Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Monday, March 11, 2013

Boyce Thompson Arboretum - 10 March 2013

OK, I finally got away from South Mountain Park and this time I ventured east to Boyce Thompson Arboretum, one of my favorite places.  And all I can say is WOW!  What a great day to go.  This place was a birders haven on this day as the AZFO was holding a meeting there and it attracted birders from all of the state and I got to meet a lot of people that I knew by name only.  And of course, the icing on the cake was a couple of special birds that have been seen at this location and past couple of weeks.  Both species happen to be Sapsuckers; one was a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and the other was a female Williamson's Sapsucker.  Just a couple of months ago, I saw my first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and then saw a 2nd one on one of my CBC's.  I had never seen the Williamson's Sapsucker, so this one was a new life bird for me.  The Yellow-bellied is a very handsome bird and with the assistance of others, it was found and I lingered behind to try to get some photos and it finally obliged. The Williamson's female was much easier to find as she has a special territory that she seems to favor.  The male of this species is much different in appearance and someday I hope to see one of those handsome birds as well.

 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-male

Williamson's Sapsucker-female

While the Sapsuckers were the main draw with many birders coming and going to get a look, the rest of this place did not disappoint!  Since we are on the subject of woodpeckers (Sapsuckers belong to the woodpecker family), I had a nice male Ladderback Woodpecker pose for me on top of a Prickly Pear Cactus.

Ladderback Woodpecker-male

 You really know springtime has arrived in Arizona with the birds putting on quite a display and even found a pair of Curve-billed Thrashers feeding young chicks already.  The thrashers nest was in the confines of a Cholla Cactus, which is one of their favorite nesting habitats.  Will definitely keep a lot of the predators out!  Also had a nice looking Verdin land on another cactus to pose for me with its nice yellow head and its dark red shoulder patch.  It is amazing that they can land on a thorn of a cactus and be delicately balanced and not be harmed by any of the spines of the cactus.

 Curve-billed Thrasher, with babies


Down in the picnic area, the Northern Cardinals were putting on quite a display, there were 2 males and 2 females flitting from tree to tree with one of the males dropping to the ground allowing a photo without all the twigs in front of them.  A Lincoln's Sparrow stopped by for a visit in the same area shortly after the cardinals dispersed.

 Northern Cardinal

Lincoln's Sparrow

Probably the most vocal and gregarious of all the birds that day were the Cactus Wrens.  They were everywhere, singing and chortling and croaking, I think trying to entice a mate.  Had one land on the dried parts of a palm tree and then dug in and went up inside the dry area and soon emerged with a morsel, a bee.  Great for the Cactus Wren, but not so good for the bee.   

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

What a wonderful day of birding!


  1. Solid!! What a sweet bunch of Woodpeckers, and uncommon finds to boot! That opening shot of the yeller-bellied is top notch too. Great job Gordon!

  2. Excellent job! Very cool birds I hope to see the Williamson sapsucker next week! We're heading over there either on Monday or Tuesday :-) great pictures as always!