Saturday, September 30, 2017

Birding Patagonia



There are lots of good birding spots in the Patagonia - Sonoita area.

In Patagonia there is The Paton House for Hummingbirds, the Patagonia Sonoita Creek Preserve, the Roadside Rest four miles south of town, and Patagonia Lake seven miles south of town.

In Sonoita there is the 25,000 acre Las Cienegas National Conservation area. 

Here are some photos, starting with Patons (Yes, I know it is the Paton Center for Hummingbirds and I took no Hummingbird photos. I was just "focusing" on other things). 

Brown Crested Flycatcher

Loved the Catepillar

Coneflower

Dull Firetip

Yes, a Javelina came up out of the wash while I was there

Wilson's Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge: other birds


Around Lake Aguirre we found a few other birds, although I was so "focused" on finding and photographing the Spoonbills, I sort of neglected the other birds we saw. I did get a few photos, some better than others, but here are the better ones:

Belted Kingfishers always look a bit odd to me, like a cartoon character with their head and massive bill as big as the rest of their body (well, not quite):

Belted Kingfisher
Then there were some Ibises with some debate as to whether they were "just" White Faced Ibises or the much rarer Glossy Ibis. The White Faced has a red eye and upon examination it does seem like one or more has a reddish eye. Yet some of the eyes appear to be black. Is it possible? Well, I think if the Roseate Spoonbills were sent off course by the hurricanes, why not the Glossy Ibis too? Where their territories overlap they are known to mingle.

White Faced and Glossy Ibis
 A bit of a surprise to see a Prairie Falcon by water, but I guess they need an occasional drink too:

Prairie Falcon
Nearby was a family of Harrier Hawks -- I think the parents were teaching the young ones how to hunt:

Harrier Hawk
 Several Warblers including McGillivray's, Wilson's, Lucy's, and Orange Crowned. Here's the Orange Crowned:

Orange Crowned Warbler
Finally just as we were leaving the Refuge one of many Western Kingbirds caught my eye and wanted a photo taken:

Western Kingbird

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge: Roseate Spoonbills



Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge is another wonderful wilderness area protected thanks to Teddy Roosevelt. The refuge was once home to Mexican Gray Wolves and Grizzly Bears though long since gone. However, pronghorn still remain in small numbers along with coyotes, javelinas, and mule deer.

Once the monsoon rains begin and for a couple months after small "lakes" occur. During that time birds -- especially migrating waterbirds, stop to rest and eat.

A few days ago there were reports of three Roseate Spoonbills on Aguirre Lake. So, Christine and I headed out to see if we could find them. While it was a good day birding, the Spoonbills were no where to be found.

However, we returned the next day and found 4 Roseate Spoonbills. Here are some photos:





  

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge: Wild Burros



I had a couple of free days so decided to head over to Imperial National Wildlife Refuge and see if I could find some Wild Burros and Desert Bighorn Sheep.

About 30 miles north of Yuma, Arizona sits Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, which is a 26,000 acre refuge stretching 30 miles along the Colorado River.

What makes the refuge special is that the land close to the river is lush luring birds from all of North America. However, as you head east from that lush terrain you find land which more resembles the moon than anything else -- much of it volcanic ash. This is where Wild (feral) Burros call "home."

As you continue north on the dirt 4 x 4 road (high clearance vehicles only) it becomes mountainous (Trigo Mountains) and home to Desert Bighorn Sheep. 

This road (Red Cloud Mine Road) is mostly dirt, rock, and or sand. It goes beyond the NWR and into a section of the Yuma Proving Ground, then into land once owned by the Red Cloud Mine dating back to before 1881. (The road hasn't been improved since then either).

The drive from the Visitor's Center at INWR to the old mine site and back takes a good two and a half hours. I got there the first day around noon. I went out and back twice not seeing either Desert Bighorn Sheep or Feral Burros. 

I got to the refuge the following morning just at dawn and came across one Feral Burro almost immediately. I continued out to the mine and back, then out to the mine and back again coming across five Feral Burros just before leaving the refuge. 

A note about the Burros. I happen to think Burros are beautiful. I've had the pleasure of seeing them in the wild several times, here at Imperial, also Cabeza Prieta NWR along the US/Mexico border, and in Northern Nevada. I have wonderful stories and memories of each time. However, there is another point of view -- sadly. Many people think the Wild Burros are destructive. Of course they are no more destructive than domestic cattle, sheep, goats, etc. But those people have convinced Fish and Game to collect and destroy the Burros. Part of their reasoning is that they are not native. Of course, cattle, sheep, goats, etc. aren't native either.  Burros were brought to America from the deserts of Africa by prospectors and explorers because they could survive in the southwest desert heat. Once mines played out or explorers left the area they left the Burros behind. Such is likely the case with the Red Cloud Mine. That was 150 to 175 years ago. Obviously many Burro generations have passed since then. The last time I was at Imperial was in June of 2012 and they were rounding up 325 Burros for slaughter. This is probably the reason I didn't find many this trip.

As for the Desert Bighorn Sheep, I did not see a one for the first time in eight trips to this area.

Here are a few photos though of the Burros:













Saturday, September 23, 2017

Yellow Throated Warbler


And finally the last of the Arizona Warbler photos along with information, from my latest book: "Warblers of Arizona, A Guide to Finding and Photographing Warblers in Southern Arizona." 



If you are interested in purchasing it, please email me at exclusivelywildlifephotos.com or info@azuregate.com.

Yellow Throated Warbler



Common Name: Yellow Throated Warbler
Scientific Name: Setophaga dominica
Conservation Status: Least Concern, stable population with estimates of 1.8 million
Size: 5.5 inches

Description: gray head and back; strong white supercilium; white undereye arc; black cheek and lores; long black bill; bright yellow chin, throat, and breast; white belly; white neck stripe; two white wing bars; black stripes on flanks; long black tail with white underparts
Male/Female: basically identical
Range: Missouri to Pennsylvania south to the Gulf Coast of Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean Islands
Migration: summers in the United States and winters along the Gulf Coasts (including Florida); migrates mostly at night; though, more resident than most other warblers
Season for Arizona: accidental any time of the year with a total of 15 records
Habitat: pine forests, sycamore, swamp, riparian woodland; during migration adjusts to scrub brush and thickets if pine woodland not available
Community Behavior: not well documented
Feeding Behavior: forages by creeping along tree branches probing into cracks, crevices, pine needles, and moss with its long bill; occasionally sallies out to catch flying insects; in winter often forages in palm groves
Diet: insects and spiders, including beetles, moths, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, and ants
Nesting Behavior: often nests in Spanish moss, lined with grasses, weeds, feathers, and moss; if Spanish moss is not available nest is placed on high branch of pine, sycamore or cypress usually 30-60 feet off the ground; 3-5 pale greenish eggs with dark spots; incubation period is 12/13 days; both parents feed nestlings; nestling period unknown
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: check ABA Birding News and Audubon’s Rare Bird Alert; last seen in Patagonia in 2014, 2015
Comments: first described by Carolus Linnaeus in 1766

Friday, September 22, 2017

Yellow Rumped Warbler


Continuing to share my warbler photos along with information about each species, from my latest book: "Warblers of Arizona, A Guide to Finding and Photographing Warblers in Southern Arizona." 



If you are interested in purchasing it, please email me at exclusivelywildlifephotos.com or info@azuregate.com.


Yellow Rumped Warbler



Common Name: Yellow Rumped Warbler
Scientific Name: Setophaga coronata
Conservation Status: Least Concern, stable population with estimates of 130 million
Size: 5.5 inches

Description: blue gray head, nape, and back with black streaks; black cheek; yellow crown patch; yellow rump; yellow shoulder; white undereye arc; thin white supercilium; white throat and sides of neck; black breast; white belly; black flanks; two large wingbars that merge on the male during breeding; large distinctive tail with large white spots and black edges; white undertail coverts; Myrtle subspecies has whitish throat instead of yellow; and darker cheek
Male/Female: female lacks the yellow crown patch; duller yellow throat
Range: throughout North and Central America
Migration: summers in Canada and the Western United States, winters in the southern parts of the United States and throughout Mexico and Central America
Season for Arizona: year round with higher winter populations
Habitat: during breeding season mature coniferous and mied coniferous-deciduous woodlands in higher elevations; during the winter abundant in municipal parks, rivers, and streams
Community Behavior: solitary; but often with large flocks of Yellow Rumps and sometimes mixed warbler/titmouse flocks
Feeding Behavior: flit through the canopies of coniferous trees cling to bark looking for hidden insects; will sally out to catch insects just like flycatchers
Diet: insects and spiders, fruits, berries, and seeds; will also come to suet feeders
Nesting Behavior: female builds nest sometimes from material the male brings to her; open cup nest of twigs, pine needles, grasses, and rootlets lined with fine hair and feathers; nest takes about 10 days to build; 3-4 inches across and 2 inches deep; placed on a horizontal branch of a hemlock, spruce, cedar, pin, or fir (occasionally maple or oak) anywhere from 4 to 50 feet off the ground; 1-6 white eggs with brownish spots; incubation period is 12-13 days; nestling period is 10-14 days
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: any of the mountain ranges and municipal parks
Comments: most abundant and versatile of all warblers

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Yellow Breasted Chat


Continuing to share my warbler photos along with information about each species, from my latest book: "Warblers of Arizona, A Guide to Finding and Photographing Warblers in Southern Arizona." 



If you are interested in purchasing it, please email me at exclusivelywildlifephotos.com or info@azuregate.com.


Yellow Breasted Chat



Common Name: Yellow Breasted Chat
Scientific Name: Icteria virens
Conservation Status: Least Concern, though 37% decline over the past 50 years, population estimate at 13 million, is listed as “threatened” in Western Canadian Provinces
Size: 7.5 inches

Description: largest of all the warblers; olive green head and back; gray face with white eyering and lores; white mustache; heavy black bill; bright yellow chin, throat, and breast; whitish belly with grayish flanks; long gray tail with white undertail coverts
Male/Female: identical
Range: from the extreme southern areas of Western Canada throughout the United States to Panama
Migration: summers in the United States, winters in Central America
Season for Arizona: April through September
Habitat: lives and breeds in areas of dense shrubbery near water
Community Behavior: solitary; during breeding season will fight to preserve their nesting boundaries
Feeding Behavior: skulk in low, thick brush gleaning insects among foliage
Diet: insects and spiders, fruits and berries
Nesting Behavior: female builds nest of grasses, leaves, bark, and weeds; nest is 5-6 inches across and 2.5 inches deep; nest is 1-8 feet above ground in dense vegetation including raspberry, blackberry, dogwood, hawthorn, cedar, honeysuckle, and sumac. 3-6 white eggs with red or brown spots; incubation period is 10-12 days; nestling period is 7-10 days
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: San Pedro River; Santa Cruz River, Empire Gulch, Patagonia Creek, Sabino Creek
Comments: very secretive; seldom seen or heard other than Springtime; even during Spring more often heard than seen; males will occasionally sing from tree tops early in the morning (as in the lower left photo on the opposite page which took place around 6:00 am)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Yellow Warbler


Continuing to share my warbler photos along with information about each species, from my latest book: "Warblers of Arizona, A Guide to Finding and Photographing Warblers in Southern Arizona." 



If you are interested in purchasing it, please email me at exclusivelywildlifephotos.com or info@azuregate.com.


Yellow Warbler



Common Name: Yellow Warbler
Scientific Name: Setophaga petechia
Conservation Status: Least Concern, though population has declined by 25% over the past 50 years; estimates of 90 million
Size: 5 inches

Description: yellow face with olive tint; small black eye with light eyering; thick black bill; bright yellow chin, throat, and breast; red streaking on breast and flanks; olive wings without wing bars; relatively short yellow tail with yellow undertail and black edges
Male/Female: females are not quite as bright and may lack the red streaking
Range: all of North America south to Columbia, Venezuela, and Guyana
Migration: long distance migrant; summers as far north as Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, winters in Central America and as far south as Columbia, Venezuela, and Guyana; some migrate directly over the Caribbean others take an overland route over Mexico
Season for Arizona: March to October with occasional sightings in the winter
Habitat: thickets or regrowing habitats along streams and wetlands; also in dwarf birch stands in the tundra, among aspens in the Rockies, and along edges of fields in the East; up to 9,000 feet in elevation; winters in mangrove forests, dry scrub, marshes, and lowlands
Community Behavior: solitary or in flocks of yellow or mixed warblers; will defend territory by flying in a semicircular patern toward an intruder with exaggerated wingbeats
Feeding Behavior: hops along on slender branches of shrubs and small (young) trees picking insects as they go; sometimes hovering to glean insects off leaves
Diet: nsects, including midges, caterpillars, beetles, leafhoppers, and other bugs and wasps
Nesting Behavior: female builds nest in four days out of a cup of grasses, bark, and plants lined with feathers and hair; 1 to 7 grayish or greenish white egges with darks spots; incubation period is 10-13 days; nestling period is 9-12 days
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: San Pedro River, Santa Cruz River, Empire Gulch, Arivaca Cienegas, Mesquite Trees in municipal parks that have ponds or lakes
Comments: first described by Carolus Linnaeus in 1766; one of the most common and abundant of the warblers; Southwest is brighter yellow overall versus Northwest which is yellow-green backed; Mangrove has variable rufous head

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wilson's Warbler


Continuing to share my warbler photos along with information about each species, from my latest book: "Warblers of Arizona, A Guide to Finding and Photographing Warblers in Southern Arizona." 



If you are interested in purchasing it, please email me at exclusivelywildlifephotos.com or info@azuregate.com.



Wilson's Warbler



Common Name: Wilson’s Warbler
Scientific Name: Cardellina pusillae
Conservation Status: Least Concern, though 61% decline over the past 50 years, population estimate at 60 million
Size: 4.75 inches

Description: yellow head and face with variable black crown; faint olive cheek; black eye stands out; white eyering; very small bill that is black on top and yellowish/white below; olive back and dull to bright yellow throat, breast, and belly; no wing bars; long dark tail; pink legs
Male/Female: less or duller yellow with less or no black crown; head more olive than yellow
Range: throughout North and Central America; more common in the Western United States than Eastern
Migration: summers in Canada, winters in Mexico and Central America; migrates through the United States
Season for Arizona: April/May and August/September; occasional sightings at other times
Habitat: willow and alder thickets near water
Community Behavior: solitary or with mixed warbler/titmouse flocks; males will defend nesting and foraging territories from other Wilson’s Warblers by dropping their wings and cocking their tails upward while giving harsh calls
Feeding Behavior: gleans insects among foliage and twigs; will also sally to take flies or bees; most of their foraging is in dense willows, alders, or other shrubs usually less than 15 feet off the ground; will also eat honeydew excretions from scale insects
Diet: larval insects, spiders, beetles, and caterpillars
Nesting Behavior: on ground hidden amongst dead leaves and tufts of grass usually beneath shrubs, young trees, or fallen logs; nests are cup shaped and constructed of leaves, moss, grass, bark, and roots; takes the female 5 days to build her nest; 2-7 white eggs with reddish brown spots; incubation period is 10-13 days; and nestling period is 9-11 days; fledglings may return to the nest for one or two days after fledging
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: throughout lower level mountain ranges near water
Comments: tend to be brighter in color in the West than in the East; first described by Alexander Wilson in 1811 who called it the “green black-capt flycatcher”



Monday, September 18, 2017

Virginia's Warbler


Continuing to share my warbler photos along with information about each species, from my latest book: "Warblers of Arizona, A Guide to Finding and Photographing Warblers in Southern Arizona." 



If you are interested in purchasing it, please email me at exclusivelywildlifephotos.com or info@azuregate.com.


Virginia's Warbler



Common Name: Virginia’s Warbler
Scientific Name: Oreothlypis virginiae
Conservation Status: Least Concern, current population estimate is 410,00 but trends are unknown
Size: 4 inches

Description: grayish back and head; white eyering; no wing bars; variable yellow on breast; brighter yellow rump and undertail coverts; long thin gray tail; chestnut crown similar to Lucy’s and Nashville but not often seen
Male/Female: less or duller yellow on throat and breast
Range: Nevada, Utah, and Colorado south throughout Western Mexico
Migration: summer and breeds in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico; winters Pacific Coast of Mexico
Season for Arizona: April through August
Habitat: dense oak and pinyon forests, brushy streamside hills at elevations between 4,500 and 9,000 feet
Community Behavior: solitary or with other Virginia’s Warblers
Feeding Behavior: gleans insects among foliage and twigs; sometimes on the ground; sometimes probing buds and flowers; usually within 15 feet of the ground
Diet: diet is unknown, but presumably includes insects
Nesting Behavior: on ground hidden amongst dead leaves and tufts of grass usually beneath shrubs or young trees; nests are cup shaped and constructed of moss, grass, bark, and roots; 3-5 white eggs with brown spots; male and female both feed the young; incubation and nestling periods are unknown
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: Mount Lemmon in the Catalinas, Huachuca Canyon in the Huachucas, Madera Canyon in the Santa Ritas, and San Pedro River; check ABA Birding News for this species
Comments: much about the Virginia’s Warbler is unknown; in part due to its relatively limited range and population; and part due to it's preference for dense brush

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Townsend's Warbler



Continuing to share my warbler photos along with information about each species, from my latest book: "Warblers of Arizona, A Guide to Finding and Photographing Warblers in Southern Arizona." 



If you are interested in purchasing it, please email me at exclusivelywildlifephotos.com or info@azuregate.com.


Townsend's Warbler






Common Name: Townsend’s Warbler
Scientific Name: Setophaga townsendi
Conservation Status: Least Concern, small population decline over past 50 years; estimated population of 17 million
Size: 5 inches

Description: high contrasting yellow face with black mask; yellow undereye arc; short black bill; variably black throat with yellow border; dark olive green back; two white wing bars; yellow breast; white belly; side streaking on flanks; white undertail;
Male/Female: female has an olive green crown with thin black streaks; olive cheek patch; yellow cheek, throat, chest, and flanks; some black markings on throat but not nearly like the male; olive back with thin black streaks; white belly and undertail; two white wingbars
Range: Alaska to Nicaragua, Pacific Coast to Colorado/New Mexico
Migration: summer and breeds from Alaska to the Pacific Northwest; winters from Southeast Arizona to Central America
Season for Arizona: year round but higher populations in April/May and August/September/October
Habitat: tall coniferous and mixed coniferous-deciduous forests; wintering in lower elevation mature dense forests, chaparral, and suburban parks
Community Behavior: solitary or mixed warbler/titmouse flocks; however will agressively fight to protect
Feeding Behavior: gleans insects from leaf surgaces and pine needles in the upper third of the tree; anywhere that insects excrete their sugary substance; will also hawk and hover
Diet: insects but also the sugary excretions of scale insects; and occasionally berries
Nesting Behavior: bulky open cup nest of bark, pine needles, small twigs, grass, lichens, and spider cocoons lined with finer grass, feathers, moss, or hair; usually on a main coniferous tree limb concealed by foliage; can be anywhere from 7 to 60 feet above ground; 4-5 white eggs with brown spots; incubation estimated at 12 days; nestling period another 8-10 days
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: most of the Madrean Sky Island mountains at elevations above 4,500 feet
Comments: hybridizes with Hermit Warbler

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rufous Capped Warbler


Before we get started with today's post I would like to welcome Turkmenistan to our Blog. Turkmenistan is the 134th country to visit our Blog since we started in 2008.

Continuing to share my warbler photos along with information about each species, from my latest book: "Warblers of Arizona, A Guide to Finding and Photographing Warblers in Southern Arizona." 

(If you are interested in purchasing it, please email me at exclusivelywildlifephotos.com or info@azuregate.com.)


Rufous Capped Warbler




Common Name: Rufous Capped Warbler
Scientific Name: Basileuterus rufifrons
Conservation Status: Least Concern, population trends are unknown, current population estimates are between 500,000 and 5,000,000
Size: 5.25 inches

Description: stocky warbler shaped more like a sparrow than typical warbler; rufous head and cheek; bold white supercilium; no eyering; white malar; short stout bill; yellow throat and upper breast; gray and white belly; olive-gray back and wings; no wing bar; long “cocked” tail like a wren
Male/Female: identical
Range: Southeast Arizona to Columbia
Migration: one of the few non-migrating warblers
Season for Arizona: year round
Habitat: dense habitat in mountain foothills and canyons near water
Community Behavior: solitary or with other Rufous Capped Warbler family members
Feeding Behavior: forages more like a wren than a typical warbler, on ground in dense brush
Diet: forages mostly on terrestrial invertebrates including spiders, ants, and caterpillars; not known to flycatch
Nesting Behavior: nothing is known about their nesting behavior
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: very rare bird to the United States; look in very specific locations: Hunter Canyon in the Huachucas, Florida Canyon in the Santa Ritas, Pena Blanca Lake and Pena Blanca Canyon in the Pajaritos
Comments: very little is known of this rare bird