Sometimes you just have to get the heck out of Dodge. Which is why when I had the opportunity to join my friends Sarah and Max for an early spring birding trip to SE Arizona I jumped on it. At the last minute we booked plane tickets, a rental car, and an Airbnb in Patagonia and before I knew it, we were surrounded by beautiful southern U.S. desert.
Our main target was an Elegant Trogon. A single male had been seen regularly in Madera Canyon. How hard could it be to find one bird in the canyon? (Pretty dang hard). But first we had to drive 2 1/2 hours from Phoenix to get there. Along the way we met Sarah and Max’s friend Jill at Kennedy Park for some Tucson urban birding. The target here was Bronzed Cowbird.
But those didn’t come before we spent quality time with Vermilion Flycatchers.
And before Sarah met her lifer Cactus Wren.
And I met my lifer Gila Woodpecker.
And before we stopped to touch the Saguaro.
We passed the pond with Ruddy Ducks, coots, and Neotropic Cormorants.
And Redheads that were so close they could (and probably would) eat out of our hands.
Finally, just before we were set to leave a huge flock of blackbirds flew in mixed with grackles and, yes! – Bronzed Cowbirds!
Sadly, the light was poor and as we moved closer for better looks of their beady red eyes a Cooper’s Hawk zoomed in and spooked the whole flock away.
So instead here’s a better photo of a Bronzed Cowboy.
We ran into a couple from Florida birding the area who gave us a tip about a Greater Pewee at another park just fifteen minutes away. This would be a lifer for all of us so we opted for the detour. We arrived and minutes after stepping out of the rental, and with the help of a friendly birder pointing up in the trees above us, there it was.
Our first tri-lifer! It’s hard to convey the size of that flycatcher but it is at least as big as Olive-sided. Looking around the park we noticed a Black-crowned Night Heron fly across the pond and then we saw why. A group of kids were feeding the herons! Luckily the kids got bored quickly leaving us to amuse ourselves.
There was a mallard at this pond that had potential for Mexican Mallard but in this location and with my limited knowledge, for now it’s just a good looking duck.
Giddy from looking at new birds we knew we had to pull ourselves away so we could get groceries, finish the hour long drive to the Patagonia Airbnb, and get some rest.
In the morning we were serenaded by a Greater Roadrunner on the hillside as we packed the car in excited anticipation for our first trogon attempt.
A good omen?
Tweets and chirps,