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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Marvelous Madera: Elegant Trogon, Hepatic Tanager and Black-capped Gnatcatcher

[Madera Canyon, Pimo Co. AZ. April, 2017]

The driving force behind birding is a passionate thirst that is never slaked; or for others, a beautiful hunger that defies satiety. Indeed, the fuel for our avian quests is the eager prospect of the new; as well as, renewed contentment with the familiar.

The above sentiment resonated strongly with this blogger while on a Spring pilgrimage to Madera Canyon. A trip that yielded a new addition to the Blogger's Life List (aka Lifer) in Black-capped Gnatcatcher while presenting familiar, yet always delightful, species such as Elegant Trogon and Hepatic Tanager. Indeed the full breadth of observations included:

  • Hepatic Tanager
  • Elegant Trogon
  • Black-capped Gnatcatcher
  • Arizona Woodpecker
  • Mexican Jay
  • Bridled Titmouse
  • Grace's Warbler
  • Painted Redstart
  • House Wren
  • Magnificent Hummingbird
  • Brown-crested Flycatcher
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Plumbeous Vireo
We start with the Hepatic Tanager:

First impressions bring to attention the grey-brown cheeks, flanks and upperparts against the dominant brick-red hues on the rest of body. The bill is dark as are the eyes. Indeed, it is the brown-red or liver-like color that explains the "Hepatic" (as in Hepatitis) in the bird's moniker.

The Hepatic is our most range-restricted tanager -- found in pine-oak woodlands in the canyons of SEAZ and Western New Mexico. Yet, as a global species, it is widely distributed throughout South and Central America.

Our next species -- Elegant Trogon -- is another specialty bird of SEAZ and a regular breeder at Madera where it prefers Sycamore cavities for nesting.

Over to the Lifer -- Black-capped Gnatcatcher is a Mexican songbird that is an occasional visitor to SEAZ. It has been found nesting at Madera Canyon with surprising regularity.

Of our 4 Gnatcatcher species, this is the most range-restricted but it is the California Gnatcatcher that is the most endangered. 

Arizona Woodpecker -- a lovely brown and white woodpecker of Mexico that barely inches into US territory, also thrives in the canyon:

Other species included:
Mexican Jay:

Bridled Titmouse:

Grace's Warbler:

Painted Redstart:

House Wren -- this common songbird seemingly out of place amidst all the specialty birds!

Magnificent Hummingbird:

Brown-crested Flycatcher:

Dusky-capped Flycatcher:

And, Plumbeous Vireo:

Nothing in Birding is ever guaranteed -- our quests for avian treasure are at best unevenly rewarded; yet, in the 
marvelous milieu of canyon woodlands at Madera Canyon, the opportunity to commune with nature on nature's terms is its own reward.

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