Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A couple of new rarities

Finally getting around to posting some photos of a couple rare birds and new life birds for me.  Both of these were seen and photographed a few weeks ago.  The first bird was discovered by a friend, Tom Lewis, during the Greater Phoenix Waterbird count that took place on January 19th.  And another friend, Muriel Neddermeyer, called me late on the same day that this bird was discovered in Maricopa County.  This bird is the Least Grebe whose range is usually far southern Texas, but there have been a few seen in extreme southern Arizona and breeding has been documented.  This sighting in Maricopa County was further north than they have been seen before, so it was an immediate hit with all the birders.  I was at the location early the next morning and there were already 5 other birders viewing it, and it became quite popular in the next week or two.  This completed my list of seeing all seven species of North American Grebes in Arizona (6 species in Maricopa County).  At just a little under 10", this is our smallest Grebe in the US.  

 Least Grebe

 Least Grebe

Least Grebe

The second bird for this post is one that I consider to be pretty awesome in the color department.  The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a bird from the Pacific northwest coast.  Their winter range extends to Southern California and every once in a while one ventures a bit further east an into Arizona.  This bird was reported in late December on the lower Salt River and has apparently found a tree to its liking as many birders have seen it and it seems to favor a certain tree.  It has tapped several holes in this tree from which the tree sap has been oozing and during one of my visits I also observed a Verdin and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet visiting these same holes to take advantage of the sap or possibly even feed on insects that might have been trapped in the sticky sap.  The photos will show the many holes.  This is one heck of a gorgeous bird and if the bright red isn't enough, then the black and white pattern on the back is just as stunning.

 Red-breasted Sapsucker

 Red-breasted Sapsucker

 Red-breasted Sapsucker

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Two totally different birds, and both were a joy to watch and observe.

4 comments:

  1. Such jaw-droppers...

    Ok, the Least Grebe can't hold a candle to the Sapsucker in terms of plumage, but man was a crazy rare find that was, so cool.

    Great shots Gordon.

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  2. These are two species I need for my Life List! I have seen all species of grebes in the US except the Least and I would just love to see a Red-breasted sapsucker! A really wonderful post. BTW, do you eBird? I read your post above where you mentioned your Life List but you didn't have other lists. If you start to eBird you don't have to keep track of your lists because eBird does it for you! Thanks for the info and the wonderful post!

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  3. Kathie, the Least Grebe gave me all 7 species in the US and I have seen 6 of those 7 in Maricopa County alone. Still missing the Horned Grebe for the county, which I have seen elsewhere in AZ. And, yes, I do eBird! (That is really great for listing!) In fact, I even have the BirdLog App on my iPhone which really is a nice tool for listing and reporting to eBird. Not sure if the Sapsucker is still around or not, probably won't be long and it will head north and west. Thanks again.

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