Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bulletin #87 – SE Arizona #5

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
August 1, 2009

Bulletin #87 – SE Arizona #5

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

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.

I got nice close-up photos of a couple of colorful orioles. The male Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus) has a black face and throat.

The male Scott’s Oriole (Icterus parisorum) is one of the 2 yellow and black orioles in the USA. It has an entirely black back.

I also added 2 sparrows to my photo list. Both of these birds are AZ specialties.

The first is the Abert's Towhee (Pipilo aberti). This is the largest of our sparrows at 9.5" in length. It is mostly grayish with a rufous undertail and a black mask on the face.

The other is the rare Five-striped Sparrow (Aimophila quinquestriata). This bird can only be found in California Gulch, a canyon just a mile north of the Mexico border. There are perhaps 5-6 pairs of birds there each year. It is a dark sparrow - brown on back and gray breast with a central black spot. It has several black and white stripes on the face.

Another interesting bird was the common House Wren (Troglodytes aedon). This bird occurs all across the USA and southern Canada. However, there is a subspecies in Mexico known as the Brown-throated Wren that also occurs in southern AZ in the Huachuca and Santa Rita Mountains. See Sibley for the discussion of this. When I looked up Brown-throated Wren on the Internet, Wikipedia has a discussion and states that it most definitely is a separate species from DNA analysis. So this might be another future split. However, Sibley does state that the Arizona birds are intermediate between the 2 forms (Northern and Mexican). I didn't know about the Brown-throated Wren until I got home and was researching my photos.

Why this is of interest is that I photographed 2 different House Wrens. The first was in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson and it is a typical with a gray throat.

The other bird was taken in Madera Canyon which is the Santa Rita Mountains. It definitely has a brown throat.

The other famous wren in AZ in the Sinoloa Wren. A single bird of this Mexican species showed up in Patagonia a year ago. I looked for it last fall and didn't see or hear it. On this trip, I finally got to hear and see it. However, it tends to stay hidden deep in the brush and I was unable to get a photo. It has built a nest however, and I did see it coming and going from the nest and got a photo of the nest. Next trip I hope will be the charmer and I'll finally get a photo of the bird.

A surprise bird for me to find was the Band-tailed Pigeon (Columba fasciata). This bird is normally a montane species, however, we found one at the famous Patagonia rest stop. They come down to lower elevations in June to feast on mulberries. This large (14.4") pigeon has a wide terminal band on the tail, a white collar on the back of the neck and yellow feet. It is the only North American pigeon or dove with yellow feet.

Here is the female Arizona Woodpecker (Picoides arizonae). This is the only solid brown-backed woodpecker in the USA. The female lacks the red patch on the back of the head.

In the first bulletin of this trip that had all warblers, I forgot to include the juvenile Painted Redstart (Myioborus pictus). This bird is all dark gray with large white wing patches and white on the tail. The juvenile lacks the red belly of the adult.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonaldemail:

photos copyright 2009 David McDonald

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