Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Monday, March 24, 2014

Additions to an eBird Patch

When I go birding, I tend to keep records of what species that I find and how many of each species that are found.  Along with this, I also record the location, how much time is being spent at this location and what distance is traveled if walking.  All of this information is extremely easy to enter on a website that is called eBird which can be found here:
Once a person sets up an account on eBird, then this site basically keeps track of all your sightings including all your lists, locations, dates and various other information.  It is also a great place to use for research when one wants to try and locate a certain target bird.  It can also be used to explore 'Hotspots' to go birding in spots throughout the world.  A couple of years ago I had one of my most frequent birding spots close to home added as a 'Hotspot'; Pima Canyon Trail, South Mountain Park in Arizona.  This will never become an infamous birding spot, but it is unique enough to be designated as a Hotspot.  Its proximity to the city of Phoenix, being a dry desert wash, and the variety of birds found there is a little impressive.  These past 2 weekends I found a couple of new species in this location that pushed the number of species located in this location to 100.  Of the 100 species that have been reported in this location, I have recorded 87 of these species on my list from this location.  There are a few other birders that have also birded here and reported a few species that I have not found; yet!
This post is going to focus on a few of the birds that I have recorded recently in this location.  First off, the 2 newest birds that I have discovered.  A week ago I wanted to see if any warblers might have arrived and was passing through on migration and sure enough I discovered a Lucy's Warbler.  Not a rare bird in Arizona in the summer, but usually not is this habitat, this is one of the earliest warblers to return in the spring.
Lucy's Warbler
The second bird was from this past weekend and kind of caught me off guard, but when thinking about it after the fact, I am kind of wondering why it took so long for one of these to be seen here, a Sage Thrasher.  I have seen them in several places in Maricopa County, so it was a nice surprise to finally record one in this location.  This is also most likely a migrating bird.
 Sage Thrasher
Last weekend along with the Lucy's Warbler, I found a stunning male Costa's Hummingbird that was quite accommodating by landing in the tree close by.  This is a species that many think migrate south for the winter months, but for some reason or another, I found this species in this location in just about every month of the year (currently missing July and December).  Their numbers are not as common as the numbers of Anna's Hummingbirds, but can be found with a little patience and luck.
Costa's Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird
Here is a photo of an Anna's Hummingbird which are much more common.
Anna's Hummingbird
A couple of very common birds seen on that day included Gambel's Quail and Northern Mockingbirds.  Both of these species were very vocal in calling out all along the trails.  I am sure much of the calling involved the mating and breeding season that has arrived in Arizona.
Gambel's Quail

Northern Mockingbird
Other fairly common birds at this location include Ash-throated Flycatcher and Cactus Wren.  The Ash-throated Flycatcher is a bird tends to migrate south from much of Arizona for the winter, but for the past couple of years I have discovered that some are spending their winters in this location.  Many times they are fairly silent and can be hard to spot unless they fly out to capture an insect in flight.  The Cactus Wren is the state bird of Arizona and is beloved by many.  It is probably the easiest wren to identify due to its larger size and bold markings. They favor Cholla Cactus for their nests and this one was busy gathering material for a new nest.
 Ash-throated Flycatcher
Cactus Wren
The Gilded Flicker belongs to the woodpecker family and has found the dry desert habitat is perfectly suitable for existing and raising their families.  Nests cavities are usually made in the Saguaro Cactus and abandoned nests are frequently claimed and used by many other desert dwellers.  They can frequently be seen on the ground digging into the earth with their long and sturdy bills.
Gilded Flicker
One of my favorite birds to be found in this habitat is the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.  These are small birds with long tails and they are forever on the move searching out insects in the trees and shrubs.  In breeding season the males don a nice distinguished looking black cap.  This one was probing the nearby trees and was rewarded with a small yellow spider which he immediately flew away with and was probably taking it to feed a fledgling in a nest somewhere.
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
 The Rock Wren is a another very common bird in this location and can be heard calling from a short distance away.  They have a unique habit of bobbing up and down as they scamper over, under, and all around the rocky areas in search of those insects trying not to be seen.
 Rock Wren
This eBird Hotspot is a place that I have adopted as one of my eBird Patches.  It is a place that is easy access for me and has turned into a wonderful spot for birding.  Sometimes I see nothing but the regular birds, but I have encountered enough odd species to know that there will be more that show up in this spot and I hope that I am there when they do.  It is also a bit gratifying to know that all of my reports are in a very small way contributing to the data and study of ornithology.


  1. Nice report Gordon, and well done on birding Pima Canyon Wash! Visit the place in April-May, and September-October during migration. I've had some crazy sightings in desert washes. My first ever Townsend's Warbler was in the Phoenix Mountains in one of the desert washes! Your list will reach 100 before you know it, and 87 is a very impressive number for an area that is basically Lower Sonoran Desert and not really anything else. The birds love the washes and anything can show up in them!

  2. Man Gordon, I don't know that I've ever seen a Costa's crushed so hard as you've crushed them!
    Plenty of other fantastic photos too, of course.

    Congrats on bulking up that personal list and the overall recorded species. You're a credit to the bird nerd species : )