I spent over four hours birding at the Box Bar Recreation Area along the Verde River in Maricopa County today on October 30th, 2014. This is starting to become one of my favorite birding locations in the County. Box Bar Recreation Area is a part of the Tonto National Forest, and a six dollar Tonto Pass is needed for admission to this recreation area.
Box Bar has great potential and I usually have a good highlight whenever I come here, and that streak continued today. My best bird of the day here today was an adult CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER in basic plumage that I found at 9:30 A.M. Prior to this bird, all of the other CSWA's I have seen in Arizona have been first year birds, and it was cool to see one with reddish-chestnut sides (true to the bird's name). The Warbler was close to mile north of where I parked, near the northwestern stretch of the area. There are groves of riparian trees west of the Verde River as well as the river itself of course being lined with riparian trees. The warbler was in the northmost area that is west of the river and away from the river, and just east of a bank that runs north/south along the area. Once the riparian trees stop when heading north, go back south into the willow/cottonwood groves, it is a good place to look for the warbler and the best habitat is in this area in my opinion. Other than the Chestnut-sided Warbler, I also had a late migrant in a MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER.
The warblers were 2 out of 52 species I recorded at Box Bar in the four plus hours. Other highlights included a flock of 15 NORTHERN SHOVELERS flying north over the river, 7 COMMON MERGANSERS feeding on the river, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, WESTERN SCREECH and GREAT HORNED OWLS, BELTED KINGFISHER, 4 RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS, PEREGRINE FALCON, 4 PLUMBEOUS VIREOS (most of them were in the area of the Chestnut-sided Warbler), 5 BRIDLED TITMOUSE, 2 BROWN CREEPERS, 3 HERMIT THRUSH, 1 CRISSAL THRASHER, flyover AMERICAN PIPIT, and 4 BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS. Full list is on eBird.
|Great Horned Owl at roost|
|The well named Red-naped Sapsucker|
|Heavy riparian forest at Box Bar, one of the best habitats to bird in!|