Friday, March 6, 2009

Bulletin #69 – SE Arizona #3 – desert birds

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
March 6, 2009

Bulletin #69 – SE Arizona #3 – desert birds

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

If you look in any field guide in the family of thrashers, there are several that are local to Arizona. These were on my target list for this trip.

The first 3 birds were found in the same large scrubby field northwest of Tucson and they were all lifers for me.

The smallest (9.75”) of the 3 and the one with the straight bill is Bendire’s Thrasher (Toxostoma bendirei). It is a light brown bird with spotted breast, yellow eye and straight bill.

The Crissal Thrasher (Toxostoma crissali) is 11” long with a gray body, rusty undertail, and markedly curved bill. The breast is not spotted.

The last of the group is the LeConte’s Thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei). This is the palest color of the 3 birds and also has a light rusty undertail. The breast is plain. It is also 11” in length.

In the same field, we found another lifer for me, the Sage Sparrow (Amphispiza belli). This sparrow has a gray head, and white eye-ring. It is quite distinctive and an easy ID for a sparrow.

At another location, we found the Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre).

The Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) is a member of a small bird family called the Silky-Flycatchers. Despite its name, it eats mostly berries. It is a medium sized bird (7.75”) with a red eye and a bushy crest. The male in the first photo is glossy black and the female in the second, is gray.

The last desert bird is a large wren. Here it is perched on top of a cactus. Appropriately, it is the Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus). The spotted breast, large size and rufous belly ID this wren.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy birding and photography
photos copyright 2009 David McDonald
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I went birding with Melody back in October. She is terrific. Looks like you got some pretty good birds. I skunked on the Thrashers.