Jim Kopitzke and I explored the areas of Montosa and Miller Canyons today
on August 12th, 2011 to see some of southeastern Arizona's amazing birds
and hopefully stake out some of the rarities.
We headed in the direction of Montosa Canyon first. Along the way, we
could hear RUFOUS-WINGED and CASSIN'S SPARROWS singing.
As we arrived in Montosa Canyon by the stream crossing, FIVE-STRIPED
SPARROW was the first bird we heard singing as we got out of the truck.
There were a lot of people looking at it, as we quickly got on it
ourselves. This bird was certainly the crowd pleaser, who flew around to
different perches in the entire two hours we birded in the canyon. It was
a lifer for me and the second sighting Jim has ever had of this species.
A lifer doesn't get much more cooperative than this bird was for me, which
was the main highlight of the day! Several hundred yards west of the
first sparrow, we were able to locate a second Five-striped on the south
side of the road. Besides the Five-striped, male VARIED BUNTINGS also put
on a great show, a species I haven't seen often either, especially
perched. Other highlights included PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, WARBLING
VIREO, YELLOW WARBLER, three male WESTERN TANAGERS (in one mesquite), and
a SCOTT'S ORIOLE singing on a hillside.
Next, we went to the upper part of Madera Canyon in search of the Aztec
Thrush. Jim has seen Aztec Thrush once before, Tommy, zero. I have a
heartbreaking story to tell, you'll all feel sorry for me after this one.
Jim and I arrived at the Aztec Thrush spot to find out it hadn't been seen
yesterday (thursday), or prior to the time we arrived on site at about
10:30 A.M. today. Nothing was coming into the berry bushes and the spot
felt dead. We waited for about two hours until we decided to head back at
12:30. RIGHT at 12:30. The thrush hadn't been sighted in at least a day
and a half, so we figured it had probably located another delicious cherry
plant and made it's home there. The other parts of Madera had awesome
birds we didn't want to miss either, so we left. Turns out (see previous
report) that the thrush was located at 12:35 until 2. We missed it by
five minutes. Enough said, I'm a sucky southeastern Arizona rarity chaser.
On a very positive note, the birds were amazing that we abandoned the
thrush for. At Madera Kubo, we had a nice hummingbird show with seven
different species in a short amount of time. The star was the continuing
BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD, who came into the feeders very often. I couldn't
see enough of that bird. A single VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD was also
present. Several MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRDS were also present as well as
single BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. Numerous BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS were
also present, as well as a few BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRDS and a female
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD. Before we got to the hummingbird spot, a BAND-TAILED
PIGEON was a nice surprise. A juvenile PAINTED REDSTART put on a good
show and seemed like it was starting to learn how to sing. The last bird
here at Kubo observed was a great look at a SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER in
Our last stop of the day was the Proctor Road area, which was birdy even
at the hotter time of the day. VARIED BUNTINGS put on a nice show here,
as one was hoping on the ground literally a few feet away from Jim. I
then spied the YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO lurking in a mesquite that has been
present in the area for quite some time. Another cool highlight was a
HUTTON'S VIREO singing in an oak above us. The surrounding area was
filled with the songs of CASSIN'S and BOTTERI'S SPARROWS, which seemed to
It was a great day to be in the amazing southeastern Arizona, we recorded
62 species during all of our stops. Special thanks to the Five-striped