Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Birdathon? Only birders would come up with such an activity!

By Sara Pike, Operations & Marketing Director, Tucson Audubon Society

That’s right! Birders did come up with this activity, but if you have any interest or love for the outdoors, then a Birdathon can be fun and of interest to you!

So, Birdathon…Did you know that each year, Tucson Audubon Society hosts an annual Birdathon event? This event is a fundraiser for Tucson Audubon, but it’s also a great way to get started into birding if you have an interest or a great way to get out there further if you’re already a birder (someone who enjoys birds.)



Birdathon is like a walkathon where you can get someone to sponsor you per mile, but in this case you can ask for a pledge per bird species. How cool and different is that? Then, you choose your day during the designated Birdathon time frame and go out and see as many bird species as possible. Some people do this individually, some join a team and some create their own teams.

The ultimate goal is to raise funds for Tucson Audubon Society, your local non-profit and expert on birds and habitat conservation. Habitat conservation means more open space for birds and other wildlife, which ultimately means a more beautiful southeastern Arizona! If you live here, you’ll know what I mean. We live in a beautiful location, with such a diversity of birds (over 300 species you can find here in our region alone) that it’s hard not to notice the beauty and range of habitats, from the top of Mt. Lemmon to the bottom of Saguaro National Park, when you get out and about.




Let me share a bit of what a Birdathon might look like on the ground. This year, I am joining my long standing team, the Wrenegades (yes, pun intended on the bird name!) There are other teams already set up and ready for you to join, such as the Owlympians, the Patagonia Birder Patrol, The Birdbrains, or the Scott’s Orioles. If you are new to birding and want to give it a try, you can simply join one of these expert-led teams and let the birding expert do all the planning for your bird watching day. You just show up and have a great time, learn about birds and gain a new love, or further enhance your love, for the outdoors, bird habitat and the art of bird watching.

This year, the Wrenegades are planning a “Big Day” which means we hope to go out birding for most, if not all, of a 24 hour day. We’re planning to start at 3:00am! What birds can we see at 3:00am you ask? Well, if we show up at Reid Park with a good ear for listening and a flashlight, we might be able to hear (and start counting for the official species list for the day) Great-horned Owl and possibly an overly-excited Northern Mockingbird or Vermilion Flycatcher. By briefly shining a flashlight along the lake at the park, we may see American Coot, Ring-necked Duck, Black-crowned Night-Heron, and of course the beautiful Mallard Duck.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Mallard

Vermilion Flycatcher
From there, we make the drive up Mt. Lemmon, in the dark, stopping at various elevations to listen for owls and other night birds. It’s funny to imagine a group of folks, traipsing around in the dark with hands cupped to ears listening for owls to call, but yes, this is what makes Birdathon fun! Different owls prefer different habitat and elevation, so we can count different species along the entire nighttime drive up to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Then, as we watch dawn break in the sky, we can enjoy the glory of a dawn chorus of daytime birds calling out their territories, such as Red-faced Warbler and House Wren. For a Birdathon, you can count a bird species if you hear it, too. So, having someone on your team (like one of the expert leaders of the expert-led teams) who knows bird calls is helpful, but not required.


Red-faced Warbler

Wilson's Warbler
A drive down Mt. Lemmon with a lot of the same stops as we made on the way up in the dark can bring a whole list of new, daytime bird species to count, such as Wilson’s Warbler and Red-tailed Hawk. Once we’re at the bottom of Mt. Lemmon, we’re on our way to various bird watching locations around Tucson and southeastern Arizona. These may include Patagonia, Madera Canyon, and a few wastewater treatment plants, because birders know that birds love these places! By the end of our Birdathon, we’re hoping to have counted around 150–160 species of birds. Yes, you can count this many species, if not more, in a days-worth of intense and focused birding around southeastern Arizona.

For the more casual birder, just a morning of Birdathon will do. Maybe a trip to a State Park, maybe a walk up Madera Canyon, or a shorter route to the parks around Tucson, will suffice to bring in 30 – 40 species and make it a fun day of bird watching without too much hassle. Some of the expert-led Birdathon teams, such as the Tucson Birding Trail Map team, have such short, relaxing days planned for you already; they just need you to join up!

You could also consider a “Big Sit” which means you join up with a group, and spend time in one location and count the birds within a specified radius of your location. The Agua Caliente Birdbrains Big Sit, or the Paton Center for Hummingbirds Big Sit teams will do just this!


Each team raises funds, or there is a minimum suggested donation to join an expert-led team.

In the end, it’s all for a great cause that supports birds and conservation of bird habitat in southeastern Arizona.

To get more details on this fundraiser and to join a team, see the Tucson Audubon website here:
www.tucsonaudubon.org/birdathon

Get out there and enjoy some of the great birds southeastern Arizona has to offer!


Sara Pike has been with Tucson Audubon Society for 10 years. She started watching birds when she was 20 years old, thanks to an introduction by her cousin who is into the hobby. Sara is proud to be a resident of this area and to be able to appreciate the beauty of southeastern Arizona, and the diversity of birds and wildlife here.

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Search for Bendire's Thrashers in the Sulphur Springs Valley

Guest post by Tim Helentjaris
March 18, 2016


Bendire's by Muriel Neddermeyer
I was out today with my colleagues from Tucson Audubon, Matt Griffiths and Jennie MacFarland, to look for Bendire's Thrashers in the large valley south of Willcox. As part of this large survey this year, I had mapped a number of putative winter territories in both the Santa Cruz Flats and Avra Valley. Unfortunately, going back within the last few weeks, not one of these "territories" was still occupied by a presumed breeding bird and I also could not find any Bendire's in nearby areas. Similarly, volunteers searching random transects in the southern third of the state have been uniformly unsuccessful. Just this Tuesday, I found none on two random transects near Cascabel, AZ.

Rethinking this problem, I did some searching on eBird for summer observations of Bendire's and found very few in the southern third of the state, other than the occasional single bird here and there. There were two interesting exceptions, large clusters of summer observations in the Sulfur Springs Valley, especially around Elfrida, and another around Rodeo just east of the Chiricahua Mts. The three of us made plans to do a driving search in the valley today.

Typical habitat we found Bendire's in Sulphur Springs Valley

The intrepid surveyors

Starting this morning around Sunsites, we started working our way south and eventually passing through Pearce on the Ghost Town Trail. We stopped and used playback at interesting areas but didn't find any Bendire's. After turning east at Gleeson and heading towards Elfrida, we found our first territory just west of town. Wow, pretty exciting, and we were pretty jazzed in having any success. It wasn't another 0.2 miles that we heard another Bendire's singing from a tree in a residence's yard. Getting out, we found three birds at this territory and then in just another 0.2 mile, another pair! We continued through town, doing a rough grid search, sometimes using playback but on most successful stops, finding birds either visually or by hearing their songs before ever having to resort to playback. For the morning, we found six territories in the Elfrida area and another near White Water Draw for a total of eleven Bendire's Thrashers! Never dreamed we would be this successful and to me, it again proved the worth of eBird data in allowing us to efficiently target our searches to areas where our success was many times greater than random searches. No question, as suggested by eBird, that there are breeding territories for this species in the southern part of the state.


Wolfberry (Lycium sp.) was present at most of the sites we found Bendire's

There's Bendire's Thrasher at the top of that pole! They do not seemed concerned with human presence.

One major point of this survey is to understand the habitat requirement for this species and we all agreed, that we are probably now more confused than before we started. The other large concentration of breeding Bendire's in this state, west of Wickiup in the Chicken Springs area is a rich mixture of Sonoran and Mojave deserts while the winter territories around Tucson are in some of the most degraded habitats I have ever found birds in, mostly creosote and scattered mesquites with lots of bare ground. This morning, the predominant habitat was disturbed grasslands with scattered, dwarf mesquites. About the only common factor we can observed was the presence of bare ground with loose soil. Check the videos below of a bird running and another bird singing its lungs out!







A great day altogether, we also had some other neat observations, coveys of SCALED QUAIL, a zooming PRAIRIE FALCON, lots of RED-TAILED HAWKS and AMERICAN KESTRELS, but also a group of Javelinas grazing in a lush alfalfa field, proving once again that you can never imagine all the places you might see these animals and what they might be eating. A stop at Willcox Lakes on the way home produced a lot of ducks, predominantly AMERICAN WIGEONS and NORTHERN SHOVELERS, as well as 24 RING-BILLED GULLS.



The Arizona Important Bird Areas program is still looking for people to join the Bendire's Thrasher survey team this spring. The data show this species is in steep decline and Arizona is a large part of their remaining range. Citizen-science volunteer point count surveys have been established and we are looking for birders to help us do these surveys. You would adopt a route of three point count locations and do the survey on a morning of your choice until mid-May.

For more information and to sign up please visit aziba.org/?page_id=1783

Thursday, March 24, 2016

American Kestrels use Tucson Audubon Nest Box

Male American Kestrel near the nest box with a lizard
Tucson Audubon has an experimental nest box program to see what Sonoran Desert birds will use nest boxes in the Tucson metro area. We want to find out which species will attempt to nest in boxes and if their nesting attempts are successful.

Five kestrel eggs in the box
Conventional wisdom in this area has been that nest boxes might get too hot here in the desert. However, in the last three springs we have had successes with Western Screech-Owl, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Brown-crested Flycatcher. Birds have a higher body temperature and can withstand fairly hot ambient temperatures. In additional, many of these species nest early in the spring here, when temperatures are not as high. More about our nest box program is at www.tucsonaudubon.org/nestbox.

To date, however, boxes we have promoted for American Kestrels have so far gone unused. Until now!

It is not too surprising that we have not had a kestrel nesting attempt so far. While there are a lot of kestrels in our area in the winter, fewer stay to nest. And we have relatively few boxes up for them so far.

But since early March a pair of kestrels has been seen regularly in the vicinity of one of the boxes, on Tucson's northwest side. They have been seen sharing food (lizards) and mating.

Close up of eggs
On March 24 we checked the nest box and found five eggs! The eggs fit the description of kestrel eggs in Birds of North America Online. And according to BNA, normal clutch size is 4-5 eggs. They typically hatch around 30 days after laying.

Kestrel box, on a wall about 9' high
We don't know when they were laid but we will be checking the box regularly. We have started a nesting attempt record at www.nestwatch.org. Their instructions suggest checking the nest every 4-5 days.

We will update you regarding the status of this nest! Wish them luck!








Male with a lizard with female nearby
(apparently they eat a lot of lizards)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Tubac Hawk Watch - Weekend Report

Guest Post by Peter Collins
Ron Morriss Park,Tubac, AZ March 11, 2016
8:00am - 3:00pm


Jim, a birder from northern California who's been at the park all week was the first to notice, something has changed in the last day. There are more and new things in the air.

The first Gray Hawk calls of the season were heard in the morning. By afternoon the first four sudden residents were challenging each other for trees and airspace.

Gray Hawk by Lois Manowitz

The day's first Black Hawk moved along the river trees early at 8:39. Six more between 9 and 10, another 6 between 10 and 11.

Migration seemed to slow and we began scanning higher to catch passing Black Hawks. We counted 5 after midday. Today there were many more raptors moving. More Redtails than recently jetting through extremely high. Signs of a rising tide of spring migration.

Reports of Lucy's Warblers along the river trail have increased. Glimpses of gulls moving north overhead.

Lucy's Warbler by Lois Manowitz

Two young Golden Eagles were spotted. The first drew the attention of the Short-tailed hawk. A few hours later the second eagle was encouraged to move on by a light Redtail and a large falcon.

The usual local raptors list now adds Gray Hawks.

Migrating Raptors:
Common Black Hawk 18
Red-tailed Hawk 12
Short-tailed Hawk 1
Gray Hawk 4
Peregrine Falcon 1
Merlin 1
Kestrel 5
Turkey Vulture 40
Black Vulture 2
Unidentifiable Raptors 7


March 12, 2016
8:00am - 1:00pm


The crowd started building shortly after 8am with 50 birders ready for the 9:03 liftoff of the first Black Hawk. All but one of the 9 Black Hawks flew before 10:00. Most passed over high, but a few gave better looks just north of the watch. Our second Zone-tailed Hawk was sighted at 10:25.

The crowd

Gray Hawks were vocal and visible throughout the day.

I closed the count at 1:00 and then it started to rain Black Hawks. Ok, only a drizzle but really big drops. The first Black Hawk dropped into the river trees at 1:14. Two more around 2:30. Four just before 4:00. Another five after 5:00. We left at 5:30 while raptors continued arriving.

It looks promising for tomorrow morning.

Migrating Raptors:
Common Black Hawk - 9
Zone-tailed Hawk - 1
Turkey Vulture - 48
Red-tailed Hawk - 1

Today's sparkling white birds were a group of 18 Ring-billed Gulls.


March 13, 2016
8:00am - 4:00pm


At least 62 birders anticipating a good Black Hawk flight today were rewarded at 9:24 when the first
of 25 Black Hawks was sighted. Sixteen were counted before 10:00am.

Bill Lisowsky conducted a coordinated lift off count north of the park to give us a sense of how many Black Hawks spent the night too far north for us to observe. He documented 13-15 Black Hawks that we were unlikely to see. He also noted a Merlin and photographed a Prairie Falcon. Thanks Bill.

Back at the park we had 3 Zone-tailed Hawks one a photogenic bird that made run at prey in the field west of the fence. A Peregrine Falcon showed off overhead. An afternoon Golden Eagle was more reserved, slipping by at a distance.

The last Black Hawk of the day glided north, grazing the tree tops at 6:05 looking for a place to settle down for the night. I followed its recommendation, heading north towards Vail.

Migrating Raptors:
Common Black Hawk 25
Zone-tailed Hawk 3
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Gray Hawk 1
Golden Eagle 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Kestrel 1
Merlin 2
Kestrel 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Turkey Vulture 43

Most Common T-shirt today: the rare 2015 Tubac Hawk Watch T-shirt!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tubac Hawk Watch - March 9, 2016

Guest Post by Peter Collins
Ron Morriss Park, Tubac, AZ
8:00am - 4:00pm

The Peak approaches.

The park was awash with birders this morning, including the members of this year's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute's (OLLI) Raptor Study Group. Close to triple digits for birders in the park today.

The skies looked daunting, a solid blue when I arrived. A few clouds from yesterday would be helpful, but the local Chamber of Commerce would have none of that today.

I sat back with the OLLI group as we enjoyed scope views of the local kestrel. We had plenty of time to review hawk IDs, raptor photos and the occasional Vermilion Flycatcher. Nine o'clock arrived with no more than a local Red-tailed Hawk flying.

Empty skies into the next hour. I waved raptor photos to simulate what we were hoping to see. A Sharp-shinned Hawk was joined by a Peregrine Falcon crossing the park providing some binocular tracking practice. We reviewed hawk silhouettes on the back of my HMANA T-shirt. Ten o'clock passed. Nothing.

At 10:02 4 Black Hawks rose north of the park and the gates were opened. By 10:58 12 Black Hawks were counted. Two more passed in the next hour. Four more would would stop in the park at 2:55 and 4:05 for a total of 14 migrants and 4 temporary overnight visitors.

Common Black Hawk by Ned Harris

At 11:15 I was scanning south and locked onto an interesting buteo. Someone called out a caracara to my left, east over the river trees somewhere. I listened to the descriptions without diverting my eyes. I encouraged everyone to get a quick look at the caracara as my target buteo glided towards us and then cried out "Short-tail!" It continued towards us fairly high and straight overhead. Somehow people helped each other locate the bird in the sea of blue, devoid of reference points. We like that bird so much it goes on the migrant list every day it shows up.


Crested Caracara by Ned Harris

Short-tailed Hawk by Ned Harris

The day ended around 6 with two dozen Turkey Vultures and a dozen Black Vultures drifting over the park.

The usual local Cooper's Hawk, red-tails, kestrel, vultures and sharpies and several passes of the Peregrine. Still waiting for our first Gray Hawk.

Migrating Raptors:
Common Black Hawk 14
Short-tailed Hawk 1
Crested Caracara 1
Black Vulture 5
Turkey Vulture 22

We're approaching peak Black Hawk Migration over the next week. If you find yourself out along a river drainage in southern Arizona or western New Mexico it's worth a look up to see where other Black Hawks maybe passing through.

NOTE: John Higgins is leading a Tucson Audubon field trip to this location on March 19. Register for that here: http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/fieldtrips.html


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Under-birded Areas of Southeast Arizona: Tonto Canyon

Guest Post by Tim Helentjaris
March 3, 2016


Today, I headed down to Tonto Canyon in the Pajarito Mts west of Nogales/Rio Rico, an area I had never been to before, along with my fellow explorers, Jim Gessaman and Pete Bengtson. I came across this area in a couple of papers reporting on surveys for Five-striped Sparrows in Southern Arizona, one from the 70’s and the other a follow-up from the 90’s. In both cases, they were able to find breeding FsSp’s during summer using playback. Interestingly, this area is an eBird hotspot, but it only has three checklists, all from Atascosa CBC’s and the last one from 2012.

Tim and Jim

Summit Motorway
To get there, take Ruby Road west from I19 and pass the turn-offs to Pena Blanca Lake and Canyon. A few miles west, you come to the turn-off to the south, clearly signed as FR39A but more commonly known as the Summit Motorway. Good name, it essentially skirts south, following ridge lines all the way to the border. Great road, essentially no different than Ruby Road in quality, so passable by any high clearance vehicle and even most sedans. Before reaching the border, we turned west onto a side road, signed as FR4189 (N31 22.114 W111 09.613), and after a short distance then southwest onto a short side spur, unmarked (N31 22.582 W111 09.865), that ended at a small parking area and the wilderness boundary. We parked here, which represents the head of Tonto Canyon, packed up, and headed out.

Wow, a very nice, walkable trail, and not one that I expected. Very well worn, both by cattle but as well by our international visitors heading north. Birds were already singing when we started out and we quickly got the two most common birds of the day, BEWICK’S WREN and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW. The habitat here is richer than I expected, not as dry as many other drainages in this area. Northern slopes were primarily grasslands with Desert Spoon and other plants of arid highlands; south slopes were grassland with scattered but larger oaks. Trailside included a lot of surface seep water, with some richer vegetation, willows, junipers, even pines in protected areas. Some the draws draining into this canyon had some impressively dense copses of oak and other shrubs.




Consequently, we did a little better than I expected for this area for this time of year, mainly getting the expected residents for these habitat types: CHIPPING SPARROW, CANYON TOWHEE, ROCK and CANYON WREN, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, etc., even a couple of calling GREATER ROADRUNNERS. A little bit of owling in some of the more promising copses and draws drew out some other birds, including BLACK-THROATED GRAY and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, but also affording us a nice opportunity to again compare RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET with HUTTON’S VIREO. Perhaps our most interesting avian experience for the morning was when three MONTEZUMA’S QUAIL exploded under my feet and zoomed off. Jim and I both noted that all seemed to be females, instead of the mixed flocks that I tend to see. Asking Pete, he had never heard the call of the MoQu, so I played the unique UFO song of the male just for him. Surprisingly, the female quail immediately responded with their own distinctive call from far uphill. I wasn’t trying for a response and am not sure I have ever had that happen before? We wondered if they were indeed traveling without a male and were intrigued by the possibility of a local unattached bachelor?

After about a mile and three quarters, the trail became a little tougher, as the canyon narrowed and we had to pick our way through the rocks and dodging small but deep water holes, really slowing our progress. We decided to break for lunch after ~2.5 miles, as the way ahead looked to continue to be a bit rough and dropping even more in elevation. Looking in Google Earth at this point, we were less than 1000 ft from the border as the crow flies but the trail itself meanders on parallel to the border for another 3/4 to a mile before crossing it into Mexico. At that point, it is also less than 500 ft away from where Sycamore Canyon also crosses the border just to the west and the two merge shortly afterwards. The nice trail we had at the start really deteriorates where we stopped, and involves a lot of rock-hopping in the bottom of the narrow canyon, so we just headed back. Stopped and played for Five-striped Sparrows in a couple of promising areas (brushy north-facing slopes), but not surprisingly for this time of year, no response.


Getting back to the car, I then drove the rest of the way south to the border, a thin three wire fence coming down the hillside and stretching to the west over a far hill with one of the border obelisks beside it. If only Donald Trump could see what the actual border looked like in this area, he would go apoplectic. We were also treated to some great vistas on our way out, to the south far into Mexico with no evidence of any human disturbance of any kind visible. To the west we could see Baboquivari on the horizon and a small glimpse of Kitt Peak. Off to the north, there were some impressive heights and much further to the northeast, a good view of Mt. Wrightson in the Santa Rita Mts. Well worth the drive down just for these views. RED-TAILED HAWKS swooped and zoomed off to the sides in the flanking draws and we saw a small flock of meadowlarks that appeared to be EASTERN MEADOWLARKS. There were also a diverse selection of ducks in a few tanks on our way back as well.


Baboquivari peak in the distance
Backcountry Safety Tip: When you’re out with stronger hikers than yourself, always be the driver. It was pretty warm on the way back to the car and I was really lagging behind, having badly stubbed my toe while boulder-hopping in the canyon bottom. Now I would never suggest that Pete and Jim are the kind of guys who would have just left me behind, but I felt a lot more relaxed with that car key in my pocket.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

All About Birds Inspires Wonder of Birds in Young Adults

(photo credit: Ironwood Tree Experience/Sonoran Joint Venture)
In the cool, short days of late 2014, an exciting new program began germinating in Tucson. Aimed to equip young adults with the skills and experience to find, identify, and enjoy birds, the All About Birds program has taken dozens of youth to some fantastic birding hotspots near and far. This program is a partnership between Sonoran Joint Venture, Ironwood Tree Experience, and Tucson Audubon, with the ultimate goal of establishing a permanent "Young Birder's Club" in Tucson.


All About Bird members bird Sweetwater Wetlands on the very first excursion in Nov. 2014 (photo credit: Ironwood Tree Experience/Sonoran Joint Venture)

All About Birds searching for some good ones in Madera Canyon (photo credit: Ironwood Tree Experience/Sonoran Joint Venture) 

The group's young birders have gained some impressive skills under the tutelage of former Tucson Audubon board member and ace birder Jennie Duberstein. Duberstein also happens to be the Coordinator of Sonoran Joint Venture, a bi-national organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats in the Southwestern USA and Northwestern Mexico. Since it's inception, Duberstein has guided youth in this program on trips to many locales, ranging from Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains to our own Pima Canyon in the Catalinas, and many points in-between.


(photo credit: Ironwood Tree Experience/Sonoran Joint Venture)

Checking out the feeders, Tucson Audubon's Paton Center for Hummingbirds (photo credit: Ironwood Tree Experience/Sonoran Joint Venture)
All About Birds also guided rookie birders on a tour of Sweetwater Wetlands during Tucson Audubon's recent "Tucson Meet Your Birds" event. 

 Helping a new birder identify a waterbird at Tucson Meet Your Birds (photo credit: Ironwood Tree Experience/Sonoran Joint Venture)
The intrepid guides during Tucson Meet Your Birds (photo credit: Ironwood Tree Experience/Sonoran Joint Venture)

This spring the group will bird some new spots around Southeastern Arizona, and will continue to build their birding and leadership skills. This Saturday, several veteran All About Birders will help Ironwood Tree Experience lead recently-arrived refugees on a birding and nature adventure as part of the Get Outside: Refugee Program. Look for updates about this exciting program in the near future...

(photo credit: Ironwood Tree Experience/Sonoran Joint Venture)

This program was made possible by a grant from the Arizona Game and Fish Heritage Fund--thanks Game and Fish.

Peppersauce Campground and Canyon

Field Trip Report
By Bob and Prudy Bowers

What a delightful day yesterday (March 2) in Peppersauce Campground/Canyon. Absolutely perfect weather combined with an enthusiastic group of bird spotters, listeners and identifiers; the perfect combination to find some great birds and we did. 31 species in all including 9 Turkey Vultures, 3 woodpeckers (Gila, Acorn and Ladder-backed), Northern Flicker and Red-naped Sapsucker, Dusky Flycatcher (in the campground, initially mistaken for a Western Wood-Pewee), Mexican Jays, Bridled Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, singing Canyon Wrens, 3 Painted Redstarts, 10 Dark-eyed Juncos (2 Oregon subspecies, 8 Pink-sided subspecies), 2 Yellow-eyed Juncos. With so much water flowing downstream from the spring, we even found a Black Phoebe. Another surprise was a Spotted Towhee.

We missed (by two hours) the 53 Wild Turkeys the campground host counted earlier this morning. The host, Jerry, is putting seed out in the campground area, which accounted for the large number of Juncos, and maybe the growing population of turkeys, which had not been recorded in Peppersauce until we found them a couple of years ago.

Other great news about the campground is that they have undertaken a serious cleanup and painting of the pit toilets, a major and much appreciated improvement.

Complete bird checklist below the photos.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us. Stay tuned for additional trips this month!

Good birding!
Bob and Prudy

Back again, the saguaro-nesting Great Horned Owl south of SaddleBrooke Ranch on our way to Peppersauce. Note the rebar some vandal has wounded the saguaro with directly below the nest. Who would do that and why? 


Soft morning light and singing birds welcome our group to Peppersauce Campground

This White-breasted Nuthatch perched overhead and sang for 5 minutes

Mexican Jays were abundant and vocal along the Rice Hill trail

This colorful Red-naped Sapsucker paid no attention to us while breakfasting on juniper berries


Peppersauce Campground, Pinal, Arizona, US
Mar 2, 2016 8:20 AM - 12:05 PM
Protocol: Traveling
2.25 mile(s)

Turkey Vulture 9
Cooper's Hawk 3
Harris's Hawk 1 Black hawk with reddish-brown shoulders, white tail band and tip, ;yellow bill. Flew across road above the campground in area where they are commonly seen.
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Acorn Woodpecker 7
Gila Woodpecker 4
Red-naped Sapsucker 2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 3
Dusky Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 1
Mexican Jay 9
Common Raven 3
Bridled Titmouse 3
Verdin 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Canyon Wren 4
Bewick's Wren 2
Cactus Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6
Hermit Thrush 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 7
Painted Redstart 3
Chipping Sparrow 24
Black-chinned Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 10 2 Oregon subspecies, 8 Pink-sided subspecies
Yellow-eyed Junco 2
White-crowned Sparrow 4
Lincoln's Sparrow 1
Spotted Towhee 1
Lesser Goldfinch 2

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27932170