Sunday, October 16, 2016

Madera Canyon Delights: Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Blue Grosbeak

[Madera Canyon, SEAZ. August 2016]

Just as Black-whiskered Vireo, Snail Kite and Mangrove Cuckoo are synonymous with South Florida, so is SE Arizona the best venue in the country for Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Broad-billed Hummingbird -- all species that we shall savor in this post thanks to a late summer trip to the Tucson area.

South of Tucson, the fabled hotspot that is Madera Canyon, serves as a veritable avian pilgrimage site for birders and nature-lovers alike. And here, this blogger (armed with his travel camera kit) was able to observe the following delightful species which in many respects typify SEAZ: 

  • Elegant Trogon
  • Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
  • Blue Grosbeak
  • Broad-billed Hummingbird
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird
  • Mexican Jay
  • Bridled Titmouse
  • Painted Redstart
  • Montezuma Quail
  • Acorn Woodpecker
  • Red-tailed Hawk 
We start with the Trogon:

This stunning female was seen in the upper reaches of the canyon; a little lower on the trail where a resplendent male was seen two years ago.
A characteristic "squeaky toy" call betrays the presence of an imposing flycatcher:

This large, noisy and flamboyant tyrant flycatcher is a specialty species of the area.

Further down toward the Proctor Rd area, grasslands and shrubs about abound and this is perfect habitat for sparrows as well as Blue Grosbeak:

Blue Grosbeak is a widespread species -- breeding as far north as Ohio; however, the next species is exclusive to Arizona:

The peacock-hued Broad-billed Hummingbird:

Much more widespread is Black-chinned Hummingbird:

Raucous Mexican Jays are also ubiquitous at this venue:

Of all American titmice, the Bridled Titmouse has the most distinctive facial markings and is unique to SEAZ in the country:

Painted Redstart is a resident breeder in this area:

After a serendipitous encounter with Montezuma Quail in Spring, this blogger was not expecting to run into it again; but, an obscured yet certain sighting did indeed occur:

Other species included Acorn Woodpecker:

Red-tailed Hawk:

And, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (in a frightfully poor image):

Birders may scour the length and breadth of this country furiously checking off species after species but to see Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and other specialty species, the intrepid birder will discover that there is no place better than Madera Canyon in SE Arizona.


  1. Your reports from SEAZ have always made the environment particularly inviting, Hemant. I regret it will remain out of my reach for a while longer. I hope you subscribe to the birding magazine (either Birds or Bird Watching, I can't remember which one) that had a story recently telling of the writer's remarkable encounter with an Elegant Trogon. Your link to Friends of Madera Canyon, and then via another link within it, offered a very interesting Summer bird sighting report as well.