Ornithologi

A studio for bird study

Tag: canyon

Canyon Wren- Catherpes mexicanus

by Bryce W. Robinson

I went to a reliable spot for Rosy-Finch today in hopes of getting some footage of the birds returning to roost. I won’t go into great detail, because I still want to get the footage and share the peculiar behavior of the flock. I was unable to get any decent video of the Black Rosy-Finch I saw there, but I was able to get some decent clips of a very interactive Canyon Wren.

This clip is very short, but I had to share it anyway. I’ll be back to visit this critter again soon to film some more, and make another try at the Rosy-Finch. Until then, this will have to do.

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Beatnik Birding: Arizona Endings

by Bryce W. Robinson

Elegant Trogon- Trogon elegans

Elegant Trogon- Trogon elegans

Success is super sweet. I left Patagonia feeling disappointment from missing my target, the Trogon. My heading was the Huachuca Mountains, where I was unsure if the Trogon was a realistic expectation. I arrived in the valley east of Huachuca’s at the house of my new friend, Christie Van Cleve. I met Christie while watching the Black Hawk migration the prior week in Tubac. She insisted I come see her house, and the nearby canyons.

Her insistence proved fruitful for my birding. When I arrived, I sat in her dining room, watching the birds in her yard. She has created the most incredible feeder set up that I have ever seen. She boasts an impressive yard list, somewhere in the 180’s. It was easy to see how such a number could be possible.

After minutes of watching, I saw one of the most incredible birds I was to see in Arizona. The Magnificent Hummingbird came to the feeders time and again, to flash its brilliant green gorget. I was in awe, and excited. For the next few hours, I watched the birds about their business, and enjoyed Christie’s company.

Later that afternoon, Christie took me to Huachuca Canyon. The canyon is only accessible by entering a military base. This may seem a deterrent, and perhaps is the reason I was unaware of the canyon, but entering and traveling about the base was easy. We went up the canyon, where Christie showed me two spots where Elegant Trogon’s had nested in years past. She told me stories about her times in the canyon, watching these birds. What a treat it would be to see these birds raising their young, hunting for insects, and conducting themselves in accordance with their habits. As we did not see the birds in either location, I resolved to return the next morning and try one last time for the Elegant Trogon.

I ventured back through the base in early morning, and travelled up the canyon towards the two nest sights. Birds were about this morning, and I listened to many species both new and familiar. Still, both nest sights were without the Trogon, and my spirit fell. But, as I am a birder, and love other experiences besides the chase, or hunt, I venture farther up the canyon to find others.

With my senses keen, and tuned to any peculiar movement, or sound, I was sure to pick up the Trogon if it made itself known in any way. And I did!

The moment the trogon barked, I knew what I had hear. I did a silent jump for joy and listened for a second call. Soon enough, multiple calls came and I narrowed in on the Trogon. Within a minute, I had found the brilliant male Trogon, sitting in the branches, calling. It was wary of my presence, and retreated when I came to close.

The bird continued to call, but as I observed its behaviors, I picked up the presence of a second bird. Hearing a second call pulled my attention to another fleeing male Trogon. Blessed by the sight of two males, in all their glory, I took in my fill of the birds, and left them to their business of establishing territories and continuing their business of procreation.

Elegant Trogon- Trogon elegans

Before I left, I spent some more time talking with Christie. On the morning before I hit the road, she informed me of a pair of Mexican Spotted Owls in the canyon near her house. I decided that the Spotted Owl would be a great bird to see before my journey continued elsewhere. It was not difficult to find the birds in the canyon. Directed to a reliable roost, I located two owls deep in sleep. I was careful not to disturb their slumber, and give them added stress. I watched the pair for minutes, taking a few photos before returning back to the road, and onward to Texas. On a high from the Trogons, I decided it was time to make my Arizona exit. I had missed some birds that I wanted to see, but I had other priorities, and felt that I needed to put my wheels back on the road, and move eastward with my eyes on the Texas coast.

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Beatnik Birding: Madera Canyon, AZ

by Bryce W. Robinson

IMG_0012It’s no secret that Madera Canyon, AZ is one hell of a spot. What I didn’t expect was to climb out of the desolation of the desert into a cool and lush sky island, full of wildlife. After becoming a bit desert dreary, I felt refreshed entering the high woodlands in search of some new birds. I decided I’d go as high as I could, and start hiking from there.

I’ve become quite entranced by the myths of Trogons that can be seen in this part of the country. I held high hopes for this journey up the canyon, but I came away empty handed. What I did find were a good number of birds that I were firsts for me. Long story short, it was a really great morning in Madera Canyon. The place didn’t disappoint bird-wise.

Yellow-eyed Junco- Junco phaeonotus

Yellow-eyed Junco- Junco phaeonotus

Of the throngs of birds I was able to find, I only photographed a few. One of my favorite new birds was the Yellow-eyed Junco. I found a few small flocks, acting just as any junco species does, picking around the ground through the understory. They would notice me, flit to a nearby perch, and look around nervously. These juncos sound quite different than their dark eyed relatives, so when I initially heard them, I knew I was in for something new and good.

Arizona Woodpecker- Picoides arizonae

Arizona Woodpecker- Picoides arizonae

I was really focused on one bird in particular. I love woodpeckers, and the Arizona Woodpecker is a specialty of these parts that I couldn’t wait to find. I heard the bird first, tippy tapping its way around a small Ponderosa Pine grove. It didn’t take long to locate the brown bird. I think the hikers that passed me wondered why I was elated by this brown woodpecker. I’m sure some understood, but others gave me quizzical glances. I giggled a bit, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Painted Redstart- Myioborus pictus

Painted Redstart- Myioborus pictus

Another bird to delight both my eyes and my ears was the fire chested Painted Redstart. These birds were all over the riparian areas of the canyon. I really paid attention to their song, and I think I may have it down. Maybe the next time I hear this bird, I will be able to know what I am listening to.

I can say that Madera Canyon was more than I hoped for. On my way out, I stopped by some feeders and saw a brilliant crimson bird that I immediately knew, although I had never seen. Hepatic Tanager! That is what I said aloud, again receiving concerned looks from the general tourists.

I have yet to have any truly in depth and interesting human interactions. I am hoping I meet a like minded birdnerd soon. I’m headed over to the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek area next, where I’m sure I will run into some other nut jobs. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the Elegant Trogon in that area. Hope I find it!