Time to share my trip to the Pinal Mountains this last Sunday. Ellen once again joined me to escape the low valley and summer heat. The Pinal Mountains are not as high in altitude as Mt Graham and are really not considered as part of the 'Sky Islands'. The elevation here is slightly over 7000' and it is still markedly cooler here than in the valley of the sun and metro Phoenix. The drive is south out of the town of Globe, AZ and the road is approximately 20 miles to the top. The road is mostly dirt and rock and gravel but it can be negotiated by a regular car. During our trip up to near the top and back, we found a total of 49 species of birds. Different species were at different elevations which is indicative of each individual species habitat.
On the trip on the way to the top we found Gambel's Quail, Turkey Vultures, White-winged and Mourning Doves, Red-tailed Hawk, Western Kingbirds, Bell's and Gray Vireos, Western Scrub Jay, Common Raven, Curve-billed Thrasher, Cactus Wren, Canyon Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Bronzed Cowbird, Bullock's and Hooded Orioles, House Finch, House Sparrows, and Black-chinned Sparrows. Also found Bushtits at 3 different locations and elevations and a family of Juniper Titmouse, which happens to be the bird in my first photo. This was an easy spot from the car as that short little crest was standing up and made quite a profile with a blue sky background. And of course this family was foraging in a Juniper Tree. Guess that is exactly where they were supposed to be, living up to its namesake!
The next photo is another gray bird, this one is a Gray Vireo. Not a boldly colored bird, and by no means a rare bird, but they can only be found in certain habitats and require a birder to look a bit harder to find them.
More birds that we saw on the way up was a female Black-headed Grosbeak, a Greater Pewee, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Painted Redstart, Hepatic and Western Tanagers, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, House Wrens, Anna's Hummingbirds, Lesser Goldfinch's, and several Spotted Towhees all along the way. Below is a photo of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, that surprised me that the focus was actually on the bird considering all the leaves around it.
I have seen more Cordilleran Flycatchers this year than in the past, but part of that is due to fact that I am birding more in the mountainous habitats where they are found. Here is my latest photo of one.
Near the top and just before we came to the cabins we stopped in a small wash area and felt we really hit the jackpot on birds, they were coming from all over and we had a hard time keeping up with everything we saw, so there is a good chance we missed a few. In this area we found Northern Flicker, Hairy and Acorn Woodpeckers, Plumbeous and Warbling Vireos, White-breasted Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadee, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-eyed Juncos, Olive, Grace's, Red-faced, and Black-throated Gray Warblers. Going to add a not-too-great photo of the Red-faced Warbler. It is a much sought after bird in the summer as it is fairly restricted to Arizona and New Mexico for breeding in the summer within the United States. Like most warblers, they are very difficult to photograph as they are very active and are usually found in dense shade. A bad photo just beckons to me to try harder for a better photo in the future.
Might as well add photos of a Hermit Thrush and a juvenile Yellow-eyed Junco since they at least posed a bit for me!
Near the summit and in the area of the cabins, one of the cabins had their hummingbird feeders filled and the owners were very generous and gave us permission to take some time and enjoy their hummingbirds. The feeders were the center of activity and hummers were buzzing in and out constantly. The majority were Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, but they also had visits from Magnificent Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds. Below is a photo of one of the Magnificent Hummers with its green gorget.
Pinal Mountains is a great place top go birding and not a great distance from the Phoenix metro area.