Madera Canyon, Pima & Santa Cruz Counties, AZ

Wednesday, May 11th:
Madera Canyon - here we come!  It was about a year ago I first met Marsha Wiles, a neighbor birder.  That day, we birded Florida Canyon first and then visited a few spots in Madera. 

When we rolled down the car windows around 7 a.m. along Madera Canyon Road today to listen for Botteri's Sparrows, she reminded me that we had done that last year, too. This year, we not only heard them, but saw one up and singing -- a First-of-Year (FOY) sighting for me; a Life Bird for her.

Proctor Road trail is my favorite early-morning spot in Madera and it proved that EARLY pays off. There were probably more birds I didn't get, but finding 23 species wasn't too shabby for that one-mile loop. With leaves fully out on all the cottonwoods, mesquite, willows, live oak and others, it was difficult for good photos, but that never stops me trying. 

Birding is like a treasure hunt to me so following a bird that's difficult to see raises the challenge of certain identification - until we see enough to know:  "Not a Yellow Warbler -- a Wilson's Warbler!"  

My favorite sightings there were the Western Tanager, Zone-tailed Hawk flying among a kettle of Turkey Vultures and a Gray Hawk.

Western Tanager
Gray Hawk circling overhead several times - Life Bird for Marsha

Deciding to visit Santa Rita Lodge briefly as our next stop was as productive as usual. We weren't searching for a particular bird, but enjoyed all we saw during our twenty minutes sitting and walking the grounds.
Wild Turkey comes to the feeding area just like all the other wild birds

Finch feeder attracted Lesser Goldfinch, Pine Siskin and two House Finches, one an Orange variant

Kubo B&B gift shop was closed on our arrival but Cora opened it while we were there giving us an opportunity to sit out on the deck to see the opposite bank of Madera Creek more fully.

Hummingbirds love the spot. MAGNIFICENT, BLACK-CHINNED, BROAD-TAILED AND BROAD-BILLED buzzed in and out on a regular basis.  

Broad-billed Hummingbird - FEMALE above; MALE, below.

Oddly, a Painted Redstart came to the hummingbird feeders, too.  Must have a sweet tooth.
Below, it appeared to be wiping its bill.

Painted Redstart 
I'll spare you the photos of the Magnificent Hummingbirds as they have never ever turned out well for me but I'm getting closer!

Along the bank of the creek, I spotted a House Wren that moved around quite a bit but I think there was only one that we saw. The black and white Bridled Titmouse is always a treat for the eyes and an Arizona Woodpecker that came into a rather small seed feeder was fun to watch as it contorted to hang on to get some food.

Black-headed Grosbeak stayed where the feeders hung from trees while the Mexican Jays flew in and out from time to time. A Canyon Wren serenaded from within the Canyon and a Yellow-eyed Junco walked the dry creek bed. It's young came up close to the deck.

Adult Yellow-eyed Junco

Juvenile Yellow-eyed Junco
After spending about an hour there, we decided to eat lunch at a picnic table at the top of the canyon and take the Carrie Nation Trail to the first bench where Cora told us we'd be able to see the Elegant Trogon. (Heard one at Santa Rita Lodge but couldn't find it per the folks that had just seen it.)

I, for one, was glad to see the bench!  Yesterday, I had walked several birding miles and today, had arisen early to depart AJ at 4:30. Driving comes easy to me and we had focused our attention on various bird vocalizations during the 3-hour trip, but my body was ready to sit.  

In our 90-minutes along the Carrie Nation trail, we didn't even hear a trogon, but enjoyed several other birds including a pair of Hepatic Tanagers.

Female Hepatic Tanager

Crescent Moon hanging over Madera Canyon tree tops about mid-day
I can't sign off without thanking profusely a young man that "saved my life" by running down the hill for quite a distance to catch up with us. He had found my CELL PHONE and wanted to return it!!!  Don't know who you were and you probably don't read this -- but THANK YOU -- many times over.

A delightful birding day with Marsha before she heads to Colorado for the summer.

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1 comment:

  1. WHOA!!!! Glad you got your phone back. We have so much junk on us that it's easy to forget things often.