Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sabino Canyon -- 13 April 2013

Many of you probably think that I have stopped blogging, but that really is not the case.  I had a week off from work and during that week I planned a couple of mini-vacations to do some birding outside of local Phoenix and Maricopa County.  Now that the week is over, I have a lot of blogging to catch up on.  Those mini trips were wonderful and I got to see a lot of great birds.  

First off, is Sabino Canyon located near Tucson, Arizona.  This was the first day of my 4 day trip to the southern part of the state and Sabino Canyon is a spot I had never been to.  It has a tram that one can purchase a ticket for and one can ride the tram from the bottom to the top with various stops along the way. Unfortunately, the ticket booth did not open until 9:00 am and I arrived at 6:30 am, so I decided hiking would be good as the road is paved all the way.  Of course I took a detour on the way to the top by checking out Sabino Dam and by the time I arrived at the top I had already hiked 6 miles uphill!  But without the detour on the way back, it was another 4 miles to the start, so it was a long haul, but very worthwhile.  This is a very popular spot for hikers and on the weekends even arriving at 6:30 am the parking lot was filling up quickly.  

One of the first birds I encountered was a Pyrrhuloxia.  This bird is the desert southwest cardinal and they are related.  However there are differences and I was able to photograph 2 different males in 2 different settings.  This was a good start to this wonderful hike.



Also located in the lower desert areas was another one of those birds with a 'ph'unny name that starts with the letter 'P'.  The Phainopepla is also a bird with a crest, but not at all related to the Pyrrhuloxia.  



The White-winged Doves (of Stevie Nicks fame) have returned for the summer and are a nice sight to see in the springtime.  These birds also frequent the lower desert areas as do the Northern Mockingbirds, Gambel's Quail. and Black-throated Sparrows.

White-winged Dove

 Northern Mockingbird

 Gambel's Quail

Black-throated Sparrow

In the area of Sabino Dam, I found a Cassin's Vireo along with many singing Bell's Vireos and Lucy's Warblers.

 Cassin's Vireo

 Bell's Vireo

Lucy's Warbler

Many spots along the road to the top were inhabited by Northern Cardinals including one at the top of the trail that allowed some great looks and a photo.

Northern Cardinal

On the trip back down and near the bottom I ran across one of those 'difficult' Empidonax Flycatchers.  I have decided that this is probably a Hammond's Flycatcher based on the longer projection of the primary feathers.  

Hammond's Flycatcher

I also took some photos of some flowers and some butterflies along the way.  Sorry, but I have not had time to figure out which species of butterflies I have here, but will so some research in the future to see if I can figure them out.

Nice start to a wonderful week off.


  1. Great birds here with excellent pics to boot! The white flower in your shot is Desert Chicory. The first shot is a Tiny Checkerspot and I think that the second is a Painted Lady. You found a great number of critters at Sabino. Sometimes when there are too many hikers/tourists, the bird counts are rather low. Nicely done!

  2. Thanks for the ID's! That Checkerspot was definitely tiny and I was surprised my zoom lens was able to capture the unique pattern. I learn something new every day!