Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bulletin #147 - Southeast Arizona#3 - other birds

I spent a weekend in the Tucson, Arizona area with guide Melody Kehl. I was attempting to finish photographing the local birds, that I had missed on 3 previous visits.

I got some nice photos of the red-shafted form of the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus). I had not realized until I saw these birds that the red was under the tail as well as the wing linings. The male has a red malar stripe and the female in the second photo does not.

Northern Flicker - male

Northern Flicker - female
The two Meadowlarks occur in the Tucson area and it gave me a chance to get better photos and compare the differences. The Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) has a bright yellow throat and only has white on the edges of the tail. It took over an hour to finally get a closeup photo of this bird.

Western Meadowlark
The Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) that occurs in Arizona is known as Lillian's Meadowlark and may in fact be a separate species.In any event, the voices are different between the 2 species. The throat is white rather than yellow. Also, when the birds fly and fan the tail, it is mostly white with just a few central brown feathers. This is my best photo of a Lillian's subspecies.

Eastern Meadowlark (Lillian's)
A cute tiny (4.5") bird of the arid southwest is the Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps). This bird is all gray except for a yellow head and small red shoulder patch.The sexes are similar.

This photo shows a bird eating the fruit of a prickly pear cactus.

The western race of Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata) was formerly known as Audubon's Warbler. It differs from the eastern race by having a yellow throat.

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Audubon's
The only other warbler we found was a stray from the east - a Chestnut-sided Warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica). This is a first winter female bird as she has no brown sides at all.

Chestnut-sided Warbler
Several species of thrashers make their home in the arid southwest. The most common of these is the Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre). This large (11") bird is gray with a spotted breast, curved bill and yellow eye.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Lastly we had 2 species of goldfinches. The male Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria) has a black face, wings and tail, green back and yellow underparts

Lesser Goldfinch - male
The male Lawrence's Golfinch (Carduelis lawrenci) is mostly gray with black face and yellow breast on wings.

Lawrence's Goldfinch - male
 Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2011 David McDonald
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