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Friday, October 10, 2014

SE Arizona: Yellow-eyed Junco, Western Bluebird, Black-throated Sparrow and Canyon Towhee

[SE Arizona. April 2014]

Having meant to publish this post originally in Spring, the esteemed readership of this blog is owed an explanation at to why a post originally conceived in April appears now a full 6 months later in October.

As a matter of fact, the publishing cadence of this birder's humble blogography was hijacked by an explosion of expeditionary birding jaunts starting in April; with trips to:

However, now, with the bulk of Fall migration activity behind us, we are afforded a brief interlude to "course correct" and return this Blog to a more predictable sequence of  "observe and publish".

But first, in the next couple of posts, we pick up the thread from April where we report from Southeast Arizona with a feature focusing on Sparrows, Vireos, Thrushes and other assorted species featuring:

  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • Canyon Towhee
  • Spotted Towhee 
  • Yellow-eyed Junco 
  • Bell's Vireo
  • Plumbeous Vireo
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Western Bluebird
And, Misc:
  • Broad-billed Hummingbird
  • Bridled Titmouse
  • Verdin
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Gila Woodpecker
  • Cooper's Hawk
  • Gould's Turkey
  • White-winged Dove
 We start with 4 New World sparrows:

Black-throated Sparrow seen at Molino Vista

Black-throated Sparrow (not to be confused with the similar sounding Black-chinned Sparrow) is a handsome sparrow of the Southwest. Somewhat unusual for sparrows, its color scheme has no tans or browns -- just grey and black.

Canyon Towhee seen at Sabino Canyon

The Canyon Towhee is a large new world sparrow. Generally inconspicuous, they are more likely to be found on the ground than perched. It, and the similar California Towhee were once considered to be the same species.

Unlike the grey/black Black-throated Sparrow and the tan/brown Canyon Towhee, the next sparrow has a bit of both color schemes:

Spotted Towhee seen at Florida Canyon

Looking like an Eastern Towhee but with spots on the wings, this boldly colored, large sparrow is a common sight in the Western US ranging from British Columbia to California.

Perhaps the most delightful of our sparrows are the Junco's.

Yellow-eyed Junco seen at Rose Canyon

And the most delightful of our Junco's is the Yellow-eyed -- this is our only sparrow with yellow eyes. This Mexican bird barely extends into our territory in the Southern reaches of Arizona and New Mexico.

Now for the 2 Vireos:

Bell's Vireo seen at Molino Basin
Plumbeous Vireo seen at Madera Canyon

Bell's Vireo is a tiny vireo found from the West to the Central US. Interestingly, the color changes from grey to yellow moving Eastward. Thus, the specimen shown here (observed in Arizona) is largely grey with just a hint of yellow.

Plumbeous Vireo, unlike Bell's is altogether grey. If its white spectacles are reminiscent of  Blue-headed Vireo, it will be no surprise to learn that they were once considered to be the same species. Of course, unlike Blue-headed, Plumbeous Vireo does show the green that is typical of most vireos.

On the Thrush front, a drab Hermit Thrush seen at Madera Canyon was over-shadowed by a resplendent Western Bluebird:

Hermit Thrush seen at Madera Canyon
Western Bluebird seen at Rose Canyon

This brings us to the remaining assortment of species:

Broad-billed Hummingbird seen at Sabino Canyon:

Bridled Titmouse seen at Madera Canyon:

Cooper's Hawk seen at Rose Canyon:

Greater Roadrunner seen at Sabino Canyon:

Gila Woodpecker seen at Sabino Canyon:

Verdin seen at Sabino Canyon:

Wild Turkey seen at Madera Canyon:

White-winged Dove seen at Sabino Canyon:

"Late", it is said, is better than "Never" and it is hoped that this post of signature birds of SE Arizona provides ample testimony in support of the veracity of the adage.

1 comment:

Bob Pelkey said...

I was recently watching youtube videos highlighting birding via train. Seems like a lot of fun except for the drama of one guy waiting a week to get to his destination. Patience is indeed a virtue. Thanks for the broad smile, Hemant.