Lincoln’s sparrow in Sycamore Canyon 3-24-10
Spring migration is already beginning here in Southeast Arizona. This Lincoln’s sparrow was hanging around Sycamore Canyon for about 2 weeks but I have not seen it for the past few days. I have seen one down on Sienna Bluff Trails near the park and one here in my own yard. The Lincoln’s sparrow is distinguished by the buffy wash across a streaked breast with a central breast spot and the buffy eye ring and buffy malar stripe. I have noticed that it tends to have a perky little crest at times and it also cocks its tail up like a wren.
Scott’s oriole (female) 4-2-10
The orioles were visiting my nectar feeders on an almost daily basis but their visits have tapered off over the past few days. The males showed up first and then I finally saw the females. Note how the female Scott’s Oriole looks like a duller version of the male.
However, the female Hooded Oriole is more delicate looking and uniform in her coloring than the female Scott’s oriole. However, the female Hooded and the female Bullocks are very similar in coloring and can be difficult to tell apart especially when you are first trying to learn this species. The female Bullock’s is gray to white on the belly with a thicker and straighter beak than the Hooded. you can also see a bit of the eyeline that is distinctive of the Bullock’s
I came home from my trip just in time to see the last Rock Wren of the winter season. This was the last day I saw one here at my house.
Various Hummingbirds have been passing through. I captured this photo of what I think is a female rufous hummingbird but I have also seen broad-tailed hummingbirds as well as broad-billed hummingbirds, black-chinned hummingbirds and Costa's. I have not seen any Anna's hummingbirds yet. In spite of all of this, the visits to my hummingbird feeders have really dropped off with one or two sightings a day. as a result I have cut back my nectar feeding and only fill my feeders about 1/2 full. At this time of year the nectar can go bad rapidly and develop mold which is deadly to the birds. I dump any unused nectar every 3 days and clean, rinse and refill the feeders. Hummingbird nectar can be made at home by bringing 4 cups of water and 1 cup of table sugar to a boil. Cool and fill feeders storing any leftover in the refrigerator. Do not use honey or artificial sweetener as this could kill the hummingbirds. right now we have so many wildflowers in bloom that the birds are having no trouble finding nectar to eat.
This black-chinned sparrow first showed up on March 30 in my backyard making it species number 77 for my backyard and species number 87 for Sycamore Canyon! I have only seen this species one time before at the Javalina Picnic area in Saguaro National Park’s Rincon Unit. It was here on March 30, 31 and April 2nd but I have not seen it since.
Black-chinned Sparrow 4-2-10
Notice how it looks very much like someone took a junco and a sparrow and crammed them together. the black-chinned has the pink beak and gray body and shape of a junco but its wings and back are sparrow like in color.
Right now I have my friend and birding buddy Kathryn visiting me from Utah. On her first day here we saw our first Ash-throated gray flycatcher of the year up in Ocotillo Preserve on S. Houghton Road. Then yesterday we drove to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in western Pima County. We were gone for 12 hours and on our way there saw 2 Crested Caracaras near Kitt Peak. We saw the birds as we drove past and looked desperately for a place to pull off and photograph them but alas, there was none! The road was built up with only a 6" shoulder that dropped off steeply to the desert floor below filled with spiny cacti! By the time we did find a pull-off we were too far way from the birds. Rt. 86 is the only road between Tucson and Ajo and the traffic speeds by at 65 mph, so there was nothing to do but go on. Still, we both got a decent view of the white wingtips, white tail and white face with a black cap. One eagle was flying and the other was perched on top of a large saguaro about a mile or two from the first.
Today we went to Tubac and walked around the art galleries and shops after dining at Shelby’s Bistro. We took a quick stroll down St. Gertrudis lane where we found a Townsend's Solitaire perched in the trees along the roadside. This is Life Bird number 376 for me and we are not done yet! More birding adventures to come before Kathryn leaves next Tuesday.