Yesterday I headed up to the northeastern corner of Maricopa County to explore Mount Ord and Sunflower. As usual, these two locations in this amazing area always hold a great day of birding. By the end of the day, I was happy with the results.
I started the day off at Mount Ord at 7:15 A.M., where I spent close to seven hours birding the mountain in the higher elevations. This included Forest Road 1688, the area near the summit, and some of the forest on the eastern side of the mountain in Gila County. The entire time was filled with birds, and there was rarely a dull moment. Raptor highlights included a GOLDEN EAGLE perched in the distance along it's favorite ridge, and a ZONE-TAILED HAWK also cruised by. A NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL called on one of the slopes, but this time I just decided to listen to it rather than give it a steep chase. I also had a WHITE-THROATED SWIFT while walking up to the summit, a species I believe I've never had on Mount Ord. BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRDS have returned to the mountain, as I counted at least 5 birds. A male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD also put in an appearance. Woodpeckers were best represented by 5 ACORN and 8 HAIRY WOODPECKERS. 2 HUTTON'S VIREOS were singing near the start of Road 1688 during the time that I spent there. Near the summit of Ord, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS are in abundance and moving into their nesting holes. BRIDLED TITMOUSE was also plentiful, as well as a few JUNIPER TITMOUSE. All three NUTHATCHES: Red-breasted, Pygmy, and White-breasted were once again present on the mountain a gave me a good nuthatch show. These three species all gave me awesome and close up views throughout the day. BEWICK'S WRENS and BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS are of course in abundance right now on the mountain, as well as SPOTTED TOWHEES. Near the summit of Ord were a few WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, in which a small number of these cool birds breed here annually. Warblers were probably the main highlight from the adventure at Mount Ord. Returning warblers to the mountain came in high numbers of BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS, at least five GRACE'S WARBLERS, and four VIRGINIA'S WARBLERS. The latter two were year firsts for me, and Mount Ord is always an excellent place to see them. There were also at least four OLIVE WARBLERS on the mountain, including good views of two females near the summit. They were giving a series of quiet callnotes I have never heard an Olive Warbler give before while they were foraging. PAINTED REDSTARTS were also showy and pleasing, which is one of my favorite warblers. Sparrow highlights included BLACK-CHINNED and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS in the chaparral habitats, and a few singing CHIPPING SPARROWS near the summit. I left Mount Ord with almost 40 species recorded.
Olive Warbler (female)
Black-throated Gray Warbler
And how about a three Nuthatch day in Maricopa County!
Here is the White-breasted Nuthatch, the most common
Here are two Pygmy Nuthatches, which are pretty rare and scarce in Maricopa County
And here is my favorite of the trio, the Red-breasted Nuthatch, who sounds like a small trumpet..
Mount Ord is my favorite birding location. I take it all in every visit.
I still miss it even when I get down to Sunflower.
Luckily I wasn't under this Cooper's when he decided to poop.
Sunflower is a nice looking place too.