FIELD GUIDES BIRDING TOURS: Arizona Nightbirds & More I 2017
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Field Guides Tour Report
Arizona Nightbirds & More I 2017
Apr 27, 2017 to May 1, 2017
Tom Johnson & Micah Riegner


There's gold in them there hills - nightbird gold! The entrance to Cave Creek Canyon as seen from Portal is surely one of the most beautiful vistas - anywhere! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

We knew at the outset that we would be packing a lot of action into these four days in the Sky Islands of Southeastern Arizona, but I was still amazed at what we found! In addition to the hoped-for suite of excellent nightbirds that Arizona is famous for, we also saw three knock-out vagrant songbirds from Mexico.

On the nightbird front, we kicked things off with a Burrowing Owl in Tucson. Then it was to the south for a lovely male Buff-collared Nightjar, nesting Elf Owl, and a wonderfully cooperative Western Screech-Owl after a picnic dinner at California Gulch in the Pajarito Mountains west of Nogales. The next morning, on our first full day together, we headed to the Huachuca Mountains where we hiked up Miller Canyon and found two adult Spotted Owls. Moving east to the Chiricahua Mountains, nesting Great Horned Owls and a day-roosting Whiskered Screech-Owl were waiting for us in Portal. A dusk watch along a stream introduced us to a fantastic, close Mexican Whip-poor-will, but we didn't manage to track down a Flammulated Owl. The following morning in the Chiricahuas, we whistled up a Northern Pygmy-Owl in a sycamore in Cave Creek Canyon and then spent the rest of the day searching for songbirds high in the mountains. In the evening we found another Spotted Owl (this one was even calling!) and heard more Mexican Whip-poor-wills, but still the Flammulated Owl eluded us. On our final day, after we headed back to Tucson, we took a picnic up the Catalina Highway and with a bit of luck finally found a vocal male Flammulated Owl (yip yip!) and Common Poorwills. A Lesser Nighthawk zipped through the streetlights of Tucson as we drove back to our hotel near the airport.

As I mentioned earlier, we had remarkable luck with Mexican vagrants. A Tufted Flycatcher was staked out in upper Carr Canyon in the Huachucas and we found it despite a strong wind there. In Portal, a Streak-backed Oriole came in to the Rodrigues feeders to eat jelly (and was my first one north of Mexico). Finally, as we drove back to Tucson, we stopped at the site where a Slate-throated Redstart apparently nested with a Painted Redstart in 2016, just on a whim - and amazingly, within a few minutes, we found an adult Slate-throated Redstart! I can't emphasize enough how fortunate we were to see these special rarities on our short trip.

In between the exciting nightbirds and the rare Mexican visitors, we had time to find a nice cross-section of SE Arizona specialties from raptors to hummingbirds to flycatchers and plenty of warblers. Check out the annotated list below for the full rundown!

Micah and I had a great time birding and traveling with all of you, and we hope to share some more exciting times in the field with you in the future.

Good birding,

Tom & Micah


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


BIRDS
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
GADWALL (Anas strepera) – 3 were at Willcox.
AMERICAN WIGEON (Anas americana) – 9 were at Willcox.
MALLARD (MEXICAN) (Anas platyrhynchos diazi) – Two of these dark Mallards were at Willcox on our final day. We also saw some Northern x Mexican intergrades.


Our hike up Miller Canyon was rewarded by these amazing, sleepy "Mexican" Spotted Owls. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – Roughly 12 were mixed with Cinnamon Teal at Willcox.
CINNAMON TEAL (Anas cyanoptera) – 35 were mixed with Blue-winged Teal at Willcox.
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Anas clypeata) – 25 were at Willcox.
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis) – 40 of these "stiff-tails" were snoozing on the lake at Willcox.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
SCALED QUAIL (Callipepla squamata) – Great views in the desert grasslands along the Portal-Rodeo Road.
GAMBEL'S QUAIL (Callipepla gambelii) – This is the widespread, common quail in Southern Arizona.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo) – We heard these guys gobbling at two spots in the Chiricahuas while we waited for dusk to fall.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis) – 23 migrants were on the lake at Willcox.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi) – About 45 were at Willcox.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Common and widespread.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus) – This small Accipiter was a flyover over town in Portal.
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii) – One was a flyby while driving in the Chiricahuas.
HARRIS'S HAWK (Parabuteo unicinctus) – During our drive across Tucson on our final evening, we spotted one of these locally scarce hawks along a utility line.
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – One put in a brief showing along the road in to California Gulch on our first afternoon.
SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni) – Good views of these long-winged Buteo hawks along the road while driving. Our first ones were near Huachuca City.


This was our look at the long-staying Streak-backed Oriole in Portal. This Mexican species is very rare in Arizona. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – One headed down-canyon over our heads at the mouth of Cave Creek Canyon near Portal.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis) – Common and widespread.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana) – ~15 were at Willcox.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – About a dozen were on the lake at Willcox.
AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana) – 55 of these stunning waders were along the edge of the lake at Willcox.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – Six of these shorebirds were a bit surprising at Willcox - the species is uncommon but regular in small numbers here.
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus) – 7 were at Willcox.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
DUNLIN (Calidris alpina) – Two were a big surprise on the flats at Willcox, where the species is an uncommon-to-rare migrant.
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (Calidris bairdii) – Two were mixed in with Western Sandpipers on the lakeshore at Willcox.
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – 25 at Willcox.
WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri) – 22 were at Willcox - these migrants were rather striking with their rust, black, and white breeding plumage.
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus) – Wow - this was a big flock for SE Arizona! We saw 213 on the edge of the lake at Willcox.
WILSON'S PHALAROPE (Phalaropus tricolor) – 48 were at WIllcox.


We ate several picnic dinners to help us stay out in the field longer - I'm pretty sure none of us went hungry on this trip. After darkness fell on this scene, we heard a male Buff-collared Nightjar singing from very nearby - AND, we also discovered an Elf Owl nest about 40 feet away! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus) – 10 of these long-distance migrants were mixed in with the more numerous Wilson's Phalaropes at Willcox.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – Six teetered along the edge of the water at Willcox.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – One was mixed in with other shorebirds at Willcox.
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – Two showed in good comparison to the larger Greater Yellowlegs at Willcox.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis) – 3 were loafing at Willcox.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Common in larger towns and around Tucson.
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata) – A big flock of 55 flew over us several times in Portal during our picnic breakfast.
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) – Common in towns and agricultural areas.
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca) – Up to 6 were easy to see in downtown Portal during our stay there.
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – A male and female wandered around on the ground near our dinner picnic spot near California Gulch on the first evening. Great views, especially of the colorful male.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) – Common.
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura) – Common.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
GREATER ROADRUNNER (Geococcyx californianus) – Several nice sightings - our first was at the Burrowing Owl spot we visited in West Tucson.
Strigidae (Owls)
FLAMMULATED OWL (Psiloscops flammeolus) – This tends to be one of the toughest owls to find, but on our third evening of looking, we scored a vocal male that we saw high in some pines at middle elevation in the Catalina Mountains!


Kathy Calvert captured both Gambel's and Mountain White-crowned Sparrows in this image from a feeding station in Portal.

WESTERN SCREECH-OWL (Megascops kennicottii) – Awesome views of a responsive bird near Ruby; another one was day-roosting on an open snag (under a Northern Pygmy-Owl) in Cave Creek Canyon.
WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL (Megascops trichopsis) – This owl barely makes it into the US in Arizona and New Mexico, and it's a primary target of this tour. We had some excellent views on a roost at dusk in the Chiricahuas, and also found a calling bird after dark for more views.
GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus) – We were fortunate that a pair of Great Horned Owls nested right next to the Portal Peak Lodge this spring - the owlets were low to the ground and easy to see, and were watched over by a rather fierce-looking adult.
NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium gnoma) – Persistent whistling eventually drew a response from a real pygmy-owl, and we then tracked it to the top of a sycamore tree in Cave Creek Canyon. This bird sat still about 20 feet above a day-roosting Western Screech-Owl that we found while looking for the pygmy. Awesome! This bird alternated between a single-tooting and a double-tooting song.
ELF OWL (Micrathene whitneyi) – During our first evening in California Gulch, we found an Elf Owl nest and watched a male sing from its nest hole. Outstanding!
BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia) – Our first nightbird of the trip was really a day bird. We found one of these familiar and tame owls near the banks of the dry Santa Cruz River in Tucson.
SPOTTED OWL (Strix occidentalis) – We were very fortunate to have such awesome Mexican Spotted Owl experiences on this tour. First, we hiked up the trail in Miller Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains and found a pair of adult owls roosting together in a small oak. They snoozed about 20 feet away from us and completely ignored us. Then, while listening around dusk in the Chiricahuas, we heard the dog-like barks of another Spotted Owl, and we had enough light to track it down for more great views. Wow!
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis) – Our final night bird was a single Lesser Nighthawk that bounded through the lights of a Tucson community college as we headed to our hotel.
COMMON POORWILL (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii) – We heard this small nightjar near California Gulch and at the Prison Camp in the Catalinas, but aside from flying in close, we couldn't see it well this time. [*]


Even though this was a nightbird-oriented tour, we did see some spectacular hummingbirds including this male Broad-billed. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR (Antrostomus ridgwayi) – This Mexican species is very rare in the US, but they've set up shop in California Gulch and have become rather reliable. We had a nice listen and a great view of a singing male near California Gulch on the first evening of our tour.
MEXICAN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus arizonae arizonae) – A male sang and then flew past us at knee height in the Chiricahuas, offering an awesome look at the mothlike flight and the big white blocks in the outer tail.
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (Aeronautes saxatalis) – About ten swirled around the red rock cliffs above us in South Fork Cave Creek Canyon.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens) – Good views in Miller Canyon and in Portal.
BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Lampornis clemenciae) – Several good views of this massive "mountain-gem" along Cave Creek.
BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus alexandri) – A common breeder.
BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus) – Fairly common in higher elevation forest where we frequently heard the zinging sound of the primary feathers of the males.
BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD (Cynanthus latirostris) – Common, especially in canyon forests.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus) – Common in the Huachucas and Chiricahuas.
GILA WOODPECKER (Melanerpes uropygialis) – We heard and saw this Sonoran Desert specialist several times in the Tucson area.


Micah found this Five-striped Sparrow near California Gulch just in the nick of time before it went to roost. Photo by Tom Johnson.

RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus nuchalis) – One was visiting a favored tree along South Fork Cave Creek Canyon.
LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER (Picoides scalaris) – Fairly common in desert forest. We saw them at California Gulch, Stateline Road, and the feeders below Portal.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Picoides villosus) – Fairly common in high elevation conifer forests in the Chiricahuas.
ARIZONA WOODPECKER (Picoides arizonae) – A denizen of the oak-pine zone in this region, we found these brown-toned woodpeckers in Miller Canyon and also in the Chiricahuas.
NORTHERN FLICKER (RED-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus cafer) – Several were up high in montane forest.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius) – One was along Stateline Road on our final morning.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
TUFTED FLYCATCHER (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) – This beautiful little crested flycatcher put in an appearance right above us in the Reef Townsite campground in Carr Canyon near to Ramsey Canyon where the species tried to breed in 2016.
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – One perched up above the Portal Peak Lodge during our picnic breakfast.
GREATER PEWEE (Contopus pertinax) – This big flycatcher posed extremely well for us in Miller Canyon and Pinery Canyon.
WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus)
HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (Empidonax hammondii) – These small, stubby-billed empids were quite common in Miller and Cave Creek Canyons. We became quite used to their sharp "peep" callnotes along the way.


On our stroll along South Fork in the Chiricahuas, we were amazed by the close views of this striking Red-naped Sapsucker. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

DUSKY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax oberholseri) – One was "whit"-ing and showed nicely during breakfast at the Portal Peak Lodge.
BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax fulvifrons) – A few of these small, distinctive empids popped out for good views in the Reef Townsite Campground in Carr Canyon.
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans) – Two were apparently on territory near the bridge along the South Fork road.
SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya) – A few of these open-land phoebes showed in lower Miller Canyon and also near Portal.
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – These red stunners came out to the roadside on the way to California Gulch on our first afternoon.
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – This is the canyon Myiarchus in Arizona that gives a mournful "peer" call - we found several in Miller and Cave Creek Canyons.
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens) – These pale Myiarchus were in California Gulch and on the Stateline Road near Portal.
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – We found these big, boisterous Myiarchus flycatcers around Portal (where they had likely just arrived for the spring).
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus vociferans) – Common - good sightings in California Gulch, Miller Canyon, and in the Chiricahuas.
WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis) – This kingbird is usually most common in desert and grassland habitats. Great views at Willcox.
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus) – These butcher-birds were along the Arivaca Road, Stateline Road, and at Willcox.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BELL'S VIREO (Vireo bellii) – A common voice in the stream thickets downslope from Portal.
HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni) – Common in oak-dominated woodlands in Sky Island canyons.
CASSIN'S VIREO (Vireo cassinii) – We found migrants at several sites in the mountains including Carr Canyon and in the upper Chiricahuas.


This male Black-headed Grosbeak posed nicely and showed off its striking pattern for Kathy Calvert.

PLUMBEOUS VIREO (Vireo plumbeus) – This is the resident "Solitary" Vireo of the region, and is duller gray overall compared to the migrant Cassin's. We found lots singing in Miller Canyon and the Chiricahuas.
WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus) – A few migrants were mixed in with flocks on the Ruby Road and in Miller Canyon.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
STELLER'S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri) – These large, crested jays were above Onion Saddle in the Chiricahuas.
MEXICAN JAY (Aphelocoma wollweberi) – Common and noisy in all canyons that we visited on the tour.
CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN (Corvus cryptoleucus) – Good views of a couple (including the white bases of the neck feathers!) near Huachuca City and also near Rodeo, New Mexico. The ravens can be very difficult to identify but we took our time and had some great looks on this trip.
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax) – Common and more widespread than Chihuahuan Raven.
Alaudidae (Larks)
HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris) – A few were along the Arivaca Road through mesquite grasslands on our first afternoon.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) – Three flew over us at our picnic spot in California Gulch.
PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis) – We were very pleased to find a flock of 14 of these rare migrants perched on utility wires east of the Chiricahuas near Portal, where the species is probably not annual.
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) – Five were at Willcox with other swallows.
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina) – Common in the Chiricahuas, including in the airspace above Portal.


Red-faced Warblers were a beautiful feature of our trip. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia) – Two were making their grinding calls overhead at Willcox.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – About 25 were at the lake at Willcox during our shorebirding stop there.
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) – At least one showed up in the swallow flock at Willcox.
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
MEXICAN CHICKADEE (Poecile sclateri) – Good views of this range-restricted chickadee in a mixed flock at Barfoot Park in the Chiricahuas.
BRIDLED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus wollweberi) – Common in Miller Canyon and in the Chiricahuas.
Remizidae (Penduline-Tits)
VERDIN (Auriparus flaviceps) – Good views of some snazzy, yellow-headed individuals in California Gulch.
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
BUSHTIT (Psaltriparus minimus) – Small flocks accompanied other songbirds in Miller Canyon and the Chiricahuas.
Sittidae (Nuthatches)
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (INTERIOR WEST) (Sitta carolinensis nelsoni) – This "slender-billed" subspecies group appeared for us in Carr Canyon and in the oak-pine forest of the Chiricahuas.
PYGMY NUTHATCH (Sitta pygmaea) – A few popped out of the conifers near East Turkey Creek, while more accompanied the Mexican Chickadees at Barfoot Park.
Certhiidae (Treecreepers)
BROWN CREEPER (ALBESCENS/ALTICOLA) (Certhia americana albescens) – These cryptic bark-climbers showed nicely on two occasions in the Chiricahuas.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus) – Several good views of birds hopping around on rocks in Miller Canyon and Cave Creek Canyon.
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) – Common in the mountains.


We watched this Rufous-winged Sparrow as he sang near our picnic site in California Gulch. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

BEWICK'S WREN (Thryomanes bewickii) – Common in canyon forests - we saw 7 alone on one walk in South Fork.
CACTUS WREN (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) – These big wrens were common around "downtown" Portal.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea) – Five were in the forest along South Fork Cave Creek Canyon during our birdy walk there.
BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila melanura) – Two of these desert gnatcatchers showed up for us in California Gulch on our first evening.
Regulidae (Kinglets)
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula) – Several lingering migrants were in mixed flocks in the Chiricahuas.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana) – A few family groups were between Onion Saddle and Barfoot Junction in the Chiricahuas.
HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus) – This breeding species showed nicely in Miller Canyon and the Chiricahuas.
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius) – Common in the mountains.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis) – This Arizona rarity was calling from the middle of a large hackberry at the Portal Peak Lodge.
CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (Toxostoma curvirostre) – Our nicest looks were around Portal (eastern subspecies group), though we did see one in Miller Canyon as well (western subspecies group).
BENDIRE'S THRASHER (Toxostoma bendirei) – One of these desert grassland mimids perched up and sang along the Stateline Road near Rodeo, New Mexico. The species occurs at low density in southern Arizona so it was a great one for us to pick up on this short trip.


This Western Screech-Owl peered at us from the low branches of a mesquite in the Pajarito Mountains on our first evening. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

CRISSAL THRASHER (Toxostoma crissale) – We heard song in California Gulch and along Stateline Road. [*]
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos) – Fairly common in desert lowlands.
Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)
PHAINOPEPLA (Phainopepla nitens) – These silky-flycatchers are nomadic and move in response to mistletoe and other fruits. We saw 20+ in the California Gulch area.
Peucedramidae (Olive Warbler)
OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus) – A peach-headed male came in to visit a wonderfully constructed nest in a big pine in upper Carr Canyon.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
LUCY'S WARBLER (Oreothlypis luciae) – We found these small, cavity-nesting warblers in mesquites in California Gulch.
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana) – This eastern vagrant popped into view in a flock (while we were hunting Pygmy Nuthatches) near East Turkey Creek in the Chiricahuas. We had some quick views before it melted away into the pine forest.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – A few were in mesquite groves near Portal.
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni) – We found plenty of migrants including 35+ near Barfoot Lookout in the Chiricahuas.
GRACE'S WARBLER (Setophaga graciae) – These pine-loving beauties were mixed in with flocks in Carr and Miller Canyons and again in the Chiricahuas.
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens) – Common in the oak and juniper zone in the mountains - we saw plenty! [*]


During our final dinner (a picnic in the Santa Catalina Mts.), we lined up for a group photo. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (Setophaga townsendi) – Great views in mixed songbird flocks in the Huachucas and the Chiricahuas.
HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis) – Brief but good looks at Carr Canyon and again near Barfoot Junction in the Chiricahuas.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – A fairly common migrant that we saw in the Huachucas and the Chiricahuas.
RED-FACED WARBLER (Cardellina rubrifrons) – Our best views of this gorgeous warbler were in Miller Canyon and Barfoot Park.
PAINTED REDSTART (Myioborus pictus) – Fairly common in montane canyons.
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – Yowza! One adult with a worn tail came in with a songbird flock in Pinery Canyon on the west side of the Chiricahuas at site where the species was found in 2016 (and apparently nested with a Painted Redstart given the mixed appearance of the juveniles).
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens) – One sang just downstream of the Portal Peak Lodge in Portal.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW (Peucaea carpalis) – A striking individual teed up and sang for us in the mesquites along a wash near California Gulch on our first evening together.
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina) – We found these familiar sparrows in songbird flocks in the Chiricahuas on several occasions.
BLACK-CHINNED SPARROW (Spizella atrogularis) – Three appeared along the Trans-Mountain Road through the Chiricahuas in response to playback.
BREWER'S SPARROW (Spizella breweri) – Three of these nicely patterned (though admittedly drab) sparrows apppeared for us on Stateline Road near Portal.


The first major rarity of our tour was this awesome Tufted Flycatcher in Carr Canyon. Though conditions were windy, we heard the bird calling and were able to zero in for some nice views. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

BLACK-THROATED SPARROW (Amphispiza bilineata) – Excellent studies at feeders in Portal.
FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW (Amphispiza quinquestriata) – It was nearly dark on our first evening when Micah found one of these very handsome sparrows in California Gulch. The Gulch is one of very few places north of the border to find this Mexican speciality.
LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus) – Migrants flew over us in the mornings on a few occasions, including along the Stateline Road near Portal.
DARK-EYED JUNCO (GRAY-HEADED) (Junco hyemalis caniceps) – We saw one lingering migrant briefly along the road through Cave Creek Canyon.
YELLOW-EYED JUNCO (Junco phaeonotus) – Many were in the higher reaches of the Chiricahuas.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (ORIANTHA) (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha) – These "Mountain" White-crowned Sparrows were the dark-lored, pink-billed birds that we compared to the Gambel's subspecies at the Rodrigues feeders in Portal.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (GAMBEL'S) (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii) – We had a nice opportunity to see these orange-billed, pale-lored birds at the Rodrigues feeders in Portal.
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW (Zonotrichia atricapilla) – The lovely adult that we saw at Jasper's feeders in Portal was even in breeding plumage - a rare treat for Arizona!
SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis) – Three were along the loop road through the grasslands at Willcox.
LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii) – We heard one giving its buzzy callnote on our final morning in Portal.
CANYON TOWHEE (Melozone fusca) – Common where the desert meets mountain canyons, including at the Rodrigues feeders in Portal.


This flock of 14 Purple Martins posed on wires near Portal, where the species is quite rare. These were likely the saguaro cactus-nesting birds of the Sonoran Desert. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW (Aimophila ruficeps) – A pair showed off particularly nicely in California Gulch on our first evening.
GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (Pipilo chlorurus) – Excellent views of several migrants - the best looks were at the Rodrigues feeders.
SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus) – Common in the Huachucas and the Chiricahuas.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
HEPATIC TANAGER (Piranga flava) – We found several by first hearing their harsh "chack" call in pine forests in the Huachucas and Chiricahuas.
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – Several between California Gulch and the Portal area in riparian zones.
WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana) – Only a few - in California Gulch and again on Stateline Road near Portal.
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis) – Fairly common around the Portal area. The desert birds here in Arizona have vibrant red coloration and especially long crests.
PYRRHULOXIA (Cardinalis sinuatus) – We had nice opportunities to compare these cardinals to the more familiar Northern Cardinal in Portal.
BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus) – Common, especially in mountain canyons.
LAZULI BUNTING (Passerina amoena) – The flock of males and females at the feeders in Bob Rodrigues's yard was fairly remarkable.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – A flock of 4 flew over us on the Stateline Road near Portal.
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (LILIAN'S) (Sturnella magna lilianae) – This breeder is fairly common in desert grasslands.


This breeding plumage Golden-crowned Sparrow showed up at feeders in Portal during our stay. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Remarkably, we only saw one female at Willcox.
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus) – We saw one on at least two occasions in Portal.
BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD (Molothrus ater) – Common and widespread.
HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus) – We saw these slim, vocal orioles on each day of the tour.
STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus pustulatus) – Wow! A female-type bird attended the feeders of Bob Rodrigues in the desert below Portal, where we saw it on two occasions. This is one of several Mexican species we saw on this tour that are very rare and sporadic north of the border.
BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii) – Jasper's feeders in Portal allowed for amazing views of close males and females.
SCOTT'S ORIOLE (Icterus parisorum) – Excellent views of these striking orioles at Jasper's feeders in Portal.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus) – Common.
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus) – Common in the Chiricahua Mountains.
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria) – Common and widespread.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Common in towns and cities.

MAMMALS
EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus) – A few appeared along the roadsides in the oak forests of the Chiricahuas.
DESERT COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus audubonii) – The widespread small bunny in southern Arizona.
BLACK-TAILED JACKRABBIT (Lepus californicus) – The common desert jackrabbit.
ANTELOPE JACKRABBIT (Lepus alleni) – Several of these huge-eared hares were along the road near California Gulch on our first evening together.
CLIFF CHIPMUNK (Tamias dorsalis) – The only chipmunk we saw on the tour.


Now that's a penetrating gaze! This Northern Pygmy-Owl stared us down from the top of an Arizona Sycamore near Portal. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

HARRIS'S ANTELOPE SQUIRREL (Ammospermophilus harrisii) – Wow - awesome views including some youngsters at feeders in Portal.
ROCK SQUIRREL (Spermophilus variegatus) – Fairly common.
MEXICAN FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus nayaritensis) – This big, handsome squirrel put on a good show for us in South Fork in the Chiricahuas.
ARIZONA GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus arizonensis) – Common in the Huachucas.
COYOTE (Canis latrans) – One zipped across the road during our drive back to Tucson on the first night of the tour.
WHITE-NOSED COATI (Nasua narica) – One trundled past us near the Slate-throated Redstart spot in Pinery Canyon.
BOBCAT (Lynx rufus) – One surprised us with a quick run-past along the road up South Fork in the Chiricahuas.
MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus) – We found this large-eared deer in the desert grasslands near Rodeo, New Mexico.
WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus) – These were the common canyon deer that we saw in the mountains. The small, gray form here is known as the Coues White-tailed Deer in honor of Army surgeon/ ornithologist Elliot Coues.
PRONGHORN (Antilocapra americana) – A small group was in grasslands along the New Mexico state line south of Rodeo.
Herps
CHIRICAHUA LEOPARD FROG (Rana chiricahuensis)
CLARK'S SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus clarkii)
YARROW'S SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus jarrovii)
DESERT GRASSLAND WHIPTAIL (Aspidoscelis uniparens)


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS


Totals for the tour: 178 bird taxa and 15 mammal taxa