A long weekend in Arizona

I got to go to Arizona this family long weekend with my sister and got to spend some of my free time birding. One of the first birds I saw when I stepped off the plane was a Gambel's Quail. These beautiful birds were all over Central Arizona

I had a great success seeing  many owls in Arizona this trip. I got to see an uncommon Whiskered Screech-Owl. I just stumbled on this tiny little owl while hiking in Southeastern Arizona. He was roosting in the daylight in a Sycamore tree. Several people passed by this tree without noticing him but I knew to check out cavities. I was actually looking at a Arizona Woodpecker when I turned around and spotted him in this Sycamore tree. These tiny owls are rarely seen in the daylight and are only found in Southeastern Arizona and Mexico in North America.

The same day and a few hours apart I found a Western Screech-Owl, he was also roosting in a Saguaro Cactus. This little owl had his eyes partially open at times but most of the time he was asleep. While looking at him two Verdins were building a nest beneath him and a Say's Phoebe called out above him.

In Madera Canyon I was looking at Bridled Titmice, Arizona and Acorn Woodpeckers, a Hammond's Flycatcher and a Townsend's Warbler when suddenly a beautiful red bird flew in. I thought it couldn't be a Painted Redstart but it was! He flew in to my direction and he was very curious. The way he flew around my head I can only describe as a dance. It was a magical encounter for sure. He was literally 5 feet from my head and when I walked away he would fly back again to dance with me a little more. I had to eventually leave him and every time I went to look at the other beautiful nearby birds he would come back to crave more of my attention. You just don't forget moments like this! 

The most common birds I saw there were Phainopeplas and Mourning Doves. I love the  pretty song that  Phainopeplas make which sounds like "pretty you". I found him in Boyce Thompson State Park. It was the only place I found a small Ladder-backed woodpecker.

In Sabino Canyon I was looking for Black-throated sparrows and Roadrunners. I never did find a Roadrunner but did find a beautiful Mockingbird. This bird was displaying and posing so wonderfully while everyone passed him by. I thought he was beautiful. I loved the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. So whenever I see them I think of what Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) said "Remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Now the real thing I was looking for in Arizona was Hummers. Of all the birds in the world Hummingbirds and Hawks are my favourites.

I searched high and low for a Costa's Hummingbird (which was the most Common winter resident other than Anna's) in Arizona at this time. Did I see a Costa's? No sadly I did not.

However, I did see two rare winter Hummers! I found a Broad-billed Male Hummer and a beautiful Male Magnificent Hummer. These two were feeding at feeders at Madera Canyon. It was about 30 degrees when I was there that day. It is amazing how cool the temperature drops in the Canyon at sunset.

I sat in awe as these beautiful hummers came in. The Broad-billed flew right in front of the feeder I was sitting in front of. He never came back in the two hours I was there. The Magnificent Hummingbird was such a surprise my fingers unfortunately did not work well on the camera and the shot is slightly blurry.

Now, while I was watching these hummers and hoping for the best I was surrounded by Yellow-eyed juncos, Gray-headed juncos, Mexican Jays, lesser goldfinches, chipping sparrows, one white-winged dove, white-breasted nuthatches, bridled titmice, anna's hummers, acorn woodpeckers (I noticed the arizona woodpeckers never came to the feeders), siskins and a 1 single gorgeous male Hepatic Tanager. It is extremely rare to find these tanagers in Southeastern Arizona in winter time! He was so bright and beautiful!

I enjoyed seeing the Mexican Jays in Arizona. They are the only immature jays that have a pink bill. These birds are really beautiful but are bullies at the feeder (like all jays) and they wouldn't let the cute titmice feed. I was lucky enough to see a flock of 10.

A male Western Bluebird made my sister's day. It was the first time she had ever seen a Western Bluebird and we couldn't have found one in a more beautiful spot. I found him in Sedona against the red rocks. He was in a flock of 25 birds and was surrounded by 5 lesser goldfinches and one lone Western Scrub Jay.

Burrowing Owl near Phoenix - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Western Scrub-Jay in Sedona - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Zebra-tailed Lizard in Superior - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Mae Western Bluebird in Sedona - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Male Gambel's Quail - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Yellow-rumped Warbler - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Burrowing Owls were one of the last birds I saw in Arizona they are always fun to watch with their grumpy expressions
Cactus Wren in Superior, AZ - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Broad-billed Hummingbird in Madera Canyon - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Male Hepatic Tanager in Madera Canyon - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Juvenile Mexican Jay in Madera Canyon - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Painted Redstart in Madera Canyon - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Had a magical experience with this Painted Redstart in Madera - Photo: Melissa Hafting

Thanks for taking the time to look at the photos from my trip. I was so glad to see so many birds in such little time.


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