Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bulletin #68 – SE Arizona #2 – Madera Canyon

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
March 2, 2009

Bulletin #68 – SE Arizona #2 – Madera Canyon

Hello friends,

(Note - Please click on the photo to see a full screen enlargement. You can also search for images in the box at top left)

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.

The other warbler was Townsend’s Warbler (Dendroica townsendi). This yellow warbler has a striped face. In the male, the stripes are black and the female they are olive green. Here are 2 photos of these birds – male and then female.

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.

I also saw another variant of the Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis). This is the pink-sided form. There are a total of 6 different color morphs of this species. At one time they were considered t be different. I have now photographed 3 of the 6 forms.

Lastly, here is the Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). The western birds have a lot of white on the wings. The second is a close up of a male with the horn on the head and red throat.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2009 David McDonald

No comments: