Friday, March 8, 2013

Amazing Birding at Tres Rios Wetlands

On March 7th, I headed out to Tres Rios Wetlands.  This place is cool.  One of the main reasons it is so cool is because it's close to my house.  It only takes me 30 minutes to get there.  Another reason why it's so cool is because it's the single best birding location in Maricopa County.  I had 102 species here in a single day last year, my best day ever for a single location.  Any day here can easily produce 70 species or more.  There is never a dull moment at Tres Rios, as birdlife is always abundant.  Birding classes can even be taught here, as I often refer to Tres Rios Wetlands as an "identification clinic".

To start this post off, I'll give Tres Rios a visual toot of it's own horn!

Because there are so many birds at Tres Rios, there are some odd combinations.  This is your place if you want to see a White-faced Ibis and a Snowy Egret as BFF's.  

This Snowy Egret dosen't have a best friend, and preferred to fly solo.

The Snowy Egret is about half the size of this giant, the Great Egret..

But this is the true giant of the herons, the Great Blue.

And if you thought the Great Egret and Great Blue Herons were giants, this guy wipes them out of their not-so-sharp talons completely.  Tres Rios is Arizona's American White Pelican flyway..

Now this bird has sharp talons, this is an Osprey.  Almost all of it's diet consists of fish, so it has to have extremely sharp talons.  Now I owe a lot to the Osprey, because it is the bird that got me into the wonderful hobby we call birding.  Thank you Osprey.

The Northern Harrier is an awesome sight.  As I made my way out into an agricultural field, I saw a Harrier coming my way.

Well, it kept coming closer and was cooperative to give me my favorite shot of the morning!

Here's another..

This Red-winged Blackbird sang on a wire as the Harrier entertained...

And this Abert's Towhee felt safe in the brush..

Tres Rios also has a large percentage of Maricopa County's overall duck population.  Even the Great-tailed Grackle knows that.

The Cinnamon Teals were numerous on the day and surprisingly weren't as shy and elusive as they usually are..

Northern Shovelers were really everywhere, and were fun to observe and photograph..

Also present was this good looking pair of Gadwall, both on pond and in flight...

Can you identify ducks in flight?

The Tres Rios Wetlands is also filled with just as many Neotropic Cormorants as all the ducks combined....I think.  Probably and definitely an exaggeration, but these guys are everywhere too...

Here's a few small songbirds.

Vesper Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler ("Audubon's" subspecies)

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yellow-headed Blackbird

A dark-morphed Red-tail along with a plethora of other Red-tails have been at Tres Rios.  This is what he looks like..

I don't think I've looked at a Mourning Dove in years for more than a second.  They are easy to find and are everywhere, just like this blog post is everywhere and all over the place.  Every picture really had a Mourning Dove nearby, so why not give this bird credit and an apology photo.

A post like this should have a good ending.  How about a Belted Kingfisher!

There were plenty of other good birds at Tres Rios, including calling Least Bitterns, Soras, and Virginia Rails.  Maybe next time I'll get lucky with one of those three!



  1. Woah man! This is like a Charlton Heston-style epic post!

    Very cool. Maybe your next challenge is photo-documentation of every species possible at Tres Rios : )

    Sweet shots there Tommy; you're really raking em' in. The Pelicans, Osprey, and Harriers are great, but the Abert's may be my favorite (and, for how common they are, that skulking species is pretty hard to photograph cleanly).


  2. Thank you much Laurence, you made this post possible for me! I can't thank you enough!

    I'm obsessed with photography right now. It's awesome! I can't wait to go into the field next, I don't even know where I'm gonna go yet. I might make a east side sweep of the Salt River and Red Mountain Park in Mesa!

    1. I was out at Red Mountain two weeks ago! Singing Bendire's made for some fun videos, and that Red-breasted Sapsucker is real photogenic : )

      I was at Coon Bluff last weekend, which is very green and beautiful right now. In addition to the Eagles, it's being invaded with Bluebirds now, and Phainopeplas are everywhere.

  3. Your response to Laurence just answered my question that I had. Looks like you have picked up on the photography. New equipment or just a new found admiration of it? Great set of photos and a great spot to capture all of them!