Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mesquite Wash 2012

One of my favorite birding spots in Maricopa County in Arizona is Mesquite Wash especially during spring migration.  Fall migration can also turn up some great birds, but in the spring many of the birds that are in migration mode are all decked out in their breeding plumage.  This spot is about a 30 minute drive from the valley of the sun and the urban setting and it attracts a large variety of bird species, especially if there is water running in the stream.  Not always the best opportunity for photographs as there is extensive cover that makes photos a bit more of a challenge.  It is also a fairly popular place for ATV riding and camping and sometimes those activities can be a big distraction.

On Sunday, 13 May 2012, I ventured out to this amazing place and was not disappointed.  Got to see a lot of different birds, but was not able to capture photos of all that I saw.  One of the nicest birds I found was my 'first of the season' Blue Grosbeak, but alas, photos were not in the cards that day for this bird, but just seeing this bird really started the day off right.  Another bird that I found fairly early in my adventure was a Summer Tanager.  I have seen these birds many times, but most often they are high up in trees with fairly dense foliage or they are a bit secretive and hiding the the shadows.  This male Summer Tanager actually made his presence know by posing in a bit of sunlight for me and my camera.

Summer Tanager

Another bird that I found fairly early was the Say's Phoebe.  This is a very common bird in Arizona but they are always a joy to watch as they fly out and catch insects in the air, or flutter to the ground to gave an unsuspecting insect and then go back to the closest perch and devour it.  This time I found a family of them with at least 2 of them being newly fledged juveniles.  The young birds were not all that flighty and not yet afraid of human encroachment and the gave me some fun entertainment. 

Say's Phoebe

Say's Phoebe-wing stretching

Turkey Vultures are a very common site in the state of Arizona and this one was warming up in the sun's rays early in the morning.  Most people say they have a face that only a mother could love.

Turkey Vulture

The next find was a couple of Black-headed Grosbeaks who flew down into the stream of water to catch an early morning drink.  It was nice to capture a male and a female in the same photo frame.

Black-headed Grosbeak

Last bird in my photo collection is a Bronzed Cowbird.  While a Cowbird is usually not a birders favorite bird due to their behaviour being a parasitic bird; which means they do not build nests of their own.  They lay their eggs in other birds nests and expect the host birds to raise their young, many times at the expense of the host birds babies.

Bronzed Cowbird

Mesquite wash is a fantastic habitat for many birds and a place I truly enjoy returning to time and time again.  I always see many more birds than what I am able to catch on the camera, and this place is a lot of fun.


  1. Nice work Gordon. I still haven't been to Mesquite Wash--definitely will check it out is I can find Tanagers and Grosbeaks there!

    Great shots of the Grosbeak, that is really neat to see the male and female together.


  2. So far, the fires up north have not affected this area yet. Hope they get them under control very quickly. Thanks for the comments!