Birding (Lite?) in Arizona

Verdin – ubiquitous in urban habitats including downtown Scottsdale

Arizona is an incredible destination for birders. It seems as if, wherever one goes, birds are abundant. Urban parks can be incredibly rewarding and it’s possible to visit radically different habitats within an hour’s drive of each other. Is birding lite even possible in such a bird-rich region? I’ve titled this post as such because I was visiting an old non-birder friend and his family for one week. We hiked a few parks in the Scottsdale (Phoenix) area and saw a lot of birds and even made an overnight road trip up north to Sedona but it wasn’t intensive birding.

Curve-billed Thrasher – by far, the most cooperative and abundant of the thrashers

However, I did get to spend a wonderful, dedicated day of birding with local birding guide, Gordon Karre. I met Gordon five years ago when he took me to the famous Buckeye thrasher spot very early one frosty morning. Although it was December, and not the prime time for finding thrashers, we did very well. Gordon (the thrasher whisperer) helped me find and photograph the three target species; Bendire’s, Crissal and LeConte’s. I wrote about that day at the time:

Crissal Thrasher from my 2018 visit

If you’re in the Phoenix area, and want to see birds in good company, Gordon Karre is your man. My trip came a little bit early for migration (the Elf Owls had yet to arrive) but we still enjoyed some great birding. I didn’t see any new life birds over the week but fellow eBirders may be amused by a statistic. I started the week at #6,555 for Arizona lifetime. At week’s end, I’d moved up 1,329 spots on the list although I’d only added 16 new species for the state! My overall, Arizona lifetime total is only 168 species! It takes a lot of birding in Arizona to even dream about reaching the Top 100.

I’ll conclude the text portion of this post and now offer a few photos from my week of Arizona Birding Lite. Thanks for following!

Ash-throated Flycatcher
Juniper Titmouse – a thrill to find and photograph this tiny bird
Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay – common at higher elevations
Male Anna’s Hummingbird in all it’s glory
Calliope Hummingbird – a local rarity
Black-throated Sparrow
Male Vermilion Flycatcher – always a treat!
Gila Woodpecker
Burrowing Owl at a protected habitat at Scottsdale Community College
Burrowing Owls at SCC
Female Great-tailed Grackle on nest
Male Great-tailed Grackle
One of fourteen Black Vultures at a known urban roost
Gambel’s Quail – very common, even in residential neighbourhoods


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