Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pleasantly Verde

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday on October 20th, 2014, I birded along the Verde River and then decided to head up to Lake Pleasant.

My first stop of the day was a four hour visit to the Box Bar Recreation Area along the Lower Verde River, which is on the Tonto National Forest (Tonto Pass required).  Box Bar is covered with lush riparian woodland, one that harbors many migrants and great potential for finding a variety of different bird species throughout the year.  My best find here was an adult male BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD.  This hummingbird is rare but annual in riparian areas in Maricopa County, and this is my fourth sighting of this species at this location in seven or eight visits.  Two of the sightings have now been adult males, a female, and also a first year male for a quick recap of observations I've had at this location with the first one being in 2010.  Perhaps there has been a breeding pair in the dense Box Bar riparian?  It's always pleasant to see this bird.  Box Bar had close to 50 species and it was very active.  Other highlights included a female COMMON MERGANSER flying up the Verde River, an adult BALD EAGLE, 2 BELTED KINGFISHERS, 3 RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS (one of them may have been a hybrid with a Red-breasted Sapsucker), DUSKY FLYCATCHER, 3 HUTTON'S VIREOS, 4 PLUMBEOUS VIREOS and one other Solitary Vireo (probably Plumbeous) singing that I wasn't able to get a visual of, 3 lower-than-usual BRIDLED TITMOUSE, several CEDAR WAXWINGS, 5 BLACK-THROATED GRAY-WARBLERS (2 adult males and 3 females), and abundant YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, and NORTHERN FLICKERS.  This is a great place, one I should visit a lot more throughout the year than I do.

Male Broad-billed Hummingbird

young male Common Yellowthroat

female Red-naped Sapsucker (ironically, my first for Maricopa County this year.  At yet I found the rare-in-Maricopa Williamson's and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers earlier this year)

Bald Eagle

The Verde River has high and fast-moving water levels right now

I made a quick stop at Fountain Hills Lake before heading up to Lake Pleasant.  There weren't any major highlights, but in two weeks or so this lake will probably have some interesting action.  The most interesting thing at the lake was a gigantic apparent Reddish Egret standing on a structure (twice the size of a Great Blue Heron).  I'm sure it's still there, I don't think it can move much or at all (unless someone knocks it over).

Look at this rarity!  

Lake Pleasant was my final and closing stop of the day.  The Maricopa County side of the lake was dead but on the Yavapai County side of the lake I had a few highlights.  The best was a first-cycle AMERICAN HERRING GULL who was present when I arrived and then vanished quickly and I never saw it again.  A CALIFORNIA GULL was also present.  There were many WESTERN GREBES out on the lake.  It was a fun day to be out.

American Herring Gull...above and below, below, below, and below

Good Birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

Go Birding in Maricopa County!
My Website: http://birderfrommaricopa.com
This website features Birding in Maricopa County, my online guide for finding birds and birding locations in Maricopa County, Arizona.  This guide can help find birds in the Phoenix area and throughout Maricopa County.  Features of the guide include:  Over 100 birding hotspots divided by 13 birding areas in the county, hotspot links to eBird, directions, and tips of how to find over 260 of the regularly occurring birds in Maricopa County.  View this guide here-


  1. Great birds Mr. Tommy!!! Man I laghed when I saw your report on the listserve about the REEA! Herring Gull is a bird I have yet to see along with a BBHU in Maricopa.

    1. Thanks Caleb! The Reddish Egret was an "awesome" find.

  2. Do you think that Reddish Egret will still be around when I visit in March? ;)

    Nice find on the Broad-billed.

    1. Hey Josh, thanks! The Broad-billeds are always fun to find in Maricopa. With Reddish Egret, It'll more than likely be there unless it's like one of those remote control planes. You need to add it to your Arizona list!