Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, Pinal County, AZ

October 6, 2015
Although it rained early, by the time I reached Cholla Day Use area in Lost Dutchman State Park, it had stopped. Despite clouds overhead, the air seemed clear. Moisture remained on jojoba and other plant leaves. Puddles were sufficient that I didn't spend any time waiting at the drip faucet to observe birds that might come in for a drink; they could find it elsewhere in today's desert.

Sun slipping through the clouds giving light and shadows
Surprised to hear a Rock Wren close to the beginning of the trail, I didn't spot it until I reached the intersection of Jacob's Crosscut trail. It sat up for me on a dead cactus which is not its normal behavior; it's usually very close to the ground. Two hikers came down from the Treasure Loop trail and inquired about it "pretty song".

Rock Wren with morning sun lighting up its belly
Because LDSP Ranger Diana Bishop had contacted me over a week ago about a Gray Catbird she had seen at the water feature in the residential area, I used playback to see what kind of response I would get out in the desert.  Got an immediate response from this Curve-billed Thrasher that flew in quickly, perched close behind me and started singing its song, including its well known "wheet-wheet".

Birds were feeding at this hour, so I took photos of the two major woodpeckers at this state park. Below are two photos of a Gilded Flicker that don't show its brown back with narrow black bars. When it flies, you see much yellow "gold" beneath its wings - thus, its name, "Gilded". Sometimes the "gold" also shows near the tail when it's perched but my eyes aren't seeing it in these photos.  Both flickers show a white rump when flying.

Note the cinnamon-colored head and large black breast spot that differ from Northern Flicker.

The Gila Woodpecker below looks very different than the flickers starting with its black-and-white barred back and rump. It's forehead, head, nape and belly are grayish brown.  The male can be told by its red crown on gray head. It shows white wing patches when it flies.

Gila Woodpecker (male)

Although I came across only a small group of White-crowned Sparrows, their numbers will increase as they continue to migrate back to this area for the winter. They were busy eating and allowed me to get fairly close for photos.

White-crowned Sparrow - above and below

Nineteen species in an hour and a half at Lost Dutchman SP is not a bad day!

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  1. I've never been to this place. What a great day birding around Arizona! The temps today were outstanding. So excited to see White-crowned Sparrows again. It'll be fun to hear their zeet zeets around Tucson. Enjoy the next couple days. They are supposed to similar to today!

  2. I'd be glad to introduce you to the place anytime you're in the area, Chris. It's desert and more desert! And, yes, the temps were in the 60s today - totally enjoyable!