Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wrenegades! Birdathon Team Finds Birds and Fun!

By Jennie MacFarland IBA Program Assistant - Biologist
On the morning of April 17, the intrepid Birdathon team, the Wrenegades gathered together in Sweetwater Wetlands to kick off our action packed day. Once the dream team of Jennie MacFarland, Matt Brooks, Sarah Pike, Corey Perez, Sandy Elers, Julie Gordon, and Herb Trossman had all gathered in the parking lot, the Birdathon was on! First Sandy surprised us all with wonderful t-shirts bearing the team logo! Now we really looked like a team!
The morning started strong with the team finding many birds right off the bat! It seemed like it was going to be a
very birdy day! We quickly checked off some expected birds by ear such as Red-winged Blackbird and Common Yellow Throat. A walk around the ponds added some waterfowl to the list such as Ruddy Duck, American Wigeon, Mallard and Northern Shoveler. A closer look turned up a Pied-billed Grebe and the great find of a female Bufflehead! As we continued along the trail, we found the reliable Black-chinned hummingbird and came across an area where the air space was full of swallows. We did very well with this diverse group and found 6 species: Northern Rough Winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow and Cliff Swallow! We continued to find classic species such as Killdeer, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Song Sparrow, Wilson’s Warbler, and Sora along with some less obvious species such as Least Sandpiper, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Bronzed Cowbird and Green Heron. As we continued along, it occurred to us that we still had not seen the resident Harris’s Hawk Family, but then one flew over and we could follow its flight back to the nest. What a treat!
Then it was time to head south. On the road we recorded both Common and Chihuahuan Raven along with Red-tailed Hawk. With the windows open we also detected Rufous-winged Sparrow and Bell’s Vireo as we zoomed along! At a hidden stop in Tubac (whose lo
cation will remain shrouded in mystery) we found Northern Cardinal (the only one we saw all day!), Black-throated Gray Warbler and Cedar Waxwings chowing down on mulberries which caused much excitement for the team!

It was then high time to be getting along to Madera Canyon! At the first stop of Proctor we picked up the last of our desert birds in Black-throated Sparrow and Costa’s Hummingbird! Along the trail we found a demure Hermit Thrush right on the trail and a calling Acorn Woodpecker, the first of many for the day. Then excitement soared as a lone Gray hawk drifted overhead, wheeled a few times and then soared out of sight!
Then it was time to go up in elevation and into the canyon. We quickly picked up the distinctive song of the Pine Siskins in the large pines and could see their distinctive yellow wing bars. We made all of the classic stops at the feeders and enjoyed the astounding sight of about 8 male Lazuli Buntings all feeding on the same feeder! Here we also saw a Bullock’s Oriole, many Chipping Sparrows, and White Breasted Nuthatch. We then zoomed to the top and walked the Mt. Wrightstown trail with surprisingly poor results, though we did pick up Arizona Woodpecker, Cassin’s Vireo and a Painted Redstart that was very interested in us and why we had invaded his territory. We then wound down at the famous Kubo B&B feeders and checked off Magnificient Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Broad-billed Hummingbird, a beautiful male Scott’s Oriole, Hepatic Tanager and a lone Yellow-eyed Junco. As we were walking back to our cars to get our lunches, we then heard our last bird, a Dusky-capped Flycatcher!

As we enjoyed our lunches outside among the birds we reflected on what a great day it had been and how lucky we were to have netted 103 species in under 6 hours. What a day! A special thanks to all of the great folks who sponsored us in Birdathon! Go Wrenegades!!!

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