I suppose every birder has one or more birds that have alluded them over the years. As I have mentioned before, I am working on a book about Warblers of Arizona. One warbler, the Northern Parula is uncommon in Southern Arizona, getting about five individual birds a year. As you might imagine, trying to find one of five individual 4 and a half inch birds over twenty thousand square miles (Southern Arizona) is a daunting task. It is a little easier than I just said because it is reported both to the Audubon Rare Bird Alert and to the area's ABA Birding News. And when those reports come out you drop what you are doing and go directly to where it was reported.
Over the past couple of years I have made three trips to Tanque Verde Wash when it was reported there. I made four trips to the Santa Cruz River at Sasco Road when it was reported there. And, I made 8 trips to Sweetwater Wetlands when it was report there. All failing to find this little guy.
On one such visit to Sweetwater I met a birder from the Eastern US who asked what I was looking for. When I mentioned that a Northern Parula had been seen there he didn't seem impressed. Evidently he sees them often back home. (On the other hand, we see gila monsters and bobcats on our property so I guess we're even).
On Wednesday (May 18th), Christine and I went to Sweetwater Wetlands. I was looking for a MacGillivray's Warbler (which I have seen in several places but don't have the quality photo I want). And, to my surprise -- and joy, a first of season Northern Parula appeared. He was foraging in the willows and cottonwoods next to one of the ponds.
Here are some photos of that Northern Parula: