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Thursday, August 27, 2015

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

[Madera Canyon, AZ. August 2015]

In remote outposts such as Madera Canyon where it would not be unreasonable to expect to find peaceful solitude and serenity to commune with Nature free of molestation, one is, instead, repeatedly jarred by reminders of the ugly trappings of the modern world. 

Noisy picnickers; blaring stereos; yelping pets (inevitably dragged, leashed or not, as obliging furry accessories to their masters); and, perhaps most objectionably, the ear-bursting rumblings of motorcycles -- a situation made worse by their propensity to travel in boisterous packs. And, one more thing: "Rumblings" might be putting it too mildly -- the explosive cacophony of motorcycle exhaust is more like a series of bomb blasts that reverberate obnoxiously throughout the canyon -- shattering the quietude of the natural surroundings irreparably. With this backdrop, one is left pondering how the many gifts of nature are squandered hopelessly on man -- as pearls before swine.

Who shall heed the wise adage "take only memories, leave only footprints"?  Surely a principle that is lost on these visitors from hell. But, perhaps more importantly, what must the impact of this vulgar and unrelenting disturbance be to the breeding species of the canyon? Species that have traveled from near and far to these creeks and woods only to find their nesting sites enveloped in a maelstrom of noxious fumes, jarring noises and the omnipresent threat of invasive pets.

Having unbosomed our sincere concerns over the fragility of our natural habitats; and, with a hope that our pleas and earnest lamentations should not fall on deaf ears of the eco-callous, we now move on to the subject of the blog post -- the incredible birdlife of Southeast Arizona -- starting with the incomparable Elegant Trogon:

This spectacular female was seen thanks to the efforts of a kind birding soul -- Jay Taylor -- who this blogger had the good fortune in encountering at Madera Canyon. Jay was pointing out the classic "squeaky toy" calls of the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher when the Trogon was sighted -- at eye level!

Trogons are found in both New and Old Worlds in the tropics; but, the only place to see them here in the US is in SEAZ. In a scene that could only be replicated here, both the Trogon and the Flycatcher were found merely a tree apart!

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher is an imposing and distinctive flycatcher -- perhaps the only other flycatcher it could possibly be confused with is the Great Kiskadee of South Texas. Like the Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher is also exclusive to Arizona in the US and is seen well in Madera Canyon where it is a late breeder -- the young hatching in July during the Arizona monsoon.

Much more widespread is the Blue Grosbeak:

Found in the Southern half of the country from coast to coast, this brilliantly colorful member of the Cardinal family looks like a larger version of Indigo Bunting but with chestnut wingbars. This beautiful songbird was observed at the base of the canyon where there is a good mix of grasses and shrubs (the trails by Whitehouse Picnic Area).

Bonus birds seen at Madera Canyon included:

Summer Tanager -- seen feeding on a bee:

and, Mexican Jay:

The "poster birds" of the spectacular birdlife of Southeast Arizona are iconic species such as Elegant Trogon and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. These alone are enough to entice the enterprising birder to consider a trip to the "Sky Islands" of Arizona -- a trip that will surely be rewarded with sightings that can be had nowhere else in the country.

1 comment:

Bob Pelkey said...

Peaceful solitude is indeed becoming a rare commodity, Hemant. I am greatly looking forward to following your lead to observe first hand the beauty you highlight from fragile lands.