Pacific Wren

Pacific Wren
Pacific Wren

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sweetwater Wetlands - 13 April 2013

After my visit to Sabino Canyon and my 10 miles of hiking, I decided to check into my motel and rest up and then check out Sweetwater Wetlands in the afternoon.  Located just off the I-10 freeway in northwestern part of Tucson, this place is known to be a hot spot for birding and many rarities have been seen by many in the past.  Although I was not able to find any rarities on this day, I did manage to have a couple of birds that apparently wanted to make my day by giving me long looks and allowing a lot of photos.  

The first was a Cooper's Hawk that decided it was bath time and chose the small stream near the parking lot.  Apparently this is a resident bird and it has put on this show for many other birders before me.  It has both legs banded; the right with a green band and the left with a silver band. When your camera is set up to auto-shoot, it is quite easy to have dozens of photos before you know it and this was the case here.

 Cooper's Hawk

 Feels good to reach that itch!

 "Let's see what I can find under the water!"

"Time for a breath of air."

 "Can you hear me?"

"Time to dry out and look pretty!"

The other bird that made my day was a Sora, which belongs to the family of Rails.  Most Rails are very secretive and rarely show themselves by hiding in the dense reeds along waterways.  They can quickly disappear once they feel threatened.  I spotted this one peeking out of the reeds and so I just froze and let it come out on its own and slowly it waded along the water's edge and gave me a great view and I was captivated for at least 10 minutes of observation and photo opportunities.  At one point it stretched its wings and then ruffled its feathers.

 Sora--Just starting to come out of the reeds.

 Wow!  Look at those feet that we almost never see.

 Time to pose and reflect

 Let's stretch those wings.

And a final ruffle of the feathers.

At one point on the pathway, I did encounter a Rattlesnake, but only got to see the last 12" or so of it slithering into a brush pile.  Just a reminder to always watch where you are walking when you are enjoying the great outdoors.  Other birds that caught my eye were a Cinnamon Teal, a Ruddy Duck, and a Red-winged Blackbird.  All 3 were males and showing off their finest colors to attract the ladies.

 Cinnamon Teal

 Ruddy Duck

Red-winged Blackbird

The last photo is paying tribute to one of the beautiful females in the avian world, the female Vermilion Flycatcher.  I found this lovely lady in the parking lot of my motel.  Always nice to stay where the birds also like it.  (Can't say that I enjoyed the 1:15 am wake-up by someone pulling a fire alarm though!)

Vermilion Flycatcher--Female

This is how day one ended and the next day was something totally different with some different habitats and I had the pleasure of birding with another blogger, Kathie Brown.



  1. Wonderful Gordon! I saw Mr. Cooper taking a bathe as well this past week. He was so calm about me getting close and taking pics. Congrats on those Sora shots:) Not an easy bird to capture on the camera. One of the best places to bird in Tucson and it's a place I visit at least once a week. During this time of year, all kinds of birds show up so I'm constantly watching the boards to make sure I don't miss out on the action. Hope you had a good weekend. It's back to the grind tomorrow:(

    1. From talking to others, he is a regular and seem unperturbed and fairly tolerant of humans. Thanks Chris!

  2. Perfect work with the Sora Gordon, and the Cooper's is marvelous too. What a weekend for you and the photos eh!? That Mountain BLuebird from the last post still takes my breath away.
    Great stuff.

    1. Thanks Laurence! When the birds cooperate, it makes for a great birding day.