Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Sunday morning came very early for the 3 of us and our coverage of the Winterhaven area for the Tucson CBC. Chris and I met Jan at a Trader Joe's in our coverage area before the sun came up and the first birds we heard were White-crowned Sparrows. Have to remember that the goal was to count birds and find as many species as we could find in one day in this mapped out area. We then headed to the Winterhaven residential area first as we wanted to arrive before the crowds converged on this district to admire the many decorated yards with their Christmas lights and displays. The first bird that we actually saw right after we stepped out of the vehicle was a Great Horned Owl! Finding this bird was a great start to the day!
One of the target birds was the Bronzed Cowbird which is a summer resident in southern Arizona, but in winter they can be a bit difficult to locate as most have migrated south for the winter, but a few stay the winter in the Tucson area. Thanks to some great scouting by Chris and Jan two days before, they knew exactly where to find them. And we found more than 40 of them; a great bird to add to the count. Of course a few other birds got in the way of my camera along the way, including a Gila Woodpecker and a male Phainopepla.
Bronzed Cowbird - Male
At the University of Arizona Ag farm, we had the pleasure of observing and listening to a male Costa's Humingbird as he was putting on a display for the local female. And a Verdin got into the act of fluffing out to dry on an branch after an early morning bath.
Costa's Hummingbird - Female
We also had the fortune of locating three Cactus Wrens in a residential neighborhood that was close to a racquet club and a dry stream bed. The stream bed was a hot spot for many raptors, including Cooper's Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, and a very 'high-in-the-sky' Prairie Falcon. (Horrible photo of the Prairie Falcon, but the photo does help to identify this falcon.) The Red-tailed Hawk was for a while sitting on top of a very tall electrical pole, but then it joined a second one soaring the thermals for an elaborate display.
Our last bird of the day was a Red-naped Sapsucker that we found in a tree in the corner of a schoolyard. By observing the many holes in the limbs of this tree, one can tell it has been used by this bird or other like it for some time.
I want to thank Chris and Jan for making this a very enjoyable day of birding on my first ever Tucson CBC.