Friday, July 3, 2009

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
July 3, 2009

Bulletin #83 – SE Arizona #1

Hello friends,

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 here.

Melody Kehl is in Tucson AZ. Her web site is here.

Both guides I recommend highly. I have used them twice each. They know where the birds are and can maximize your time and effort.

I found several warblers and related birds of which 2 were life birds.

The Red-faced Warbler (Cardellina rubrifrons) is a gray bird with a bright red face and black cap. The sexes are similar. This was a life bird for me. This bird is a regular summer resident of the high mountains in SE Arizona.

The next bird is also a lifer, but occurs only rarely in the USA. There are 3-4 birds this summer in Arizona and 1 in Texas. This is the beautiful Rufous-capped Warbler (Basileuterus rufifrons). A pair was found at the Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve in Patagonia. Matt Brown took me there and we saw both birds. They have started nesting. The grass nest in built on the ground and was close to the path through the preserve. The sexes are similar and unmistakable. The first photo shows the bird and the second shows the nest.

I had photographed Grace’s Warbler (Dendroica graciae) west Texas 2 months ago, but the bird was high up in a tree. Fortunately, I found a pair of them about 25’ off the ground in the Huachuca Mts. I was able to get some better photos. Here are a couple of photos of this pretty bird.

The Lucy’s Warbler (Vermivora luciae) was another bird I found in Big Bend NP in Texas, but this bird I was unable to photograph as it stayed hidden in the trees. This bird in Arizona popped in the open in a mesquite tree and I was able to get his picture.

The Lucy’s Warbler is a gray bird with a brown patch on top of head and another at base of tail. This tail patch can be just seen in the second photo.

The next is the familiar Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia). Here is a breeding male who is entirely yellow without any white and he has the reddish breast streaks.

The next bird is still listed by the ABA as a warbler, but is sufficiently different that it may in the future be put in its own family. It is our largest warbler, the Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens). It has an olive back, a bright yellow throat and breast, with a black and white striped face. This is a common bird, but it tends to be a skulker and hard for me to photograph.

Lastly is another bird that was formerly classified as a warbler, but through study, it was determined to be sufficiently distinct to be put in its own family. This, of course, is the Olive Warbler (Peucedramus taeniatus). This bird is a resident of the mountains in SE Arizona. The male has a distinctive orange head and neck with black mask. The female is similar, but the orange is replaced by yellow as in the second photo.

I also found a number of lizards, so will show 1 in each bulletin. The first is the Collared Lizard (Crotophytus collaris). It has a black collar on the back of the neck and blue on the throat. The photo was taken in Madera Canyon.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2009 David McDonald

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