Compiled by Lauren Harter
Abbreviations: Continental Country Club, Flagstaff (CCC)
While December was cooler than average with slightly above average snowfall, January and February were mostly warm and dry. The exception was a storm in late February that dropped just over six inches of snow. The results were mild conditions, little snowpack, and few open water sources. Accordingly, the highlights this season included unusual concentrations of waterfowl on Anderson Mesa lakes, as well as several species not typically found in the region in winter. The best birds of the season were without doubt two Common Redpolls, potentially the first and second Arizona records.
Any goose species other than Canada Goose is considered rare in the region, though some occur annually. A Snow Goose was at CCC 11 Jan-4 Feb (MSt, MPo, m. ob.), and one was at Mormon L. 23 Feb (JWi). Also at CCC were two Greater White-fronted Geese 21 Jan-29 Jan (JCn, m. ob.). Two were then seen at Upper L. Mary 2 Feb (JWi). In both cases it is possible that the geese moved from CCC to the nearby lakes. Over 2000 Canada Geese, an exceptional count for the region, were present on L. Mary and Mormon L. 18 Feb (EM); only 10 were present 22 Feb at Upper L. Mary.
A male Eurasian Wigeon, presumably the individual seen in the fall, frequented CCC 11 Jan+ (MSt, MPo, m. ob.). Another sighting of this rare species came from Lower L. Mary 23 Feb (ph. JWi). Two Cinnamon Teal at Kachina Wetlands 10 Feb (BHe) were on the early side for spring migrants; the species was not reported again in the region until 23 Feb, when 10 were at Upper L. Mary (JWi). Observers documented the peak of Northern Pintail migration in late February, with at least 150 on L. Mary and Mormon L. 18 Feb (EM), 800 on Upper L. Mary 22 Feb (EM), and 400 continuing at Upper L. Mary 23 Feb (JWi). Canvasbacks also came through the area in large waves during this time; at least 150 were at L. Mary and Mormon L. 18 and 23 Feb (EM, JWi), with only six on Upper L. Mary 22 Feb (EM). Redheads peaked 11 Feb, when 400 were estimated on Upper L. Mary (V. Nelson). Counts of Ring-necked Ducks varied from 100 to 300 between 18 and 23 Feb on Upper L. Mary and surrounding lakes (EM, JWi).
An Eared Grebe was a good find at Kachina Wetlands 1 Dec (PKe, S. Ordway), as this species is casual in winter in the region. A rare but regular Rough-legged Hawk was at Mormon L. 26 Dec (TL). Two Greater Yellowlegs at Upper L. Mary 10 Feb (JWi) were exceptionally early for this elevation.
White-winged Doves are recent colonizers above the Mogollon Rim, as both a breeding and a wintering species. One continued from the fall in Doney Park through 14 Jan (PKo). Small numbers were present in the vicinity of Elden Spring in Flagstaff 9 Dec+, with a high count of seven there 29 Jan (JWi). Rare “Yellow-shafted” Northern Flickers were in Flagstaff 16 Dec (ph. BH) and on the Mormon L. CBC 17 Dec (CHo, J. Oertly, M. Swift).
Presumably the individual returning for its fifth consecutive winter, a Northern Shrike was discovered on the Mormon L. CBC 17 Dec and was last reported 2 Feb (ph. JCn, BP, m. ob.). Another was discovered 25 Dec on Hwy 89A near Navajo Bridge (ph. SPu, DBu). Casual in the county, the continuing Black-billed Magpie in the House Rock Valley was seen 15 Dec (DBu). Two casual Black-capped Chickadees, possibly birds continuing from the fall, were in Fredonia 10 Jan (CLR, MSt, MPo). A rare Pacific Wren visited the East Rio de Flag 6 Feb (JCn, JLo, ph. BCo). Typically rare in winter in the Flagstaff area, at least seven Marsh Wrens were at Picture Canyon 4 Feb (JWi), with two there 10 Feb (BHe). One was at the nearby East Rio de Flag 6 Feb (JCn, JLo). An American Dipper continued at Picture Canyon through 5 Feb (JWi, J. DeLuca).
The casual Lapland Longspur continued at Babbitt Tank through 20 Jan (JWi, TL, J. DeLuca). Flocks of Chestnut-collared Longspurs frequented Babbitt and Reservation Tanks again this winter, with flocks of 20 or more reported 8 Jan-11 Feb (m. ob.), suggesting again that this species winters regularly in moderate numbers in the region. A rare winter Chipping Sparrow visited a Doney Park feeder 25 Feb (ph. PKo). A Lark Bunting near Reservation Tank 11 Feb (JWi, TL) was an excellent find, with fewer than five winter records for no. Arizona. Another rare sparrow in the region in winter, a Savannah Sparrow was seen at Babbitt Tank 11 Dec (JWi). A casual Red Fox Sparrow stopped at a feeder in Flagstaff 10 Dec (ph. DPq). White-throated Sparrows are annual winter visitors in the region, but the presence of three individuals at Flagstaff-area feeders this winter was unusual. One continued from the fall at Doney Park through 18 Dec (ph. PKo), one frequented Continental Country Club 3 Dec+ (JCn), and another visited a Timberline yard 24 Feb (ph. DPq). Less than annual in the region, a Harris’s Sparrow was a good find in Flagstaff from mid-Dec through 23 Jan (D. Lansing, m. ob.).
Potentially a second record for Coconino Co., a Rusty Blackbird was noted at a Doney Park feeder 25 Jan+ (ph. PKo) where it stayed until 20 Mar. Observers throughout the region noted very few winter finches this year, including Cassin’s Finch, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, and Evening Grosbeak. Cassin’s Finches began to appear in the Flagstaff area in mid-January, with flocks of 20 or more reported in mid- to late February, whereas the only concentration of Evening Grosbeaks was a flock of 23 in Flagstaff 27 Feb (PKe). A pair of Pine Siskins was seen carrying nesting material in Flagstaff 25 Feb (ph. GBo). While this is much earlier than Atlas records, early nesting by this species was likely overlooked by Atlas surveyors as most surveys of high-elevation sites were done later in the breeding season.
The star species of the season was Common Redpoll. This was a major irruption year for this species in western North America, with individuals appearing in e. Texas, no. New Mexico, so. Nevada, and so. California. Arizona’s first state record (if accepted by the ABC) was found north of the Condor Viewing Site in House Rock Valley 16 Feb and was subsequently seen 26 Feb-3 Mar (ph. SPu, et al.). Remarkably, the potential second state record was photographed at a feeder in Grand Canyon Village, South Rim Grand Canyon NP 18 Feb and remained in the area until 24 Feb (ph. E. Gdula).
Compiled by Jason Wilder
Winter typically sees few birder visits to the Navajo and Hopi Nations, and this winter was no exception. There was only a handful of reports from the region. However, these sparse reports included some notable birds.
Among the waterfowl, a group of four continuing Greater White-fronted Geese were at the Page STP 7-10 Jan (DBu, m. ob.). Two Snow Geese were also observed 10 Jan at the same location (CLR, MSt, MPo). Both species are uncommon winter visitors to the region. A much more unusual observation was a group of five possible "Richardson's" Cackling Geese (Branta h. hutchinsii) at Cow Springs L. 4 Dec (ph. SPu). There was some uncertainty as to whether these were Cackling Geese or parvipes Canada Geese and the photo(s) was(were) not diagnostic The few previous reports of Cackling Goose from the region have been of the minima subspecies.
Over-wintering gulls are very unusual in the Navajo/Hopi region. As such, an imm. Mew Gull observed 10-11 Jan at the Page STP is especially notable (MSt, MPo). This bird likely relocated to the Wawheap Marina on L. Powell, where it was found 22 Jan. A Sora, which is a very rare winter visitor to the region, was found during the Glen Canyon CBC 3 Jan near the boat ramp at Lee's Ferry (G. Nealon).
Northern Saw-whet Owl is thought to be a fairly common permanent resident of mixed conifer forest in the Navajo/Hopi area (albeit infrequently encountered), with a handful of records in the winter occurring in lower riparian areas. One such individual was reported at Cow Springs L. 4 Dec (SPu). Harris's Sparrow is a rare winter resident throughout Arizona, including the Navajo and Hopi Nations. One individual was observed 4 Dec at Cow Springs L. (SPu).
Abbreviations: Airport Wastewater Treatment Plant, Prescott (AWTP)
Always a casual winter visitor to the region, a Greater White-fronted Goose was reported on the Camp Verde CBC 3 Jan (fide R&NA). Rare winter visitors, an imm. Ross’s Goose on 24 Dec at the sewage ponds on Sundog Ranch Road near Prescott (CT) was probably the same bird noted earlier at Willow L. 23 Dec (DM). A Tundra Swan at Watson L. was joined by three others 4 Dec (CT, NS); then four more arrived by 24 Dec (CT). All eight were resident through 2 Feb, moving between Watson and Willow lakes (m. ob.). Two adults and one immature remained through 24 Feb (CT).
Always noteworthy in the region, a Eurasian Wigeon was reported from the Camp Verde CBC 3 Jan (fide R&NA). Two Mexican Duck x Mallard intergrades were found 11 Dec at Willow L. (WA) and another was at Quail Run Golf Course pond near Dewey 3 Jan (CT). There are few winter records of Blue-winged Teal in Yavapai Co., so the two noted on the Jerome CBC 18 Dec were particularly noteworthy (RHu). Casual in winter, a male Cinnamon Teal 7 Dec at Willow L. (WA) was probably the fall resident observed throughout November (m. ob.). Two were seen there 28 Dec, three 31 Dec (MN), while another male was at AWTP 29 Dec (CT). At least one male remained through the period. Two were also located on the Chino Valley CBC 19 Dec (fide RDue). The high Canvasback count for the region was an impressive 403 at Peck’s L. near Cottonwood during the Jerome CBC 18 Dec (fide J. Wills).
Accidental in Yavapai Co., at least four White-winged Scoters foraged at Willow L. this season (m. ob.). The two imm. White-winged scoters found at Willow L. 16 Nov were accompanied by a third Dec 16. All three were noted repeatedly throughout January with one remaining through the season (JHi). Surprisingly, an adult male White-winged Scoter was then discovered there 4 Jan (SDr) and was last noted 29 Feb (CT). The Common Goldeneye high for the region was an impressive concentration of 29 at Goldwater Lakes 10 Dec (MN). Hooded Mergansers were more common on the Prescott area lakes than during most winters. Peak numbers were 40-42 at Willow L. from 19 Dec through 2 Feb (CT) and 16-18 at Goldwater Lakes 10 Dec - 16 Feb (CT, MiR, MN).
A solitary late migrant Common Loon cruised the waters at Watson L. 2 Dec (CT). In late December, Eared Grebes surged onto Willow L. with 95 on 12 Dec (MN), 210 on 23 Dec (CT), and a spectacular assemblage of 360+ on 25 Dec (MN). Their numbers dropped to fewer than 100 by early Jan (CT). Casual in Prescott, two Horned Grebes were photographed 13 Feb at Willow L. (S&SB, m. ob.).
Rare but regular in recent years, five American White Pelicans visited Watson and Willow lakes 30 Nov - 6 Dec (S&SB, CT, m. ob.). Four Neotropic Cormorants first appeared at Willow L. 30 Jan with seven Double-crested Cormorants (CT). By 12 Feb 17 Double-crested Cormorants were observed courting and refurbishing nests at the Willow L. colony and later in the day a high of 84 Double-crested and three Neotropic Cormorants were counted near the south shore of the lake (MN).
Four Great Egrets wintered at Willow L. from mid-November through mid-January (CT, m. ob.) although six were present 4 - 7 Dec (CT). Casual in the Prescott area during the winter, a single Green Heron was seen along Granite Cr. south of Watson L. 21 Dec (F. & S. Insana, C. Tisk).
One of the first likely spring migrants for Yavapai Co. was an early Turkey Vulture noted near Bagdad 30 Jan. (MN). A very late migrant Osprey showed up at Watson L. 11 Dec (WA) and another was noted at the Page Springs Fish Hatchery 17 Dec (GBo). Rarely observed in the region, participants in the Chino Valley CBC 19 Dec reported a Rough-legged Hawk (fide RDue).
Seldom found wintering in the Prescott area, at least two Soras were noted at AWTP 24 Dec through January (MN, JMs, CT) and another appeared to winter along Granite Cr. south of Watson Woods Riparian Preserve (MN, CT). Three Virginia Rails were also present there 1 Feb (MN).
Continuing from the fall, a late Greater Yellowlegs was last noted at Willow L. 23 Dec (MN). Considered casual in the winter in the Prescott area, a late migrant California Gull was noted at Watson L. 12 Dec (WA), two were at Willow L. 27 Dec (MN) and another, possibly a spring migrant, was at Willow L. 20 Feb (SuB). An American Avocet at Willow L. 4 Dec was an unusually late transient (CT, MN).
Although small numbers of White-winged Doves winter annually in several Verde Valley towns and communities, five noted on the Chino Valley CBC 19 Dec were noteworthy (fide RDue). Lewis’s Woodpeckers continued from the fall at previously reported locations through the period (CT). Also a group of at least eight resided west of Thumb Butte 3-7 Jan (CT, EM, JMs). An attractive discovery was an apparent Red-breasted x Red-naped Sapsucker hybrid at the Page Springs Fish Hatchery 22 Jan – 20 Feb (CSm, m. ob.). Infrequently seen in Yavapai Co., a female Northern “Yellow-shafted” Flicker along Willow Cr. in north Prescott 27 Dec-30 Jan was noteworthy (CT).
Casual to rare in the region during the winter, an Eastern Phoebe 27 Dec was in Sycamore Canyon near Clarkdale (DM). An American Crow on a fairway at Hassayampa Country Club near Prescott 2 Jan was unexpected (CT). Also casually reported at Prescott, a wintering House Wren at Willow L. remained through the season (CT, JHi, et al.). Rare winter visitors, two Pacific Wrens lingered in Granite Dells through December (CT, DM), while another residing at Goldwater L. remained until at least 17 Feb (MiR).
The only Olive Warbler of the season was a male detected 11 Dec in the Sierra Prieta Mts. southwest of Prescott (MiR, MN). Casual in winter at Prescott, an Orange-crowned Warbler 20 Jan in a west Prescott residential area was a surprise (DM). Four Common Yellowthroats wintering along Willow and Granite creeks represented a high number for Prescott. The Black-and-white Warbler at Willow L. since 22 Nov was last seen 27 Dec (CT). A remarkable find was a Louisiana Waterthrush photographed along the upper Verde R. 30 - 31 Dec (DM). This likely represents the first winter record for Yavapai Co.
More Fox Sparrows than usual were found near Prescott. At least three to four were found in evergreen woodlands in Granite Dells north of Willow L. 7 Dec (DM). Three more of these elusive sparrows occupied chaparral thickets southwest of Prescott 22 Dec (CT). One of five wintering “Slate-colored” Fox Sparrows noted through 18 Nov (DM) was rediscovered at Granite Basin 11 Jan (S&SB). A single bird was also found 21 Dec south of Yavapai Campground near Granite Basin (M. Slovin). Another resided along Willow Cr. 24 Dec - 30 Jan (CT) and one was seen 20 Feb at Fain Park in Prescott Valley (SuB et al.).
Lark Buntings are seldom reported in the region during the winter, but they were found in several widely scattered locations including some in sizable flocks. A total of 100 Lark Buntings were along Perkinsville Rd. and two were near Cottonwood, both on the Jerome CBC 18 Dec (fide JWil); 45 were found on the Chino Valley CBC 19 Dec (fide RDue); and nine were noted on the Camp Verde CBC 3 Jan (R&NA). Rare but regular winter visitors to Arizona, a White-throated Sparrow first noted in November at Montezuma Well remained through at least 26 Dec (KM). Another visited feeders 21 - 22 Jan in Granite Oaks northwest of Prescott (A&NS). Harris’s Sparrows are casual visitors to the region so of note was one discovered on the Chino Valley CBC 19 Dec (fide RDue). Casual in winter at Prescott, seven Brown-headed Cowbirds mixed with Brewer’s and Red-winged Blackbirds along Willow Cr. in north Prescott 21 Dec (JoP).
Casual in Yavapai Co., a few Evening Grosbeaks were found along Butte Cr. in Prescott 1 Feb (CT). The only early winter Cassin’s Finches reported in the Prescott area were two at feeders during Dec (RHu) and two in Granite Dells 17 Dec (CT). Single birds were noted 10 Feb in the Ponderosa Pines subdivision in south Prescott (KO) and in east Prescott in mid-February (MiR). Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches were also reported in limited numbers all winter in the Prescott region (CT et al.). However, of note, were four Lawrence’s Goldfinches at River Front Park, Cottonwood 21 Dec (GBo), an irregular winter visitor to the region.
Compiled by Eric Hough
Weather in the White Mtns. region this winter was characterized by below average precipitation and average temperatures. Snowfall came early, followed by drier conditions near the end of the season. Typically in this region there are few birders in the field in winter due to harsh weather conditions and limited bird diversity and abundance. However, this winter had an even more pronounced dearth of reported sightings than usual.
Rare above the Mogollon Rim, one "Mexican Duck"-Mallard intergrade was found in Show Low during the Timber Mesa CBC 17 Dec (MEB et al.). Hooded Mergansers are uncommon to rare winter visitors to the White Mtns.; reports included 24 seen on Show Low-Pinetop area lakes during the Timber Mesa CBC 17 Dec (MEB et al.) and five at Rainbow L. 14 Jan. (ErH, ElH).
Scaled Quail are rare residents in grasslands across the northern edge of the region in the Little Colorado R. Valley. One was found at Petrified Forest NP 4 Dec (KBa).
Bald Eagles are uncommon to common winter residents around lakes in the region, but 12 at Rainbow L. 14 Jan (ErH, ElH) was a higher concentration than usual. Rough-legged Hawks are rare but regular visitors in winter to n. Arizona, with one light morph adult observed east of Greer along AZ 260 on 23-24 Feb (PKl).
Intergrades between “Red-shafted” and “Yellow-shafted” Northern Flickers are rare in the state, so one in a Heber yard 5 Dec (ElH, BHo) was noteworthy. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers rarely remain into the winter months in the region, but one lingered at Petrified Forest NP 18 Dec (KBa).
Canyon Towhees have a scattered distribution in the region with only one known population in s. Navajo Co. near Aripine. Three birds were found north of Aripine in a hedgerow bordering agricultural fields along Zeniff Rd. 14 Jan (ErH, ElH). This might be evidence of the population here expanding locally or that these birds utilize the agricultural area in this valley during the colder months. Savannah Sparrows are considered rare in winter above the Mogollon Rim, but one was found at the Taylor WTP 14 Jan (ErH, ElH). Harris’s Sparrows are casual to rare transients in winter to the region. One was discovered at Petrified Forest NP 2 Dec (KBa), possibly a different individual than the one discovered at the end of the fall season. An extremely late female Black-headed Grosbeak was also reported from Petrified Forest NP 2 Dec (KBa), whereas most individuals of this species leave the region by October.
Compiled by Lauren Harter and David Vander Plyum
Abbreviations: Bill Williams Delta, Bill Williams River NWR (BWD)
While the season started with a cool and wet December, January and February were warm and very dry, with only a slight amount of precipitation over the two-month period. Despite drought conditions, however, a number of significant birds were seen. The most notable of these sightings was a Nutting’s Flycatcher, a potential fifth record north of Mexico, which brought hundreds of visitors to the Bill Williams River NWR.
Rare in winter throughout the LCRV, small numbers of Greater White-fronted Geese were present in the region this winter. Four were at Cibola NWR 21 Dec (DVP), one was at Imperial NWR 31 Dec, and another was especially far north for winter in the Parker Valley 14 Jan (LHar, m. ob.). Ross’s Geese are rare in the southern portion of the LCRV, so five at Cibola NWR 15 Feb were notable (JWe). Rare but regular in winter throughout Arizona, two Cackling Geese, one a “Taverner’s” and the other unidentified to subspecies, were a good find at Cibola NWR 19 Dec (DVP). Wood Ducks are generally rare in the LCRV in winter, so 11 was an exceptional count near Cibola NWR 19 Dec (DVP). One was at the Yuma Conservation Garden 18 Feb (C. Hagen). A male Eurasian Wigeon was a good find at the Yuma East Wetlands 19 Dec (ph. C. Morgan).
Four Surf Scoters continued from the fall at the BWD through 5 Dec, with three of these birds continuing through 21 Dec and one remaining until 29 Jan (m. ob.). The continuing young male at Parker Dam remained at that location through 5 Feb (m. ob.), after which it was found 20 Feb+ at the BWD (M. Neddermeyer, m. ob.). Even more unusual was a White-winged Scoter present throughout the season at the BWD (m. ob.). A second individual was present 20 Dec (LHar, CWo, JSab). Fewer Hooded Mergansers were reported this season than in recent years. Reports were of eight at Hart Mine Marsh, Cibola NWR 19 Dec (DVP), seven at Cocopah RV Park, Yuma 6 Jan (HD), and five at Poston Wetlands 25 Feb (HD, AB).
A Pied-billed Grebe feeding a young chick at the Poston wetlands south of Parker on the Colorado River Indian Reservation 29 Jan (LHar) may represent the earliest breeding record for the LCRV. While numbers of Horned Grebes are increasing in the northern reaches of the LCRV, they remain scarce in the Southwest region, where they are typically only found on the BWD. The high count there this winter was six from 7 Jan through 11 Jan (DVP, LHar). The Neotropic Cormorant continuing at the BWD (see Mohave report) also continued to be seen at nearby Parker Dam through 13 Jan (m. ob.). Few American White Pelicans wintered in the region this season, with a high count of five 19 Dec at Hart Mine Marsh, Cibola NWR (DVP). A flock of 14 there 17 Feb (JWe) may have represented a good count for winter or very early migrants. Brown Pelicans appear to be increasing as winter visitors, but are still quite rare. Part of a larger flock present at the BWD during the fall season, two juveniles and one adult remained there through 7 Dec (m. ob.).
Turkey Vultures are regular winter residents south of Parker Dam, but a winter roost of 60 present 16 Jan was exceptionally large (DVP, LHar). Rare throughout the LCRV, single White-tailed Kites were reported from so. Parker Valley 16 Jan (LHar, DVP) and Cibola NWR 28 Feb (G. Cowell). Harris’s Hawks are casual in La Paz Co., so a group of three building a nest near Quartzsite was an excellent find 25 Jan+ (L. Burton). Casual but nearly annual in the region, an adult Red-shouldered Hawk was described from the Cornfield Nature Trail, Cibola NWR 26 Jan (DShe, m. ob.). Likely the same bird, an adult, was reported from the same location 28 Feb (G. Cowell). Although Zone-tailed Hawks are very rare in the region, each of the past three winters has had a single-day observation of this species in Yuma. This year was no exception, as one was seen at the Yuma Municipal Golf Course 21 Dec (CH). A concentration of 24 Ferruginous Hawks southeast of Yuma 14 Jan (HD) was a good count for the LCRV. Rare and irregular throughout the state, a Rough-legged Hawk frequented the so. Parker Valley 14-15 Feb (ph. M. Tobin, J. Tobin, C. Tobin). Crested Caracara is casual in the region, although reports of wandering individuals have increased in recent years. One was spotted at the Aztec Feedlot in late January (B. Buchanan). A count of six Prairie Falcons southeast of Yuma 14 Jan was notable for the region (HD).
Sandhill Cranes are rarely detected north of the Parker Valley, so a migrant flock of seven flying over the Bill Williams R. 26 Feb (T. Fellenbaum) was of interest. A single recently burned and flooded field in the Parker Valley attracted impressive numbers of Killdeer 19 Feb, with an estimate of 700 being a high count for one flock in the region (LHar, J. Runco, J. Stahl). Mountain Plovers have been extremely scarce in La Paz Co. in the past 10 years, so a flock of 27 was a noteworthy find in the so. Parker Valley during AZFO’s Mountain Plover surveys 16 Jan (LHar, DVP). One Black-necked Stilt visited the Yuma East Wetlands 1 Jan (E. Holsinger); this species is rare in winter in the region. Also rare in winter, up to nine American Avocets were at Hart Mine Marsh 21 Dec (DVP). Twelve were at the same location 17 Feb (JWe); with no reports from this location between these dates, it is unknown whether these were wintering individuals or very early migrants. Casual in winter, one Western Sandpiper was at the Yuma East Wetlands 29 Feb (HD).
A rare winter Bonaparte’s Gull was seen at the BWD 20-27 Dec (LHar, m. ob.); on the latter date, four individuals were present (SBa). Mew Gull is casual in the state, although there were several reports this fall and winter. The continuing juvenile, first observed in November at the BWD, was last seen 14 Jan (m. ob.), most often at Havasu Springs Resort. A Caspian Tern, rare in winter, was briefly heard flying up the Colorado R. south of Parker 14 Jan (LHar).
Rare winter White-winged Doves made a good showing in the Yuma area this season, with individuals at La Mesa Golf Course 16 Jan (L. McCoy), Yuma West Wetlands 26 Feb (HD), and Yuma East Wetlands 28 Feb (J. Fleck). A concentration of nine Short-eared Owls was an excellent find near Yuma 14 Jan (HD). Though historically uncommon, there have been no records of this species in Yuma area in the past 30 years. Another was seen near Vicksburg 16 Feb (CMc). A male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was at the Yuma West Wetlands from late January-13 Feb (AB, HBor). Gilded Flickers are rare and declining in the LCRV, with most reports now coming from the Bill Williams R. This season, reports from that area included one 4 Jan (LHal) and up to two 17-19 Jan (JRi).
A casual winter Hammond’s Flycatcher was photographed at the Mosquito Flats area of the Bill Williams R. 7 Jan (LHar, m. ob.). What was likely the same bird was photographed there 20 Feb (B. Slater). A Hammond’s/Dusky Flycatcher was nearby along the Bill Williams R. 7 Jan (LHar, m. ob.). Gray Flycatcher is the expected Empidonax species in the LCRV in winter, but is still considered rare. One remained at ʼAhakhav Tribal Preserve throughout the season (LHar, DVP) and another was at the Cornfield Nature Trail, Cibola NWR 20 Jan+ (HD). A rare Eastern Phoebe was discovered at the Poston Wetlands 18 Jan+ (ph. HD). Ash-throated Flycatchers winter in small numbers in the LCRV, but four was a good count for winter 6 Jan in the Cougar Point area of the Bill Williams R. (DVP).
With only four prior ABA records, three of which in Arizona, the bird of the season was undoubtedly the Nutting’s Flycatcher discovered on the Bill Williams R. 18 Dec+ (ph. DVP, s.r. LHar). When first discovered, the bird was using interior and edge riparian habitat along the county line in the Crossriver area of the river. During the Bill Williams Delta CBC 28 Dec, it was discovered in the nearby Mosquito Flats area, where it remained through the rest of the season, foraging in the mesquite bosque on the edge of the dense riparian habitat. It is interesting to note that the last record of this species north of Mexico, from 2008, was from a location only a few miles away along the Bill Williams R.
A Bell’s Vireo was noted at ʼAhakhav Tribal Preserve 5 Jan+ (MSt, LHar, MPo). Rare in winter, this was likely the same individual that wintered at this location in 2010-11, and possibly the same bird seen here in late October 2011. AZFO-sponsored Gray Vireo surveys met with unexpected success in the Harquahala Mtns. 3 Dec, when a male vireo was discovered wintering among elephant trees (DVP, LHar). This mountain range is northwest of the known wintering range of the species and this likely represents the first report of Gray Vireo from the Harquahalas. Plumbeous Vireo is the most regular vireo species in winter in the region, but is still rare. There were three reports from this season: one on the Parker Strip during the Bill Williams River NWR CBC 28 Dec (fide KB), one at ʼAhakhav Tribal Preserve 25 Feb (HD et al.), and one along the Bill Williams R. 28 Feb (JRi). Casual in the LCRV and throughout La Paz Co., a Hutton’s Vireo was a great find along the Bill Williams R. 1 Feb (ph. DVP, LHar).
Western Scrub-Jays are irregular winter residents in the LCRV. Several were noted this season along the Bill Williams R., with several reports of one to two birds representing at least three individuals in La Paz Co. 18 De (m. ob.). One was farther upriver at Alamo L. 4 Feb (G. Karre). Violet-green Swallows are rare in winter statewide, so sightings at the Bill Williams R. NWR this season were of interest. One was at the BWD 17-20 Dec (ph. DVP, LHar), one was seen flying over the Mosquito Flats area 20 Dec (LHar), and one was at the BWD 29 Jan (LHar). These sightings may represent a single individual. Also rare in winter, one Barn Swallow wintered at the BWD 17 Dec-23 Feb (DVP, LHar), a few were at ʼAhakhav Tribal Preserve 1 Jan (HD, AB, HBor), and one was on the Colorado R. south of Parker 14 Jan (LHar, m. ob.).
This winter, observers noted overall small numbers of irruptive passerines in the region. A rare and irregular winter visitor, a Brown Creeper was on the Bill Williams R. 4-5 Jan (JRi, ph. JWe). Also rare, a Golden-crowned Kinglet was in the same area 25-27 Feb (TLew). Mountain Bluebirds are present annually in agricultural areas in the region but are also irregular in abundance. The species was present in good numbers in the Parker Valley this year, with the largest single concentration being 35 there 16 Jan (DVP, LHar). A Rufous-backed Robin was a great find 19 Jan between Tacna and Wellton (fide HD). American Robins are extremely irregular, being abundant in some years and absent in others. Small numbers were present this season, with a high count of 20 in Parker 30 Jan (RWr). Cedar Waxwings, on the other hand, were nearly absent from the LCRV this winter, with only one report from the region, one on the Bill Williams R. 6 Jan (DVP).
A male Chestnut-collared Longspur was in the Parker Valley 29 Jan (LHar, DVP), where rare. A rare Black-and-white Warbler was at the Bill Williams R. 1-18 Jan (ph. M. Victoria). Single Northern Parulas were at ʼAhakhav Tribal Preserve 1-5 Jan (JLo) and on the Bill Williams R. 19 Feb (ph. M. Neddermeyer). Rare winter residents, three Black-throated Gray Warblers were reported: one at the Cornfield Nature Trail, Cibola NWR 11 Dec (JSab), one at ‘Ahakhav Tribal Preserve 29 Jan (LHar, DVP), and one on the Bill Williams R. 31 Jan (B. and W. Paintner). A rare-in-winter Summer Tanager was seen at the Yuma West Wetlands 31 Jan (HD). Painted Bunting is casual in the region at any time, and casual anywhere in Arizona in winter, so one on the Bill Williams R. 31 Jan (ph. D. Bell) was exceptional. Another great find in winter anywhere in the state, a Hooded Oriole was at the Yuma West Wetlands in the last week of Jan (AB, HBor).
Compiled by Steve Ganley and Troy Corman
Abbreviations: Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park (BTA), Gilbert Water Ranch (GWR), Glendale Recharge Ponds (GRP), Hassayampa River Preserve, Wickenburg (HRP), Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Census (GPAWC), Tempe Town Lake (TTL), Tempe Town Marsh, (TTM)
The weather this season was dry and warm with very little rain, and January was one of the warmest on record. Many deciduous trees retained their leaves almost all winter. Highlight of the season in the region was the second Arizona record of Smith’s Longspur. It was a record-breaking year for the GPAWC with over 67,000 wild aquatic birds of 59 species counted, crushing the previous high (51,000 birds) set in January 2011. Most of this increase was due to exceptional numbers of American Wigeon and American Coot.
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks seem to be on the decline in the region but one area, Tres Rios Wetlands in southwest Phoenix, remains the only fairly reliable location for finding them through the winter. Fifteen were noted there 6 Jan (TC) with 11 remaining to be counted on the GPAWC 21 Jan (JRz).
The distribution and abundance of Cackling Goose is still not well known in Arizona, and the overlap in size between some subspecies with the smaller subspecies of Canada Goose makes identification challenging. A Cackling Goose was photo-documented from a flooded field along with several hundred Canada Geese in Avondale 7 Dec (MHe). The bird moved around but was seen off and on into February. Casual in winter within the region an imm. Tundra Swan was found at a Sun City West pond on the GPAWC 21 Jan (C. Beardmore) where it remained through the end of the period (TMc). It was the only one reported this winter in the region.
The Eurasian subspecies of Green-winged Teal or Common Teal, first found at the TTM in 2009 and again in 2010, returned there this year 11 Dec + (MWeb, ph. PD). Although Mallards are a common species, there was an unusually large flock that moved up and down the Gila R. valley. On 27 Dec the flock was estimated at 1000+ birds (TC, JMil) in a flooded field near Buckeye, and the next day during the Gila River CBC 1200 were counted as they flew over in the late afternoon (MV). This massive flock remained in the area as 800 was estimated in a flooded field between Gila Bend and Gillespie Dam 7 Feb (RT).
A male Eurasian Wigeon was at the Biltmore Golf Course in Phoenix 19 Dec – 5 Feb (LBt, m. ob.). A large number of American Wigeons led all waterfowl tallies on the GPAWC with a record high of 18,159 birds (fide TC). An exceptional concentration of 1100+ Common Mergansers was counted at Thunderbird Park L. in Glendale during the GPAWC 21 Jan (SHo). Rare and local in the region, five Red-breasted Mergansers were noted on the Gila River CBC 28 Dec (BGro).
Common Loons are rare in winter, so worthy of reporting. Two were at L. Pleasant 10 Dec with one remaining through 27 Jan (TDeB, TMc). Unprecedented numbers of Horned Grebe sightings continued with one returning for a second winter to a Gilbert golf course pond 4 Dec+ (LL), three at L. Pleasant 10 Dec with two remaining through 27 Jan (TDeB, TMc), three at Saguaro L. and one on Ft. McDowell tribal lands (both 14 Dec during the Salt-Verde CBC) (KR, MV), four more on Canyon L. 12 Jan (TC), one at TTL 14 Jan (MWeb), and another at a south Chandler pond during the GPAWC 21 Dec (TC) . With only one other accepted Maricopa Co. record, a Red-necked Grebe discovered at Gillespie Dam 26 Dec was an excellent find (TC, JMil). It remained through at least 29 Dec (ph. TDeB), but access issues due to nearby bridge work and increased dam area security curtailed many searches. Casual to rare during the winter in Arizona, Brown Pelican sightings included one in south Chandler 8-21 Jan (KFa, JAl) and off and on at the TTL area 17 Jan+ (RK, m. ob.).
White-tailed Kites are rare and local in winter so a pair in the Arlington Valley 11 Dec (JBu) was a nice find. They remained to be counted on the Gila River CBC 28 Dec (MV). A Red-shouldered Hawk discovered on the Ft. McDowell tribal lands during the Salt-Verde Rivers CBC 14 Dec (JJ, MV, TC, JAl) and photographed the following day (MV) was likely the same individual noted in the area in late October. It apparently remained through the season as it was periodically detected by Bald Eagle nest watchers into the spring. A few Zone-tailed Hawks have been found wintering in the greater Phoenix metro area during the past few years. This year’s lone report was one over Encanto Park in Phoenix 20 Dec (M. Ray). Rough-legged Hawk is casual in winter and one was on Paloma Ranch near Gila Bend 22 Dec (CBab, SH). Also observed the same day in the area, was a wandering Crested Caracara (SH), casual within the region.
A record high of nearly 18,000 American Coots were counted during the GPAWC 21 Jan (fide TC). An unexpected Christmas Day find was 80-100 Mountain Plovers on the Paloma Ranch near Gila Bend (BGro). Unfortunately, these did not remain to be counted during the winter Mountain Plover Surveys in mid-January, but nine were counted 16 Jan at the nearby Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field (J. Veverker, E. Butler). A flooded field on Paloma Ranch 22 Dec had high numbers of wintering shorebirds, including an estimated 100 Greater Yellowlegs, 300 Long-billed Curlews, 50 Long-billed Dowitchers, and one Dunlin (CB). Lesser Yellowlegs are rare, but possibly increasing winter visitors to the region so one noted near Palo Verde on the Gila River CBC 28 Dec (fide TC) and another at the GRP 7 Jan (TMc) were good finds. Two rare but increasing wintering Western Sandpipers were picked out among the many Least Sandpipers at the GWR 17 Dec with one remaining through 9 Feb (DPe). Four were counted during the GPAWC at the GRP 21 Jan (MHe) with at least two remaining through 28 Jan (TMc). Rare and local winter visitors, two Dunlin were at the GRP 21 Jan (MHe) and another two were observed at the GWR 18 Feb (DPe).
Two imm. Herring Gulls (rare winter visitors) at the Lower River Road ponds in Palo Verde 10-27 Dec (TC, JAl) were good finds. Likely a late migrant, a California Gull was among the Ring-billed Gulls at L. Pleasant 10 Dec (TDeB).
Band-tailed Pigeons are rarely detected in the desert lowlands, but one was photographed 2 Jan in the Ahwatukee community of Phoenix. (PD). Increasing winter reports of some hummingbird species, which are casual in winter, included a Broad-billed in Mesa 4 Dec+ (JMil) and a Broad-tailed at GWR 28-29 Jan (JHol). Irregular in the lowlands in winter a Lewis’s Woodpecker was found at Encanto Park in Phoenix 11 Dec+ (L&KB). Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have proven to be rare, but increasingly detected winter visitors, and three were reported this winter: an adult male along the Verde R. 11-14 Dec (MV, JJ,TC, JAl), an adult male at the HRP 10 Dec (TDeB), and a third male at BTA 18 Feb (JKo). Continuing from the fall, at least one “Yellow-shafted” Flicker remained among the pecan trees near the Tolleson wastewater treatment facility 17 Jan (TDeB).
Rare anytime in the region, a calling Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet was reported at the BTA 11Feb (CT). A Dusky Flycatcher, rare in the winter, was found along the Verde R. on Ft. McDowell tribal lands 11-14 Dec (TC, MV, JJ, JA), and another was noted upstream (north) near Box Bar 19 Feb (TC). Rare but regular winter visitors, an Eastern Phoebe was again sighted at the GWR 2 Dec (DPe) and may be the same one seen earlier in the fall. Other Eastern Phoebes reported were one along the Verde R. on Ft. McDowell tribal lands11-14 Dec (TC, MV, JJ) and another at Rio Salado, Phoenix 21-28 Jan (JMcK). Tropical Kingbirds are accidental in the state in winter and care should be used to distinguish them from a possible Couch’s Kingbird (IDed by call). One was photographed 11 Dec (but apparently present since 11 Nov) at Tres Rios Wetlands and confirmed later by voice (R. Bowker, BGro, m. ob.). It remained through the end of the period.
Gray Vireos are known to winter locally in Arizona in desert mountain canyons where they can find stands of elephant trees. An AZFO field expedition to survey for wintering Gray Vireos 3-4 Jan included the South, Sierra Estrella, and White Tank Mtns. in Maricopa Co. One to several vireos were found in each of these ranges with a high of five to six noted in two larger drainages in the southwest side of the Sierra Estrella Mtns. (fide JAr). Violet-green Swallows are casual in winter and one along the Verde R. 11 Dec and three near the confluence of the Salt and Verde rivers 14 Dec were nice finds (TC, MV, JJ, JAl). Based on recent years, Cliff Swallows seemed a few weeks late arriving this year with the first report 26 Feb in Scottsdale (BIs).
Irregular winter visitors to the lowlands, a Red-breasted Nuthatch was noted among a mixed foraging flock at the Oak Flat Campground east of Superior 17 Jan (JKo, JMil). Golden-crowned Kinglets are rare and irregular in the lowlands in winter but there was one along the Verde R. 11-14 Dec (TC, MV, JJ, JAl) and at least two others were at the BTA 16 Jan (J. Barr). Never before recorded in Maricopa Co. two Eastern Bluebirds were found this season. Both birds were males and based on the brilliant plumage were likely of the more migratory Eastern race. The first was found at Tres Rios 1-2 Dec (ph. TDeB). The second Maricopa Co. record came the next month at Coon Bluff Recreation Area when one was seen among several Western Bluebirds 31 Jan (JKo). Three Rufous-backed Robins, rare in winter, were reported, including one at Anthem Community Park 5 Dec-23 Jan (DTa, m. ob.), another at the BTA 18-26 Dec (L&KS, m. ob.), and a third in Superior during the CBC 26 Dec (DJ, ph. HBon). Varied Thrush is casual in the region and one was spotted at the HRP 21 Jan (CSm). Casual to rare winter visitor in the region, a Brown Thrasher was observed on the Salt-Verde Rivers CBC 14 Dec (fide KR), and another was found at GWR 20 Dec where it was detected periodically through the end of the season (RDi).
Reported annually, particularly in November in the region, two Chestnut-colored Longspurs and one McCown’s Longspur were found in a dry Bermuda grass field southeast of Buckeye 4 Dec – 5 Feb (KR, DPo). A return to this location 1 Jan provided the bird of the season, a Smith’s Longspur, only the second record for the state and the first since 1953 (CR, KR)! The bird was elusive but remained through 11 Feb (MLe).
Rare winter warblers are always nice and there was a bonanza along the Verde R. 11 Dec with two Black-and-white Warblers, two American Redstarts, a Nashville, and a Northern Parula (TC, JJ, MV, JAl). The two redstarts and two Black-and-white Warblers were relocated for the Salt-Verde Rivers CBC 14 Dec. along with an additional Black-and-white Warbler several miles downstream along the Verde R. (TLew, TC). Rare winter visitors, one to two Yellow Warblers wintered at GWR 3 Dec+ (DPe, m. ob.) and another at Rio Salado 1 Jan+ (JJ, m. ob.). Black-and-white Warblers are rare but regular winter visitors so are always noteworthy. One was at the GWR 1 Jan (TLew) and another was found at Seven Springs 20 Jan (LMg). Another Northern Parula was at the TTM 7-29 Jan (TC, SHo, TMc). There were two American Redstarts near the GRP 7 Dec-27 Jan (CSm, TDeB). Wilson’s Warblers have recently become rare but regular winter visitors to the region. One was in a Tempe yard 28 Dec (MSc) and another was at Rio Salado 1 Jan+ (JJ, m. ob.). At a weedy field at the GWR a Clay-colored Sparrow (casual in winter in the region) was photographed 14 Jan (PD) and remained through 29 Jan (NWil). Grasshopper Sparrows are rare in the region in winter and one was photographed in the Bermuda grass fields southeast of Buckeye 5-12 Feb (G. Karre, NWil, TMc). Several subspecies of Fox Sparrow visit Arizona. The most often reported race, the “Slate-colored” is a rare to uncommon winter visitor to the region. This winter there were unprecedented numbers of the “Red” Fox Sparrow reported in Arizona, where this subspecies is not reported annually. One of each type was found at Tres Rios Wetlands Hayfield site 2 Dec (TDeB) where the “Red" remained all season. Another ”Red” Fox Sparrow was banded at the HRP 3 Dec (CSm), a "Slate-colored" was noted at BTA 28 Dec (R&RT), and both "Red" and "Slate-colored" were seen at BTA 8 Jan+ (JKo, m. ob.). Rare winter visitors to the region, an adult Golden-crowned Sparrow was photographed in an Awahtukee yard 21 Dec (R. Forrest). Swamp Sparrows are rare and local in winter. They are usually found in marshy areas and often go undetected until observers learn the Eastern Phoebe-like call. One was near Maricopa in nw. Pinal Co. 18 Dec (NL), and another was at Veterans Oasis Park in Chandler 21 Dec – 11 Feb (JAl, TMc). A rare but regular winter visitor White-throated Sparrow was at the BTA 3 Dec+ (MV, m. ob.) and another was discovered on the Salt-Verde Rivers CBC 14 Dec (fide KR). Summer Tanagers are casual winter visitors to the region, but one was seen in a Tempe neighborhood 28 Dec (B. Enos), and a female was at Rio Salado 31 Jan (TMc). A Western Tanager, even more casual in winter, was at the HRP 25 Jan (SHo).
Casual in winter, an imm. male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was photographed coming to a feeder at underbirded Usury Mountain Regional Park near Mesa 14 Dec (S. Hornbaker, J. Johnston). A male Indigo Bunting was photographed 1 Feb in a Fountain Hills yard (P. Prochaska). It was first noted in late January and remained for about a week. There are no previous winter records for Maricopa Co. Casual anywhere in Arizona, a Rusty Blackbird was found on the grass at the Anthem Community Park 14 Dec+ (PD, m. ob.). Lawrence’s Goldfinches were not very abundant this winter but were seen at the GWR from 1 Jan – 2 Feb (PMo, m. ob.). An adult male Orchard Oriole spent its third consecutive winter in Ahwatukee arriving 23 Dec+ (P&GH).
Compiled by Brian Ison
Abbreviations: Roosevelt Lake Aquatic Bird Survey (Aquatic Bird Survey)
Drier-than-normal conditions continued in the Gila region through the end of February. San Carlos L. stood at about 3% capacity and Roosevelt L. dropped to less than 70% of capacity after being 90% full last winter. The annual Roosevelt L. Aquatic Bird Survey 17 Jan reported much lower species numbers and diversity than in previous years. In contrast, the Payson CBC, in its seventh year, hosted a record 99 species and 4376 individuals 17 Dec, helped considerably by mild temperatures and a good juniper berry crop. High counts for 13 species were registered on the CBC.
Rare and irregular winter visitors, four Greater White-fronted Geese were spotted by a Bald Eagle nest watcher along the Tonto Cr. arm of Roosevelt L. 18 Feb+ (JWik), and the same four geese were also seen there 23 Feb (GD). A single Snow Goose was at San Carlos L. 12 Feb (DJ). Rare but probably regular, a single Ross’s Goose was a good find during the Roosevelt L. survey along with fewer than 200 Canada Geese, far lower than last year, 17 Jan (TC, et al.). Two more Ross’s Geese were good finds at Green Valley Park in Payson 17 Dec (GD), where a high number of 200 Canada Geese were also noted 20 Dec (BWal). Casual to rare visitors, two Tundra Swans was a good find at San Carlos L. (Pinal Co.) 12 Feb (DJ).
Duck abundance was also down this year on the Aquatic Bird Survey. The most numerous were 240 Northern Shovelers compared to 950 reported last year (TC, et al.). In contrast, a record high count of 50 Northern Shovelers was reported on the Payson CBC (m. ob.). At San Carlos L., mostly at the east end of the much-reduced lake, there were an estimated 5,000 ducks, including hundreds each of Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and American Wigeons 12 Feb (DJ). Rare winter visitors, a single Common Goldeneye and a Hooded Merganser were found at Chaparral Pines on the east side of Payson 17 Dec (SSch, JTr). Six imm./female Hooded Mergansers were at San Carlos L. 12 Feb (DJ). A high count of 51 Common Mergansers was recorded on the Payson CBC from both Chaparral Pines and Green Valley Park.
An exceptionally large flock of 53 Wild Turkeys was noteworthy at Christopher Cr. 20 Feb (BF). A record low number of 11 Pied-billed Grebes were counted on the Aquatic Bird Survey 17 Jan (TC, et al.). About one-half of last year’s numbers, only 2740 Aechmophorus Grebes, 1560 Western, 166 Clark’s and 1014 unidentified to species, were tallied on the Aquatic Bird Survey (TC, et al.). There were again no Eared Grebes found on Roosevelt L., apparently because the lake contains no thread-fin shad, one of their favorite winter food sources (fide TC). In comparison, nearby Canyon and Saguaro lakes had 150-200+ Eared Grebes each (fide TC). Rare winter visitors, eight American White Pelicans were spotted on the Aquatic Bird Survey (TC, et al.) and 40 were at San Carlos L. 12 Feb (DJ).
Although uncommon residents and winter visitors, Bald Eagles have been increasing in recent winters at Roosevelt L. A high count of 31 Bald Eagles (14 adults) was a record for the Aquatic Bird Survey (TC, et al.). The Payson CBC also reported two Bald Eagles north of Payson near the East Verde R. 17 Dec (GKn, HHas), and five imm. eagles were feeding together at San Carlos L. 12 Feb (DJ). Rare residents of Upper Sonoran and Transition Zones, three Golden Eagles were reported this winter: one on the Payson CBC (DHal, DBr), a single at the Q Ranch in ne. Gila Co. 29 Dec (KFu), and one at the Tonto NM23 Feb (TGr). A rare winter visitor, one Merlin was a good find on the Payson CBC (DHal, DBr).
Casual in winter, but possibly early spring migrants two American Avocets were at San Carlos L. 12 Feb (DJ). A record high count of 100 Ring-billed Gulls was noted on the Roosevelt L. Aquatic Bird Survey (TC, et al.) and another 160 was a high number seen at San Carlos L. 12 Feb (DJ).
A high count of 85 Acorn Woodpeckers was reported on the Payson CBC (m. ob.) and a single Williamson’s Sapsucker, a rare winter visitor, was the first for the count (RBai).There were also high counts of eight Downy Woodpeckers, 25 Hairy Woodpeckers, and 62 Northern Flickers. In contrast, the CBC recorded low counts of only one Mountain Chickadee, 32 Bridled Titmice, and four Red-breasted Nuthatches. Usually found at lower elevations in winter, a single House Wren was unexpected on the Payson CBC (TCon). A rare winter visitor and possibly resident in small numbers in Mogollon Rim drainages, one Pacific Wren was a good find on the Payson CBC (DHal, DBr), and another was seen in Pine Cr. Canyon 12 Feb (BIs).
Large wintering flocks of bluebirds and robins were noteworthy in the region, probably helped by the warmer temperatures and abundant food supply. For instance, the Payson CBC had a count of 208 Western Bluebirds and a high count of 108 Mountain Bluebirds 17 Dec (m. ob.). Irregular winter visitors in the desert lowlands, a small flock of Mountain Bluebirds was also spotted at the Tonto Cr. inflow to Roosevelt L. during the Aquatic Bird Survey 17 Jan (TC, et al.). Irregularly abundant in winter, a large flock of >100 American Robins was a high number seen at the Q Ranch in ne. Gila Co. 29 Dec (KFu). Another large flock of around 200 robins was reported at the junction of F.R. 287 and 287A near Pinto Cr. west of Globe 25 Jan (JKo). A single Northern Mockingbird, usually found at lower elevation in winter, was spotted at Chaparral Pines, which is at 5000 ft. elevation, 17 Dec (SSch, DBr).
Uncommon to abundant and irregular winter visitors, 128 Cedar Waxwings was a high count on the Payson CBC. Rarely reported winter residents along the Mogollon Rim, two Olive Warblers were good finds on the Payson CBC. One was at Oxbow south of Payson and the other was at the Tonto Natural Bridge SP (DHal, et al.). A rare transient, a lingering Black-and-white Warbler was seen at a Payson home at the late date of 21 Dec (BWal). A rare winter visitor in Arizona, a White-throated Sparrow (white-striped morph) was at a Pine yard feeding station 14 Dec (ph. JE).
Compiled by Mark Stevenson
Abbreviations: EOP (Environmental Operations Park), Sweetwater (Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson), Whitewater (Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area), Willcox (Lake Cochise and Twin Lakes Golf Course, Willcox)
The winter weather was under the influence of weakening “La Niña” conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean tempered in December by an Arctic Oscillation, which yielded a cooler and wetter than average December followed by a dry and warm January-February. At Tucson, December was the 20th coldest and 16th wettest on record, while January was the fourth warmest and 24th driest on record. February was the 17 th driest on record. The dry, warm weather allowed many pleasant days in the field, while at Whitewater water levels were low due to poor monsoon rains followed by mechanical failure of well pumps, resulting in some shifting of wintering cranes. At Willcox, water was adequate but waterfowl numbers were relatively low.
In the “highly unseasonal bird” category were reports of a Short-billed Dowitcher heard and seen at Willcox, a Solitary Sandpiper that successfully wintered at Tucson, a Yellow-breasted Chat that lingered at Tucson and several wintering Botteri’s Sparrows. In the “rare bird” category, Least Grebes continued at Peña Blanca Lake, a Cave Swallow was in Tucson, a few Black-capped Gnatcatchers lingered, Rufous-capped Warblers were rediscovered in the Santa Rita Mtns., a Field Sparrow was found near the border and a Streak-backed Oriole was at Tubac.
The only Greater White-fronted Geese reported were two at Saint David 12-23 Jan (EW, TBa). The Snow Goose flock at Whitewater was reported as about 100 birds 17 Dec-5 Feb (m. ob.); elsewhere were one at Sweetwater through 14 Dec (m. ob.), up to three in the Santa Cruz Flats 7-31 Dec (DSm et al.), one at Mammoth STP 11 Dec (DJ), one at Kearny L. 16-23 Dec (JSab), one at Saint David 12-23 Jan (EW, TBa), and one at Kansas Settlement 15 Jan (EW). Single Ross’s Geese were at Sahuarita L. 4 Dec-22 Jan (LHal), Kearny L. 16-23 Dec (JSab), and Saint David 12-23 Jan (EW, TBa). There were no reports of Cackling Goose; it is proving to be quite rare in the region. Canada Geese were, as usual, uncommon to rare. The resident individual of the parvipes subspecies remained at Kennedy Park, Tucson all season. Up to four continued at Kansas Settlement through 7 Feb (m. ob.), one was in the Santa Cruz Flats 4 Dec (RF), one was at Sabino Springs, Tucson 17 Dec (MKl), and 13 were in the Santa Cruz Flats 5 Jan (M. Jones). No swans were reported in the region. In addition to the usual scattering of small numbers of Wood Ducks, larger groups included up to 18 at the Nogales STP through 3 Dec (ASc) and up to 12 along the Santa Cruz R. at Ina Rd. in Marana 17 Dec+ (PSa). A female Eurasian Wigeon reported at Sweetwater 6 Jan (P. Creighton) may have been the same bird seen there in the fall. A male Blue-winged Teal at Sierra Vista EOP 25 Dec (EW) was rare; relatively few were in Tucson this winter compared to the recent past. An apparent hybrid male Northern Shoveler X Blue-winged Teal was a novelty at Sweetwater 22 Feb (ph. ACo). The only reports of Greater Scaup were of three at Peña Blanca L. 20 Jan (LHal) and two at Patagonia L. 26 Feb (CCa). The only scoter reported was an adult male Surf Scoter at Patagonia L. 19 Feb (ph. B. Plath); this appeared to be the first February record of this species in the region. The only Red-breasted Mergansers reported were two males at Parker Canyon L. 15 Dec (ph. ARi).
Wild Turkeys occasionally wander to the lowlands, apparently explaining two along the Santa Cruz R. near Carmen 5 Feb (MA). The only loons reported were the continuing Pacific Loon at Benson through 13 Dec (m. ob.) and a Common Loon at Parker Canyon L. 15-20 Dec (ARi). The saga of the Least Grebes continued at Peña Blanca L. with the number of birds reported dropping after mid-December to as low as two (m. ob.). Two Horned Grebes were a surprise on a little pond behind the Hardesty Building, Tucson 7-18 Dec (BGi; ph. ACo et al.); one of them retained some of its striped juvenile plumage, which is rarely seen in Arizona. Up to 13 Western Grebes at Patagonia L. this winter (m. ob.) was a relatively large concentration of this species for the region. Up to five were at Parker Canyon L. 10-31 Dec (CMc). The only Clark’s Grebe reported continued at Arthur Pack Regional Park through 8 Dec (PKl). A Neotropic Cormorant at Reid Park, Tucson 19 Jan (JH) may have been a sign of northward “spring” movement by the species. Still rare in Cochise Co., a Neotropic Cormorant was at Sunsites STP 27 Feb (TBa). The two American Bitterns continued at Whitewater through 5 Mar (m. ob.) and one was at Apache Station WA 22 Feb (RT). A Great Egret at Parker Canyon L. 15 Dec (ARi) was at a relatively high elevation for this species in the region in winter; in the past decade they have become much more numerous in winter in Tucson. Snowy Egret remains rare in the region through December and is then casual through the end of winter. One was at Reid Park through 16 Jan (JH et al.), an apparent second individual was at adjacent Randolph Park 13-16 Dec (BGi), one was at Columbus Park, Tucson 18 Dec (DSt), two were at Rio Rico Dr. ponds 23-26 Dec (M. Henschell et al.), and one was at Kennedy Park 25 Jan (MSt). Apparently a single wandering late season White-faced Ibis accounted for reports 13-18 Dec (m. ob.) from several locations in the Tucson-Marana area.
The winter distribution of Black Vultures in the region is mostly near the international border from Nogales west with some small numbers found north as far as the Avra Valley and then sometimes large numbers in the Santa Cruz Flats where agricultural operations can provide carrion. The Santa Cruz Flats Raptor Count on 21 Jan tallied 113 (fide DJ). Later in the winter, 58 were seen together in the Flats 16 Feb (ACo, PKl) at carcasses. A Turkey Vulture was rare in winter in the Sulphur Springs Valley 1 Jan (TWo) as was one in Tucson Mountain Park 22 Jan (JH). Casual in winter, an Osprey was seen at Kennedy Park 3-27 Dec and again 31 Jan+ (JH), and another (or the same) was at Lakeside Park, Tucson 29 Feb (W. Higgins). Not much was happening with White-tailed Kites, with up to five in the San Rafael Valley all season (m. ob.), one in the San Simon Valley 10 mi. north of Rodeo 10 Dec (RWe), two at Casa de San Pedro B&B, Hereford 17 Jan (RB), and two at Arivaca Cienega 25 Feb+ (J. & D. Parker). Northern Goshawks are rare winter visitors to the lowlands so an immature in the e. foothills of the Tucson Mts. 15-17 Feb (SeL, ph. JLev) was notable. A Red-shouldered Hawk at San Bernardino NWR 18 Jan (RWe) was thought to be the same bird present there in the fall season. The adult Gray Hawk wintering at Amado was reported only sporadically but all season (m. ob.). Another was at Carmen 9 Dec (LHal) and an immature was at Cienega Creek Preserve 22-28 Jan (ph. MA). A Zone-tailed Hawk was unseasonal in Sierra Vista 24 Dec (EW). One, possibly two Rough-legged Hawks were in the San Rafael Valley 14 Dec+ (W. Janousek; ph. M. Anderson). In the Santa Cruz Flats, the highest single site count of Crested Caracaras was more than 40 on 21 Jan (DPe et al.), and the Raptor Survey tallied 33 on 21 Dec (fide DJ). Single wandering caracaras were at Rio Rico 10-29 Feb (JH) and ne. Tucson 15 Feb (LN). Sandhill Cranes away from typical wintering areas included one in the Santa Cruz Flats 3 Dec (RF), one at Rio Rico 5 Dec (MK), one at Sierra Vista EOP 11 Dec (EW et al.), and three at Palominas 12 Dec (GLe). Nearly all of the reports of Mountain Plovers again came from the Santa Cruz Flats, with a peak count of 100 on 7 Jan (WR); most sightings were at Evergreen Turf sod farm though the plovers were often absent from there and were also found elsewhere. The only other report was of three plovers north of Elfrida 4 Dec (SW). “Spring” begins early for American Avocets and the first migrant arrived 19 Feb at Willcox (J. Parker). Six more were reported before the end of the season, all at Willcox or Whitewater. The Solitary Sandpiper from fall stayed all winter at Sweetwater (m. ob.). Lesser Yellowlegs is casual to accidental in the region in winter, so one with 75 Greater Yellowlegs east of Casa Grande 14 Jan (TC, TLew), one in the Santa Cruz Flats 16 Feb (ph. ACo, PKl) and another at Whitewater 25 Feb (EW et al.) were of note; care should be taken in identifying this species in winter in the region. Western Sandpiper is rare in December and January and casual in February; in the latter category were singles at Kennedy Park 26 Feb (JH) and Whitewater 27 Feb (TBa). Unprecedented in the region and perhaps the state in winter was a Short-billed Dowitcher heard and photographed at Willcox 29 Feb (ph. T. Johnson, M. Sabatine). Never totally unexpected, a Red Phalarope was at Benson STP 1 Dec (PKl). Bonaparte’s Gull put in a good December showing with 11 reported 1-6 Dec. Casual in winter, two California Gulls were at Willcox 2 Dec (DDu). Unprecedented in winter in the region, a Caspian Tern was at Patagonia L. 1 Dec (MB).
The Ruddy Ground-Dove show was relatively lackluster this winter with the following reports: up to three in the Santa Cruz Flats 3-26 Dec (MK et al.), one along the San Pedro R. south of Hwy 90 7 Dec (SH), one at Casa de San Pedro 17 Dec (TLe), one at Peña Blanca L. 27 Dec-20 Jan (M. & M. Henschell), two at Cienega Creek Preserve 16-29 Jan (MSt, MPo), and one at Patagonia L. 27 Feb (SH). A Spotted Owl wintered in a yard in ne. Tucson (fide BBi); these lowland birds are typically young of the year. The only Long-eared Owl reported was in ne. Tucson 16 Dec (BN). Short-eared Owls were perhaps more common than average with reports of up to four continuing in the San Rafael Valley through 7 Mar (m. ob.), one near the w. entrance to Las Cienegas NCA 15 Dec (CMc), one at L. Cochise, Willcox 11 Jan (JY), one south of the San Pedro House 23-28 Jan (EW), and one near the s. entrance to Las Cienegas NCA 29 Jan (TBa). The only Northern Saw-whet Owl reported was found as it called during daylight in the s. Patagonia Mtns. 15 Dec (ph. DSt). A Broad-billed Hummingbird stayed late at Paton’s in Patagonia through 29 Dec (RF) and another was seen in Patagonia 15 Dec (WR). Thirty two at a feeding station in ne. Tucson 17 Dec (MKl) was a remarkably high winter number even for Tucson. One was also found on the Dudleyville CBC along Aravaipa Cr. 30 Dec (fide DJ), only the second report of this species in the 11 years of that CBC. The Violet-crowned Hummingbird back for its fifth winter in Tucson was reported through 9 Dec (RHo). A Violet-crowned visited the Paton’s 17 Jan (RF) after an absence of three weeks and one was found in Bisbee 14 Feb (ph. L. Daugherty). A Magnificent Hummingbird lingered in the lowlands at Catalina through 29 Dec (C.J. Vincent). Possibly early migrants, single Magnificents were in Pima Canyon 20 Feb (PKl) and at Paton’s 21 Feb (ph. J. Vogt). Casual in winter, a Broad-tailed Hummingbird continued at a Tucson feeder until 29 Jan (MBr), where presumably the same bird wintered last year. Another stayed on at Hereford until 22 Dec (TBa). One at Patagonia Lake Ranch Estates 28 Jan (ASc) was early for a spring arrival or had wintered locally. The first to be found on the breeding grounds this season was on Radio Ridge, Santa Catalina Mtns. 25 Feb (CLu). The first Rufous Hummingbird migrant reported was a male in w. Tucson 24 Feb (M. Skinner).
Reports of Elegant Trogons were spotty this winter. The usual wintering bird at Patagonia L. was present all season, though reported less frequently than in prior years (m. ob.). Elsewhere, one was eating pyracantha berries in Madera Canyon 1 Dec (LHal) and one was at Cave Creek Ranch, Portal 6 Dec (PS). An adult male trogon in Sawmill Canyon, Huachuca Mtns. 12 Feb (SH) may have been returning for spring. There was a scattering of reports of Lewis’s Woodpeckers this winter, from nine locations 13 Dec+. Acorn Woodpeckers rarely appear in the lowlands; singles were at Sweetwater 23 Dec (SO) and Reid Park 26 Dec+ (MSt). While Williamson’s Sapsuckers are regular in the mountains in winter, they are less common in the lowlands. One was at Arivaca Cienega 3 Dec (PC) and another was in the Patagonia City Park 17 Jan-15 Feb (SBi, S. Kestler). Six Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were reported during the season, another strong showing for this species. The Red-breasted Sapsucker continued in lower Madera Canyon through 15 Feb (LHal), and another was found on the Dudleyville CBC 30 Dec along the San Pedro R. (ph. CMc). A Hairy Woodpecker was casual in the lowlands at Sabino Dam 3 Jan (WR). A “yellow-shafted” Northern Flicker was along the Santa Cruz R. at Tumacacori 8 Feb (LHal).
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets are rare in winter and are usually found below 4,000 feet elevation. Among the more interesting reports this season were singles at Rock Corral Canyon, Atascosa Mtns. 2 Jan (CMc) where one was found last winter, at Las Cienegas NCA 8 Jan (RF), and at 4,500′ in Peppersauce Canyon, n. Santa Catalina Mtns. 29 Jan-13 Feb (DJ, ph. MBr). Later in the season, singles were found at Cluff Ranch WA 17 Feb (JY) and Oracle SP 25 Feb (MSh, FSh). A “Western Flycatcher”, presumably a Pacific-slope Flycatcher, was casual at Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Tucson 9 Dec (DSt et al.). Following the banner fall for Eastern Phoebes in the region, a whopping 14 were reported this season. Rare in winter, eight Cassin’s Kingbirds were reported; the only ones away from Tucson were at Salero Ranch and Carmen. Not unprecedented but still surprising was a Western Kingbird in a yard east of Portal 8 Dec (NMC). Bell’s Vireo is casual in winter so one at Tohono Chul Park, Tucson 13 Feb (ph. PKl) was of interest; it had not been detected earlier in the winter so might have been a very early migrant or present but silent. Numbers of both Plumbeous and Cassin’s Vireos were below average this winter.
A few Tree Swallows lingered into December with the last report on 16 Dec. Reports picked up again with one over downtown Tucson 20 Jan (JH) and three others by the end of Jan. Likewise, a few Violet-green Swallows were reported through 18 Dec with the next report 8 Jan at Sierra Vista EOP (EW et al.). Similarly, Northern Rough-winged Swallow reports ceased 9 Dec. Of much greater rarity, a Cave Swallow was well documented at Kennedy Park 4-27 Dec (MPo, ph. MSt; ph. DSt, ACo, CBen). What was presumably the same bird was seen again 26-30 Jan (JH, MSt, MPo). There have been only a small handful of records in the region in recent decades. A few Barn Swallows lingered as late as 28 Dec.
There was just about no sign of movement of montane species into the lowlands this winter. Corvids were not on the move. The only report of a Red-breasted Nuthatch in the lowlands was from e. Tucson 24 Dec (PSa), and a few Brown Creepers were reported. After last winter’s proliferation of Pacific and Winter wren reports in the state, some observers wondered if that level of incidence was the “new normal” for the recently split species. This season, the birds did not support that concept. Four Pacific Wrens were reported, with singles continuing at Marshall Gulch, Santa Catalina Mtns. 8 Dec (ph. CLu), at Ramsey Canyon Preserve 15 Jan (MTa, MDo), lower Florida Canyon, Santa Rita Mtns. 4 Feb (J. Williams), and the upper picnic area in Garden Canyon 16 Feb+ (ph. J. & D. Parker). The only Winter Wren reported was along the San Pedro R. south of Hwy 90 (ph. ARi). Black-capped Gnatcatchers seemed possibly in decline, with fewer reports than in recent winters, though they were still present in multiple previously known locations.
SNA, west end
|17 Dec||1||Ph. JHa||About 3 miles up from w. end|
|Patagonia L.||25 Dec+||1 to 2||M. Henschell et al., m. ob.||In washes along birders' trail|
|Florida Canyon, lower||28 Dec-12 Jan||1||LHal||Near the Santa Rita Range HQ|
|Sonoita Cr. SNA, E end||15 Jan||2||Ph. ASc||Near the gate at the parking area|
|Montosa Canyon||23 Feb+||2||Ph. T. Spahr|
Another specialty of the region, Rufous-backed Robin, put in a good showing with no fewer than nine reported during the season as follows:
|Slaughter Ranch||30 Nov-31 Dec||1||RWe; A. Bankert|
|Santa Cruz Flats||8-23 Dec||1||OH, S. Foster||Baumgartner/Wheeler|
|Tumacacori||15-25 Dec||1||S. Johnsen||N. of Santa Gertrudis Lane|
|Cienega Creek Preserve||23-28 Dec||1||B. Howard||Near the confluence of Davidson Canyon and Cienega Cr.|
|Florida Canyon||28 Dec+||1||LHal||Lower canyon near the Experimental Range HQ|
|Saint David||12 Jan-2 Feb||1 then 2||EW; ph. MTa||Golden Bell Rd.|
|Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve||21 Jan-25 Mar||1||E. Emeigh; ph. ASc||Gap in reports from 16 Feb-25 Mar|
|Tucson||26-27 Jan||1||ph. P. Ostler||Adjacent to the airport|
|Santa Gertrudis Lane||29 Jan-21 Feb||1||MA||Could be same as the Tumacacori robin above|
|Patagonia||9 Feb||1||R. Moore||Mendoza Alley; could be the same as the robin in Preserve above|
There were no Varied Thrushes reported. The only Gray Catbird reported was at Slaughter Ranch 2-20 Dec (ph. A. Bankert). An above average showing, four Brown Thrashers were reported:
|Saint David||7 Dec||1||Ph. M. Kumiega||"well preserved carcass" found near Curtis Flat Rd.|
|Carmen||11 Dec-25 Feb||1||JG et al.; ph. DD||Along the Anza Trail|
|Saint David||5 Jan-20 Feb||1||B. Prentice; ph. ARi||Holy Trinity Monastery|
|Bisbee||20-24 Jan||1||TWo||Warren District|
Olive Warblers are rare in winter and are usually found in the mountain ranges where they nest, often at lower elevations than during the nesting season. One found in Rock Corral Canyon 2 Jan (CMc) was away from known nesting ranges, though it was not the first to be found in the Atascosa Mtns. in winter.
One of the Lapland Longspurs found in November at Avra Valley STP lingered until 4 Dec (ph. ACo). McCown’s Longspurs are seldom reported in the region away from the San Rafael and Sulphur Springs valley, so two to 14 at Evergreen Turf 23 Dec-3 Feb (ph. PKl; m. ob.) were notable. An Ovenbird above the dam in lower Florida Canyon 28-29 Dec (LHal) was a good find. Single Louisiana Waterthrushes were reported from three locations along Sonoita Cr.: below Salero Rd. 15 Dec (CBen, MSt), above Patagonia L. 7 Jan (SH; heard only), and in the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve 11 Feb (S. Cormier-Aagaard). The dates of observation suggest the possibility of anywhere from one to three birds, and the distance between the locations supports the possibility of three. Eleven Black-and-white Warblers were reported, an above average showing for winter. A Tennessee Warbler enjoyed table grapes at a feeder in Willcox 16 Dec-1 Jan (M. & L. Jarrett; ph. D. Vogt); the species is casual to accidental as a winter visitant. The only American Redstart found was at Agua Caliente Park, Tucson 10 Dec (MSt; ph. CBen). A Northern Parula continued at San Bernardino NWR through 20 Dec (RWe), while singles were found along the Anza Trail at Carmen 9 Dec (LHal) and at Cienega Creek Preserve 17 Dec (MA). The only winter report of Yellow Warbler was of one along the Santa Cruz R. at Tubac 29 Jan (MA). The Chestnut-sided Warbler continued at Sweetwater through 15 Jan (m. ob.). The female Black-throated Blue Warbler continued at Carmen through 11 Dec (m. ob.). One of the best finds of the season came with the discovery of two Rufous-capped Warblers in lower Florida Canyon 6 Dec+ (JWn; ph. LHal, CMe, K. Graves). The birds were found near the gate in the Florida Canyon Trail opposite the Santa Rita Experimental Range headquarters during a cold snap but moved south, up canyon, as the cold moderated. The species was first found at this location in December 2008 but had not been reported there since May 2010. Given the apparent altitudinal movements of the birds and their sometimes unobtrusive behavior, it is possible that they have been present but undetected since 2010. On 16 Feb, two pairs of Rufous-capped Warblers were observed in a territorial dispute (LHal); reports of more than two birds were sporadic after that. A casual species in winter, a few Wilson’s Warblers were found, with singles along the Santa Cruz R. near Ina Rd., Marana 18 Dec (CMc), at the Reid Park Zoo, Tucson where one wintered last year, 24 Dec (SO), and at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve 11 Feb (CCa). After the breeding season, the charismatic Painted Redstart is a rare winter resident of mountain canyons and casual in the lowlands. Lowland reports this winter were more than expected and came from Sabino Canyon 14 Dec-4 Feb (P. Negri), East Stronghold Canyon, Dragoon Mtns. 12 Jan (RT), two along the Santa Cruz R. near Tubac 2 Feb (ph. W Higgins), Santa Gertrudis Lane 4 Feb (FSh, MSh), and at Patagonia L. 1 Dec+ (m. ob.). The Yellow-breasted Chat that lingered in Tucson from fall was last reported 8 Dec (DSm).
Following last year’s first winter records of Botteri’s Sparrow in the state, there were several reports again this winter: one in the same location as last winter, at “Miracle Valley” west of Palominas 17 Dec-28 Jan (ph. RB), another at Patagonia Lake Ranch Estates 12 Jan+ (ph. ASc) and one along Patagonia Lake Rd. 29 Feb (TJ). Clay-colored Sparrow has been considered “casual” in winter but this winter there were seven reported, including two that were photographed. With only three prior records in the region, a Field Sparrow was an excellent find along the international border at San Bernardino NWR 20 Dec (ph. RWe). Lark Buntings were present in the thousands in the Sulphur Springs Valley this winter with impressive flocks seen by many observers. Elsewhere in the region they were more common than usual but not to that extent. A Grasshopper Sparrow along the Santa Cruz R. in Tucson 18 Dec (DSt) was away from typical grassland habitat. It was a good winter for “Red” Fox Sparrows with reports as follows:
|Tanque Verde Wash, Tucson||17 Dec-24 Feb||1||BN; ph. MSh|
|Madera Canyon||25 Jan||1||Ph. DD||Between Proctor and White House|
|Carmen||1-2 Feb||1||Ph. LHal||Anza Trail|
|Catalina SP||3 Feb||1||Ph. PKI|
|Peppersauce Canyon||13 Feb||1||Ph. MBr|
The “Slate-colored” form of Fox Sparrow usually outnumbers the “Red” form in the state and region but only five were reported. An impressive 20 White-throated Sparrows were reported. The much rarer Harris’s Sparrow was found only twice, with one in a Bisbee yard 23 Dec-3 Mar (ph. D. Danforth) and another in a Corona de Tucson yard 22 Feb-7 Mar (ph. W. van Kempen). Typically, the oriantha form of White-crowned Sparrow is rare and irregular in the region in winter, with most of the wintering birds being of the gambelli form. This winter 15 or more oriantha were in a flock in Reid Park 17 Dec (RT) and nearly 10 percent of 1000 White-crowned Sparrows along the Santa Cruz R. in Tucson 18 Dec (DSt) were oriantha. Only two Golden-crowned Sparrows were reported, along the San Pedro R. at Escapule Wash 25 Dec (AMi, AnMi) and at Catalina SP 21 Jan-3 Feb (LN; ph. PKl).
Winter reports of Hepatic and Summer Tanagers were again more numerous than in the past; 22 of the former and nine of the latter were reported. More generally rare in the region and accidental in winter, a Scarlet Tanager made a brief visit to a w. Tucson yard 1 Dec (ph. RT). Still casual in winter, a Western Tanager was at Cienega Creek Preserve 17 Dec (MA). Quite casual in winter, an adult male Black-headed Grosbeak was along the Santa Cruz R. near Carmen 8 Feb (LHal). An adult male Blue Grosbeak wintered in Patagonia at Paton’s 23 Nov+ (RF), another was upstream of the Patagonia roadside rest 15 Dec (ph. CBen), a first winter Blue Grosbeak was at Peña Blanca L. 27 Dec-29 Feb (M. & M. Henschell), and an adult male was along the Santa Cruz R. at Ina Rd. 2 Feb (ph. ACo), a good showing for a species that is “casual” in winter. Hooded Orioles are also casual in winter; singles were at Sierra Vista 5 Dec (DBe) and Rock Corral Canyon 2 Jan (CMc). Casual at any season, an adult male Streak-backed Oriole was a great find at the Tubac Bridge over the Santa Cruz R. 29 Jan-14 Feb (ph. MA; ph. RT, BPt). Rarer in winter than either of the above orioles, single male Bullock’s Orioles were at Carmen 9 Jan (JHam) and nw. Tucson 16 Feb (LN). Five Scott’s Orioles were reported this winter with one wintering in Hereford 1 Dec-15 Feb (TBa). Lawrence’s Goldfinches continued from fall in moderate numbers. Six at a Portal feeder 1 Feb (BRo) were farther east than most.
Cited observers: Moez Ali (MA), Joey Alsadi (JAl), Charles Babbitt (CBab), Kenneth Bader (KBa), Rich Bailowitz (RBai), Steve Barlow (SBa), Tony Battiste (TBa), Robert Behrstock (RB), Chris Benesh (CBen), Barbara Bickel (BBi), Linda & Ken Bielek (L&KB), Susan Birky (SBi), Mary Ellen Bittorf (MEB), Kathleen Blair (KB), Al Borgardt (AB), Helga Borgardt (HBor), Gary Botello (GBo),Richard Bowker (RBo), Matt Brooks (MBr),Diane Brown (DBr), Matt Brown (MB), Derek Buchner (DBu), Jim Burns (JBu), Laurence Butler(LBt), Cliff Cathers (CCa), Peter Collins (PC),Tom Conlin (TCon), Bea Cooley (BCo), John Coons (JCn), Andrew Core (ACo), Troy Corman (TC), Tommy DeBardeleben (TDeB), DeeDee DeLorenzo (DDe), Henry Detwiler (HD), Pierre Deviche (PD), Dick Dionne (DD), Rich Ditch (RDi), Merce Dostale (MDo), Merce Dostale (MDo) David Dunford (DDu),Gregory Dunn (GD), Brian Enos (BE), (Jeff Estis (JE), Brian Ferguson (BFe), Richard Filley (RFi), Richard Fray (RF), Ken Furtado (KFu), Brian Gibbons (BGi), Jeff Gilligan (JG), Clive Green (CG),Tina Greenawalt (TGr), Bill Grossi (BGro), P&G Hale (P&GH), Dave Hallock (DHal), Laurens Halsey (LHal), Olga Harbour (OH), Brooks Hart (BH), Lauren Harter (LHar),Helen Hassemer (HHas), Jim Hays (JHa), Stuart Healy (SH), Brian Healy (BHe), Melanie Herring (MHe), John Higgins (JH), Jack Holloway (JHol), Celia Holm (CHo),Sandy Hornbaker (SHor),Steve Hosmer (SHo), Bob Hough (BHo), Elaine Hough (ElH), Eric Hough (ErH), Rich Hoyer (RHo), Cody Hurlock (CH), Brian Ison (BIs), Doug Jenness (DJ), Tom Johnson (TJ), Jenifer Johnson (JJo), Justin Jones (JJ), Joe Kahl (JK), Phyllis Kegley (PKe), Melody Kehl (MK), Jay Keller (JKell), Kevin Fairhurst (KFa), Philip Kline (PKl), Mary Klinkel (MKl), Grace Knowles (GKn), Pam Koch (PKo), Jim Kopitzke (JKo), Richard Krebill (RK), Nancy Lange (NL), Larry Langstaff (LL), Chuck LaRue (CLR), Tom Leskiew (TLe), Michael Lester (MLe), Seymour Levy (SeL), Jim Levy (JLev),Tom Lewis (TLew), Gordon Lewis (GLe), Tom Linda (TL), Jim Logan (JLo),
Carl Lundblad (CLu), Paul Mackesey (PMa), Tracy McCarthey (TMc), Chris McCreedy (CMc), James McKay (JMCK), Charles Melton (CMe), Ann Miller (AnMi), Alan Miller (AMi), Jay Miller (JMil), Narca Moore-Craig (NMC), Larry Morgan (LMg), Elaine Morrall (EM), Peter Moulton (PMo), Brian Nicholas (BN), Larry Norris (LN), Scott Olmstead (SO), Jan Parrott (JPar), Michael Pawlick (MPaw), Dave Pearson (DPe), Barb Philips (BP), Diane Poleyquiva (DPq), Molly Pollock (MPo), Dave Powell (DPo), Pat Prochaska (PP), Shaun Putz (SPu), Cindy Radamaker (CR), Kurt Radamaker (KR),
Jan Richmond (JRi), Arlene Ripley (ARi), Will Russell (WR), John Saba (JSab), Peter Salomon (PSa), Alan Schmierer (Asc), Sue Schuett (SSch), Mark Sharon (MSh), Farrish Sharon (FSh), Dominic Sherony (DShe), Chrissy Smith (CSm), Darlene Smyth (DSm), Pete Sockness (PS), Dave Stejskal (DSt), Mark Stevenson (MSt), Lindsay & Keith Story (L&KS), Michael Tarachow (MTa), Dave Taylor (DTa), Rick Taylor (RT), Rick & Ricki Thompson (R&RT), Walter Thurber (WT), Carl Tomoff (CT), Joanne Travis (JTr), David Vander Pluym (DVP), Marceline VandeWater (MV), Brian Walsh (BWa), Magill Weber (MWeb), Richard Webster (RWe), John West (JWe), Jason Wilder (JWi), Nathan Williams (NWil), Sheri Williamson (SW), Jan Wilson (JWn), Erika Wilson (EW), Cole Wolf (CWo), Tom Wood (TWo), Rick Wright (RWr), John Yerger (JY)
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