Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BTA) just happens to be one of my most favorite places in Arizona. I loved this place the very first time I visited it a few years back and try to get there as often as possible. This place along Highway 60 about an hour east of downtown Phoenix is a place that you never know what you might find. Of course, their specialty is the horticulture and plant displays that abound in this area; desert, low mountains, riparian stream bed and even a small lake. With all that variety it also attracts many birds and a lot of unusual other life forms, the latest being Desert Bighorn Sheep, (which I was not fortunate enough to find on this last outing). This latest trip I arrived early without too many other visitors yet at 6:00 am and as I started down the main path from the visitor's center, the first bird that made an appearance for me was a pair of Brown-crested Flycatchers. These birds are very similar to the Ash-throated Flycatchers that tend to be a bit more common and have a larger range than the Brown-crested. This day I saw more Brown-crested than Ash-throated and have noticed that the Brown-crested have recently fledged young in the Arboretum. Here is one of my very first photos of the day that really set the tone.
As I worked my way up to Ayer Lake, I was able to find a Bronzed Cowbird, some Phainopeplas and some Lark Sparrows, along with a Great Blue Heron on a rock cliff at the lake. One of the Lark Sparrows and a male Phainopepla allowed me to get a 'twofer', 2 birds in the same photo.
Phainopepla & Lark Sparrow
Great Blue Heron
As I continued on the path up into the drier and rocky areas a Black-throated Sparrow made an appearance and bit further down the walkway a couple Canyon Wrens were being very vocal.
Continuing on the main trail which led down to the stream bed, a Bell's Vireo made an appearance.
I eventually made it to the area of the Demonstration Garden where I found a very vocal Yellow-breasted Chat, a Blue Grosbeak, and a young Broad-billed Hummingbird on one of the feeders.
The most numerous bird at BTA on this day were the Lesser Goldfinches as they were everywhere including bathing and drinking in the water fountains. They adore sunflower seeds, so it is not unusual to see them on sunflower seed heads and the bright yellow of the male goldfinch really matches the sunflower quite well.
Probably the highlight of the morning were the newly fledged Cooper's Hawks. The resident pair succeeded in producing two chicks this year and you could hear them in the trees. I first saw them in the Australian eucalyptus trees and later when I was visiting one of the bird baths watching some Lesser Goldfinches bathing a drinking, one of the adults flew in and when that happened the goldfinches disappeared and shortly afterward the 2 young hawks came in and posed for me.
BTA is a fabulous place to visit, so if you are ever in Arizona and love nature, a visit to this place is definitely worth it. You will not regret it. To learn more of Boyce Thompson Arboretum please visit their website at this link
They have many activities throughout the year and they have something for the whole family to enjoy.