Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sycamore Creek

Never wanting to waste a weekend day off and missing out on a new adventure, today was a day that I ventured to a relatively new birding spot for me.  Sycamore Creek is an amazing stream bed that flows to the south and west basically along the same directions of the Beeline Highway, Highway 87.  The place I took on today is not well marked, but it proved to be a great choice when all was said and done.  Got some photos on some great birds that I did not have before.  The best experience was a Canon Wren that landed on a dead tree snag just a short distance from me and sang like there was no tomorrow.  Stayed there for the longest time and allowed plenty of photo ops.  This bird is my favorite Wren.  I think it is one of the most attractive and also has the most distinguished song that is unmistakable and not one too easily forgotten.  As someone else mentioned to me a few months back, this bird maybe should have been chosen as the Arizona State Bird instead of the Cactus Wren.  Nothing wrong with the Cactus Wren, but at least the Canyon Wren is found throughout the state where the Cactus Wren is not.  Some might agree and some might not.

  Canyon Wren

Actually the first critter that I found was not a bird, but a beautiful doe deer and she struck a nice pose for me that I found attractive.  Can't argue with wildlife beauty in any form.

Early on in the hike down Sycamore Creek I ran across many of the common species of birds that I see quite frequently on my birding adventures and today I found this Anna's Hummingbird sipping nectar from flowers that did not even look big enough to have nectar.

Anna's Hummingbird

Shortly after the Hummingbird a Western Tanager flew in from the left and actually landed on a branch in full sun to show off its handsome colors.  This is probably the best photo to date that I have taken of this species.  Love it when they return for the summer.

Western Tanager

The Brown-crested Flycatcher is very similar to the Ash-throated Flycatcher, but not quite as common.  Sometimes they are best identified by their songs.  Today I was able to capture my first photo of this species.  This photo is not perfect, but it does help to define some of the subtle differences in the two species.  The Brown-crested is about an inch larger than the Ash-throated, but if you are only seeing one bird in the field, sometimes size comparisons are a mute point.  In this photo it is easy to notice the more extensive yellow below that is not as extensive and bright on the Ash-throated Flycatcher. 

Brown-crested Flycatcher

One of the most common birds today was the Lucy's Warbler.  They were everywhere and could be heard singing their songs long before I could spot them.  Like most warblers, they are very active and spend a lot of their time in the trees without making themselves too visible.  One male decided to show himself  to me briefly in the open but a bit of a distance away so I took a chance on a photo and got one that is good enough to show off the reddish cap that is found on males.

Lucy's Warbler

Other birds I found but did not get great photos are listed below, including the always colorful Lazuli Bunting.

Lazuli Bunting

Curve-billed thrasher

Cliff Swallows on a Cliff!

An added benefit to all these birding excursion is that sometimes the scenery is also incredible.  This last photo just happens to have a Turkey Vulture soaring the thermals nearby.

Turkey Vulture and Mountain


  1. Crazy cool Gordon! The birds were coming out for you thee at Sycamore Creek, a perfect smattering of summer visitors.

    Thanks for sharing.

    I've talked with people about the AZ state bird a lot too. I'd never thought of the Canyon Wren as potentially better than Cactus Wren (though I don't have an argument against it), but there are other southwestern birds like the Gila Woodpecker that also almost endemic to AZ, unlike the Cactus Wren.

  2. Thanks for the comments, and yes, it seems to me there are better qualified birds as the state bird. The Gila Woodpecker is a decent choice, but their range is limited to the southern part of the state a little similar to the Cactus Wren. Neither are found in the north and far eastern part of the state. But guess that doesn't much matter as the Saguaro is our state flower and it to is not found all over the state. Such a big state with a lot of different climates, hard to make good choices!