Just returned on Sunday from a 3 day birding visit to spots in and around Safford, Arizona. The city of Safford, is flanked on the southwest by one of Arizona's "Sky Islands". This is the terminology that has been given to the various high mountains or clusters of mountains that arise out of the desert. These mountains can be as much as 30 degrees or more lower in temperature than the surrounding desert. Thus it creates a very unique spot that is isolated from adjoining areas and each 'sky island' will have various changes in habitat as one reaches higher elevations. And along with these different habitats, the wildlife, insect life and the bird life changes drastically. While the temperature in the Safford area hovered around 105 degrees every day, we were enjoying temps in the low 70's while we were near the summit. This place is often overlooked as a birding hot spot due to the isolation of it located in eastern Arizona. Way too many birds and creatures to post in one blog, so will spread this out over 2 or 3 blogs.
The most plentiful bird that we found in the higher elevations was the Yellow-eyed Junco. While the Dark-eyed Junco has several sub-species, the Yellow-eyed Junco is considered a separate species and in the United States it is only found regularly in the higher elevations (Sky Islands) of south-eastern Arizona, south-western New Mexico, and is casual to west Texas. Not only was this the most common bird we found but was probably the most cooperative for photographs. There is no mistaking these wonderful little birds with their bright yellow eyes. Here are a few photos of some of them that we encountered.
Really had a hard time resisting taking more more photos of these handsome little sparrow sized birds. They just happen to have a quite pleasant little song as well.
I have much more to post on this wonderful place and well try to post a new blog in the next few days.