Monday, April 2, 2007

Arizona Birding

Posted by Kirk
What can I say? The birds in Arizona were fantastic. Even Chelsey thought some of them were cool.

When I first arrived in Arizona at the Kierland Villas I took out my binoculars and immediately spotted Great Tailed Grackles, a Green Heron, a bunch of Yellow-Rumped Warblers (Audubon's), Mallards, House Finches, Starlings and a Black Chinned Hummingbird. The birds in bold are new for this year.

Here's a shot of Chelsey and I at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. On Tuesday, Chelsey, and my mom came along as I met up with birder Jane Wicklund for some serious bird nerd fun. There was a threat of high winds that day so we started early and were able to catch some great sightings before it got too windy. Here's my list from that Tuesday.

On the way there I saw a Turkey Vulture and a Gambel's Quail.

As for new birds at the arboretum:
Gila Woodpecker
Pied Billed Grebe
Cooper's Hawk
Inca Dove
Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Black Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Bell's Vireo
Hermit Thrush
Yellow Warbler
Spotted Towhee
Abert's Towhee
Black-Throated Sparrow
White Crowned Sparrow
Lesser Goldfinch

That's a pretty good list for one day. We saw one other bird that Jane said was a ruby crowned kinglet but since I couldn't verify it I didn't include it on my list. It was fun to watch people from the Pacific Northwest go all crazy about the northern cardinals. They are pretty amazing. I guess we tend to take them for granted.

On the way home from the arboretum I spotted a Killdeer on the side of the road.

Back at Kierland I saw two Golden Eagles flying over the golf course. I also saw Common ravens. When we went to Taliesin West I saw more gila woodpeckers and house sparrows but also a Curve-billed Thrasher which was fun. I went on a short stake-out at the hummingbird feeders by the pool back at Kierland but apparently no one bothers to fill them.

Once the rest of my family went back home, Chelsey and I headed off to Sedona. We stayed at Lo Lo Mai springs. Our cabin was just feet from the springs and the pond it feeds and I had some exciting new species. I immediately zoned in on a completely bizarre looking duck . Turns out it was a Mandarin Duck. They commonly escape from private collections and zoos. It was incredible and seemed to be hanging out with a couple of Wood Ducks. There were a bunch of mallards and a green heron as well.

At the Tlaquepaque shopping area in Sedona I spotted a couple of Cedar Waxwings.

In our adventures around the Sedona area we checked out Tuzigoot National Monument which is pretty much a waste of time.

It is as exciting as the photo looks.

There are far more interesting locations where you can see similar things. As far a birds I did add a Brown Crested Flycatcher though I must admit it was a difficult ID. I'm pretty confident though.

Far far more exciting was our last day in the Sedona area. I woke up and peeked out the front door to see who was in the pond. To my surprise there was a male Northern Pintail in breeding plumage. Nice.

Here I am ID'ing some Violet-Green Swallows along Oak Creek Canyon.

At Montezuma's Well I saw some great birds and this site was interesting even if you are oblivious to birds. I'd say it is better than Montezuma's Castle and did I mention that it is free?

In the "well," which is a limestone sinkhole, I immediately spotted a Cinnamon teal. Marvelous! The color on the male was wonderful. There were some mallards of course as well as a pair of American Wigeons. I spent a good deal of time looking at the swallows and determined they were Northern Rough-Winged Swallows. Trying Chelsey's patience, I ID'd a Rock Wren and then had a nice short conversation about birds with the ranger. She seemed to indicate that the rock wrens and canyon wrens look the same to her but I found that a little hard to believe. In all of the drawings I have, the canyon wren has a very distinct white throat but maybe not in this part of Arizona?

She indicated that a pair of black hawks were in the area but I didn't see them. I also ran out of time to track down a canyon wren. Oh well.

From Montezuma's Well we headed straight to the airport and I watched the entire way for a road runner. Pretty much everyone else in my family has seen one down there but my record of failure continues unbroken now for two years. I guess seeing something like 47 other species of birds makes up for it!

Here's the birds listed out. Only new ones here:
(Lifers are noted with a * 22 species are listed here for the first time)

Great-tailed Grackle
Green Heron

Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
Black Chinned Hummingbird*
Gambel's Quail.
Gila Woodpecker*
Pied Billed Grebe
Cooper's Hawk*
Inca Dove*
Broad-Billed Hummingbird*
Anna's Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird*

Black Phoebe*
Vermilion Flycatcher*
Bell's Vireo *
Hermit Thrush
Yellow Warbler
Spotted Towhee*
Abert's Towhee*
Black-Throated Sparrow

White Crowned Sparrow
Lesser Goldfinch*
Golden Eagle*
Common raven
Curve-billed Thrasher
Mandarin Duck*
Wood Duck
Cedar Waxwing
Brown Crested Flycatcher*

Northern Pintail*
Violet-Green Swallow
Cinnamon teal*
American Wigeon*
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow*
Rock Wren*

When I returned to work on Monday morning I taught down at the Science Museum and they had a spotting scope out so you could look for Peregrine Falcons on the High Bridge power plant smoke stack. I focused and zoomed in the scope and tally ho! There was a bird perfectly perched. That brings the yearly total to:

Peregrine Falcon*