On Saturday, I was privileged to take part in the AZFO (Arizona Field Ornithologists) Survey in the Santa Cruz Flats area to try and obtain evidence of any possible breeding attempts of the Crested Caracara is this vicinity. This bird does have a confirmed breeding area in far south central Arizona in the Tohono O'odham tribal lands, so they are considered a resident of the state. However there numbers seem to be increasing in the Santa Cruz Flats area and are being seen in small numbers in every month of the year in recent years. The goal of this survey was to divide in to several small teams to research the various habitat areas and try to locate any evidence of breeding in this area. While no one found any definite proof a lot of data was gathered and several spots were determined to be spots of interest for further observation. My team consisted of Marceline and Norma and we kind of stumbled upon the jackpot fairly early in the morning, shortly after 8:00 am. We found a flock of 12 of these interesting birds and as we watched them from a distance, they slowly dispersed a few at a time until they had all left. Throughout the day, we saw more of these birds, but we cannot be sure if they were part of the original flock or different birds. Normally they do not allow close approaches to them, so we had to settle for some distance shots.
4 Crested Caracara
While the day was focused on the Crested Caracara's, it is hard to ignore the rest of the birds one finds on such outings. We found several American Kestrels, which is a fairly common bird and our smallest falcon in the US. I was able to capture photos of both a male and a female of these beautiful raptors.
American Kestrel - Female
American Kestrel - Male
One more bird that I was able to photograph, but not easily, was a Pyrrhuloxia (aka the 'western cardinal'). This male did not want to make the photography easy on me. He definitely wanted to stay fairly well hidden and that really makes focusing a tad bit difficult. But since I had not seen on of these birds in about a year, I was happy to at least see one and ecstatic to actually see 3 of them on this day!
This was a day well spent with others that are avian enthusiasts and maybe I might have contributed just a tiny bit of information to the avian scientific community.