Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pima Canyon Wash - 30 Sept 2012

People are probably starting to think I am losing my mind by going out to Pima Canyon Wash in South Mountain Park once again, and maybe they are right.  However, since the night time temps have fallen and the mornings are much cooler and very pleasant, I would much rather spend a couple hours hiking in the desert mountains than spending 1 hour on the treadmill at home.  It is much more enjoyable to be in the outdoors and observing nature.  One would think I would get tired of seeing the same old species of birds all the time, but what is interesting is the fact that I seem to discover something different on each hike on the same trails.  This past Sunday was no different.  I found some different birds than before and learned that the monsoon rains most likely trigger breeding behavior in some bird species. 
Here it is the end of September and the end of the breeding season for the vast majority of birds, especially those who migrate for the winter.  Some of the permanent residents do breed several times of the year in Arizona due to the mild temperatures and in this case I discovered that Black-throated Sparrow happens to one of these species.  As I was walking the wash area I saw some of these birds on the rocky and brushy sides of the wash and when I looked at them closely, I found an adult and a young fledgling working their way down the slope towards me.  I quickly captured a couple of photos and then the adult flew towards me and veered off to the left and into some brush about 20' away.  The fledgling also took flight but came right at me and I thought it was going to land at my feet, but stopped about 4' short.  It looked me over as I stood there and then it flew/hopped off to the left and the adult moved in to meet it and was feeding it.  This has to be about the cutest baby bird I have seen in a long time and was so glad to witness this taking place at the end of September. 
Black-throated Sparrow, adult and fledgling
Black-throated Sparrow, adult
Black-throated Sparrow, fledgling
Sunday was a 3 Wren day for me as well, as I found Cactus Wren, Rock Wren, and House Wren.  Struck out on the Canyon Wren, but they don't always make themselves well known until they sing their unmistakable song.  The Cactus Wren was showing off as was the Rock Wren, but the House Wren obviously decided it wanted to remain a bit secretive.
Cactus Wren

Rock Wren

House Wren
Two flycatchers were present, a Western Wood Pewee and an Ash-throated Flycatcher.  Both of these will be gone for the winter very shortly, in fact I was a bit surprised to see the Ash-throated Flycatcher still around as most have moved south already.
 Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Wood Pewee

To round out the photos on this blog, we have a Loggerhead Shrike, a Verdin, Green-tailed Towhee, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.  The Loggerhead Shrike was photographed in the early morning sun light as it came over the crest of a hill.  The Verdin is showing that they must feast on spiders, or it is collecting spider webs for a new nest.  If you been following my previous blogs, you know the Green-tailed Towhee can be hard to capture in a photo and this photo is another good example of that.  The Yellow-rumped Warbler was a bit of a surprise, but really shouldn't be.  I have not seen them too often in this habitat.
Loggerhead Shrike


Green-tailed Towhee

Yellow-rumped Warbler
All in all, it was another good adventure.  The only negative aspect of the trip was that once again, my viewing of the Great-horned Owls consisted of only 1 bird in their usual roosting spot.  I am starting to feel that something has befallen the 2nd owl and I feel a bit sad that one might be gone permanently, but keeping hoping for the best.





  1. Hey Gordon! You keep getting great looks and photos there, why not keep going!?

    I have a question for you, since you seem to be very familiar with the Pima Wash area and maybe other parts of the mountain range. Have you noticed, or are you aware of, areas that have Elephant Trees?
    Somewhere in the South Mountain range, as with the western Sierra Estrellas, are elephants trees that sustain over-wintering Gray Vireos. I know they've found some at both locations during AZFO surveys, but with both parks being so big it'd be nice to narrow the scope a bit.

  2. Laurence,
    I have heard about Elephant Trees in South Mountain Park, but have never ventured a long distance in. I did find this article on the internet where they are listed as being located on the Hidden Valley Trail, and that trail looks to be about 4 miles into the park if approaching from Pima Canyon, which would make it about an 8 mile round trip hike.
    I don't know about Gray Vireos residing there, but I might have to attempt a long hike someday. I usually find Gray Vireos in the summer on Russell Road up to the Pinals. Definitely want to attempt this in cooler weather! If you go, good luck!