Avian Jewels of Arizona Jul 17—25, 2017

Posted by Brennan Mulrooney


Brennan Mulrooney

Brennan Mulrooney was born and raised in San Diego, California. Growing up, his heart and mind were captured by the ocean. He split his summer days between helping out behi...

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Our first afternoon began with humid, rain-cooled air on an afternoon visit to Sweetwater Wetlands after a monsoon drenching. Before we made it there, we found four Burrowing Owls drying off. At the wetlands, we tallied Tropical Kingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and a shy Harris’s Hawk. An excellent meal at Kingfisher capped our day.

Tufted Flycatcher

Tufted Flycatcher— Photo: Brad Schram


Green Valley and Madera Canyon made for a long and fulfilling first full day of birding. Roaming Green Valley, we caught up with a few common desert birds and our first Rufous-winged Sparrows, but the Gilded Flicker was not to be seen or heard. We moved up to the grasslands of the Santa Rita Mountains, and there we found many singing Botteri’s Sparrows. In the oak woodlands we scored many new birds in and around the Santa Rita Lodge: Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbird, and the enormous Rivoli’s Hummingbird (formerly Magnificent). A Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher sat for great scope views right across the street. During midday with the monsoon clouds building overhead, we spied Yellow-eyed Junco, Mexican Jays, and a Painted Redstart before lunch. As we scurried to stow our picnic supplies after lunch, a Black Bear strolled across the hillside above us, unphased by the imminent rain, and allowing excellent scope views. Pouring rain chased us over to Florida Canyon, where we had a few new birds as a thunderstorm played out just miles away but, fortunately, left us dry. Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet heading the list and the juvenile Gray Hawk, still in the nest but not for long, were the highlights from our afternoon. An early dinner at Olive’s allowed us to get back to Green Valley for a final try for Gilded Flicker; within seconds one flew in, right where we had sought them in the morning. Owling in Madera Canyon yielded heard-birds only: Mexican Whip-poor-will, Elf Owl, and Whiskered Screech-Owl.

Read Brennan’s full report in his Field List.