There are some commonly found birds in Mexico that barely reach into US territory; of course, the birds are apolitical and don't know that they are crossing an international boundary. But, for us, the ability to see them on "our side of the border" makes them very special. A few of these are well known such as the Elegant Trogon and Colima Warbler.
Two such species will be profiled here: both specialty birds of Southeast Arizona:
- Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
- Tropical Kingbird
- Gilded Flicker
- Acorn Woodpecker
- Ladder-backed Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Plumbeous Vireo
- Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches
- Hepatic Tanager
- Yellow-eyed Junco
First, the spectacular Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher -- this is a large flycatcher with a huge bill -- much like the Great Kiskadee; but, perhaps with even a more imposing bill.
Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers are vocal and their calls resemble high-pitched squeaky-toy sounds.
Tropical Kingbird was seen at Sweetwater Wetlands. Found in the US only in SE Arizona and Southern Texas, it is otherwise commonly found in Central and South America.
Not bothered by human-altered habitat, the population of this flycatcher is increasing. It is also extremely aggressive in defending its territory from intruders -- even those that are several times larger.
Next, the woodpeckers: Gilded Flicker is a range-restricted species found in Mexico and the Southwest US -- mainly in Southern Arizona.
Seen at the same venue was this Acorn Woodpecker. Unmistakeable in its looks, this medium-sized woodpecker is also unusual in habits: a cooperative breeder, highly gregarious, and acorn-obsessed.
Perhaps not as distinctive is the Ladder-backed Woodpecker (seen at Sweetwater Wetlands); this is another woodpecker of the Southwest and thrives in arid environments.
More familiar is the Hairy Woodpecker (Western race) that was observed at Rose Canyon.
High up in the trees, a typical vireo-like call was heard. Upon closer inspection, it was identified as Plumbeous Vireo.
Plumbeous was recognied as a separate species when Solitary Vireo was split 3-ways into Plumbeous, Blue-headed, and Cassin's.
.. and, a female Hepatic Tanager:
Lastly, the ubiquitous Yellow-eyed Junco which was observed commonly in suitable habitat throughout the higher elevations at Mt. Lemmon.
The thrill of seeing a range-restricted species in the US is sure to give any visitor to SE Arizona the birding goosebumps. And, spectacular species such as Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Tropical Kingbird are prime examples of tropic of neotropical species that can be found in our own "backyard".
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Two woodpeckers of the area that were missed this time but are worth mentioning are Arizona Woodpecker and Red-naped Sapsucker. Here are some earlier photographs of these species taken at Madera Canyon:
And Arizona Woodpecker
This brown woodpecker is found only in a tiny swathe across SE Arizona and SW New Mexico.