrush


Curve-billed Thrasher

Crissal Thrasher (a total of 3)

Sage Thrasher (1 near the turf farm)

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


Phainopepla (finally on Day 8)


House Sparrow


American Pipit


House Finch

Lesser Goldfinch


Orange-crowned Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler (de Anza Trail)


Green-tailed Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Abert's Towhee (almost abundant at Gilbert Water Ranch)

Rufous-winged Sparrow (in the snow/sleet at Florida Canyon)

Chipping Sparrow

Brewer's Sparrow (briefly by a few on Day 2)

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Sagebrush Sparrow

Bell's Sparrow (with Sagebrush Sparrows on Day 2)

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco (incl Pink-sided, Oregon, and Gray-headed forms)

Yellow-eyed Junco (also in the rain at Madera)


Hepatic Tanager (male seen by a few on the de Anza Trail)

Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia

Lazuli Bunting (Paton's)


Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark (the "Lillian's" subspecies)

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Great-tailed Grackle

Bronzed Cowbird (Amado sewage ponds)




*          *          *



WINTER ARIZONA PHOTO GALLERY



Ruddy Ground-Dove, Gilbert Water Ranch, 2011 (KRE photo)

Mountain Plover, Evergreen sod farm, 2019 (Lon Baumgardt photo)

Elegant Trogon, Madera Canyon, 2019 (Lon Baumgardt photo)

Rosy-faced Lovebird, Encanto Park, 2012 (KRE photo)

Nutting's Flycatcher, California Gulch, 2017 (Lynn Glesne photo)

Rose-throated Becard, de Anza Trail, 2017 (Jay Vancura photo)

Bridled Titmouse, Madera Canyon, 2012 (Vija Kelly photo)

Western Bluebird, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Rufous-backed Robin, Anthem, 2012 (Vija Kelly photo)

LeConte’s Thrasher, Baseline Rd thrasher flats, 2019 (Jena Highkin photo)

Black-throated Gray Warbler, 2019 (Dennis Randall photo)

Green-tailed Towhee, San Pedro House, 2017 (Jeff Stephenson photo)

Bendire's Thrasher, Baseline Rd thrasher flats, 2019 (Jena Highkin photo)

Rufous-capped Warbler, Florida Canyon, 2014 (KRE photo)

Whiskered Screech-Owl, Miller Canyon, 2014 (David Luth photo)

Arizona Woodpecker, Madera Canyon, 2019 (Lon Baumgardt photo)

Crissal Thrasher, Estrella Mountain Park, 2014 (KRE photo)

Gila Woodpecker, Gilbert Water Ranch, 2011 (KRE photo)

Cactus Wren, Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, 2014 (KRE photo)

Lawrence's Goldfinch, Canoa Ranch Park, 2019 (KRE photo)

Rufous-winged Sparrow, Patagonia, 2019 (Jena Highkin photo)

Gilded Flicker, Gates Pass, 2014 (KRE photo)

Hepatic Tanager, Madera Canyon, 2014 (KRE photo)

Also see the PHOTO GALLERY

following the summaries of the 2019 and 2017 MBWeeks.


__________



WINTER ARIZONA MBWEEK SUMMARY

January 27 - February 4, 2019


Considering that we came up with a grand total of 181 species – the most ever for this MBWeek, about 10 more than our previous best, and no fewer than 30 more than the last trip here in 2017 – well, by almost any measure this trip has to be considered a success. Consider as well that our list included 82 “non-Minnesota” species: i.e., those only on our Casual or Accidental list, or those never seen in MN. True, our grand total was about 20 species less than on the California MBW the week before, but AZ always has far fewer water birds to see: note that we only had 16 ducks and 11 shorebirds, compared to 23 of each that the CA group listed.


But despite how well we did with finding birds, the real highlight of this week had to be meteorological rather than ornithological, as we managed to escape some downright brutal weather back home. This was especially true on January 31 when the low temperature hit minus 56 degrees in Cotton (i.e., in the Sax-Zim Bog); and this was the absolute temperature with no wind-chill facotor involved. Not only was this just 3.5 degrees shy of the all-time Minnesota record of -59.5 (in Tower in February 1996, but meanwhile on the 31st where we were the high was +74 – a mind-boggling 130 degrees warmer than in Cotton!


It’s more fun, though, to talk about our birding highlights. Our first full day began at the so- called thrasher flats west of Phoenix where we had exceptional views of both cooperative LeConte’s and Bendires thrashers, along with Sagebrush and Brewer’s sparrows (2 of our trip list of 22 sparrow species). Next, a pair of obliging Ruddy Ground-Doves was still staked-out for us not far away, and the day ended with Gilded Flickers at one park and now-countable Rosy-faced Lovebirds at another.


The next day was mostly at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum where our only Lewis’s Woodpecker was being seen, and twice we had all three vireos (Plumbeous, Cassin’s, Hutton’s) together in separate waves of wintering passerines. Our highlights the next day in the Santa Cruz Flats included no fewer than 97 Mountain Plovers together at a sod farm and both Sage and Bendire’s thrashers nearby before we moved on to Sierra Vista.


Our time there featured a roosting Western Screech-Owl and more at San Pedro House; impressive numbers of cranes, our best Gray Flycatcher, and a Prairie Falcon in the Whitewater Draw area; and at night we called into view both Whiskered and Western screech-owls in Miller Canyon. Violet-crowned Hummingbirds were next at Patagonia’s feeders, and at the state park we puzzled over Empidonax flycatchers and a vagrant phalarope (initially IDed as a Red-necked, it was actually a Red).


But our best birding was saved for last along the I-19 corridor beween Nogales and Tucson, especially at Madera Canyon. After three visits there we finally had close looks at an elusive White-throated Thrush (the first U.S. record outside of Texas), a vigil at an Elegant Trogon’s favorite tree eventually provided nice looks for everyone, we had careful studies of Black- capped Gnatcatchers, and at the feeders were Blue-throated and Rivoli’s hummingbirds, Arizona Woopecker, Yellow-eyed Junco, and Hepatic Tanager.


And at nearby Florida Canyon we had our only tyrannulet, Crissal Thrasher (mostly heard- only), Black-chinned Sparrow, and Peg briefly saw a Rufous-capped Warbler (which disappeared before anyone could relocate it – though Jena did see it after the MBW ended). Not far away at Canoa Ranch Park there were dozens of Lawrence’s Goldfinches (maybe 100+?) on one visit and our only Cassin’s Sparrow on another. We even found time at literally the last minute on the final day to see an out-of-season Greater Pewee en route to the airport.



Itinerary


January 27 - Arrivals at PHX; time-permitting options to Gilbert Water Ranch, Tempe Town Lake, Zanjero and Encanto Parks; first of 2 nights at Baymont Inn & dinner at Coyote Grill.


January 28 - Salome Hwy & Baseline Rd thrasher flats, Hazen Rd ground-dove yard, Estrella Mountain Park, and return to Encanto Park; dinner at Coyote Grill.


January 29 - Zuni Park (sapsucker search), Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, and drive to Casa Grande; night at Comfort Inn & dinner at Mimi’s.


January 30 - Santa Cruz Flats/Evergreen Sod Farm, El Rio Open Space, Madera Canyon, and drive to Sierra Vista; first of 2 nights at Sierra Suites & dinner at La Casita.


January 31 - Ramsey Canyon (briefly), Sierra Vista sewage ponds (briefly), San Pedro House, Charleston Rd (briefly), Whitewater Draw & vicinity, and Miller Canyon owling; dinner at Ricardo’s.


February 1 - Paton’s feeders, Sonoita Creek TNC Preserve, Patagonia Lake State Park, and drive to Nogales via Kino Springs and Rio Rico (briefly); first of 3 nights at Holiday Inn Express & dinner at Ragazzi’s.


February 2 - Morning in Madera Canyon, afternoon at Florida Canyon, and Amado sewage ponds; dinner at Firefly.


February 3 - Canoa Ranch Park, Sweetwater wetlands (in the rain), and return to Madera Canyon; dinner at Green Valley Ragazzi’s.


February 4 - Bridge Rd in Tubac (briefly), return to Canoa Ranch Park and Florida Canyon, and Reid Park in Tucson; flights home from TUS.



Bird List


• boldface = “non-Minnesota” species (i.e., Casual, Accidental, or absent in MN)


Snow Goose

Ross's Goose

Canada Goose

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard        (incl “Mexican Duck”)

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Merganser

Ruddy Duck


Gambel's Quail


Wild Turkey


Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe

Western Grebe

Clark's Grebe        (Patagonia Lake)


Rock Pigeon         

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Inca Dove

Common Ground-Dove

Ruddy Ground-Dove        (Hazen Road stake-out)

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove


Greater Roadrunner


Rivoli’s Hummingbird        (Santa Rita Lodge)

Blue-throated Hummingbird        (ditto)          

Anna's Hummingbird

Broad-billed Hummingbird        (best @Madera Canyon)

Violet-crowned Hummingbird        (@Paton’s and Sonoita TNC feeders)


Virginia Rail

Sora

American Coot


Sandhill Crane


Black-necked Stilt

American Avocet


Killdeer

Mountain Plover        (97 @Evergreen Sod Farm)

                           

Least Sandpiper       

Long-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe

Spotted Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Red Phalarope        (Patagonia Lake)


Ring-billed Gull


Neotropic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant


American White Pelican


Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Green Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron


Turkey Vulture


Osprey


Golden Eagle

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Bald Eagle

Harris's Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk


Barn Owl


Western Screech-Owl        (San Pedro House and Miller Canyon)

Whiskered Screech-Owl        (Miller Canyon)

Great Horned Owl

Burrowing Owl        (Zanjero Park)


Elegant Trogon        (Madera Canyon)


Lewis's Woodpecker        (Boyce-Thompson)

Acorn Woodpecker

Gila Woodpecker

Red-naped Sapsucker        (also at Boyce)

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Arizona Woodpecker        (Madera Canyon)

Northern Flicker

Gilded Flicker        (best @Zuni Park)


Crested Caracara

American Kestrel

Merlin

Peregrine Falcon

Prairie Falcon        (near Whitewater Draw)


Rosy-faced Lovebird        (Encanto Park)


N. Beardless-Tyrannulet        (Florida Canyon)

Cassin's Kingbird        (Reid Park)

Greater Pewee        (ditto)

Hammond's Flycatcher        (Patagonia L and Florida Canyon; also other unidentifieds)

Gray Flycatcher        (best @Whitewater Draw)

Black Phoebe

Say's Phoebe

Vermilion Flycatcher


Loggerhead Shrike


Plumbeous Vireo

Cassin's Vireo

Hutton's Vireo        (all 3 vireos together @Boyce-Thompson)


Mexican Jay

Chihuahuan Raven

Common Raven


Horned Lark


N. Rough-winged Swallow

                 

Bridled Titmouse


Verdin


White-breasted Nuthatch                 


Brown Creeper


Rock Wren        (Patagonia Lake)

Canyon Wren        (Boyce-Thompson)

House Wren

Marsh Wren

Bewick's Wren

Cactus Wren


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Black-capped Gnatcatcher        (Madera Canyon @Proctor Road)


Ruby-crowned Kinglet


Western Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

Townsend's Solitaire        (Proctor Rd)

Hermit Thrush

White-throated Thrush        (! - see summary)       

American Robin


Curve-billed Thrasher

Bendire's Thrasher        (Baseline Rd and Santa Cruz flats)

Le Conte's Thrasher        (very cooperative at Baseline Rd flats)

Crissal Thrasher        (mostly heard-only @Florida Canyon)

Sage Thrasher        (Santa Cruz Flats)

Northern Mockingbird


European Starling


Cedar Waxwing


Phainopepla


Olive Warbler        (seen by Matt only)


House Sparrow


American Pipit

       

House Finch

Pine Siskin

Lesser Goldfinch

Lawrence's Goldfinch        (lots of them at Canoa Ranch)                   


Green-tailed Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Rufous-crowned Sparrow        (heard-only @Patagonia L)

Canyon Towhee

Abert's Towhee

Rufous-winged Sparrow

Cassin's Sparrow        (Canoa Ranch)

Chipping Sparrow

Brewer's Sparrow

Black-chinned Sparrow        (seen by some @Florida Canyon)

Vesper Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Sagebrush Sparrow        (Baseline Rd thrasher flats)

Lark Bunting

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Yellow-eyed Junco        (Madera Canyon)


Eastern Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Red-winged Blackbird

Bronzed Cowbird        (Amado)

Brewer's Blackbird

Great-tailed Grackle


Orange-crowned Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Townsend's Warbler        (Boyce-Thompson)

Rufous-capped Warbler        (seen by Peg @Florida Canyon – and by Jena later)

Painted Redstart


Hepatic Tanager        (Santa Rita Lodge)

Northern Cardinal

Pyrrhuloxia

Lazuli Bunting        (Paton’s feeders)




*          *          *



Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Patagonia, 2019 (Jena Highkin photo)

Vermilion Flycatcher, 2019 (Dennis Randall photo)

Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Madera Canyon, 2019 (Jena Highkin photo)

White-throated Thrush, Madera Canyon, 2019 (KRE photo)

Phainopepla, 2019 (Jena Highkin photo)

Sagebrush Sparrow, Baseline Rd thrasher flats, 2019 (Jena Highkin photo)

N. Beardless-Tyrannulet, Florida Canyon, 2019 (Lon Baumgardt photo)

Lewis's Woodpecker, Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, 2019 (Lon Baumgardt photo)

Yellow-eyed Junco, Madera Canyon, 2019 (Lon Baumgardt photo)

Coatimundi, Madera Canyon, 2019 (Lon Baumgardt photo)

Rock Wren, Borrego Springs, 2019 (Lon Baumgardt photo)