We enjoyed a nice week of birding varied habitats in Northern Arizona. The cool mountain weather was good to us as we explored the mountains, canyons, deserts and the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. We started our birding with a wonderful Lewis' Woodpecker at the edge of Flagstaff, before heading to the base of the San Francisco Peaks where we encountered a colorful male Williamson's Sapsucker, MacGillivray's Warbler, Dusky Flycatcher, Virginia's Warbler, and Red-faced Warbler, among others. Dinner at the house that evening turned up Bullock's Oriole, Mountain Chickadees, and close Pygmy Nuthatches between glasses of wine. The next day found us heading to the Grand Canyon where our first Juniper Titmice and Ash-throated Flycatcher were soon upstaged by a great view of two California Condors soaring above, then dropping into the canyon as they circled closer and closer before heading off and out of sight. Later in the afternoon a couple of Gray Vireos, Black-chinned Sparrow, a single Pinyon Jay, and a male Scott's Oriole were certainly highlights.
The next day found us dropping nearly 3000 ft in elevation, where we birded a trail among the large cottonwoods and sycamores of Oak Creek at a friend's home. A Common Black Hawk was nesting on the property and we had nice sightings of Yellow-breasted Chat, Vermilion Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Bridled Titmice, many Phainopeplas, Abert's Towhee, and Gila Woodpecker, along with other species. A stop at a nearby wetland yielded a great look at a pair of Peregrine Falcons that seemed to come in only for a drink and didn't appear to even look at the ducks and Neotropic Cormorants that were present. Our birding in cooler Oak Creek Canyon found a few birds, including Grace's Warbler, Painted Redstart and Rivoli's Hummingbird, that are at the northern extension of their range here, and a quite out-of-place Yellow-throated Vireo that has returned for the 6th straight summer. We spent the morning in the ponderosa pine forest the following day and had super looks at a couple of male Olive Warblers, an odd species that recently was moved out of the warblers and placed in its own family. We spent some time looking for an American Three-toed Woodpecker before seeing a yellow-capped male in an old burn. That afternoon, our visit to the Kachina Wetlands with our viewing of Virginia Rail, White-faced Ibis and several duck species was interrupted with getting the news of a locally very rare Red-headed Woodpecker being seen about 20 minutes away, so we made a dash and had wonderful views of this iconic woodpecker that has declined in numbers in much of its range.
Our final day of birding found us going south to more mid-elevation desert habitat, where we encountered a couple more close Gray Vireos, a calling Gray Flycatcher, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and our only Canyon Wren. Despite the drought conditions this year, which had bird song at a minimum, we still managed to see most of the specialty species we were after. Lynn and I really enjoyed our time with all of you, and we look forward to the next time.
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)
We saw these daily on the golf course across from the motel as well as at a few other sites.
WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)
Some of us saw a male flying along Oak Creek south of Sedona.
CINNAMON TEAL (Spatula cyanoptera)
We saw a couple of these during the week.
AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)
There were a handful at the Sedona Wetlands.
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Anas crecca)
We saw a male at Picture Canyon on our two visits there.
REDHEAD (Aythya americana)
A male was at the Kachina Wetlands and we saw eight individuals the next day near Mormon Lake.
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)
A rather uncommon species this time of year near Flagstaff; we saw one at the Kachina Wetlands and a few more at the Sedona Wetlands.
COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)
An odd looking male was at the Sedona Wetlands where it had been for a few months.
COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)
Two females were on the golf course pond across from the motel one morning.
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)
We saw a few here and there during the week.
CLARK'S GREBE (Aechmophorus clarkii)
A single individual was at the Sedona Wetlands; this is rather rare here in June.
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
COMMON NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles minor)
We had one flying over the pond near the motel at dusk on our last evening.
WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (Aeronautes saxatalis)
We only had some distant birds at a few places until we got to Desert View at the Grand Canyon, where a good number were rocketing about above and below us.
RIVOLI'S HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens)
We had a couple of views of this southern Arizona specialty as it came to a feeder in Oak Creek Canyon. This is as far north as this species regularly occurs in the US.
BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus alexandri)
A male showed up at the feeder during dinner on the deck and we had a couple more in the Sedona area.
ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD (Calypte anna)
One individual was seen near the feeder at John and Becky's house along Oak Creek.
BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus)
This was the common hummingbird we encountered, and we saw or heard the whine of their wings each day of the trip. We had several good views in Hart Prairie.
VIRGINIA RAIL (Rallus limicola)
At the Kachina Wetlands, we saw an adult working its way through the marsh vegetation, with a small black young one nearby.
SORA (Porzana carolina) [*]
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
There were a few on the pond edges at the Kachina Wetlands.
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
There were about 4 individuals at the ponds near the hotel as we stopped on our way to dinner.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
A handful were seen on nests at a small rookery at Cave Springs in Oak Creek Canyon.
WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)
We saw two late remaining individuals at the Kachina Wetlands.
CALIFORNIA CONDOR (Gymnogyps californianus)
We had a great experience at the South Rim of Grand Canyon with two adult individuals that we spotted flying. They circled a few times, getting closer with each pass and one landed briefly on a rock ledge below us only to be flushed off by the other who had a different agenda. They then flew away and out of sight. Unfortunately, we were so enrapt with seeing them we only managed to get the tag number from one of the birds. This individual, #75, was hatched in April 2002 and has been flying over the northern Arizona and southern Utah skies since its release in October 2003.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
The condors made these look small.
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
We saw a few, including one at a nest site. At the Kachina Wetlands we watched one plunge into the pond and emerge with a fair-sized goldfish.
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)
A single bird shot through the forest as we birded at Picture Canyon.
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
An adult flew from the mesa at the ponds near the motel in Flagstaff.
COMMON BLACK HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus)
We had great views of a perched individual near a nest in a large cottonwood tree at John and Becky's house near Page Springs. We saw the pair up soaring together a bit later.
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)
We saw one flying above the South Rim at Grand Canyon but it got over the trees before we had a good look at it.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus thyroideus)
A quite colorful male showed well for us near Hart Prairie as we birded the base of the San Francisco Peaks.
LEWIS'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes lewis)
On our first afternoon, we had nice looks at this unusual but quite colorful woodpecker just outside of Flagstaff.
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
A very rare species in Arizona and only the second record for Coconino County. We had nice looks after I got a text from friends confirming a post from earlier in the day. We made a dash to the locale and walked about 300 yards to see this rarity that is a great bird to see any place it occurs.
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)
We saw a fair number during our travels.
GILA WOODPECKER (Melanerpes uropygialis)
We were near the northern extension of this bird's range as we had nice views along Oak Creek south of Sedona.
AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER (Picoides dorsalis)
After quite a bit of searching, a yellow-capped male suddenly popped up in an old burn south of Flagstaff. We followed it as it moved off and were able to hear it drumming its distinctive beat down the slope. In contrast to the Gila Woodpecker, this species is at the southern edge of its range near Flagstaff.
LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER (Dryobates scalaris)
We saw a couple of individuals in a riparian area in the desert lowlands.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)
NORTHERN FLICKER (RED-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus cafer)
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)
We had nice encounters with two different pairs. The first was at the Sedona Wetlands, where two came in and landed at the large pond for a drink and, surprisingly, did not flush any of the waterfowl. The second pair were seen flying low over the dry bed of Mormon Lake on our last afternoon.
WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus)
We only saw or heard a couple. This is one of the species that seems to have become quite inconspicuous in this year's drought conditions.
HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (Empidonax hammondii)
In the mesquite desert near Montezuma Well it was a surprise to get a good view of this out-of-place species. It was certainly a late-migrant.
GRAY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax wrightii)
We had nice views of a calling bird in the mixed pine and juniper habitat south of Flagstaff.
DUSKY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax oberholseri)
We saw a few individuals on our first morning in the field in Hart Prairie, which is the site where this species was described to science.
CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax occidentalis)
A couple of individuals were vocalizing and showed well in the coniferous forests near the San Francisco Peaks.
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)
We saw a few near ponds along Oak Creek.
SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)
We saw several including a nest at the Kachina Wetlands.
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
A brilliant male showed well as it moved along a fence line at John and Becky's house along Oak Creek.
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens)
We had nice views of our first along the South Rim at Grand Canyon.
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus)
This species is mostly found along streams and creeks in Northern Arizona and we had nice views of this large flycatcher along Oak Creek near Page Springs.
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus vociferans)
We saw a handful, with our first at Picture Canyon on our first afternoon.
WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis)
Again, we saw several of these, with nice looks from the deck during dinner.
GRAY VIREO (Vireo vicinior)
We had great views of this rather locally distributed species of the pinyon pine-juniper habitat. We ended up seeing about 4-6 individuals near the Grand Canyon and south of Flagstaff.
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons)
Another local rarity, this bird has returned to the same site for the 6th straight year in Oak Creek Canyon where it sings from the pines and cottonwoods all day. We had to work a bit to get views of it.
PLUMBEOUS VIREO (Vireo plumbeus)
This was a rather common voice in the ponderosa pine forests.
WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)
There were quite a few singing, with a couple seen, in the aspens and willows around the base of the San Francisco Peaks.
PINYON JAY (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus)
We heard one calling soon after leaving Grand Canyon and gave chase and managed to get a brief scope view of a perched individual as well as seeing it flying about a few times. The drought conditions certainly have certainly hurt this species locally and it has gotten harder to find recently.
STELLER'S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri)
We saw a handful in the ponderosa pine forests.
WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)
We finally encountered this juniper habitat species just east of Flagstaff.
AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
These were seen daily and were common. The greater Flagstaff area is the only reliable spot to commonly see this widespread North American species in Arizona.
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE (Poecile gambeli)
We saw a handful of individuals, including those coming to drink at the water feature on our deck with a nest in the nearby box.
BRIDLED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus wollweberi)
We saw a family group of about six individuals along Oak Creek at John and Becky's home. This is a quite handsome little species.
JUNIPER TITMOUSE (Baeolophus ridgwayi)
This was one of the first birds we encountered at Grand Canyon.
HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris)
We had a couple of individuals fly off the roadside as we drove north to Grand Canyon.
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
We only saw a couple of individuals.
PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis)
We had one on our first afternoon visit to Picture Canyon.
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)
There were at least two seen mixed in with the Violet-green Swallows at Fulton Pond near Mormon Lake.
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)
We saw these daily and they were, by far, the most common swallow we encountered. We had excellent views at Grand Canyon with many flying about below us.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
This species was also quite common with a few seen around the motel.
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
We saw several, with the best views being those that were gathering mud for nests at the small pond outside of Flagstaff.
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula)
We saw a singing individual on the way up the road to the Snow Bowl ski resort.
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)
We heard one or two, but had nice looks at one near Snow Bowl at about 9200 ft on the San Francisco Peaks.
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta carolinensis)
PYGMY NUTHATCH (Sitta pygmaea)
This tiny species showed well several times.
BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana) [*]
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)
We saw a couple at Grand Canyon and then again south of Flagstaff.
ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus)
One at Grand Canyon got away before we could get on it.
CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus)
We had nice views of one at Montezuma Well as it called amongst the rocks below us.
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)
BEWICK'S WREN (Thryomanes bewickii)
I believe we only ended up hearing this bird in the Sedona area.
CRISSAL THRASHER (Toxostoma crissale) [*]
We couldn't get this bird to show itself.
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
This was a big year for this species in the Flagstaff area, where it is usually quite uncommon. We also saw a few in the more expected areas at lower elevations north and south of Flagstaff.
WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana)
We saw several during the week.
MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD (Sialia currucoides)
We had nice looks at a male near a nest box at a home in a large open area north of the San Francisco Peaks.
HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus)
We had a prolonged scope view of a singing individual as we headed to Hart Prairie on our first morning. What a great song!
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)
We saw these daily.
PHAINOPEPLA (Phainopepla nitens)
There were good numbers of these in the Oak Creek area, where we saw them feeding on fruiting mulberry trees.
OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus)
We had wonderful views of this odd species near Flagstaff. This species has bounced around taxonomically in a few different families over the years and has recently settled in its own family. We enjoyed close views of a couple of stunning males.
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)
RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra) [*]
We heard a few flying over during our woodpecker searching. These were the Type 2 form which is found mostly in ponderosa pine forests.
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)
Like much of the rest of the country, this was a big year for Pine Siskins in the Flagstaff area and in lower than normal elevations as well. We saw these daily.
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)
Though we only saw a few, we heard a few more and this is the common nesting sparrow in the open pine areas.
BLACK-CHINNED SPARROW (Spizella atrogularis)
We had great looks at a rather local species just outside Grand Canyon National Park.
BLACK-THROATED SPARROW (Amphispiza bilineata)
Our first was singing at the highway rest stop, then we had a few more later.
LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus)
This is one of the most sharply marked sparrows.
DARK-EYED JUNCO (RED-BACKED) (Junco hyemalis dorsalis)
This is a common breeding species in the Flagstaff area.
VESPER SPARROW (Pooecetes gramineus)
We had a couple of individuals singing, one from a fence wire, on our first morning.
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)
There were a few seen and heard singing along lower Oak Creek Canyon.
ABERT'S TOWHEE (Melozone aberti)
A pair showed pretty well near John and Becky's house along Oak Creek.
GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (Pipilo chlorurus)
We had a few good views of this quite handsome species in the Hart Prairie area.
SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus)
We had especially good and close views at one of our stops in Oak Creek Canyon.
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens)
Another species that was recently placed in its own family; we had a great view of a singing individual along Oak Creek at John and Becky's house.
YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
We saw a few in the reeds at the Kachina Wetlands.
WESTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella neglecta)
A couple of birds were singing in front of us at the edge of dry Mormon Lake.
HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus)
We had nice views of a male at the interstate rest area south of Flagstaff.
BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii)
We only had a few, with nice looks just before dinner at the house.
SCOTT'S ORIOLE (Icterus parisorum)
We saw a couple of these very handsome orioles, one outside of Grand Canyon and another near Montezuma Well.
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)
BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD (Molothrus ater)
BREWER'S BLACKBIRD (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
This is a common species on lawns and around wet areas in the Flagstaff area.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER (Leiothlypis celata)
It took some looking, but we finally got a view of a singing bird in the Hart Prairie area.
LUCY'S WARBLER (Leiothlypis luciae)
We saw a few of these mostly low elevation dwellers south of Flagstaff.
VIRGINIA'S WARBLER (Leiothlypis virginiae)
We had nice looks at a territorial bird in Hart Prairie and heard a few more there.
MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei)
A male that was perched up and singing was a real treat to see in the Bebb's willow habitat at the base of the San Francisco Peaks.
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)
We had a few along Oak Creek and at Kachina Wetlands.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)
These were quite common in the mixed-conifer forests.
GRACE'S WARBLER (Setophaga graciae)
A ponderosa pine habitat species. We saw a couple that were in the taller pines. One showed well while we were looking at the Yellow-throated Vireo.
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens)
We saw a few in the Grand Canyon area.
RED-FACED WARBLER (Cardellina rubrifrons)
A quite special bird; we ended up seeing 2-4 very well and heard a couple more in the mixed-conifer forest. This species has become much more common in the Flagstaff area in the last 20 years.
PAINTED REDSTART (Myioborus pictus)
We had nice views of a singing bird near the campground in Oak Creek Canyon. This is another quite colorful warbler of the southwest.
HEPATIC TANAGER (Piranga flava)
On our first afternoon, we had nice views of a male at Picture Canyon then a couple more later in the week.
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)
A couple or three brilliant males showed along the riparian stretches we birded in the lower elevations.
WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana)
We saw several on our first morning near Hart Prairie then a few more after that.
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)
We saw a couple of males in the lowlands.
BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
These were seen several times early in the trip.
DESERT COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus audubonii)
We saw one south of Sedona.
BLACK-TAILED JACKRABBIT (Lepus californicus)
We saw one hop off the road near Montezuma's Well.
CLIFF CHIPMUNK (Tamias dorsalis)
We saw several at the Grand Canyon.
GRAY-COLLARED CHIPMUNK (Tamias cinereicollis)
This was the chipmunk seen in the ponderosa pine forest near Kachina Wetlands.
ROCK SQUIRREL (Spermophilus variegatus)
We saw these several days but the Grand Canyon has to be the place were these are most abundant.
ARIZONA GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus arizonensis)
We saw two near Montezuma Well. This squirrel is essentially endemic to Arizona.
ABERT'S SQUIRREL (Sciurus aberti)
A very nice looking squirrel with the white tail with dark stripe and the reddish back and long ears. We saw a couple of them.
NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINE (Erethizon dorsatum)
We had a nice look at one curled up high in a Douglas fir tree at Hart Prairie. It's always a treat to see this unusual mammal.
ELK (Cervus canadensis)
There were easily 100+ in the lake bed of what was left of Mormon Lake.
MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus)
A few here and there.
Totals for the tour: 136 bird taxa and 10 mammal taxa