Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, Pinal County, AZ

Sunday, February 28th
With over thirty birders showing up for the Bird Walk led by Troy Corman and Anne Leight, the group split into two after checking out the hummingbird garden together. 
View of Picket Post Mountain from picnic area (Photo of Chris Zehr)
On the cusp of Spring, birds were seen gathering nesting material and sitting high and visible and singing their hearts out.

Both Lesser Goldfinch and Northern Cardinals were easy to spot.

Lesser Goldfinch
Northern Cardina

Although an Arizona winter differs from much of the rest of the country, it is still February and the walkways at the arboretum were lined with flowering plants.

Mexican Redbud
Hummingbirds no longer needed to rely on the feeders provided at their special garden area but could visit numerous plants and trees.

Anna's Hummingbird (above and below)
Photos by Chris Zehr
The Arboretum is not all desert; it includes a variety of habitat including Ayer Lake where I found six species: Black Phoebe, Red-winged Blackbird (mostly females flying in and down into hiding within the marsh reeds), Marsh Wren, Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot and a Neotropic Cormorant - one of those birds that people sometimes mistake for an Anhinga, often seen in Florida or Texas.
Neotropic Cormorant

For me, the two best sightings of the day include this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (an early bird this year). Although its yellow belly doesn't show, it lacks the red-nape of a Red-naped Sapsucker that looks similar in other plumage from this angle. Difficult to photograph behind limbs, this was the best shot I got. The red cap on this bird in the lower photo indicates it is a male.

The best of the three-hour walk involved the Cooper's Hawk. At one point in the Demonstration Garden, Troy quickly suggested we look overhead. "A raptor is around," he said. Sure enough, a Cooper's Hawk slowly slid into view giving us a great look at something it does during courtship. It flares its white under-tail covert feathers out toward its flanks. As we watched, a female came toward the first bird, exhibiting the same behavior!

Ordinarily, that white along the flanks doesn't show on a Cooper's.

What a spectacular sighting to wrap up a morning of birding!

The following arboretum pictures are shared by Chris Zehr.

Needless to say, we had all worked up an appetite and a small group of us headed to Porter's in Superior where, on the shelf behind us, we noted a stack of bird books topped by Sibley Birds!

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