Saturday, February 11, 2017

Four Warblers and Woopeckers of the Southwest

[SEAZ, December 2016]

There are a number of specialty species that are found neither in the Eastern nor the Western regions of the US -- these are the avifauna of the unique habitats available solely in the Southwest. A winter trip to Southeastern Arizona afforded this blogger an opportunity to observe some of these specialty species at close quarters in the Maderan Sky Islands:

The four warblers:
  • Painted Redstart
  • Olive Warbler
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Audubon's Warbler
And, the four Woodpeckers:
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Arizona Woodpecker
  • Gila Woodpecker
  • Acorn Woodpecker
We start with the Redstart:




The Painted Restart is found year-round in Madera Canyon; its striking black and red plumage is a real standout against the green foliage of the oak woodlands.


Next -- Olive Warbler, this is technically not a wood-warbler and while not as flashy as the Redstart, it is still an attractive songbird:






The male's orange-turmeric head and throat, black mask, grey body and prominent white wingbars is unmistakable. 


The females are a duller version of the male:





The other warblers observed were Orange-crowned:


... and Audbuon's



The Orange-crowned was observed at Gilbert Water Ranch (Phoenix area) while the Audubon's was seen at Molino Basin (Mt. Lemmon).  And while all four warblers were seen in SEAZ, in truth, only two of the warblers are truly Southwestern specialties -- The Orange-crowned and Audubon's Warblers are both found in other parts of the US.

And, now for the woodies:

The Ladder-backed Woodpecker is a cactus specialist -- here seen near Florida Canyon:


While the Ladder-backed is found across the desert Southwest, the Arizona Woodpecker is only found -- predictably -- in Arizona:



The Arizona Woodpecker is our only brown-and-white woodpecker. It ranges largely in Mexico, barely reaching into the US. Madera Canyon is a reliable venue to observe this unique woodpecker.

The Gila Woodpecker is another range-restricted species:




The male (upper two photos) has a red crown while the female doesn't. This specimen was observed at Tucson's Rio Rillito Park.

Unlike Gila and Arizona which are specialty woodies of the Southwest, Acorn Woodpecker is found across the Western and Southwestern US:




The Acorn Woodpecker is unique in its social (cooperative breeding) and acorn stashing habits.

Lastly a Bonus woodpecker:


The Red-naped Sapsucker is a specialized sap foraging woodpecker -- here seen at Molino Basin.

Warblers and woodpeckers belong to completely different bird families but what they do share, as evinced in this post, is the scintillating diversity that they offer across their respective taxonomic spectrums -- a fact that is best appreciated in the spectacular vistas of the Southwest.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful collection of specialties, Hemant. I'm stuck at five woodpecker species here at the Connecticut backyard. It will be especially rewarding to add the Arizona Woodpecker to the long list.

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