Friday, April 30, 2010

End of Month eBird Stats

The "Birding from Dawn to Dusk posts will have to take a break as I am over in Maricopa for a few days staying with a friend. In my spare time I am watching birds and while I have access to a computer I do not have a way to upload photos. Once again a picture-less post. However, since this is the last day of the month I decided to update all my eBird stats. So many things have changed since the end of Big January. I have now been across 8 states and numerous counties. Migration is in full swing and species are returning to Sycamore Canyon and all of Arizona. So, here are my latest statistics as of April 30, 2010

LIfe List: 378
Year List: 208
Month List: 121

Total checklists: 1936
Year checklists: 413
Month checklists: 74

AZ Life List: 249
AZ Year: 169

AZ Counties
Pima Life: 225
Pima Year: 141
Pima Month: 99

Santa Cruz Life: 158
Santa Cruz Year: 106
Santa Cruz Month: 34

Cochise Life:  110
Cochise year: 77
Cochise Month: 39

Pinal Life: 91
Pinal year: 29
Pinal Month: 29

Maricopoa Life: 53
Maricopa Year: 23

Gila Life: 15

Graham Life: 8
Yavapai Life: 3
Coconino Life: 3

Utah Life List: 147
West Virginia Life List 106
Connecticut Life: 91 
Maine Life List: 85
Florida Life List: 65
New Mexico Life List: 59
New Mexico Year List: 50
Oklahoma Life List: 53
Oklahoma Year List 49
Alabama Life List: 47
Ohio Life List: 44
Washington Life List: 38
Colorado Life List: 34
New York Life List: 30
Kentucky Life List: 29
Wyoming Life List 20
Tennessee Life List: 20
Arkansas Life List: 19
Massachusetts Life List: 18
Mississippi Life List: 12
Idaho: 10
Texas: 9
New Hampshire : 8
North Dakota: 6
Rhode Island 2
New Brunswick, Canada: 2
South Dakota: 1

These are my stats so far. Where the Life List and Year List data are the same I have entered only one statistic. New States with new bird counts this year are in italics. Have fun birding. All of this data is not only fun for me to see but it helps eBird track birding populations. For people who have been counting birds along the gulf coast their data will help to prove the impact this huge oil spill will have on birding populations.  These are bird list that will help the birds, so get out there and count when you can and please help preserve habitat for the birds!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Birding From Dawn ‘till Dusk Day 5 Ramsey Canyon

DSC_0154 With only a short break for lunch we were soon on the trail up Ramsey Canyon. Ramsey Canyon is own and operated by the nature conservancy. The $5.00 you pay to get in is well worth the experience. A perennial stream flows down the mountain side, a refreshing sight and sound here in the desert.

DSC_0156 The creek is bordered by Sycamore trees.  I love the speckled bark and the sculptural shape.

DSC_0160 This female broad-tailed hummingbird fluttered about in the limbs along the trail.

DSC_0187 Like long green tresses the leaves of this tree fluttered in the breeze making me believe in wood nymphs and sylphs.


We stayed as long as we could, but soon the gates would be locked and we had to leave. As we exited to the parking lot this Cooper’s hawk stood guard in the sycamore overhanging the creek, a watcher in the woods and king of all he surveyed.

We did not see many birds here but we saw some important ones, including a Magnificent Hummingbird, another Lifer for Kathryn. The sun was setting as we drove up the road into Sycamore Canyon, tired but content with a long day of birding and comfortable companionship.

Birds Seen at Ramsey Canyon:

Location: Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Observation date: 4/11/10
Notes: w/Kathryn - walked to first overlook view.
Number of species: 7
Cooper's Hawk 1
White-winged Dove 1
Magnificent Hummingbird 1
Black-chinned Hummingbird 2
Acorn Woodpecker 1
Mexican Jay 6
Pine Siskin 12

Kathryn also saw 3 pygmy nuthatches in the parking lot when we first arrived. I was too busy getting stuff out of the car and I didn’t look.  Stupid me! another Lifer for Kathryn!  I have seen them on MT Lemmon near Tucson, but that’s the only place.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Birding Dawn ‘till Dusk Day 5 San Pedro House

DSC_0061 Wilson’s Warbler San Pedro River Sierra Vista 4-11-10

Sunday was probably the best day of birding for Kathryn and I.  We drove to Sierra Vista first thing in the morning and made our first stop San Pedro house on the San Pedro River just east of Sierra Vista on Highway 90.

DSC_0016Though it looks like snow falling through the air as Kathryn raises her bins to check out a black-chinned hummingbird, it is really cotton from the towering cottonwood trees that surround San Pedro House.  The house itself is a gift shop with information about the area as well as books and other gifts.

DSC_0022 We find several white-crowned sparrows feeding at the feeders or hiding in the brush…

DSC_0029 …along with female red-winged blackbirds and white-winged doves!

Birds seen at San Pedro House:

Location: San Pedro House
Observation date: 4/11/10
Notes: Birding at the house area with Kathryn
Number of species: 15

White-winged Dove 6
Mourning Dove 14
Black-chinned Hummingbird 14
Rufous Hummingbird 1
Gila Woodpecker 1
European Starling 2
Yellow Warbler 2
Green-tailed Towhee 2
Lark Bunting 4
White-crowned Sparrow 24
Pyrrhuloxia 2
Red-winged Blackbird 40
House Finch 7
Lesser Goldfinch 16
House Sparrow 12

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

San Pedro River Trail


We followed this trail out towards the river where the trees appear as a flowing green ribbon in the dry brown grass…DSC_0043 ..and yellow warblers sing from catkins like gold confetti against an azure sky.

DSC_0055  Ruby-crowned kinglets flutter from the treetops…DSC_0064 …while Wilson’s warblers stay low in the willows along the wash…

DSC_0090 ..and this surprise flew over our heads and landed in the tree above us.  We craned our necks trying to figure this beauty out.  I took several photos of it as I was unsure of what I was seeing and I also noticed the bird had a band on its right leg.  After studying the photos and consulting several bird guides I have concluded it is a Fox sparrow but if you think I am wrong, please tell me and tell me why you think it!

DSC_0127 DSC_0132 DSC_0138 The trees were full of vireos and this one is a Cassin’s as it has the spectacles and the yellow wash along its sides. We saw so many birds here and we had a great time.  We left shortly after noontime and headed over to Ramsey canyon which is really a short drive away.  What a Birdy Day!


Species seen at San Pedro house along the San Pedro River Trail:

Location: San Pedro House
Observation date: 4/11/10

Notes: w/Kathryn - trail from house down to Green Kingfisher Pond then up along the river back to house.
Number of species: 23

Mallard (Mexican) 3
Turkey Vulture 3
White-winged Dove 2
Gila Woodpecker 5
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
Vermilion Flycatcher 12
Cassin's Kingbird 1
Western Kingbird 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
Canyon Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Yellow Warbler 7
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) 5
Common Yellowthroat 5
Wilson's Warbler 2
Green-tailed Towhee 1
Song Sparrow 2
White-crowned Sparrow 1
House Finch 2
Lesser Goldfinch 8

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

And that’s…

My World Tuesday!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birding From Dawn ‘till Dusk: Day 4 Rio Rico


Gus and Kathryn stand on the brow of Hawk’s Hill on the side of the San Cayentano Mountains 4-10-10


We start the day Saturday in Rio Rico eating lunch at Nonna Vivi Pizza. The pizza is made fresh with organic ingredients. We just discovered this place two weeks ago, though it has been open for a year already.  Yum!  I highly recommend it! Click on the link for address and menu.

After lunch we take Kathryn up to Hawk’s Hill on the slopes of the San Cayentano Mountains. Looking west over the Santa Cruz Valley I watch birds while we all enjoy the view and the wildflowers.

Birds Seen at Hawk’s Hill:

Location: Hawk’s Hill
Observation date: 4/10/10
Notes: w/Gus and Kathryn
Number of species: 5
Turkey Vulture 1
Red-tailed Hawk (Western) 1
Verdin 1
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher 1
Black-throated Sparrow 3
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(


A brief stop at the Rio Rico pond yields a short but important list of birds, including Black-bellied whistling ducks, a life bird for Kathryn.

 DSC_0014This smudge on the wires is a Gray Hawk seen best through Kathryn’s scope. We did not do a lot of birding this day but the day was full and fun. We know tomorrow will be another big day of Birding from Dawn ‘till Dusk!

Birds Seen at the Rio Rico Pond:

Location: Rio Rico Pond
Observation date: 4/10/10
Notes: w/ Kathryn.
Number of species: 7
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 9
Mallard 1
Turkey Vulture 2
Gray Hawk 1
Vermilion Flycatcher 2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 4
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Birding From Dawn ‘till Dusk: Day 3 Vail and Tubac

DSC_0209 Mourning dove on nest in Vail, AZ 4-9-10

We started our day with coffee and birds at a friend's house in Vail, AZ. Vail sits at the vase of the Rincon Mountains and at the edge of Saguaro National Park.  Because of this it is rich in bird life and my friend Judy has numerous species in her yard…

DSC_0206… including a nesting family of Harris Hawks! This is the nest in a silk oak tree right next to the Judy’s pool! The hawks and humans mostly get along though the hawks did eat the family cat last year.  You can just see the little baby’s fuzzy face just peeking over the top of the nest.

DSC_0214 Meanwhile Mamma or papa keep watch from the utility pole at the corner of the front yard while the rest of the family is off searching for dinner!

DSC_0215 Harris Hawks live and hunt in family groups.  This nest site was successful last year also and the family is growing.  I do not know how big it will get before they decide to branch off into another breeding pair.

DSC_0222Mexican Poppies and Desert Bluebells 4-9-10 

When we left Judy’s house we drove along a roadside covered with wild flowers.  I just had to get out and photograph this wild beauty.

DSC_0227 View of wildflowers with the Rincon Mountains as a backdrop 4-9-10


Townsend’s solitaire on St. Gertrudis lane 4-9-10

Kathryn and I spent the rest of the day down in Tubac where we ate lunch and meandered through the little village viewing art.  As a final stop for the day we visited Santa Gerturdis Lane, a local birding hotspot just down the road from Tubac.  It is a private road with no through traffic but rich in bird life since the Santa Cruz River flows by.  To bird there you must park on the frontage road and walk in. As Kathryn and I searched the hedgerow for birds I caught sight of this plain looking bird.  At first I thought it was a mockingbird, but something wasn’t quite right. The posture was too upright, the beak too short, and there was no white in the wings. Plus, it had a white eye-ring. Suddenly it struck me what I was looking at and I couldn't believe my eyes for this bird has eluded me for 5 years!  It was a Townsend's Solitaire!  This bird is in the thrush family with robins and bluebirds. A bird of open forest and woodland edges, it is called “solitaire” for a reason.  It is never seen in flocks. The bird perched quietly in the dense brush but I was able to zoom in and catch a ray of sunlight on its body illuminating it just enough for this photo!  Life Bird* number 378 for me! However, this is a yard bird for Kathryn, but she still enjoyed seeing it.

*A Life Bird is the first time a birder see a particular species of birds.  Most birders keep a Life List of all the bird species they have seen in their lives.


Sycamore Canyon Update: Today is cool here in Sycamore Canyon with a morning low of 40 degrees at 4:30 AM after a cold front moved through late yesterday afternoon and dropped out temps from 80 to 70 in little over and half hour.  With it came a brief but fierce rainstorm and high winds.  Our low temperature for yesterday was reached late last night. It was 46 degrees at 10:30 PM which was the last time I checked. We started the day yesterday at 63 degrees! Don’t worry, sunshine and warmth will return tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Flyaway, a Book Review

Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings

What do you do when a past time becomes a passion and then an obsession? In the book, Flyaway, Suzie Gilbert discovers how her love for birds can take over your life. Writing with a humorous and poetic voice we follow her change from a woman concerned with birds and wildlife to a woman obsessed with trying to save the world. On her journey of love she loses herself only to find her way back on the wings of a crow named George.

Suzie’s story starts with her desire to rehab birds. As the mother of two elementary school children she has to balance bird rehab and motherhood. Thus she finds herself at the pool or lacrosse games with baskets of baby birds being hand fed every half hour while she watches her children play. In her house it is not unusual to find a heron in the bathroom or a peregrine perched on her bedroom door. Ducks splash in the bath tub and the laundry room becomes songbird central. Chaos reigns as she tries to restore order to the natural world.

Throughout the book as Suzie fights her way through the trials of wildlife rehabilitation. She soon discovers there is never enough time, money or other wildlife rehabbers to stem the flow of injured and orphaned birds. In her quest to save them all she breaks her own rules one by one until she is lost in ensuing flood of need. While her children initially enjoy the menagerie that fills the house soon the family suffers from the toll it takes on their mother. When Suzie finds herself haunted by dark dreams of dead and dying birds she finally realizes she has to draw the line somewhere. But when she closes down her rehab center she discovers that she also loses herself.

Flyaway is a captivating story of how one woman tries to right the wrongs of humankind against the natural world. I was caught up in each bird’s story and how it affected Suzie and her family. I laughed at some of the antics she went through trying to rescue wild animals and save birds. I wanted to cry with her when certain birds could not be saved. When Suzie flees to the woods for solace I could feel myself running with her and I imagine her like young Jody in the 1946 MGM movie “The Yearling” running through the forest with flocks of birds instead of a herd of deer.

One of the most import aspects of the book to me is the emphasis on habitat preservation for wildlife. While wild rehabbers can only save one bird at a time, preserving habitat saves generations to come. Flyway is certainly worth reading for its stories, both tragic and funny, for educating oneself about what bird rehabilitators do, and for the story a woman who tries to find balance in her life and in her soul. Suzie sums it up best when she says, “We crave a connection—no matter how brief or tenuous—with a wild creature, and we are willing to play by rules that seem designed to break our hearts in order to do it.”

Flyaway is published by Harper Perennial.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oklahoma City Memorial Photo Essay by Gusto!





Survivor Tree 3-19-10

DSC_0216 Survivor 3-19-10

(Calvin Mosher was on the 8th floor of the Murrah Building when it exploded.)




The Field above the reflecting pool…




DSC_0237 DSC_0210

In Remembrance of 4-19-95 DSC_0242

My World Tuesday!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Birding From Dawn ‘till Dusk: Day 2 Organ Pipe NM

DSC_0114 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument 21 mile Loop Rd 4-8-10

Kathryn and I get up with the sun and head west across the desert to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  It is a long drive to get there and I have never been past the town of Three Points, so I have no idea what to expect. We travel across native lands and past Kitt Peak where I spot a Crested Caracara flying alongside the road. Though traffic is traveling at 65 to 70 mph in this area the road is narrow with no shoulders and steep drop-offs to the cactus studded desert below. There is absolutely no place to stop and get a picture for miles, though I do try, but by then the bird is too far away. I let Kathryn take over driving now and scan the desert for birds.  We are seeing Harris Hawks, ravens, and Red-tailed Hawks and then, to my utter surprise, our second Crested Caracara perched atop a saguaro right near Sells! We get as good of a look as we can driving 65 mph down the road.


Organ Pipe Cactus 4-8-10

After a brief stop at the visitor’s center for info and to eat our picnic lunch we decide to take the Ajo Mountain Loop Road. Though it is 21 miles long, we break it into 5 miles segments for eBird and count birds as we go. I have never been here before and I am captivated by this desert beauty.  It is no wonder that this is a National Monument.

  DSC_0120 The beauty of a cactus bud.

DSC_0146We come to the Arch Canyon Trail and decide to get out of the car and walk a bit.  Though the trail is only 3/4 of a mile we don’t go far because it is so hot and we only have sandals on our feet. This seems a peaceful place with beauty all around us.

DSC_0131 We marvel at the arch overhead…

DSC_0142 …and gaze at the mountains beyond…

DSC_0146…the canyon lies invitingly before  us…

DSC_0147 …and wraps its arms around us in a rocky hug!

DSC_0152We see and hear Phainopeplas softly asking us, “What?…What?” And then, just as we are settling in, a dark shadow looms!

DSC_0156 “Who are you and what are you doing in my canyon,” the Turkey Vulture seems to say. It is soon joined by another and they swoop ever lower and closer to us…

DSC_0158 DSC_0159 …until one is so low that it is too close for my 70-300mm lens!

DSC_0161 DSC_0166 DSC_0183We decide to leave and beat a hasty retreat back to the car. We are halfway around the loop road by now and the day is fading fast. As we continue our drive we stop at various points along the way finding most of the birds along the desert washes. 

DSC_0201 Reluctantly we say good-bye to organ Pipe Cactus national Monument with its vast and prickly beauty with wildflowers and solitude in abundance. It is long after dark by the time we arrive home but we are so glad that we went!

Birds seen today on the drive to and in Organ Pipe Cactus NM:

  1. Crested Caracara
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. Gila woodpecker
  4. Raven
  5. Northern Mockingbird
  6. Black-throated sparrow
  7. Phainopepla
  8. Kestrel
  9. Mourning dove
  10. Costa’s hummingbird
  11. lesser Goldfinch
  12. House finch
  13. Harris hawk
  14. Gambel’s Quail
  15. Cooper’s hawk
  16. Verdin
  17. Cactus wren
  18. Curve-billed thrasher
  19. Northern Cardinal
  20. Scott’s Oriole
  21. Red-tailed hawk
  22. Loggerhead shrike
  23. Cassin’s vireo
  24. Blue-gray gnatcatcher
  25. Rock Wren