July 24, 2009
Bulletin #86 – SE Arizona #4
I returned to Tucson AZ for another weekend of birding and photography to try and finish up on the areas birds. They are many summering migrants, which would be lifers for me.
I used my 2 previous guides for this trip.
Matt Brown is in Patagonia AZ. His web site is
Melody Kehl is in Tucson AZ. Her web site is
Both guides I recommend highly. I have used them twice each. They know where the birds are and can maximize your time and effort.
Well, we have looked at warblers, hummingbirds and flycatchers in Arizona over the last 3 bulletins. The next ones will deal with all the rest of the birds from other families.
I had a photographed 2 species of hawks on this visit to AZ.
The first is the Gray Hawk (Asturina nitida). This bird occurs along the US-Mexico border. The adult shown here is all gray with a striped tail that he fanned for me while I was taking his picture. The second photo shows a nest with the top of the head of a baby just visible.
The other was the Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus). I had found this bird for the first time in west Texas at the end of April, but here I had the bird perched and adjacent to his nest. The striped tail can be seen in the first photo.
I got better photos of 2 species of owls as well. The Whiskered Screech-Owl (Megascops trichopsis) is a resident of higher elevation in the mountains of SE Arizona.
I got improved photos of an Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi) is the smallest North American owl. Here is one a wire and the second is in the nest hole in a power pole
I finally got some photos of the 3 quail species that have eluded me on multiple occasions. The Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla gambelli) is a generally common and tame bird that has frustrated me to even find, on my first two trips to Tucson. On this trip, I found a family group in the parking lot of a McDonald’s, where I had stopped to eat!
The first photo shows a beautiful male with the black face and belly patch. He also has a curved black feather on his head. The female in the second photo lacks the black face and belly patch. The baby in the third photo is mostly brown and has a rudimentary feather sticking up on the top of his head.
The Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata) has eluded me on at least 6 prior trips to look for it. I have seen the birds running through the scrub, but have never been able to get any photo. Finally one perched on a fence post about 150 feet away to allow this distant photo.
Lastly, is the phantom Montezuma Quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae). I waited for this bird a whole day in west Texas where they feed them, but he was a no-show. I finally had a brief glimpse before he scurried away. The photo isn’t the greatest, as he is missing his beak, but the black and white patterned face of the male is discernable. This will have to do until I can get a better photo of this enigmatic bird.
The last bird for this bulletin is the dapper little Bridled Titmouse (Baeolophus wollweberi). I have previous photos of this bird, but this is the best one yet. I spent about 8 hours at Madera Kubo B&B in Madera Canyon, where they have multiple feeders and thus was able to get several improved photos.
The last lizard on this trip was a Sonoran Spotted Whiptail (Cnemidophorus sonorae). This 10” lizard is dark brown on the back with longitudinal yellow stripes. It has spots on both the dark brown and the thin yellow stripes. Interestingly, like several species of whiptails, they are all females and reproduce asexually.
Happy birding and photography,
David McDonaldemail: firstname.lastname@example.org
photos copyright 2009 David McDonald
To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask for subscribe.