Thursday, December 12, 2013

Two Overdues Make For an Excellent Birding Day

Prior to last Friday, December 6th, 2013, I have only been to Boyce Arboretum State Park once in my life before.  And it was search through the Park for the Rufous-backed Robin with Troy Corman, which was a successful search.  That was way back in early 2010 I think, and it's been well over three years since I have gotten myself together to go back to Boyce.  It's very pathetic actually.  Because I'm a birder Maricopaholic, I've passed up birding a Boyce Thompson many times because it's in Pinal County and not Maricopa County.  This year, I've finally snapped out of being all-Maricopa for all of my birding and it's been great.  I'm still a Maricopa birder by all means, but now, if there's a good bird at the Arboretum, I'm going for it.  One time, I passed up a morning at Boyce where two rare eastern warblers were being seen that I still don't have.  In case your wondering why, it was because I chose to try for forest owls in the Mazatzal Mountains in October just "in case" they would reply back to my i pod to add more ticks to my Maricopa County Big Years.  But this time, I finally didn't make the same mistake.  And Boyce Thompson Arboretum is such a neat place, how could I pass it up so much?

The reason for my trip to Boyce was because of a neat bird called a Varied Thrush.  A few days prior to my visit, fellow birder Ed Strong found this species in the Arboretum and I immediately planned to chase it.  I had never seen a Varied Thrush in my life, and it's a big deal!  And as I mentioned just three lines ago, it's a very neat bird.  The Varied Thrush resides in moist conifer forests of the Northwest, and it's distinctive one syllable song that rises and falls in pitch for every note is both haunting and spectacularly peaceful at the same time.  Besides wanting to see a Varied Thrush so bad, I think I've always wanted to hear one live in the field just as bad.  In Arizona, the Varied Thrush is considered rare, but annual.  There is always one to chase in the state annually, but there has never been one in Maricopa since 2009 when I got serious about birding.  Now that I've snapped out of being only for birding Maricopa mainly, I didn't care where I was.  I just wanted a Varied Thrush, one that I've felt I should've had way before this day.  It was only my second attempt ever at a Varied Thrush (I did chase one at Hassayampa jungle once, but it is a thick jungle), and I was eager to start searching.  When I got to the Park, I headed over to where the Thrush was being seen.  Within a few minutes, I got to the spot, and looked up at a bird right away, that highly resembled my highly wanted target....

It was the Varied Thrush indeed, and right away!  I was shocked I got lucky so fast.  I saw the Varied Thrush was a female, which isn't as dark as the male, but is still a very fine bird.  She didn't want to go unnoticed, and hopped on top of the nearby Smith Building.

I was then joined by birder John Bergstrom and then by birder John Saba.  The Thrush was cooperative for me during the entire 5 hour outing at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park.  I probably got to watch her for close to two hours.  And she gave me a great show, a classic lifer!  

Sometimes overdue lifers are the best lifers to get.  I've felt like I've already seen a Varied Thrush before, because I've always looked for them in season in good habitats.  Seeing one finally was awesome.  I could ramble on and on about this neat bird, but I won't say anything else.  The pictures speak for themselves about how cool this bird is!  With an overdue location I needed to visit and an overdue lifer I wanted to see, it made for a very memorable day of birding!  Both times I have visited Boyce has resulted in looking for a thrush species; what bird will I chase there next?


  1. Another place for me to visit this winter.

  2. Gorgeous bird! I'm hoping to get there on Saturday maybe, if it's still around.
    Congrats on another fantastic lifer, even as they come fewer and farther between for ya : )