When the high and low pressure cells shift and begin to bring in gulf moisture into southeast Arizona, the arid landscape undergoes a marvelous transformation. No two years are the same, and conditions can vary quite a bit from week to week from hot and dry to cooler and wet. Our monsoon can be thought of as a second Spring, as many species wait until the arrival of the rains to being nesting. Thankfully, the Arizona monsoon rains had arrived for us in 2022 and we were able to witness the greening of the landscape. It was a little patchy, with Cochise Lake in Willcox being virtually dry (“where are all of the shorebirds?”). But we got to experience it in full force in the Chiricahuas, where we actually we driven out of the high country shortly after taking in the Spotted Owls, and witnessed flood conditions in Cave Creek Canyon. Highlights in the Chiricahuas included a wonderful pair of Montezuma Quail, Elegant Trogon, White-eared Hummingbird, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, and of course the Spotted Owls. The Chihuahuan desert grasslands skirting these mountains held some good sparrows, Crissal and Bendire’s thrashers, and nesting Burrowing Owl. To the west the smaller Huachuca Mountains form another smaller, but wonderful sky island. Ash Canyon served up Lucifer Hummingbird, several Violet-crowned Hummingbirds, our first Gray Hawk, perched Zone-tailed Hawk, Arizona Woodpecker, and cooperative Greater Pewee and mix of warblers. From there we headed west to Patagonia, Nogales, and the I-19 corridor along the Santa Cruz, picking up many new species. Among these, Tropical Kingbird, Rose-throated Becard, Five-striped Sparrow, and Varied Bunting stand out. And our evening in Madera Canyon turned the tide on our nightbirding luck a bit with Whiskered Screech-Owl showing nicely for us, along with the flutter of Mexican Whip-poor-will.
Thanks to all of you for making this tour special, and for your patience with weather-related challenges. And finally, hugs to Tamara who had to leave the tour way too soon. Best wishes to you.
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
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
A couple of birds perching in trees near the Bridge Road bridge in Tubac and two at the Amado Pond.
CINNAMON TEAL (Spatula cyanoptera)
The poorly seen teal at Willow Tank was likely this species as other observers had noted it there around the same dates.
MEXICAN DUCK (Anas diazi)
REDHEAD (Aythya americana)
A long-staying male at Canoa Ranch.
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)
A long-staying bird at the Amado Pond.
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
SCALED QUAIL (Callipepla squamata)
A couple seen at the edge of the golf course in Willcox.
GAMBEL'S QUAIL (Callipepla gambelii)
MONTEZUMA QUAIL (Cyrtonyx montezumae)
WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo)
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)
EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)
CLARK'S GREBE (Aechmophorus clarkii)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata)
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)
COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
GREATER ROADRUNNER (Geococcyx californianus)
YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus)
LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis)
A few flying around at dusk near Continental.
MEXICAN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus arizonae arizonae)
WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (Aeronautes saxatalis)
RIVOLI'S HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens)
BLUE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis clemenciae)
LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD (Calothorax lucifer)
After a long wait, a male Lucifer put in an appearance at the Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary.
BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus alexandri)
ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD (Calypte anna)
COSTA'S HUMMINGBIRD (Calypte costae)
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus rufus)
BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus)
BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD (Cynanthus latirostris)
WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD (Basilinna leucotis)
VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD (Leucolia violiceps)
Quite a few sightings of this species at various locations on the tour.
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
MISSISSIPPI KITE (Ictinia mississippiensis)
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)
A male was seen flying across Highway 80 on our way to Douglas.
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus)
SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL (Megascops trichopsis)
Nice views of one in Madera Canyon one evening.
BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)
SPOTTED OWL (Strix occidentalis)
ELEGANT TROGON (Trogon elegans)
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)
GILA WOODPECKER (Melanerpes uropygialis)
LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER (Dryobates scalaris)
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)
ARIZONA WOODPECKER (Dryobates arizonae)
NORTHERN FLICKER (RED-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus cafer)
GILDED FLICKER (Colaptes chrysoides)
It took us quite a while to track them down but we ended up seeing at least four in the Tucson Mountains.
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)
A few of us caught sight of one soaring over the ridge in Ramsey Canyon.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae)
Good views of a pair of birds high overhead in the trees near their nest near Tubac.
NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma imberbe)
Thanks to a tip from my birding friend Diane, we saw this species well in Montosa Canyon including its nest.
GREATER PEWEE (Contopus pertinax)
After missing them in the Chiricahuas it was nice to see them well in Miller Canyon.
WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus)
PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER (Empidonax difficilis)
CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax occidentalis)
BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax fulvifrons)
Great looks at this species at East Turkey Creek in the Chiricahuas.
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)
SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)
ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus cinerascens)
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus)
SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes luteiventris)
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)
CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus vociferans)
THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus crassirostris)
This species has been increasing in numbers in the state and we saw the well known family in Portal and another on the Ruby Road.
WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis)
BELL'S VIREO (Vireo bellii)
HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni)
PLUMBEOUS VIREO (Vireo plumbeus)
WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)
LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)
STELLER'S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri)
WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)
One was seen along the Paradise Road.
MEXICAN JAY (Aphelocoma wollweberi)
CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN (Corvus cryptoleucus)
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE (Poecile gambeli)
MEXICAN CHICKADEE (Poecile sclateri)
Nice views of this species on the road to Barfoot Junction. This is the only accessible population in the United States.
BRIDLED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus wollweberi)
VERDIN (Auriparus flaviceps)
PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis)
A few of the desert breeders around Tucson.
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
BUSHTIT (INTERIOR) (Psaltriparus minimus plumbeus)
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta carolinensis)
PYGMY NUTHATCH (Sitta pygmaea)
BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)
BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila melanura)
ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus) [*]
CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus)
We eventually spied him perched on a rock outcropping in Montosa Canyon.
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)
BEWICK'S WREN (Thryomanes bewickii)
CACTUS WREN (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]
CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (Toxostoma curvirostre)
BENDIRE'S THRASHER (Toxostoma bendirei)
CRISSAL THRASHER (Toxostoma crissale)
We spotted one teed up in a tree along the Portal Road.
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana)
A lone bird seen high up in the Chiricahuas.
HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus)
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)
PHAINOPEPLA (Phainopepla nitens)
OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus)
We connected with this species at Rose Canyon Lake.
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)
RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW (Peucaea carpalis)
On our way out of Montosa Canyon we made a stop to watch some territorial birds.
BOTTERI'S SPARROW (Peucaea botterii)
Great looks of this species in grassland near Hereford.
CASSIN'S SPARROW (Peucaea cassinii)
FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW (Amphispizopsis quinquestriata)
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)
BLACK-THROATED SPARROW (Amphispiza bilineata)
YELLOW-EYED JUNCO (Junco phaeonotus)
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)
CANYON TOWHEE (Melozone fusca)
ABERT'S TOWHEE (Melozone aberti)
RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW (Aimophila ruficeps)
SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus)
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens)
This amazing species was recently placed in its own family.
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (CHIHUAHUAN) (Sturnella magna lilianae)
This is now officially a full species, Chihuahuan Meadowlark, S. lilianae.
HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus)
BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii)
SCOTT'S ORIOLE (Icterus parisorum)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus)
BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD (Molothrus ater)
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)
LUCY'S WARBLER (Leiothlypis luciae)
VIRGINIA'S WARBLER (Leiothlypis virginiae)
Seen on Mt. Lemmon and again in Miller Canyon.
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)
GRACE'S WARBLER (Setophaga graciae)
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens)
RED-FACED WARBLER (Cardellina rubrifrons)
Good views of this species at Rose Canyon Lake and again in Miller Canyon.
PAINTED REDSTART (Myioborus pictus)
HEPATIC TANAGER (Piranga flava)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)
WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana)
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)
PYRRHULOXIA (Cardinalis sinuatus)
BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)
LAZULI BUNTING (Passerina amoena)
Two popped up in the grasses at the Amado Pond.
VARIED BUNTING (Passerina versicolor)
Nice views of this species on the Ruby Road and again in Montosa Canyon.
PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris)
There was a male feeding in grasses on the far side of the Amado Pond.
EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)
DESERT COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus audubonii)
BLACK-TAILED JACKRABBIT (Lepus californicus)
ANTELOPE JACKRABBIT (Lepus alleni)
One was spotted on our way into Madera Canyon. Always a treat to see this special species.
CLIFF CHIPMUNK (Tamias dorsalis)
SPOTTED GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus spilosoma)
ROCK SQUIRREL (Spermophilus variegatus)
ROUND-TAILED GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus tereticaudus)
MEXICAN FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus nayaritensis)
We saw a couple of these large, attractive tree squirrels. This one occurs in the United States only in the Chiricahuas.
ARIZONA GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus arizonensis)
ABERT'S SQUIRREL (Sciurus aberti)
One seen on Mt. Lemmon where this species was introduced years ago.
GRAY FOX (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)
NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor)
STRIPED SKUNK (Mephitis mephitis)
COLLARED PECCARY (Tayassu tajacu)
A couple of these were seen as we were departing the motel on the second morning of the tour.
MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus)
One was seen below Montosa Canyon.
WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus)
This was the common deer in all of the sky islands.
COACHWHIP (Masticophis flagellum)
WESTERN DIAMOND-BACKED RATTLESNAKE (Crotalus atrox)
A large one spotted crossing the trail between the San Pedro House and the river.
ORNATE TREE LIZARD (Urosaurus ornatus)
CLARK'S SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus clarkii)
The most memorable was one looming over our dinner at Pizza Mimosa.
YARROW'S SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus jarrovii)
SONORAN SPOTTED WHIPTAIL (Aspidoscelis sonorae)
DESERT GRASSLAND WHIPTAIL (Aspidoscelis uniparens)
TIGER WHIPTAIL (Aspidoscelis tigris)
Totals for the tour: 166 bird taxa and 17 mammal taxa