After we got back from Costa Rica near the end of March, we went out birding with the camera about fifteen times. This blog includes photos of some of the birds we saw.
Sweetwater Wetlands was the spot we visited the most. The trees had leafed out and were full of warblers (Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Lucy’s and Wilson’s)
This Yellow Warbler was singing high in the branches of a dead tree. Just as Doug focused and took its picture, it took off in flight.
We saw a Black-crowned Night-Heron on a couple of our visits.
We saw an American Bittern more times this year than we ever had before. This sighting was extra special for us because we were by ourselves when we saw the bird fly into the reeds. On all the other times, other people had seen the bird first and pointed it out. Here’s a photo of the bittern in its “You can’t see me, I’m just another reed” pose.
The pond at El Rio Open Space Preserve had been dry for an number of months. Marana Parks had done some rehabilitation work, removing overgrown trees along the shore and cattails that were encroaching the pond. Here’s a view looking south of the banks that were built up at the far end, taken about a week after they started filling the pond.
There were some waterfowl, but more will likely arrive later. This Abert’s Towhee with seeds in its mouth was in a drier area surrounding the pond. Abert’s Towhees are usually found in pairs; when you see one, its mate is usually nearby.
This is an Ash-throated Flycatcher, with its short bushy crest.
We visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum a couple of times. Wendy is looking at a Cooper’s Hawk sitting on the highest horizontal branch on the right.
Here’s a close-up photo of the same bird. This Cooper’s Hawk was calling frequently from the same perch, so we were able to locate it easily.
Every time we visit the cactus garden at the Desert Museum, we check out the Cactus Wren nest. We saw the wrens building this nest earlier this year and now they are feeding chicks. Here’s a shot of a Canyon Wren exiting the nest.
The Desert Museum is a great place to photograph hummingbirds. This is a female Anna’s Hummingbird.
On our last visit in April, we were lucky enough to see a pair of Hooded Orioles. They usually nest in the palms on the museum grounds. Here’s a photo of a male Hooded Oriole. The “hood” in this case is the yellow top and sides of the head.
Every month we try to visit Reid Park. Even though it is a city park with lawns, ball fields, playgrounds and picnic sites, it attracts a large number of birds. Many of the birds are waterfowl that enjoy either of the two lakes. This Neotropic Cormorant is drying its feathers after diving for fish. Cormorants’ feathers are not water resistant which allows the bird to dive deeper, but requires the bird to dry its feathers before it can fly.
This male Mexican Duck was feeding in a small stream. His plumage is similar to a female Mallard, but he has the characteristic yellow bill of a male. Until recently, Mexican Ducks were considered a sub-species of Mallards.
We went birding in Madera Canyon, not only because there are lots of birds there, but also because it is a bit cooler because of its higher elevation. This is a Cassin’s Vireo. At home in BC, we usually only recognize this bird by its distinctive song because it usually stays hidden in the foliage.
This is probably the first photo that Doug has captured of a Pacific-slope Flycatcher.
We made a last visit to Tubac, about an hour an a half south of Tucson. The female Rose-throated Becard was building a new nest, so she was easier to locate than other times. Birders come from all over to see this species because they are found in only a few spots in the US.
This Summer Tanager has returned to the area. Summer Tanagers are long-distance neotropical migrants that winter in southern Mexico and northwest South America. Their favourite foods are bees and wasps.
Just as the “summer birds” are returning to the Tucson area, we “snowbirds” need to head home. We’ll be taking a break from posting blogs until we travel again in the summer. Until then…