March 2, 2009
Bulletin #68 – SE Arizona #2 – Madera Canyon
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I had a meeting in Phoenix AZ at the end of January on a Friday. Afterwards, I drove down to Tucson for the weekend to find more of the specialty birds that occur there.
With the help of a wonderful guide (Melody Kehl), I found 9 life birds and photographed a total of 13 new species. Her web site is -
Madera canyon is in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson and is a famous location for rarities from Mexico.
The first bird was a rarity and a lifer for me. The Black-capped Gnatcatcher (Polioptila nigriceps) is a small gray bird. There were 3 breeding pairs in Arizona last year. It has a much longer bill than the common Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. The male has the black cap only in breeding season. This is a female who is all gray. The both have the white eye-ring.
I got much better photos of the Mexican Jay (Aphelocoma ultramarina).
We found 2 warbler species. The first was another lifer for me, the Painted Redstart (Myioborus pictus). This striking bird is unmistakable and is noteworthy for a warbler in not having any yellow coloration. He is black with white wing patches and small white stripe under the eye. The breast is bright red.
This bird was another lifer, the Hepatic Tanager (Piranga flava). He superficially resembles the Summer Tanager, but has darker coloration on the face wings and back. He is much more orange color than shown in the field guides, especially when we saw him in bright sunlight. This is the male.
The male Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltira) in the west has a green back. This was my first photo of that color variant.
Happy birding and photography,