Compiled by Lauren Harter
Abbreviations: Continental Country Club, Flagstaff (CCC), Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP)
December was cool but dry, and perhaps accordingly, this season was not characterized by large numbers of lingering fall migrants. The two Flagstaff area CBCs, Flagstaff-Mt. Elden on 26 Dec and Mormon L. on 19 Dec, faced tough birding conditions as counters were faced with cold temperatures and, in the case of the latter, no open water. El Niño conditions hit the region in January, with continued cool temperatures matched with above-average precipitation, including over 36 inches of snowfall. This trend reversed in February, which was warm and dry with very little precipitation, and accompanying early spring migrants. Snowfall for fall and winter was barely below average by the end of the season. The avian highlight of the season was surely the continuing Yellow-eyed Junco in Flagstaff.
Any goose species other than Canada Goose is rare in the region, though some occur regularly. Two Greater White-fronted Geese at the Walnut Canyon Ponds 3 Dec (CSz) were adults, so not the same as two immatures reported in the fall. A spring migrant was reported from the same location 22-26 Feb (GBo). A juv. Snow Goose seen at L. Elaine in the fall continued in the CCC area through 6 Dec (TBl). Two spring migrants were seen with a flock of Canada Geese flying over Flagstaff 11 Feb (ZeS).
Wood Duck is rare in the region, particularly in winter. Two at Humphrey L. at CCC 26 Dec (ZeS) were unusual, and one was nearby at the Walnut Canyon Ponds 14-23 Jan (TL). Good numbers of American Wigeon were reported this season, including 400 at CCC 5 Dec (BCo), 298 at Poco Diablo Resort in Sedona 18 Dec (BCo et al.), and 222 at Poco Diablo 15 Feb (J. Verica). Large numbers of Mallards (over 200) were reported from the Walnut Canyon Ponds from late December + (m. ob.), with a high count estimated at 400 on 6 Feb (N. Smith, ZeS). Another large concentration was of 465 at Mormon L. 26 Feb (T. Hinckley). Rarely reported in n. Arizona, an intergrade "Mexican" x "Northern" Mallard was among the flock at the Walnut Canyon Ponds 19 Feb (RAu). Cinnamon Teal are typically migrants in the region, and rare winter residents. Small numbers, between four and eight individuals, were at Kachina Village throughout the season (m. ob.). The peak of Northern Pintail and Green-winged Teal migration included an estimated 500 pintail and 1200 teal at Mormon L. 28 Feb (ZeS).
An uncommon wintering species in the region, with high counts in the past rarely exceeding 10, Common Goldeneyes may be increasing in the region as higher counts are reported with greater frequency. This season these included 21 at Ashurst L. 11 Dec (RSl), 17 at Cataract L. 12 Feb and 15 there 26 Feb (both CoF), 20 at Upper L. Mary 24 Feb (ZeS) and 14 there 27 Feb (RSl). Rare but regular, a female Hooded Merganser continued from the fall at L. Elaine to 2 Dec (CSz). One was at the same location 2 Jan (TBl). Notable high counts of Common Merganser included 146 at Cataract L. 14 Feb (JCr) and up to 57 at Walnut Canyon Ponds 18-23 Feb (ZeS). A very early migrant male Red-breasted Merganser was a good find at Upper L. Mary 24 Feb (RSl).
Two Neotropic Cormorants at the Walnut Canyon Ponds 18 Feb (ZeS) furnished the earliest date for a spring migrant and the first winter report for the region. One lingered through 25 Feb (m. ob.). Casual in winter in the region away from the Colorado R., a Double-crested Cormorant at Cataract L. 12-28 Feb was exceptional (CoF). A very early migrant Turkey Vulture arrived at Thorpe Park in Flagstaff 20 Feb (JCr). Casual in winter, a Zone-tailed Hawk at the Walnut Canyon Ponds 18 Jan was extremely unusual (EG). Three rare but regular Rough-legged Hawks were reported this season: one was at Mormon L. 20-28 Dec (JCn et al.), and two were at Garland Prairie 4 Feb (RAu, TL), where one continued the next day (JCr).
Virginia Rails were reported from two locations where they have been reported regularly in winter, with up to four at Kachina Wetlands and up to two at Picture Canyon throughout the season (m. ob.), and one on the Rio de Flag in the Cheshire neighborhood of Flagstaff 14 Jan (BHe). Similarly rare in winter, a few Soras were also reported, with up to two overwintering at Kachina Wetlands (m. ob.), one at Picture Canyon 3 Dec (RSl), and one in Cheshire 14 Jan – 28 Feb (BHe, B. Hofstetter).
Killdeer is rare in winter in the region before migrants begin to trickle in the last week of February. This season one was in Williams 8 Jan (CoF), and an early migrant arrived at Kachina Wetlands 16 Feb (RSl). Rare in winter in the region, a late migrant Ring-billed Gull was at an unusual location 10 Dec when it was found loafing on a building at Sunset Crater Volcano NM (RSl). An unusual midwinter report came 4 Jan, with three at L. Elaine along with a California Gull (BH, C. Warman).
A Mourning Dove, irregular in winter at the Grand Canyon, was a good find on the Grand Canyon CBC 19 Dec (fide BGa). Good numbers of White-winged Doves continue to winter in Flagstaff, and a new high count of 16 was recorded on the Flagstaff-Mt. Elden CBC 26 Dec (fide TBl). Greater Roadrunners appear to be increasing from just a few years ago; a summary of reports spanning the season follows: one reported from the Inner Canyon, GCNP (JPz), five reported between Williams and Valle (m. ob.), one north of Flagstaff (RAu, TL), one at Logan’s Crossing (m. ob.), seven east of Flagstaff (m. ob.), and one at Mormon L. (SHos). Western Screech-Owls are seldom found in the ponderosa pine forests of the Mogollon Plateau, so one in Williams 29 Dec (CoF) and one at Upper L. Mary 22 Jan (JWi) were of interest. White-throated Swifts arrived in good numbers early in migration, with a report of 40 in Oak Cr. Canyon 28 Feb (ZeS). Rare at higher elevations in winter, a Belted Kingfisher at the I-40 Wetlands 1 Jan was a good find (ZZ). Rare in GCNP in winter, Williamson’s Sapsuckers were reported from Rain Tank 7 Dec and Grandview Point 8 Dec (both DPi). A rare hybrid Red-breasted x Red-naped Sapsucker was a great find at Mormon L. 20 Dec (JCn et al.).
Reports of rare winter Peregrine Falcons included one at Miller Wash southeast of Valle 4 Dec (DNo), one at Hermit’s Rest, GCNP 6 Dec (DPi), one near Kendrick Peak 9 Dec (J. Schofer), one on the Grand Canyon CBC 19 Dec (fide BGa), one at Walnut Canyon NM 26 Dec (TBl), and two at West Fork, Oak Cr. Canyon 17 Feb (C. Boyd).
A Hammond’s Flycatcher wintered at Indian Gardens, GCNP for the fourth year in a row, detected 17-18 Dec (JPz). A Gray Flycatcher near Walnut Canyon NM 26 Feb (B. Dunn) was over a month early for a spring migrant and may have wintered locally instead. An early migrant Black Phoebe arrived at Walnut Canyon Ponds 20 Feb (TL). Rare in winter at higher elevations, two Say’s Phoebes at Hearst Mtn. near Williams 1 Jan (AG) and one at the I-40 Wetlands 14 Jan (RSl) were unusual, especially in snow and frigid temperatures. One at the I-40 rest area at Meteor Crater 17 Feb (R. Paul) was likely an early migrant.
Mormon L. has been a reliable location for Northern Shrike in recent years. One was present there this season 20 Dec (JCn et al.). Hutton’s Vireos are seldom reported in winter, so the numerous reports this season were surprising. These included two at Banjo Bill picnic area, Oak Cr. Canyon 2 Dec (J. Amarante), one at the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona 13 Jan (RSl), one at Chavez Crossing 18 Jan (ph. BH, C. Warman), and one on the Sterling Pass Trail in Oak Cr. Canyon 28 Feb (ZeS). Rare in the Grand Canyon area, two American Crows at the Bright Angel Lodge, GCNP 19 Dec were of interest (BHe). The first Violet-green Swallow of the season was early in Mountainaire 20 Feb (T. Shedwall). Small numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches were reported from slightly lower than usual elevations, with at least two at the South Rim, GCNP in early December (m. ob.) and a handful at Oak Cr. Canyon in mid- to late February (m. ob.).
Rarely reported in the region in winter, a House Wren was detected in Sedona 18 Dec (TL). There were several reports of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher this season, a rare species in winter in the region. Along the Colorado R., at least two were at Lees Ferry and Paria Beach 6 Dec (ph. RMo) and 4 Jan (ph. RMo, LPi); in Oak Cr. Canyon, one was at the Sterling Pass Trail 7 Dec (RAu, TL); and in Flagstaff, an apparent early migrant arrived at Elden Spring 22 Feb (GBo). A good count of 350 Mountain Bluebirds came from two locations at Wupatki NM 31 Jan (T. Hinckley). Rare in winter at higher elevations, Hermit Thrush reports included a likely lingering fall migrant at Logan’s Crossing 4 Dec (RAu, JCr, TL), a high count of seven on the Grand Canyon CBC 19 Dec (fide BGa), and one at Walnut Canyon NM reported 26 Dec and 16 Jan (TBl).
Rare and local in the region above the Mogollon Rim, Crissal Thrashers were reported from known locations, including up to three at Anderson Canyon off Buffalo Range Rd. 9 Dec – 9 Jan (RAu, TL), up to two at Wupatki NM 11 Jan – 28 Feb (CSz), and one at Rattlesnake Crater northwest of Twin Arrows 16 Feb (RAu). This seemed to be an above-average season for Sage Thrashers, with reports concentrated in early to mid-December and late January through the end of the season, coinciding with migration timing for this species. High counts came from Wupatki NM, including 26 there 10 Dec (RSl) and up to 13-14 there 23 Jan – 15 Feb (TrB, m. ob.). Rare in winter, two Northern Mockingbirds were reported from Cataract Canyon 14 Feb (AG), and one was at Wupatki NM the same day (A. Fasoli). American Pipits are uncommon to rare in winter in the region, so at least two at Mormon L. 30 Dec – 28 Feb (RAu, TL, BCo), one at Kachina Wetlands 7-18 Feb (BHe), and one at Casner Tank 7 Feb (ZeS) were of interest.
Reports of early or locally wintering Olive Warblers were of one at Thorpe Park 13 Feb (FG), two on the Mogollon Rim above Pine 19 Feb (D. Hallock), and two nearby above Strawberry 28 Feb (W. Manter). Relatively few Chestnut-collared Longspurs were reported this season. Reports were of 16 at Reservation Tank 30 Jan (BH, C. Warman), one at Lava Tank north of Flagstaff 30 Jan (ph. JWi), seven at Reservation Tank 7 Feb (ZeS), and two there 11 Feb (RAu, JCr, TL). Rare anywhere in the region in winter, Orange-crowned Warbler reports were of one at Chavez Crossing 18 Jan (BH, C. Warman) and one at Cave Springs 20 Feb (T. Hinckley).
Chipping Sparrows are also rare throughout the region in winter, so two in Sedona 18 Dec (BCo et al.), one in Sedona 9 Jan (TBl), and three at Elden Spring 14 Feb+ (ZeS) were of interest. Three Brewer’s Sparrows on the Grand Canyon CBC 19 Dec (fide BGa) were rare for that area. Irregular in winter in the Grand Canyon, eight Black-throated Sparrows were reported from the Bright Angel Trail 5 Dec (DPi), one was at Indian Gardens 18 Dec (JPz), and 12 was a high count for the Grand Canyon CBC 19 Dec (fide BGa). Casual in winter in the region, a Lark Bunting was a great find east of Fredonia 2 Dec (ph. SLa). "Slate-colored" Fox Sparrows were sought out and found in good numbers in the vicinity of Oak Cr. Canyon. Up to five were reported from the Sterling Pass Trail 7 Dec – 28 Feb (TL, RAu, ZeS, m. ob.), and up to three were found on the Jim Johnson Trail 21 Jan – 12 Feb (RAu, ph. BH). The continuing Flagstaff Yellow-eyed Junco, last seen in September, returned to the vicinity of Mt. Elden 16 Dec and continued in the area to 26 Dec (ph. JWi). Two rare but regular White-throated Sparrows were in Sedona 18 Dec (BCo et al.). A group of three Vesper Sparrows on Buffalo Range Rd. 27 Jan was a great find for midwinter (RAu, TL). Well-above-average numbers of Vesper Sparrows arrived in the last few days of February, such as a flock of 15 at Kachina Wetlands 27 Feb (T. Hinckley). Savannah Sparrows linger in the region in the fall into mid-December, and in spring begin arriving in early February, so birds seen between those dates are likely wintering. This season these included one on Buffalo Range Rd. 27 Jan (RAu, TL) and one at Reservation Tank 30 Jan (BH, C. Warman). A Song Sparrow in Tusayan 18 Dec (BGa) was unusual for the Grand Canyon region away from lowland riparian areas. Rare but regular, a Swamp Sparrow was at Logan’s Crossing 8 Jan (BH, C. Warman).
A flock of 55 Brewer’s Blackbirds at Doney Park 4 Jan was an excellent count for winter (BH, C. Warman). This was an average to below average season for irruptive finches, including Cassin’s Finch, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, and Evening Grosbeak, although there was a high count of the latter, with 55 near Kachina Village 8 Dec (RAu).
Compiled by Jason Wilder
Reports by birders from the Navajo and Hopi nations were few and far between this winter. The majority of notable reports came from the Page area as well as nearby downstream sections of the Colorado R. The remainder of this vast area went largely unexplored by birders.
Geese other than Canada are always notable in the region. Snow Goose is uncommon, although it has become a somewhat regular winter visitor to the Page area in the last several years; two were photographed at the Page WTP 2 Dec (ph. LPi), and the number increased to three by 18 Jan (KBr). A flock of 35 Snow Geese was reported from the nearby Glen Canyon NRA headquarters 15 Jan (KBr). Elsewhere in the region, five Snow Geese and a regional rare Ross’s Goose were at the Kayenta WTP 4 Dec (ZZ). Cackling Goose is casual in the area; one was reported to be mixed in with 350 Canada Geese at the Page WTP 15 Jan (KBr).
Among the notable duck observations this winter on the Glen Canyon CBC were a Wood Duck, eight Greater Scaup, 456 Common Goldeneye, and five Barrow’s Goldeneye 4 Jan (fide JS). The latter, reported from the dam viewpoint near Page, were seen there again 6 Jan (ph. RMo). Barrow's Goldeneye is rare but annual along the Colorado R. below Glen Canyon Dam. Two Hooded Mergansers, uncommon in the region, were a good find at Lees Ferry 4 Jan (RMo). Four late Eared Grebes were present at the Page WTP 4 Dec (LPi, RMo); the count dwindled to one by 15 Jan (KBr). Six late Eared Grebes were present on L. Powell 10 Dec (D. Hopkins, RMo). A single Neotropic Cormorant was reported as part of the Glen Canyon CBC 4 Jan (fide JS). This is the second winter report for this species, which only recently has expanded into the region.
Virginia Rail is a regular but very local winter resident on the Navajo and Hopi nations. At least seven were reported from Pasture Canyon 13 Dec (CLR, JWi) where they are known to winter regularly. Shorebirds of any kind are notable in winter in the region. A single Spotted Sandpiper was present at Lees Ferry 1 Jan (BGa). Long-eared Owl is uncommon and difficult to detect; one was a good find in Pasture Canyon 13 Dec (CLR, JWi).
Records of wintering Black Phoebes seem to be increasing in the region; this year two were reported from Pasture Canyon 13 Dec (CLR, JWi). Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is rare in winter and tends to be confined to the area along the Colorado R.; two seen at Lees Ferry 6 Dec (ph. RMo) and 4 Jan (RMo, LPi) fit this pattern. One American Dipper was reported at Lees Ferry 1 Jan (BGa), an area where they regularly winter in very small numbers. Orange-crowned Warbler is an uncommon wintering species along the Colorado R; two were reported this year at Lees Ferry 4 Jan (RMo). A report of two White-throated Sparrows at Pasture Canyon 13 Dec (CLR, JWi) was the only observation of this uncommon and somewhat irruptive species this year.
Abbreviations: Willow Creek Reservoir (Willow L.), Sedona Wetlands Preserve (Sedona WP), Page Springs Fish Hatchery/Bubbling Ponds (Page Springs)
A Greater White-fronted Goose lingering from the fall at Watson and Willow lakes remained through at least 17 Jan (m. ob.). Rare but possibly increasing winter residents in the region, two Snow Geese from the fall at Watson L. (BPt, m. ob.) increased to six by mid-January and 11 by 30 Jan (WA), with five remaining through the season (StB, m. ob.). Another was in Camp Verde 31 Dec – 2 Jan (HKl). Ross’s Goose is a casual to rare winter visitor and the only individuals reported were two at Watson and Willow lakes 2-19 Dec (WA, m. ob.), with one remaining through 6 Feb (BPt, StB, m. ob.), and one during the Camp Verde CBC 2 Jan (fide BCo, HKl). Casual winter residents, a Tundra Swan at Watson and Willow lakes beginning 9 Dec was joined by another 14 Jan, with both remaining through 26 Feb (BPt, CT, m. ob.).
Apparently three Cinnamon Teal once again wintered at the Sedona WP 4 Dec+ (SaH, VN, m. ob.). A single male at Willow L. 18-26 Feb was likely a northbound migrant (R. Bonner, CT). A record high of 2,333 Northern Shovelers and a high of 281 Canvasbacks and 34 Common Goldeneye on the Prescott CBC 16 Dec (fide CT) were notable concentrations in the Prescott area. One highlight for the Prescott CBC 16 Dec was a report of a Barrow’s Goldeneye (WA), one of very few ever detected in Yavapai Co. Red-breasted Mergansers are rare in winter, so two at Watson L. 18 Dec (DWi) and another at Page Springs 31 Jan (B. D’Antonio) were noteworthy.
Common Loons are rare winter visitors. Therefore four at L. Pleasant 10-25 Jan (SHos, EGo, m. ob.) was a noteworthy concentration. The only Horned Grebe and a very casual Red-necked Grebe at L. Pleasant 9-25 Jan were of note (KR, EGo, SHos et al.). One Neotropic Cormorant lingered at Watson L. through 25 Dec (WA et al.), with northbound individuals beginning to arrive there and elsewhere in the region by mid-February (ph. RyC et al.). Casual to rare winter visitors, an individual American White Pelican remained at Watson L. 12 Dec – 13 Feb (StB, CT, m. ob.) and more surprisingly, one was at Camp Verde 18 Dec (ph. M. New). The individual at Watson L. had a wing-tag that confirmed it was banded at the Great Salt L., UT (StB).
Always a good find in Arizona, a Red-shouldered Hawk apparently wintered at Willow L. 9 Dec – 26 Feb (ph. BPt, CT, m. ob.). The first returning Common Black Hawk of the spring was detected at Page Springs 20 Feb (ph. SaH), which was exactly a week before the first migrants were reported elsewhere in s. Arizona.
A high concentration of 28 Long-billed Dowitchers foraged both at Willow and Watson lakes 11-26 Dec (EMo, J. Hetz). The only notable late southbound gull was a Bonaparte’s reported at Willow L. 9 Dec (BPt, ph. SaH).
Band-tailed Pigeons are casual and very irregular winter visitors in the region, so of note were two in the Mountain Club neighborhood s. of Prescott 30 Dec (BNo), four at Groom Cr. 1 Jan (BNo) and four at West Spruce Mtn. 15 Feb (FG). An early migrant or possibly locally wintering Common Poorwill was discovered in the evening on Bloody Basin Rd., Agua Fria NM 16 Feb (J. Smith).
The first spring report for Broad-tailed Hummingbird was at Quartz Mtn. 26 Feb (FG). Quite late was a Rufous Hummingbird at a Sedona feeder 4 Dec (ph. R. Bonner), and an astonishing two reported on the Prescott CBC 16 Dec (J. Paris, fide CT) were Prescott’s first winter records. The adult male (ph. CT) was last recorded 22 Jan (J. Paris). Irregular winter visitors, a Lewis’s Woodpecker was in Boynton Canyon n. of Sedona 11 Jan (K. Edwards), one 30 Jan along Poland Rd. south of AZ 69 (FG), and another at Banning Cr. 16-17 Feb (SDr). Unexpected, a Gila Woodpecker was along the upper Verde R. east of Paulden 21 Dec (WA). Rare winter visitors, the only Yellow-bellied Sapsucker reported was one at Dry Beaver Cr. – Stage Stop Riparian Area 31 Jan – 24 Feb (ph. SaH, m. ob.). Typically casual winter visitors, a Red-breasted Sapsucker was at Wood Spring, southeast of Lynx L., Bradshaw Mtns. 16-17 Dec (ph. FG, ph. BPt) and another at upper Pasture Spring, northeast of Prescott 27 Jan (ph. FG). Downy Woodpeckers are also casual winter visitors, so of note was a male in the riparian area n. of the South Gateway USFS visitor center 1 Jan (VN, R. Bonner).
Rare, but possibly increasing winter visitors in small numbers in the region, individual Hammond’s Flycatchers were reported at Watson Woods 29 Dec – 9 Jan (ph. J. Hertz et al.), Page Springs 13 Dec – 28 Feb (SaH, ph. GBot, VN, m. ob.), and another along the Agua Fria R. near Black Canyon City 27 Feb (TC, KD). Similarly increasing winter reports of Dusky Flycatchers included individuals at the Agua Fria NM 17 Jan (MiR), along the upper Hassayampa R. near Wilhoit 23 Feb – 2 Mar (FG, CT), and along the Agua Fria R. near Black Canyon City 27 Feb (TC, KD). Eastern Phoebes are typically rare winter visitors, with one at Watson Woods 28 Dec – 25 Feb (ph. J. Hertz, ph. TDeB), at Page Springs 12 Feb (R. Hinckley), and another at a Sedona Shadows neighborhood 6 Jan (ph. SaH). Also on the increase in winter in the region, the only Cassin’s Vireo reports were southeast of Camp Verde 21 Jan (ph. SaH) and from Page Springs 12 Feb (ph. BPt). An early Tree Swallow was at Willow L. 5 Jan (CT).
Rare but regular, individual Pacific Wrens were reported at Granite Dells 9 Dec (WA), near Mt. Union Dec 10 (FG), below Willow L. dam 14 Dec – 4 Jan (CT), at Page Springs 29 Jan (JCn), at Banning Cr. 5-10 Feb (FG, CT, SDr), and at Potato Patch 28 Feb (FG). The only Winter Wren was at Banning Cr. 31 Dec – 4 Jan (TDeB, SF). Accidental in winter, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher foraged along Lynx Cr. near Prescott Valley’s Fain Park Dec 15 (FG). Although there is a resident population in Oak Cr. Canyon in nearby Coconino Co., American Dippers are very casual transients and winter visitors in Yavapai Co. Therefore one on Oak Cr. near Page Springs 5 Dec was a great find (ph. GBot). Another excellent discovery was a Rufous-backed Robin at Bumblebee Ranch 6 Dec (C. Warman, BH). Brown Thrashers are casual winter visitors to Yavapai Co., so it was great to have the individual that was found 27 Nov at Page Springs linger through at least 20 Feb (EGo, ph. GBot, m. ob.). Rare in the Prescott area, a Sage Thrasher was noted in grassland near the airport 27 Feb (CT).
Seldom detected in any season in Yavapai Co., a Chestnut-collared Longspur was reported on the Chino Valley CBC 21 Dec (fide RDue). Very casual transient anytime in the region with few winter records, an Ovenbird was well described at Sedona 8 Jan (AGr), but was reported to have been there two weeks prior. The only Black-and-white Warblers reported was one at Page Springs 1 Dec – 7 Feb (ph. SaH, m. ob.) and two on the Jerome CBC 20 Dec (fide J. Wills). Back for its fourth consecutive winter, a Painted Redstart was at Lo Lo Mai Springs CG 7 Dec – 17 Jan (fide RAr, AGr, ph. SaH). Possibly a first for Yavapai Co. in winter, a Yellow-breasted Chat was along Willow Cr. below the dam 13-14 Jan (LR, ph. SDr, ph. CT).
Grasshopper Sparrows are rarely reported in the Prescott area, so one in se. Williamson Valley grassland 18 Dec and four 21 Feb were noteworthy (FG). Casual in the region, a "Red" Fox Sparrow bathed near Lynx Cr. at the Highlands Center for Natural History 9 Dec (CT). Much more expected, "Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow was reported at Sayor Spring n. of Wickenburg 20 Dec (BIs, ph. RBow) and one to seven near Ramsgate Canyon sw. of Iron Springs 2 Jan – 29 Feb (FG, ph. BPt). A 1.5-mile roadside survey through dense chaparral along Dosie Rd. tallied a surprising 29 Fox Sparrows and at least 102 Spotted Towhees 4 Jan (CT). Many of those birds were relocated 19 Jan (CT). A great find was a casual Harris’s Sparrow in a Rimrock neighborhood 3-5 Jan (AGr, ph. SaH et al.). Sparser than in the past few winters, only about a dozen White-throated Sparrows were reported, with only one in the Prescott area. An adult male Rose-breasted Grosbeak at a Rimrock yard feeder 1 Dec was possibly a first winter record for the region (ph. S. Stransky).
After many years without any reports, Purple Finches made the largest push into Arizona this fall and winter in several decades. First observed in November, Purple Finches that wintered at and near Aspen Spring reached remarkable highs of 28 on 9-12 Dec (CT, ph. SaH et al.) and two separate flocks of 44 and 18 birds by 18 Feb (CT). These birds gradually depleted an abundant crop of California Buckthorn fruit. They also fed at sapsucker wells in Arizona walnut, dwarf mistletoe shoots, and basal parts of dead ponderosa pine needle bundles. Singing birds continued there into the spring. One Purple Finch was noted at the Village of Oak Cr. 15 Dec (VN), and two were observed 16 Jan in Skull Valley (CT). A flock of 15 Red Crossbills at the Village of Oak Cr. 18-25 Feb (VN et al.) was at a lower elevation than typically found in winter within the region. Irregular visitors, two Evening Grosbeaks were in Sedona 23 Dec (A. Larson) and five to nine were at Wet Beaver Cr. CG 15-22 Jan (ph. SaH et al.).
Compiled by Eric Hough
Abbreviations: Hidden Cove Golf Course (HCGC), White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT)
Typical snowfall was observed in the region early in the winter, but little precipitation and above-average temperatures occurred especially through the latter half of the season. Daytime high temperatures for some days in January and February reached into the 60s and 70s (Fahrenheit) and the first spring wildflowers were noted in mid-February at Heber-Overgaard around 6,600 ft. elevation.
"Mexican" Mallards and intergrades with "Northern" Mallards continue to be found in the White Mtns., with sightings this season including two intergrades at Show Low L. 1 Dec (ph. ErH) and two intergrades at Rainbow L. in Pinetop 7 Dec (ErH). A high concentration of 276 Mallards was present at HCGC near Holbrook 2 Jan (ASO). Sandhill Cranes are casual in the region any time of year, with observations this winter of two at Springerville 31 Dec (ph. NW, CWor) and six at Taylor 10 Feb (NW, CWor). Rare in winter, a Virginia Rail was heard at Jacques Marsh in Lakeside 7 Dec (ErH). Two Least Sandpipers and five Wilson’s Snipes were lingering migrants at Jacques Marsh 7 Dec (ErH), although the latter species may occasionally overwinter in less-severe winters.
As long as open water exists, Belted Kingfishers will occasionally linger in the region into winter. One kingfisher was at L. of the Woods in Pinetop 1 Dec (ErH, NW, CWor) and another was at Pinecrest L. in Overgaard 16 Dec (ErH, BHo). A male "Yellow-shafted" Northern Flicker was described from Winslow 18 Feb (BSD). An overwintering Black Phoebe at Rainbow L. in Pinetop 8 Jan (LL) was unusual but perhaps not unexpected given the warm January weather. Likewise, three Say’s Phoebes at Holbrook Indian School 9 Feb (ASO) were either overwintering individuals or early returning migrants.
By far the most extraordinary discovery in the region this winter was of a Carolina Wren at Overgaard 14 Dec – 17 Jan (ph. JJa, m. ob.). If accepted by the ABC, this will be only Arizona’s fourth record of this species, a first record for Navajo Co., and one of the westernmost records for the species in the U.S. (note that all three U.S. Pacific Coast states plus Nevada and Utah have not yet had records of this species, with most westerly vagrants not traveling any farther west than the Rio Grande in New Mexico or the Rocky Mountains in Colorado). Rarely lingering into winter in the region, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet was present at Show Low L. 1 Dec (ErH). A sparse and local year-round resident north of the Mogollon Rim, a Crissal Thrasher at HCGC near Holbrook 2 Jan was the only one reported (ASO). A Lapland Longspur at Holbrook Indian School 9 Jan (ph. ASO) provided a first documented record for Navajo Co. Late migrants likely lingering due to warmer weather at the time, a high concentration of 85 American Pipits was noted at Jacques Marsh 7 Dec (ErH). A "Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler at Show Low L. 1 Dec (ErH) was a late migrant. Sagebrush Sparrows are uncommon to rare winter residents in the region, with a high concentration of nine at Holbrook 2 Jan (ASO). Rare and local mostly around agricultural fields in winter, a flock of 14 Brewer’s Blackbirds was present at Joseph City 31 Jan (BSD). Although some higher numbers of Cassin’s Finches in fall suggested the beginning of another irruption year, numbers dwindled into winter with the highest concentration reported being 30 at Pinetop 8 Jan (LL).
Compiled by Lauren Harter and David Vander Plyum
Abbreviations: 'Ahakhav Tribal Preserve ('Ahakhav), Bill Williams Delta, Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge (BWD), Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge (BWR NWR), Cibola Valley Conservation Area (CVCA), Laguna Division Conservation Area (LDCA), Solar and Wind Power Ponds near Wellton (SWP Ponds), Yuma East Wetlands (YEW), Yuma West Wetlands (YWW), Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG)
Weather in Yuma this season varied between extremes: December was cool and dry, becoming cool and wet in January, and February was hot with no precipitation recorded in Yuma. The highlights of the season included Yuma Co.’s first Red-throated Loon and second Streak-backed Oriole records (for the latter, if accepted by the ABC).
Greater White-fronted Goose is rare through much of the region, but winters regularly in small numbers at Cibola NWR. The high count this season was of 16 on 18 Dec (DPe). Snow Geese appear to be increasing at Cibola NWR as numbers decrease farther north at Havasu NWR, and this season’s high count of 950 on 19 Jan (LHar, DVP) was notable. Snow Geese are uncommon to rare away from Cibola, so any reports are of note; this season these included up to nine at the SWP Ponds 6 Dec – 24 Jan (m. ob.) and eight at LDCA 21 Feb (LHar, DVP). In contrast to Snow Goose, the high count of Ross’s Goose from Cibola NWR this season was more average: 46 there 18 Dec (DPe). Cackling Goose is always a good find in Arizona, though they are regular in small numbers among the thousands of Canada Geese at Cibola NWR. Reports this season included six apparent "Aleutian" Cackling Geese there 18 Dec (ph. DPe), and one there 9 Jan (RMu). Tundra Swans are about annual in the region, so four at Cibola NWR 9 Jan was a good find (RMu).
Wood Duck is rare in the region, so one at Mittry L. 8 Jan (C. Christie) was a good find. This species is usually present in small numbers at the Baseline Pond in Cibola, though 13 was a good count there 19 Jan (LHar, DVP). Good numbers of American Wigeon wintered at Cibola NWR, with up to 1200 there 18 Dec – 19 Jan, dropping to 950 on 27 Jan (DPe, m. ob.). Reports of rare but regular "Mexican" x "Northern" Mallard intergrades were of one at the SWP Ponds 10 Dec (CMC) and four at the Baseline Pond 19 Jan (LHar, DVP). A concentration of 1515 Northern Shovelers was an exceptional count for the region at YPG 19 Dec (D. Steward). The high count for Northern Pintail this season was less than in recent years: 1000 at Cibola NWR 28 Dec (J. Tanner).
Rare anywhere in the state and in the Southwest Region especially away from the BWD, a Surf Scoter was at the Coyote Wash Golf Course 6 Dec (HD), and up to four were at the SWP Ponds 7-10 Dec (CMC). Two rare but regular White-winged Scoters were at Parker Dam 6 Jan (ph. CKa). Rare but regular in winter, Red-breasted Merganser reports included two at Mittry L. 6 Dec (HD), one at Imperial Dam 22 Dec (PL), and one at Parker Dam 30 Jan (MHe, BMe). A good count of 285 Ruddy Ducks was reported from Imperial NWR 12 Feb (HD, m. ob.).
A first record for Yuma Co., a Red-throated Loon was a great find at Mittry L. 4 Feb+ (HD). Horned Grebes are regular in the region only at the BWD, where up to five were present at least to 28 Dec (DVP, LHar). Numerous Neotropic Cormorants were reported this season. At the BWD and Parker Dam, one continued from the fall to 24 Feb (m. ob.), a second was present 26 Jan – 24 Feb (RCa), and two additional birds appeared for a total of four on 24 Feb (DVP). In Yuma Co., at least 19 were reported throughout the LCRV portion of the county 22 Dec – 11 Feb (m. ob.), and a good count of 13 was at LDCA 21 Feb (LHar, DVP). Brown Pelicans are reported less than annually in winter in the region. This season saw one at BWD 1-3 Dec (JRi), two birds there 7 Jan (JRi, KB), and an adult at Mittry L. 20 Feb (ph. SDr). Great Egrets are sometimes found in fairly large concentrations in the region, and 87 was a good count at the SWP Ponds 10 Dec (CMC). The high count of White-faced Ibis for the season was of 650 in the Parker Valley 19 Dec (DPe).
White-tailed Kites are rare but regular residents in the region, and found primarily at riparian habitat restoration areas. Reports this season were of one at YEW 16 Jan (R. Fisher), one in the Yuma Valley 11 Feb (HD, BrB), and two at Imperial NWR 12 Feb (HD). Bald Eagle reports included up to three at the south end of L. Havasu 20 Dec – 18 Jan (ph. SHos, m. ob.) and one at Cibola NWR 27 Jan – 11 Feb (WA). This was a good season for rare but regular Red-shouldered Hawks. One continued from the fall in Yuma to 10 Jan (m. ob.), up to two were at Cibola NWR 21 Dec – 11 Feb (m. ob.), one was in Wellton 11 Jan – 3 Feb (GR, CBen, ph. DSt), and an immature was at Mittry L. 11 Jan – 3 Feb (ph. D. Glasco). Swainson’s Hawks arrived early in good numbers in February, including seven in the Yuma Valley 26 Feb (HD, BrB) and three there 27 Feb (HD, ph. E. Forrest). Ferruginous Hawks appear to be increasing as winter residents in the Yuma Valley, with 43 there 6 Dec (HD), an astounding 98 there 22 Dec (HD, AB) (almost certainly a new high count for the LCRV), and 42 there 1 Jan (MNe, GKa, CRo). A Zone-tailed Hawk has been reported in Yuma every winter since at least 2008, with the exception of 2014. Reports this year were of one in the Yuma area 22 Dec (SDe) and one at YWW 24 Feb (HD, BrB). The high count of Red-tailed Hawks in the Yuma Valley this season was of 95 on 5 Jan (HD). Rare in the LCRV, a Golden Eagle visited Cibola NWR 27 Jan – 23 Feb (WA).
The season’s high count of Sandhill Crane at Cibola NWR was about normal, with 1500 there 12 Feb (K. O’Hearn). Numbers of Mountain Plovers reported were below average this season. The two areas where this species occurs regularly in the region are the Parker Valley, where up to 24 were found 19-25 Dec (ph. DPe), and the Yuma Valley, where 11 were present 8 Jan (m. ob.). Long-billed Curlew is rare in winter in the region, except in the Yuma Valley where occurrence is sporadic throughout the season but large flocks sometimes occur. Reports from La Paz Co. were of an impressive 63 in the Parker Valley 19 Dec (DPe) and one at Cibola NWR 12 Feb (K. O’Hearn). The high count from the Yuma Valley was an incredible 410 reported 22 Dec (HD, AB), and a flock of 20 was at Mittry L. 13 Feb (DShe). Reports of very unseasonal Bonaparte’s Gulls were of individuals at the SWP Ponds 31 Dec (B. Sandstrom) and north of Quigley WMA 6-11 Feb (HD). Rare in winter, Caspian Tern reports were of one in Yuma Co. 6 Dec (HD), two at Imperial Dam 21 Dec (PL), one at YEW 16 Jan (C. Sequanna, KBr), and one at Mittry L. 20 Feb (SDr). Casual in winter in recent years, a Forster’s Tern was reported from YEW 10 Jan (LBt).
Inca Doves are uncommon in the region, and 22 was a good count at the Oxbow CG near Cibola 12 Feb (JuC). Reports of rare Ruddy Ground-Doves included one continuing at Hidden Shores to 7 Dec (B. Reo), a female at Green Acres in Wellton 11 Jan – 14 Feb (GR, ph. CBen, ph. DSt), and a second individual at Green Acres 19 Jan (ph. J. Schwarz). White-winged Doves are rare but regular and possibly increasing in small numbers in winter in Yuma Co., and casual in winter in La Paz Co. Reports this season were rather numerous: two at YWW 6 Dec – 27 Feb (P. Hargis), two at YPG 19 Dec (D. Steward), up to two at YEW 29 Dec – 22 Feb (G. Spinelli, m. ob.), one at Oxbow CG 8 Jan (ph. JuC), one in Yuma 5 Feb (L. Neily), and one in the Yuma Valley 6 Dec – 27 Feb (HD, E. Forrest). There are few recent winter records of Lesser Nighthawk, so one at YEW 1 Jan (TLen) was exceptional.
This was a good season for rare sapsuckers. Four Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were reported: an adult male at BWR NWR 28 Dec – 23 Jan (LHar), one at YEW 2 Jan (ph. M. Grube), one in Wellton 11 Jan – 3 Feb (ph. GR, ph. CBen, ph. DSt), and one in Dateland 6 Feb (ph. CMC). A hybrid Red-breasted x Red-naped Sapsucker was a good find at Effie May Riparian Area 6 Feb (ph. CMC). Two Red-breasted Sapsuckers were found: one at the Cougar Point area, BWR NWR 28 Dec (LHar, ph. CKa), and one at Effie May Riparian Area 6 Feb (ph. CMC). The only Peregrine Falcons reported in the LCRV portion of the region were two around Yuma 28 Dec – 11 Feb (m. ob.), and a total of seven Prairie Falcons were reported throughout the season in the LCRV portion of the region (m. ob.).
The returning Greater Pewee at 'Ahakhav was last reported 19 Jan (LHar, ph. DVP). Only two Gray Flycatchers were reported, with one at Cibola NWR 18 Dec (DPe) and one at BWR NWR 5 Jan (JRi). Other Empidonax flycatchers not reported to species were at Cibola NWR 13 Dec (J. Bregar) and at Effie May Riparian Area 3 Feb (HD). An Eastern Phoebe was a good find at Mittry L. 6 Dec (HD).
Any vireo species is a good find in winter in the region, so a “Solitary” Vireo at YWW 30 Dec (SFi) was of interest. Barn Swallows are rare in winter in the region, but are reported about annually. Four were at Imperial Dam 21 Dec (PL), and one was at the BWD 28 Dec (DVP). Small numbers were reported from YEW 26 Dec – 12 Jan (m. ob.). Cliff Swallows arrived early, including one at the BWD 2 Feb (JRi, KB), two at Cibola NWR 3 Feb and 15 there 4 Feb (both RMu), and one at Mittry L. 5 Feb (CMC). A Brown Creeper was at Mosquito Flats, BWR NWR 11 Dec (ph. DVP), the first in the region since 2012. Verdins bred early in Yuma, with fledglings found at YEW 24 Feb (HD). Rare in Yuma Co., Bewick’s Wrens included two at YEW 24 Dec (M. Anderson) and up to two at YWW 1 Jan – 25 Feb (M. Stratton). Cactus Wrens are rare throughout the LCRV and are reported regularly only from the BWR NWR. Reports this season included individuals at Mosquito Flats, BWR NWR 11-28 Dec (DVP) and the end of Planet Ranch Rd. area, BWR NWR 5 Jan (JRi).
Both Western and Mountain bluebirds are irruptive and variable in the region. The only reports throughout the LCRV this season were of two Western Bluebirds on the BWR NWR 28 Dec (JRi), and up to 11 Mountain Bluebirds in agricultural fields around Quigley WMA 28 Dec – 6 Feb (S. Voelker). In contrast, this was a good season for American Robin, with several reports including a season high count of 191 at YEW 24 Dec (M. Anderson). A good count of American Pipits for the region, an estimated 600 were in the Parker Valley 19 Dec (DPe). Cedar Waxwings were nearly absent from the region; the only reports were of up to eight at YEW 29 Dec – 1 Jan (SFi), and up to 10 at YWW 20 Jan – 25 Feb (CMC).
Several rare but regular winter warblers were reported, mostly from Yuma East Wetlands. These included a Black-and-white Warbler at YEW 23 Dec – 22 Feb (LD, m. ob.), an American Redstart continuing from the fall at YEW to 31 Dec (AB, Helga Borgardt), up to two Yellow Warblers, an adult male and a female/immature, at YEW 16 Dec – 23 Jan (LD, LSt, m. ob.), an intergrade Yellow-rumped Warbler at YWW 5 Feb (CMC), and up to two Black-throated Gray Warblers at YEW throughout the season (D. Lueth, L. Bosacker. m. ob.). Much rarer in winter, a Wilson’s Warbler was at YEW 27 Dec+ (ph. J. Keller). Reports of uncommon to rare Dark-eyed Junco subspecies included up to two Gray-headed Juncos near Wellton 6 Dec – 3 Feb and a Slate-colored Junco at Hidden Shores 4 Feb (both HD).
Rare in winter, a Summer Tanager was a good find at YWW 2 Jan (B. Sandstrom). A high count for this area, 537 Great-tailed Grackles were counted at YEW 21 Jan (M. Schall). One of the most notable birds of the season was a male Streak-backed Oriole that frequented YEW and adjacent Riverside Park 24 Dec+ (ph. JTa); if accepted by the ABC, this will furnish the second Yuma Co. record. The agricultural fields of the Yuma Valley have become known in recent years for high concentrations of wintering raptors, but another good count from that area this season was of 450 House Finches 20 Jan (DVP, LHar). This was a moderate season for American Goldfinch, with five reports: one was at 'Ahakhav 19 Jan (LHar, DVP), one was at YEW 20 Jan – 10 Feb (CMC), six were at the Oxbow CG near Cibola 15 Feb (ph. JuC), one was on the BWR NWR 24 Feb (JRi), and two were in Yuma 26 Feb (SDe).
Compiled by Walter Thurber
Abbreviations: Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, Superior (BTA), Glendale Recharge Ponds, Glendale (GRP), Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Survey (GPW), Hassayampa River Preserve, Wickenburg (HRP), Phoenix metropolitan area (Valley), Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, Gilbert (GWR), Tres Rios Wetlands, Phoenix (TRW), Veterans Oasis Park, Chandler (VOP). The Granite Reef, Phon D. Sutton, Coon Bluff, Goldfield, Blue Point and Pebble Beach recreation sites lie within the Lower Salt River Recreation Area, and the Box Bar Recreation Site is part of the Needle Rock Recreation Area, all on the Tonto National Forest.
The South-Central Region includes all of Maricopa Co. along with the portions of Pinal Co. lying north of the Gila R. and west of Casa Grande. Elevations in the region range from 425 feet on the Gila R. near Hyder to 7657 feet atop Brown’s Peak in the Mazatzal Mtns. Hence, there is considerable habitat diversity and a wide variety of birdlife. This winter was warmer and drier than normal. The average temperature at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was 58.5°F, 1.3°F above the 30-year average. Near record warmth occurred in February. Precipitation totaled 1.52 inches, 1.19 inches below normal. The wettest day was 7 Jan, when 0.60 inches were recorded, followed by 14 Dec with 0.16 inches. No rainfall was recorded in February (US Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service). This is the season for targeted bird surveys in the region. Five National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Counts were conducted here: Carefree, Gila River, Phoenix Tres-Rios, Salt-Verde Rivers, and Superior. A portion of the Hassayampa River CBC circle lies within the region as well. The annual GPW tallied 62 species and over 72,000 individuals, and AZG&F completed waterbird surveys on Apache L. and Saguaro L. Highlights from these surveys are included in this report.
Beginning with the waterfowl, one to eight Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were observed at TRW 4-13 Dec (CRi, R. Carlson et al.), with a gap in reports until five appeared there 20 Feb (MWi et al.). Four were noted at the Base and Meridian WA, Avondale 17 Dec (T. Jenkins). One to two Greater White-fronted Geese continued at Surprise Community Park 4-18 Dec (S. Boyack et al.), with three there 31 Dec (H. Pugh) and a singleton 30 Jan – 23 Feb (ph. BrJ, m. ob.). Also continuing was an individual at Anthem Community Park 10 Dec (TC). Some 17 were reported from 13 additional locations in the Valley 4 Dec+. Several Cackling Geese frequented the Crystal Gardens community, Avondale and nearby farm fields for much of the winter. One to four were present 4 Dec – 12 Feb (TDeB, ph. CSd, m. ob.), except for five there 2 Jan (ph. TDeB). Some observers attempted to separate the forms, and the consensus was that there were at least three "Richardson’s" and two "Aleutian" birds in this area. Elsewhere, one continued at the Riggs Rd. ponds, Sun Lakes 8 Dec – 7 Jan (ph. DC et al.), with four there 9 Dec and two 16 Dec (both DWi). Three were noted in Palo Verde 27 Dec (ph. MHe). Two were seen in the Salt R. Pima-Maricopa Indian Community 2 Jan (ph. JPz, AWi), and one there 6 Feb (D. Dann). Three were observed at the Oakwood GC, Sun Lakes 16 Jan (TC, KD), and three at McCormick Ranch, Scottsdale 16-17 Jan (WT, ph. M. Beisel et al.)—increasing to six 24 Jan (ph. BrJ). Singles were noted in Sun City Grand, Surprise 1 Feb (DShe), and GRP 9 Feb (ph. LH). This species is considered to be a rare but regular winter visitor to Arizona.
Six juv. Trumpeter Swans remained in the Palo Verde area 19-26 Dec (ph. MHe, m. ob.), with most sightings at the Lower River Rd. ponds and along Narramore Rd. This is the first documented record for this species in Maricopa Co. A continuing male Eurasian Wigeon was present at Dos Lagos Park, Glendale 1 Dec+ (N. Haley, m. ob.), its third winter there, and another likely returnee was seen in Queen Creek 16 Jan (JAl). Two males were discovered in Gold Canyon 16 Jan (T. Vyvial), and a male at the Great Eagle GC, Surprise the same day (JAr et al.). Nearly 23,000 American Wigeons were counted on the GPW 16 Jan (fide TC), the most abundant species on that survey and the highest total in the 11 years of the survey. Some 28 "Mexican" Mallards were detected at 17 locations 1 Dec+, with most reports coming from GWR and TRW. Three hybrid ducks were documented in Gilbert during the period. A continuing Wood Duck x Mallard was seen at GWR 25 Dec+ (RPO, m. ob.), an American Wigeon x Mallard at Freestone Park 6-7 Feb (ph. SFi et al.), and an unusual Blue-winged Teal x Northern Shoveler at GWR 27 Jan – 17 Feb (ph. B. Howe, m. ob.).
A rare winter visitor away from the LCRV, two Greater Scaup (one continuing) were observed at the Riggs Rd. ponds, Sun Lakes 1 Dec (DW), and a singleton was there 1-18 Jan (MWe et al.). Also continuing was an individual at GRP 3 Dec (D. Russum et al.). A male remained at VOP 4 Dec – 25 Jan (ph. BBk, m. ob.); he was joined by a female 7 Dec (MWi) and 21 Dec (MWi, E. Dunning et al.). A female was present at Saguaro L., Tonto NF 12 Dec (ph. BrJ), and another at Kiwanis Community Park, Tempe 26 Dec – 12 Feb (MWe et al.). A male was noted at the Lewis Prison ponds, Buckeye 28-29 Dec (ph. TC et al.). Later in the season, a male settled at the ASU Research Park, Tempe 16 Feb+ (ph. TLo, m. ob.), with four birds there 29 Feb (E. Moody). Some 747 Lesser Scaup were counted on the Saguaro L. waterbird survey 12 Jan (BB, TC), the most abundant duck there. A female Surf Scoter was observed at Saguaro L., Tonto NF 2 Dec (SG, LN), probably the same bird that spent the late fall at the Blue Point and Pebble Beach recreation sites. Casual in winter away from the Colorado R., an imm. female Barrow’s Goldeneye visited Surprise Community Park 30 Jan – 1 Feb (ph. BrJ et al.). This may be only the third Maricopa Co. record for this species. Considered rare away from the LCRV within the state, a Red-breasted Merganser was seen at the Lower River Rd. ponds, Palo Verde 5 Dec (ph. S. Boyack), and a female at TRW 22 Dec (CKS, RPO). A female appeared at Apache L., Tonto NF 11 Jan (BB, TC), and two females at McCormick Ranch, Scottsdale 29 Feb (B. Mast).
Single Common Loons appeared at Canyon L., Tonto NF 9 Jan (JJ), Apache L., Tonto NF 11 Jan (BB, TC), and the Hillcrest GC, Sun City West 22 Jan (H. Pugh). This species is rare in winter in Arizona away from the larger Lower Colorado R. reservoirs. Fourteen Horned Grebes were reported from six locations 22 Dec – 15 Feb, including a high count of five at Apache L., Tonto NF 11 Jan (BB, TC). Two Red-necked Grebes, casual in the region, were noted at Apache L., Tonto NF 11 Jan, and a singleton at Saguaro L., Tonto NF the next day (all BB, ph. TC). Some 806 Eared Grebes were counted on the Apache L. waterbird survey 11 Jan (BB, TC), the most abundant species there. The Neotropic Cormorant population continues to increase in the Valley, with a record high 3,354 individuals on the GPW 16 Jan (fide TC)—outnumbering Double-crested Cormorants by more than six to one. Reports of Brown Pelican in winter were up, with four Brown Pelicans continuing at TTL 4 Dec (TLo). One to three were there 5-26 Dec (ph. J. Sheldon, m. ob.), then one to four from 31 Dec – 30 Jan (MWe, m. ob.). Two to three were present 31 Jan – 7 Feb (MWe et al.), dropping to one to two from 9 Feb+ (TLo, m. ob.). Draining of the lake began 10 Feb in preparation for replacement of the west dam. Elsewhere, one pelican appeared at L. Pleasant, Peoria 4 Dec (D. Russum et al.), 16 were reported on the Phoenix-Tres Rios CBC 22 Dec (fide MV), and six were noted at the Indian Springs Rd. ponds, Avondale the following day (ph. S. Boyack). Two were observed at GWR 10 Feb (SFi, ph. TLo), with one there 21 Feb (NB). An imm. Reddish Egret, a casual visitor to Arizona, was spotted at the Goldfield Recreation Site 1 Dec (ph. KG); this individual was likely continuing from the nearby Coon Bluff Recreation Site. Numerous White-faced Ibises were reported, with a high count of 2,620 at TRW 16 Jan (CKS, APe).
The Palo Verde area yielded a regional record high of 297 Black Vultures 29 Dec during the Gila River CBC (MHe). White-tailed Kites were found at more places than usual, with singles in the Arlington Valley 4 Dec – 20 Feb (RBow, m. ob.), along the Gila R. at Dean Rd., Buckeye 26 Jan, and another in Liberty the same day (both ph. CSd). Additional singles were at Paloma Ranch, Theba 13 Feb (TDeB et al.), the Salome Hwy., Buckeye 21 Feb (V. Knowles), and the Base and Meridian WA, Avondale 29 Feb (ph. RBow). These reports were likely of the same individual. One Gray Hawk, a well-established breeding species at HRP, lingered there to 5 Dec (ALe, m. ob.). Away from HRP, where this species is resident, single Red-shouldered Hawks continued at TRW 4 Dec – 30 Jan (CRi, R. Carlson, m. ob.) and the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, Phoenix 6 Dec (CSd et al.). A few Zone-tailed Hawks apparently now winter annually in the region. An exceptional collection of two adults and an immature bird were reported at VOP 10 Dec (P. Ginsburg et al.), with one remaining 22 Dec – 22 Jan (DWi, m. ob.). Singles were reported from 10 other locations in the Valley likely pertaining to at least four wandering individuals 5 Dec – 20 Feb. A light morph "Harlan’s" Red-tailed Hawk continued in the Arlington area, its seventh winter there. The bird was sighted at the Arlington Valley 19 Dec – 7 Feb (ph. MHe, m. ob.). Dark morph individuals were observed at TRW 4-16 Dec (CRi, R. Carlson et al.), and in the Salt R. Pima-Maricopa Indian Community 12 Jan (ph. KWa).
Some 2,669 American Coots were counted on the Saguaro L. waterbird survey 12 Jan (BB, TC), the most abundant species there. Casual in winter, a Semipalmated Plover remained at GRP 5 Jan+ (ph. SHos, m. ob.). One Mountain Plover, a rare and local winter visitor, briefly appeared at the Lower River Rd. ponds, Palo Verde 27 Dec (ph. TDeB, ph. MHe). A Lesser Yellowlegs continued at GRP 1 Dec – 15 Jan (S. Boyack, m. ob.), with three present 11 Dec (ph. BBk); one to two were there 16 Jan+ (M. Cooper, m. ob.). Rare, but possibly increasing in the region in winter, one to two Lesser Yellowlegs were reported from at least eight other general locations in the Valley 5 Dec+. Rare but regular winter residents, two Western Sandpipers were detected at the South Recharge Facility, Gilbert 4 Dec (TDeB, CSd), with one there 22 Jan (A. Skei). GWR hosted one to six 7 Dec – 17 Jan (ph. TLo, m. ob.). Four were seen at the Granite Reef Recreation Site 8 Dec (DPe). One to two was present at GRP 11 Dec – 22 Feb (MHe, m. ob.). One appeared at VOP 17 Feb (B. Riggle, J. Riggle). Late southbound migrant Bonaparte’s Gulls included one at L. Saint Clair, Tohono O’odham Nation 9 Dec (DJ, KK), two at Estrella Mtn. RP 12 Dec (CSd, ph. by others, m. ob.), and one at GRP 16 Dec (ph. LH).
A casual to rare winter visitor, one Ruddy Ground-Dove was observed at the Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery, Phoenix 12 Dec (MWe), and a female was present at GWR 18 Dec – 1 Jan (ph. TLo, m. ob.). The Lesser Nighthawk spotted along I-10, Phoenix 2 Feb (MWe) may have been wintering, whereas the two seen at the Paradise Valley Country Club 25 Feb (SF et al.) may have wintered locally as well or possibly very early spring arrivals. Anna's Hummingbird is a common year-round resident, but an estimated 30 coming to one feeder in Superior 26 Dec (DJ et al.) was an exceptional concentration for the season. Away from BTA, where Broad-billed Hummingbird is resident, two were reported 26 Dec in Superior (MEv, DJ et al.), and single males were observed at the Box Bar Recreation Site 29 Jan (BBk), HRP 6-21 Feb (TC, KD, m. ob.) and Gold Canyon 23 Feb (MOc).
The only Lewis’s Woodpecker discovered was in the Holly Acres neighborhood, Avondale 22 Dec (ph. THld et al.). The small resident population of Acorn Woodpeckers on the ASU Main Campus, Tempe remains viable. One to three were there 6 Dec+, with high counts of four on 9 Dec (JaT) and 22 Jan (DPe, m. ob.). Additional lowland sightings include a singleton in the Boswell Blvd. neighborhood, Sun City 9 Jan (R. Dupilka), and two at the San Cervantes apartments, Chandler 20 Jan (S. Valasek). Rare and irregular winter visitors, a male Williamson’s Sapsucker appeared at Mtn. View Park, Scottsdale 11 Dec (ph. TC). A male remained at Kiwanis Community Park, Tempe 19 Dec+ (ph. TLo, m. ob.), and a female at GWR 27 Dec – 1 Jan (ph. CBen, m. ob.). One was observed in Carefree 4 Jan (F. Insana, S. Insana), and a male at McCormick Ranch, Scottsdale 16 Jan (BIs et al.). Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have proven to be rare but increasingly detected winter visitors. A male continued at BTA 5 Dec+ (ph. N. Kowalski, m. ob.), and a juvenile was spotted along the Gila R. at Dean Rd., Buckeye 18 Dec (ph. CSd). Single males were noted at the US 60 Rest Area, Wickenburg 20 Dec (CSd et al.), the Apache Tears Ranch, Superior 26 Dec (ph. HBon, DJ et al.), and the Box Bar Recreation Site 29-30 Jan (ph. G. Jones et al.). An adult male Red-breasted Sapsucker, casual in winter, continued at Scottsdale Ranch Park 1 Dec – 4 Feb (JHos, ph. SHos, m. ob.). A female Downy Woodpecker, casual in the lowlands, was sighted in the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation 11 Dec (ph. MV). Rare winter visitors, a female "Yellow-shafted" Northern Flicker remained at TTL 19 Dec – 20 Feb (ph. TC, KSt, LSt, D. Graham et al.). A singleton was seen at Estrella Mtn. Ranch, Goodyear 22 Dec (KR), and another at BTA 26 Dec (ph. D. Morse). Single males were observed at TRW 18 Jan (GKa), and in the Ocotillo community, Chandler 20 Jan (ph. DC). Casual in the region, an imm. Crested Caracara appeared at TRW 9 Dec (JF, ph. CSd), and another immature bird was in Palo Verde 28 Dec (ph. R. Bruckner). This is the fourth in the last five winters that a caracara has shown up in the Arlington area.
A Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet was detected at BTA 27 Dec (ph. MNe, MWe). This is the northern limit of its range in the U.S. Southwest, and there are few winter records in the region. A Greater Pewee, a casual visitor to the lowlands, returned to Liberty 2 Dec – 29 Jan (ph. CSd et al.). A Hammond’s Flycatcher, rarely seen in winter, was identified at the Camp Cr. Recreation Residence Tract, Tonto NF 4 Jan (ph. TC, TLew), and another stayed at BTA 31 Jan – 20 Feb (KA, ALe, m. ob.). A Dusky Flycatcher was noted at the Coon Bluff Recreation Site 7 Dec (RPO), and another continued at BTA 8 Dec – 14 Feb (F. Brown, H. Brown, m. ob.). Additional singles were reported from TRW 20 Dec – 20 Jan (TC, ph. MV et al.), the Camp Cr. Recreation Residence Tract, Tonto NF 1-4 Jan (TC et al.), Eldorado Park, Scottsdale 21 Jan (ph. C. Wood), the Gila R. at Dean Rd., Buckeye 26 Jan (CSd), and HRP 7 Feb (FG). Casual, but increasing in winter, a Western-type Flycatcher was at Skunk Cr. Linear Park, Glendale 5-29 Jan (SHos, m. ob.), at the Granite Reef Recreation Site 12-16 Dec (JaT et al.) and HRP 2 Jan – 6 Feb (H. Pugh, m. ob.). Rare but regular winter visitors, an Eastern Phoebe was recorded on the Superior CBC 26 Dec (fide MEv), and another continued at the Needle Rock Recreation Area 27-31 Jan (CBab, m. ob.)—its third winter there. Bell’s Vireos winter very casually in the region, so of note was one at BTA 1 Jan+ (ph. R. Bruckner, m. ob.); possibly two were there 18 Jan (NWi et al.). The individual seen at TRW 20-22 Dec (TC, ph. MV et al.) may have been attempting to winter. The Warbling Vireo found at the Camp Cr. Recreation Residence Tract, Tonto NF 20 Feb (TC, KD) was likely a very early migrant. An unusually low Western Scrub-Jay was reported at HRP 19 Feb (V. Knowles).
Two American Crows, typically casual winter residents in the region, were seen in the pecan groves in the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation 14 Dec (fide KR). Northbound Violet-green Swallows were reported from 11 locations—the earliest sighting was of three birds at the Happy Trails Resort, Surprise 2 Feb (J. Riegsecker), and the highest count was 12 individuals at the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field 24 Feb (L. Chain et al.). Accidental in winter, two Bank Swallows were spotted at GWR 16 Jan (A. Jaramillo). Some very early Cliff Swallows were sighted in January, including a singleton at GRP 13-25 Jan (ph. LH et al.) and 30-40 at the AZ 202 bridge, Tempe 23 Jan (MSc). This species was noted at 11 locations in February, the highest count being an estimated 100 birds at the Base and Meridian WA, Avondale 29 Feb (RBow). Barn Swallow is a rare and irregular wintering species in the region, so of note were one to two birds at TRW 4-26 Dec (CRi, R. Carlson et al.), two at the Arlington WA 27 Dec (DNo), one at the Scottsdale Shadows condominiums 1 Jan (JMe), and two at the Needle Rock Recreation Area 30 Jan (ALe). An early arriving spring migrant appeared at TTL 22 Feb (T. Avery). Bridled Titmouse, an irregular winter visitor to riparian lowlands, was reported from several locations. One was present at HRP 2-6 Dec (B. Cirillo, m. ob.), and three were there 14 Feb (JeB). One was seen at the Coon Bluff Recreation Site 4 Dec (TDeB, CSd), three along the Verde R., Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation 14 Dec (TC, TLew, K. Licence), one at the Phon D. Sutton Recreation Site 3 Jan (TC), and four at the Needle Rock Recreation Area, Tonto NF 30 Jan (ALe). Irregular winter visitors to the lowlands, five Bushtits appeared at TTL 28 Dec (JaMc), diminishing to one to three from 2-10 Jan (ph. TLo et al.). Lowland Brown Creeper sightings included two birds at the Box Bar Recreation Site 12 Dec (TC et al.), three along the Verde R., Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation 14 Dec (TC, TLew, K. Licence et al.), and two at the Stonecreek GC, Phoenix 19 Dec (TC). One to two were present at HRP 23 Dec – 9 Jan (H. Pugh et al.), then one from 15 Jan – 6 Feb (RBow, SMil, m. ob.). One was located at the Needle Rock Recreation Area 31 Jan (TC), and another at the Arizona Biltmore Estates, Phoenix 14 Feb (G. Zimmerman et al.).
Single Pacific Wrens were detected at HRP 6 Dec (A. Dupilka, R. Dupilka) and 30 Jan (R. Dupilka), the US 60 Rest Area, Wickenburg 20 Dec (K. Stucke et al.), and GRP 24 Dec (KWa et al.). A Winter Wren continued at HRP 5 Dec – 6 Feb (ALe, m. ob.), and another was spotted at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, Phoenix 6 Dec (CSd et al.). All reports of Mountain Bluebirds this season came from the lowlands. Three to five continued in the Arlington Valley 12 Dec – 6 Jan (TLo, TC, m. ob.), with one to two remaining 18 Jan (ph. RBow, SMil). One stayed in Liberty 18 Dec – 3 Feb (ph. CSd et al.), with 10 there 22 Dec (CSd et al.), while singles were present in Palo Verde 20-25 Dec (ph. DC et al.) and at HRP 27 Feb (CKS). Irregular in the lowlands, a Townsend’s Solitaire visited the Needle Rock Recreation Area 29 Dec (R. Ristow). A Varied Thrush, casual in the region, was seen at Skunk Cr. Linear Park, Glendale 4-8 Jan (ph. T. Andrews, m. ob.). One Brown Thrasher, another casual visitor, was found at TRW 23 Dec (ph. RBow, ph. DWi).
Winter warbler sightings of note included an Ovenbird at HRP 9 Jan (ALe et al.) and a Northern Waterthrush at VOP 18-22 Jan (ph. SiF, m. ob.). A continuing female Black-and-white Warbler overwintered at GWR 1 Dec+ (ph. JHol, m. ob.), with two females there 8 Jan (TDeB, TLo, ph. RPO et al.). Two individuals were discovered along the Verde R., Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation 14 Dec (TC, TLew, K. Licence). Also rare but regular winter visitors, a female American Redstart overwintered at VOP 8 Dec – 15 Feb (P. Ginsburg, m. ob.), and a male was observed at TRW 9-22 Dec (JF, ph. CSd, m. ob.). A female was seen in the Arlington Valley 28 Dec (TC, MV), and a pair there the following day (DaW, C. Beardmore). A female that stayed at GWR 31 Dec – 23 Jan (C. Layton, ph. I. Layton, m. ob.) was joined by a male 10 Jan (J. Kirk), while two females were there 12 Jan (ph. BaMc et al.). TRW hosted a Northern Parula 15-22 Dec (ph. TDeB et al.). Yellow Warblers were present in good numbers, and a few overwintered. One to two (one continuing) settled at GWR 1 Dec – 13 Feb (CSd, m. ob.). Two to three were evident at TRW 9-24 Dec (JF, CSd, m. ob.), with five there 15 Dec (TDeB); one remained 26 Dec – 19 Feb (ph. M. Avery, m. ob.). A singleton stayed at VOP 10 Dec – 15 Feb (P. Ginsburg, m. ob.). One was documented on the Salt-Verde Rivers CBC 14 Dec (CKS), and a record nine on the Phoenix-Tres Rios CBC 22 Dec, which included some of the same individuals noted above for TRW (fide MV). A female was spotted on the ASU Main Campus, Tempe 2 Feb (JaT). One Chestnut-sided Warbler continued at the ASU Research Park, Tempe 1 Dec (TLo). One of the most exciting discoveries this season was a Yellow-throated Warbler, a casual winter visitor in Arizona. The bird stayed at TRW 9-24 Dec (JF, ph. CSd, m. ob.).
One to five Bell’s Sparrows (two continuing) remained along the Salome Hwy., Buckeye 12 Dec – 20 Feb (TLo, m. ob.), with seven birds present 16 Jan (KBr, C. Sequanna). One to three stayed at the Robbins Butte WA, Buckeye 27 Dec – 8 Feb (TC et al.), with six there 29 Dec (DW et al.). Two were observed in the Arlington Valley 29 Dec (ph. RBow, TSu, T. Jenkins), and eight at the Powers Butte WA, Buckeye the same day (TC, GKa, TLew, KD). Altogether there were 32 found on the Gila R. CBC 29 Dec which included many of the above noted individuals (fide TC). Some 300 or more Lark Buntings, possibly gathering for migration, were witnessed in Rainbow Valley, Goodyear 24 Jan (MHe). Fox Sparrows turned up at six places this winter. Single "Slate-colored" Fox Sparrows are uncommon winter visitors in chaparral brush on mountain foothill slopes and in adjacent sycamore dominated drainages. They are rare at lower elevation riparian areas, where they were observed at TRW 6 Dec (CSd et al.) and HRP 6 Dec (A. Dupilka, R. Dupilka). One to two were also reported at GWR 10 Jan – 20 Feb (N. Butchard et al.), including one identified as a casual "Red" Fox Sparrow 20 Feb (CSd). A rare to uncommon winterer, 13 Swamp Sparrows were reported from nine locations 3 Dec – 24 Feb. One to two Harris’s Sparrows, rare transients and winter visitors, were seen at the South Recharge Facility, Gilbert 3-4 Dec (D. Huget, ph. D. Maas, S. Maas, m. ob.). Also rare winter visitors, a first winter Golden-crowned Sparrow was noted at the Phon D. Sutton Recreation Site 12-22 Dec (JaT, ph. LSt., m. ob.). Two birds were spotted at the Jewel of the Creek Preserve, Cave Creek 29 Jan (C. Samson), and first winter individuals at the Ocotillo community, Chandler 31 Jan – 4 Feb (ph. DC) and the Wild Horse Pass Resort, Gila R. Indian Community 16 Feb (PD).
Very casual in winter, a male Hepatic Tanager stayed at HRP 15-28 Jan (ph. RBow, ph. SMil et al.), possibly a returnee from last winter. Single male Summer Tanagers, also casual visitors but more regular, were noted along the Eastern Canal, Gilbert 22 Dec (ph. SFi) and at HRP 9 Jan (ALe, m. ob.). A continuing female Western Tanager was observed at BTA 5 Dec (ErH et al.), and possibly the same female 6-11 Feb (CMar et al.). Very casual in the lowlands in winter, a Black-headed Grosbeak was encountered at TRW 23 Dec (ph. RBow et al.). A male Indigo Bunting, another very casual winterer, visited an Apache Junction feeder 23-25 Feb (ph. S. Starr). Casual to rare winter visitors to Arizona, a female Rusty Blackbird was seen at the Coon Bluff Recreation Site 6-23 Dec (ph. CBen, D. Finch, m. ob.), with two females wintering there 27 Dec+ (ph. TLew, m. ob.). Populations of this species have seriously declined throughout its range due to unknown causes. Casual migrants and winter visitors, three or four male Orchard Orioles appeared in the region. One was seen in Sun Lakes 13 Dec (ph. J. DeGrafft), and another at a hummingbird feeder in the Hy-view neighborhood, Scottsdale 19 Dec (ph. S. Petrie). A continuing bird was wintering in Sun City Grand, Surprise 6 Jan (ph. D. Bradford et al.), its 10th year there, and one visited hummingbird feeders in the Sherwood Heights neighborhood, Scottsdale 30 Jan – 15 Feb (ph. AS et al.). The Scottsdale sites are just 1.1 miles apart and may have hosted the same individual.
Very casual migrant and winter visitor to Arizona, one to four Purple Finches were documented at GWR 1 Dec – 8 Feb (ph. TLo, DC, m. ob.), and singles at Mtn. View Park, Scottsdale 7-12 Dec (WT et al.) and the Skunk Creek Riparian Area, Peoria 5-10 Jan (ph. TDeB et al.). Seven others were noted in Sunflower 21 Jan (ph. SFi et al.), with two remaining through 31 Jan (ph. DWi et al.). Irregular, but almost annual in winter, one to two Cassin’s Finches were present in Sunflower 19 Dec – 22 Jan (BBk, GKa, CRo, MWe et al.), with five female-type birds there 21 Jan (SFi). Five were recorded on the Superior CBC 26 Dec (fide MEv), and one continued at the Seven Springs Recreation Area, Tonto NF 1 Jan (BIs). Irregular and local winter visitors, Lawrence’s Goldfinches made a strong showing in the region. One to twelve were observed at Friendship Park, Avondale 4 Dec – 7 Feb (MHe, m. ob.). In Palo Verde, 21 were counted 20 Dec (MWe). An impressive 126 were noted on the Phoenix-Tres Rios CBC 22 Dec (fide MV), and 20 on the Gila R. CBC 29 Dec (fide TC). The Robbins Butte WA, Buckeye hosted a high of 52 on 20 Jan (ph. SFi, RPO), and individuals and smaller flocks were noted at 10 other locations.
Compiled by Brian Ison
Abbreviations: Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery (TCFH), Roosevelt Lake Aquatic Bird Survey, Arizona Game and Fish Department (Aquatic Count), Green Valley Park, Payson (GVP)
The strong El Niño predicted this winter failed to bring much precipitation to the Gila Region, and the early winter snowpack quickly disappeared in February. The region returned to abnormally dry conditions, which continues to be the long-term outlook. The colder than normal temperatures in the weeks preceding the Payson CBC on 2 Jan contributed to a much lower than normal tally of individual birds—2,804 birds compared to last year’s 4,731. Irregular winter finches were notably less abundant and widespread across the region this winter compared to last year.
This winter’s Aquatic Count turned up some noteworthy species, including two Ross’s Geese, one Cackling Goose, and nine "Lesser" Canada Geese 19 Jan (TC et al.). A greater than average total of 104 Canada Geese were at San Carlos L. 5 Feb (DJ, KK, PTer). Two adult female Greater Scaup stayed much of the winter at GVP and were seen by many birders 19 Dec – 14 Feb (m. ob.). Once considered more common in the region, three rare Montezuma Quail were unexpected in Pine Cr. Canyon 20 Feb (BIs). A first-year Red-throated Loon spotted on the Aquatic Count 19 Jan was only the second known record for Gila Co. (TC et al.). Rare in the region in winter, the only Common Loon reported was found at Windy Hill Recreation Area at Roosevelt L. 24 Jan (ph. EDu). Neotropic Cormorant sightings continue to grow in the region, and this season between one and two lingered at GVP 19 Dec+ (ph. BMe, MHe, m. ob.), where small numbers have become almost annual in winter since 2013. Roosevelt L. hosted two Neotropic Cormorants during the Aquatic Count 19 Jan (TC et al.), and two were also counted there 23 Feb (K. Milender). A single Turkey Vulture was reported at an early date at Roosevelt L. 28 Feb (EDu). Many Bald Eagles were reported this winter, including a high count of 14 at the Buckhead Mesa Landfill north of Payson on the Payson CBC 2 Jan (DHal); and eight Bald Eagles, including seven immatures, were found on the Aquatic Count 19 Jan (TC et al.). Accidental in winter, a Zone-tailed Hawk was spotted in Starr Valley east of Payson 17 Jan (ph. KR). A rare winter visitor, a single Ferruginous Hawk was discovered at San Carlos agricultural fields 21 Feb (ph. BB, G. Jones), and possibly the same bird was seen at the nearby San Carlos Sewage Ponds 23 Feb (ph. EDu). The only Golden Eagles reported this winter were one during the Payson CBC 2 Jan (DHal) and a single at the Grapevine Group Site, Roosevelt L. 18 Feb (D. Steele). There were two California Gulls reported this winter: the first was a juvenile seen at San Carlos L. 5 Feb (DJ, KK, PTer), and a migrating adult was found at GVP 29 Feb (ph. EDu); these were only the third and fourth known winter records for Gila Co. Casual in winter, a juv. Herring Gull was noted at Bermuda Flat at Roosevelt L. 1 Jan (ph. EDu).
Rarely detected in the region, a Long-eared Owl was heard at Jones Water CG northeast of Globe 13 Feb (EDu). There were two Downy Woodpeckers reported this season. The first was an individual spotted in E. Verde Park north of Payson 1-2 Jan (DHal), and another was detected at the TCFH 11 Feb (EDu). Irregular visitors to the region, especially to recently burned areas, a single American Three-toed Woodpecker was detected on the Horton Cr. Trail north of Kohl’s Ranch 17 Feb (DHal). A single Plumbeous Vireo was unseasonal at Russell Gulch in the Pinal Mtns. 17-31 Dec (DPe, DWi et al.). Chihuahuan Ravens form large flocks and extend their range in winter, often joining Common Ravens and American Crows where their ranges overlap, but their distribution and social biology is poorly understood. This season, a large winter flock of Chihuahuan Ravens was an exceptional find at the Russell Gulch Landfill in Globe, where between 10 to 90 were tallied 17 Dec+ (ph. DPe, m. ob.). Rare but regular in winter, and probably continuing from fall, up to two Pacific Wrens were reported at the TCFH 19 Dec – 15 Feb (m. ob.). Near this location, a pair of Pacific Wrens was also detected along the Horton Cr. Trail 17 Feb (DHal). Rare locally to only a few Mogollon Rim drainages in the region, up to three American Dippers, continuing from fall, resided at the TCFH 19 Dec – 15 Feb (ph., m. ob.), where they are becoming regular. Rarely detected in winter, especially away from the Mogollon Rim, two Golden-crowned Kinglets were observed at Pinal Peak 2 Dec (DPe), up to three were noted at the TCFH 19 Dec – 13 Feb (ph. B. Johnson, m. ob.), and eight were reported on the Horton Cr. Trail 17 Feb (DHal). Casual winter visitors, three Eastern Bluebirds, not identified to subspecies but probably of the nominate Eastern race, were reported again in the Doll Baby area on the Payson CBC 2 Jan (TCo et al.), where two were noted on the 2013-14 CBC. Amazingly, this was only the second known record of this species for Gila Co. Rare and local in winter, Olive Warblers reported this season included one seen at Sulfide del Rey CG in the Pinal Mtns. 2 Dec (DPe), five found—some even singing—in Fuller Canyon east of Strawberry 15 Feb (DHal), two noted on the Horton Cr. Trail 17 Feb (DHal), and one detected at Sulfide del Rey CG 24 Feb (ph. DWi).
Winter finches were more sporadic this winter and flock sizes were much smaller compared to the large irruption witnessed last winter. For example, no Cassin’s Finches were reported on the Payson CBC 2 Jan compared to a record 109 counted last year, and no Evening Grosbeaks were reported on the count compared to 13 last year. Elsewhere, only one Red Crossbill was detected in the Pinal Mtns. this winter after flocks containing dozens were regularly seen there last winter. Irregular winter visitors, three Cassin’s Finches were noted at Timber Camp CG northeast of Globe 5 Dec (ErH), 20 were on Pinal Peak 31 Dec (DPe), one was at Gold Run 13 Jan (DHal), three were at Diamond Point northeast of Payson 7 Feb (E. Moody), and 10 were at the Upper Tonto Cr. Day Use Area north of Kohl’s Ranch 11 Feb (ph. EDu). Irregular Red Crossbill reports included two seen at Timber Camp CG 5 Dec (ErH), one at Sulfide del Rey CG 31 Dec (DPe), five along the Control Rd. north of Payson 31 Dec and 2 Jan (both DHal), two at the Upper Tonto Cr. Day Use Area 31 Jan (TC, KD) and 6 Feb (E. Moody), one at Diamond Pt. 7 Feb (E. Moody), and six in Fuller Canyon 15 Feb (DHal). The only winter visiting Evening Grosbeaks reported were 30+ at the Upper Tonto Cr. Day Use Area 11 Feb (ph. EDu) and five in Fuller Canyon 15 Feb (DHal).
Compiled by Doug Jenness
Abbreviations: El Rio Open Space Preserve, Marana (Coachline), Lake Cochise, Willcox (L. Cochise), Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds (Paton’s), Quail Creek Veterans Municipal Park, Sahuarita (Quail Creek), Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson (Sweetwater), Whitewater Draw WA (Whitewater)
A strong El Niño pattern had been expected to produce a wet winter in much of Arizona, including the Southeast Region, but it failed to materialize. Instead, rainfall in January and February was well below average. Temperatures in January were relatively normal, but February was exceptionally warm with many near to record-breaking days. The reference used for species’ seasonal status is the bar graphs in Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona, revised eighth edition, 2015.
A Greater White-fronted Goose continued through the season at Paradise L., Arizona City (m. ob.), three were at Amado STP 9 Jan (K. Kluge, T. Rosenmeier), and one was along the Santa Cruz R. near Tubac 20 Feb (KBl). Snow Geese were reported from nine locations away from the s. Sulphur Springs Valley, where they are typically found in greater numbers during the winter months. Continuing from fall was a juvenile at Mammoth STP until 30 Jan (L. Neily) and up to five at Sierra Vista EOP until 14 Feb (JSw). Other reports included singles at: Benson STP 7 Dec – 7 Jan (ARi); Reay Lane STP, Thatcher 10 Dec (JC); Christopher Columbus Park, Tucson (dark form) 12 Dec+ (THo, m. ob.); Tumacacori 26-29 Jan (D. Holsinger); Amado STP 30 Jan (D. Finch); Paradise L. 31 Jan (D. Whittier); and five at L. Cochise 13 Jan (C. Andrews). Away from the s. Sulphur Springs Valley, single Ross’s Geese were reported at Reay Lane WTP 10 Dec (JC) and Sierra Vista EOP 14 Feb (EW et al.).
Canada Geese were reported from 12 locations including: Benson STP, where three in November grew to 19 on 7 Jan (R. Welch); one at Faria Dairy, Kansas Settlement 2 Dec (CBen, D. Logue); one at the Lakes at Castle Rock, Tucson 12 Dec – 5 Feb (MSt, m. ob.); four at Cochise L. 26 Dec (P. LaBelle); 12 at Whitewater 30 Dec – 24 Jan (ph. TBa, m. ob.); three at Willow Tank, Portal 3 Jan (L. Geiger, J. Geiger); two at Sam Lena Park, Tucson 6-18 Jan (ph. L. Courtmarche , m. ob.); six at Reay Lane WTP, Thatcher 9 Jan (JC); 11 at Elfrida 16 Jan (K. Dance); one at Mammoth STP 20-30 Jan (EDu); a flyover of 22 at Santa Cruz Flats 22 Jan (H. Sweeney); and three at Patagonia L. SP 22 Jan (T. Goodwin, J. Hahn).
A casual Eurasian Wigeon was at L. Cochise 27 Jan – 25 Feb (J. Babson, m. ob.). Sixteen Greater Scaup, more than usual, were reported throughout the region. Most noteworthy was a group at Amado STP, continuing from the fall to 5 Feb, which peaked at 12 on 2-6 Dec (LHal). Singles were reported from Ajo STP 4 Jan (AWi, JPz), Sunsites STP 22 Jan (R. Stedman), Green Valley 29 Jan+ (ph. LHal), and Patagonia L. SP 2-4 Feb (ph. K. Cudney). A Red-breasted Merganser, a casual winter visitor to the region, continued from fall into spring at Roper L. SP (LSa) and another was reported from Arthur Pack RP 1-4 Dec (ph. JWill).
Wild Turkeys are common in the region’s mountains and occasionally wander to lower elevations. One was reported at Brown Canyon, Buenos Aires NWR 13-20 Jan (S. Viani) and five were along the Santa Cruz R. near the Clark Crossing 26 Jan (ph. KBl, J. Curd). Reported off and on at Peppersauce Canyon on the north side of the Catalina Mtns., a flock of 32 on 10 Jan (DJ) was an unusually high number (according to the campground host up to 50 had been counted during the previous week), and through the fall and early winter a flock along Blue Heaven Rd. in Patagonia grew to 45 on 24 Jan (LH et al.). The high at this location in previous years was 20.
The only loon reported this season was a Common Loon at Roper L. SP 13 Dec (JC). A Least Grebe was at Bog Hole WA 17-21 Dec (ph. ASc). Neotropic Cormorant numbers continue to rise and were reported throughout the season from 22 locations. Areas with wintering groups of more than 20 on a single day included 24 at Christopher Columbus Park 8 Jan (CBen, D. Finch), 70 at Paradise L. 18 Jan (L. Neilly), 25 at Sweetwater 21 Jan (MSt, MPo), 64 at Reid Park, Tucson 25 Jan (PC), 60 at Kennedy L., Tucson 6 Feb (RCa), and 40 at Sam Lena Park 29 Feb (L. Courtmarche). Double-crested Cormorants were reported from 12 locations, with the greatest number (16) from Patagonia L. 15 Jan (ASc). American White Pelican is not reported every winter so two reports were notable. A single was at N. Cochise Stronghold Rd. near AZ 191 s. of Willcox 18 Feb (SFi), and an unusually large group of 15 was at Patagonia L. 25 Feb (D. Yeamans). An adult Brown Pelican, lingering from fall, continued at Amado WTP and Green Valley until 14 Dec (m. ob.). Another adult was reported from Willow Tank, Portal 24 Dec (JY).
The American Bittern continued at Sierra Vista EOP through 10 Jan (m. ob.). Snowy Egret remains rare in December and is casual into winter. Up to two were seen through the entire season at Sweetwater (m. ob.) and up to two lingered at Coachline until 31 Jan (m. ob.). Up to two were also reported at Christopher Columbus Park 8 Dec – 11 Jan (MSt, MPo, m. ob.), Paradise L. 20-31 Jan (DPe, m. ob.), and Country Club ponds at Arizona City 12-17 Feb (DJ). Singles were at Reid Park 14 Dec – 25 Jan (KBl, m. ob.), Cemex Plant, Marana 10-20 Jan (JWill), Rio Rico 22 Jan (R. Batie), Desert Hills Estates Ponds, Green Valley 25 Jan (D. Holsinger et al.), and Sam Lena Park 20 Feb (CTa, JH).
No Black Vultures showed up away from expected areas. A record 148 were reported from the Santa Cruz Flats Raptor Count 16 Jan (fide DJ). As in recent winters, there were reports of single Osprey at various locations across the region, including one that continued from fall through spring at Lakeside Park (m. ob.) and may have been the same individual reported at Sam Lena Park 9-11 Jan (MSt, MPo). Away from the Tucson area one lingered from the fall in the Green Valley area until 14 Jan (D. Bierman) and a possible early migrant was seen east of the San Bernardino NWR 21 Feb (J. Bryan et al.). Reports of White-tailed Kite at the Santa Cruz Flats, where they were previously regular, have been sparse the last few years. So, three reports 19 Dec – 23 Jan, possibly of the same individual, were noteworthy (JMc). Other reports away from the San Rafael grasslands, where they are expected, included two east of the Galiuro Mtns. 22-28 Jan (JC) and one at Portal 6 Feb (J. Geiger). An unexpected Bald Eagle flew over I-10 near the Picacho Peak SP exit 17 Jan (LHal). The Tucson Valley CBC recorded 152 Cooper's Hawks, an all-time CBC national high count, 14 Dec (fide RHo), breaking its previous high of 148 last year. A casual winter visitor, a second-year Red-shouldered Hawk was at Arivaca Cienega 8-18 Jan (ph. CMc). Considered casual in the winter, 10 Gray Hawks were reported this winter. An adult continued through the entire season at Carr Canyon (m. ob.), and another adult was along the San Pedro R. near the San Pedro House 6 Dec+ (KBl, m. ob.). More unusual was a juvenile along the Santa Cruz R. in Marana 9 Dec (KK, PTer), which was likely the same bird relocated 2.6 miles downstream 11-14 Dec (LHal, ph. ACo). Another juvenile was in Huachuca Canyon 10 Dec (M. Levin). Other midwinter reports were of adults at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve 17 Dec (K. West et al.) and Cienega Creek Preserve 15 Jan (ph. PSu). Reports of likely early returnees were from Arivaca Cienega 9 Feb (LHal, J. Siesener, ph. S. Fabritius), Miller Canyon 17 Feb (CMc), Duncan 19 Feb (HHa), and Lower Mt. Hopkins Rd. 20 Feb (JaT). At least one and possibly two "Harlan's" Red-tailed Hawks were reported at the Santa Cruz Flats 5 Dec – 16 Jan (m. ob.). Two others were at Coachline 9 Dec – 28 Jan (ph. AC) and Sierra Vista EOP 10 Jan (B. Brown, TDeB, CRo). A higher than normal number of rare and irregular Rough-legged Hawks was reported in the region this winter. They included one at Whitewater 2 Dec (J. Murphy), two at Santa Cruz Flats 18 Dec (DJ), and a single at Santa Cruz Flats 17 Jan (IBM, ZS). Three reports from n. Sulphur Springs Valley 28 Dec (L. Conrad), 15 Jan (RFi), and 27 Jan (ARi) may have been the same bird. One was also spotted at Kansas Settlement 2 Feb (H. Marple, S. Russell).
The annual Sandhill Crane survey on 8 Jan tallied 32,411 in the Sulphur Springs Valley, nearly 12,000 more than in 2015 (fide HHa). It was the highest count in four years. Mountain Plovers were at their expected wintering location at the Evergreen Turf sod farm from November until 20 Feb, with a high of 80 reported 14 Feb (H. Sweeney). The only report away from this location was of 13 at Whitewater 14 Jan (L. DeWispelaere). Casual in the winter, there were three reports of Lesser Yellowlegs at the Santa Cruz Flats: singles at Evergreen Turf sod farm 10 Jan (LH) and Toltec Hwy. 19 Jan (CMc); and two along W. Pretzer Rd. 6 Feb (BMz, BLi). A single Dunlin continued at Willcox from fall to 16 Jan (ph. RFi), and another was at Whitewater 21 Feb+ (M. Burge, K. Fullert, v. r. B. Worth). Casual to rare in the winter, Western Sandpipers were reported from only two locations: one at Amado STP 8 Jan (ph. DSt); and two at the Green Valley STP 8 Jan (LHal). Typically, a few late migrant Bonaparte’s Gulls pass through the region with five December reports, including Sonoita Creek State Natural Area 11 Dec (ASc), Amado STP 12 Dec (PSu, BN, ph. LHal), Willcox 14 Dec (RT), Benson STP 14 Dec (ARi), and Christopher Columbus Park 14 Dec (ph. LHal, ph. CMc, MLe). California Gull, another casual visitor, was reported at Ajo STP 11 Dec (D. Borklund), Roper L. SP 11 Dec (JC), and Mile Wide Rd. 19 Dec (JWill). Very unusual was a Forster’s Tern at the Amado STP 8 Jan (ph. CMc).
For the last several winters fewer Ruddy Ground-Doves have been reported in the region. The only two this winter were one at Paton’s 6 Dec (ph. EH) and two at the Palo Parado Bridge, Tumacacori 20 Dec (A. Ports). Early for Elf Owl were reports from the Tortolita Mtns. 18 Feb (DJ), lower Florida Canyon 20 Feb (JaT), and California Gulch 28 Feb (DSt, ACo, MSt, MPo). Single Short-eared Owls were reported from the San Rafael Valley grasslands, an expected wintering area, 18 Dec – 1 Jan (m. ob.). The only Northern Saw-whet Owl was one heard calling at Cave Cr. 17 Feb (A. Salas). Common Poorwill winters in the region but is seldom heard. This winter, reports came from 16 locations 1 Jan – 28 Feb (m. ob.).
Magnificent Hummingbirds, rare and local in the winter, were reported from nine locations: in a private yard between Mammoth and Dudleyville from fall to mid-February (ph. K. Sieloff); up to two at Madera Canyon from fall to spring (m. ob.); Carr Canyon up to two 3-19 Dec (R. Beck, M. Schmidgali); Battiste B&B, Hereford 12 Jan – 1 Feb (TBa); Ramsey Canyon 24 Dec+ (P. Tate, m. ob.); Ash Canyon 29 Dec – 21 Feb (D. Johnson); Quail Cr. Country Club, Sahuarita 30 Dec (ph. J. O’Rourke); Madera Canyon from fall to spring (K. Kluge, T. Rosenmeier); Sierra Vista 26 Jan (B. Brown); Huachuca Canyon 23-27 Feb (D. Rymal); and Cave Cr. 26 Feb (W. Cairo). The only reports of Blue-throated Hummingbird were at four locations in Portal 18 Dec – 28 Feb, with up to two present at a residence 26 Dec (NMC). There were three midwinter reports of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and a scattering of mid- to late February reports of likely early migrants. One lingered from fall to 26 Jan at a residence in Catalina (m. ob.), another was at the Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon 1-5 Dec (D. Carney, ph. RSh), and a third was observed at lower Florida Canyon 16 Dec (WR). As usual there was a scattering of Broad-billed Hummingbirds overwintering, with the most notable report from a Catalina residence of up to eight (m. ob.). The Tucson Valley CBC recorded 37, a national CBC high count, 14 Dec (fide RHo). Rare and local winter visitor, a Violet-crowned Hummingbird overwintered at Paton’s (m. ob.). Others reported included one in Sahuarita 11-13 Dec (K. Graves), Bisbee 12 Dec (EH), Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve 24 Dec (JMc), and Patagonia Lake SP 17 Jan+ (ph. A. Siders, M. Rotter, m. ob.). Two were found along Aravaipa Cr. 2 Jan (DJ et al.).
Elegant Trogon is considered rare but regular in the region in winter, particularly along Sonoita Cr. and at Sycamore Canyon, but they seem to be more numerous in recent, warmer winters. A male trogon wintered again just above Patagonia L. (m. ob.) and a male wintered at Florida Canyon, Santa Rita Mtns. (m. ob.). Another male at Ramsey Canyon, first reported 3 Dec (C. Sequanna), remained through the season. Singles were in the Patagonia Mtns. 17 Dec (RHo), Madera Canyon 25 Dec (LHal), and Temporal Canyon 9 Jan (KBl), and two were reported from Huachuca Canyon 14-23 Jan (SW, ph. LHal). Other singles were at Montosa Canyon 18 Jan (ph. RHo) and Ash Canyon 27 Feb (KLM).
Green Kingfisher is a rare, local, and irregular resident, most often reported along the upper San Pedro R. One was at the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area 8 Dec – 23 Jan (ph. EH, m. ob.) and was likely the same individual reported from nearby Patagonia Lake SP 24 Dec (M. Schall, S. Scheide) and 24 Jan (ph. V. Dern, m. ob.). Another was found along the Santa Cruz R. near Tubac 21 Jan – 18 Feb (ph. BLi). There were only three reports of Lewis's Woodpecker, an irregular transient and winter visitor. They included singles at Oracle SP 26 Dec (W. McCrady), Patagonia Lake SP 19 Jan (K. Sapowski), and Pena Blanca L. 22 Jan (V. Dern). Last year, the Tucson Valley CBC recorded an all-time national high number of Gila Woodpeckers (787). Although it didn't break that record this year, its total of 538 was still the national high (fide RHo). A continuing Williamson's Sapsucker, rare transient and winter resident, was reported from upper Madera Canyon 16 Dec (RHo, v. r. KBl), and adult males were at upper Agua Caliente Canyon, Santa Rita Mtns. 15 Jan (ph. KBl) and Humboldt Canyon 14 Feb (ph. ASc, KBl).
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker reports have been increasing in the region, and this winter 16 were reported, all singles except for up to two at Christopher Columbus Park 28 Dec (ph. M. Anderson, T. Lenz). Red-breasted Sapsucker, formerly less than annual in the region, is being seen more frequently the last several years. Reports included individuals along the Carrie Nation Trail in Madera Canyon 4 Dec (K. Kuyper), Palo Parado Rd. along the Santa Cruz R. 19-20 Dec (K. Kuyper, ph. BLi), Cedar-Bartolo Canyon area 2 Jan (ph. RHo), Bear Canyon, Mt. Lemmon 13 Jan (ph. CMc), and Harshaw Canyon 19 Feb (BLi). The number of "Yellow-shafted" Northern Flickers reported this winter was about average. Singles were at E. Turkey Cr., Chiricahua Mtns. 2 Jan (RT), Ft. Lowell Park, Tucson 10-14 Jan (R. Watts), and Whitetail Canyon, Chiricahua Mtns. 5 Feb (RT).
The only reports of Crested Caracara away from expected areas were a juvenile at Elfrida 17-20 Dec (TWo, ph. K. Dixon) and a single at Benson 26 Dec (H. Saffery, C. Carver). Large numbers continue to congregate at the Santa Cruz Flats in the winter months, with 74 the highest daily total this winter 4 Dec (DJ). For the second winter in a row, a dark Merlin of the suckleyi subspecies was reported, this one at Willow Tank, Portal 18 Feb (JY, ph. H. Hayes). This subspecies, which winters along the California coast, is exceptional in Arizona; there is no specimen evidence and no prior expert-endorsed photographic evidence before last year's report. However, a number of “uncertain but possible” dark Merlins have been photographed in recent years. Not as rare, but not annual, a "Tundra" subspecies of Peregrine Falcon was reported from the Santa Cruz Flats on the annual raptor count 16 Jan (ph. R. Glinski, ph. NWi et al.).
A Greater Pewee, rare in winter, wintered the entire season at Sweetwater (m. ob.). A second bird was singing at the Rillito/Pantano Wash confluence, Tucson 28 Dec (ph. DSt), and another was along the Santa Cruz R. near Tubac 1-5 Jan (A. Ports). The sibling species pair formerly known as “Western Flycatcher” is a rare winter visitor in the region. Two silent individuals were reported this winter and are best left identified as “Pacific-slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher”. They were along the Santa Cruz R. at Sasco Rd. 1-6 Dec (DWi et al.) and the Patagonia roadside rest area 23 Dec (ph. G. Richards). Fourteen Eastern Phoebes, rare but annual, was a total well above the below-average numbers the previous two winters. Last year’s Tucson Valley CBC set a new high count for Vermilion Flycatcher with 387. Although this year's count (311) was short of this record, it was the highest in the country 14 Dec (fide RHo).
Cassin's Kingbird, rare in the winter, often lingers into December. In addition to 10 found on the Tucson Valley CBC 14 Dec (fide RHo) and one that wintered at Patagonia Town Park (m. ob.), single Cassin's Kingbird were reported in at least nine locations in December. More unusual, however, were the 13 observed in January and early February, including five found on the Atascosa Highlands CBC 2 Jan.
A lingering Bell's Vireo, whose status in winter may be changing from accidental to casual, was reported for the second winter in Pima Canyon 7 Dec (PSu). An early/casual singing Bell’s Vireo was noted at the Ventana Canyon trailhead, Tucson 22 Feb (MSt). The Tucson Valley CBC tied nationally for the high count of Plumbeous Vireo (13) and achieved the highest count of Cassin's Vireos (10) 14 Dec (fide RHo), although these totals were short of this CBC's all-time previous highs set last year of 19 and 12, respectively. Casual wanderer to the region, a Clark's Nutcracker was reported from Acadia CG in the Pinaleño Mtns. 27 Jan (JC) and two were at the same location 20 Feb (SFi). The only American Crow noted was near Duncan in Greenlee Co. 20 Feb (LSa).
The numbers of swallows seen in winter in the past decade have been increasing. Tree Swallow is casual from November to mid-January, so of interest were a single continuing from fall until 21 Dec at Amado WTP (m. ob.), up to five at Patagonia L. 31 Dec – 15 Jan (EW), three to four at Pena Blanca L. 4-21 Jan (C. Castillo, m. ob.), one from a Vail yard 4 Jan (JC), eight at Whitewater 8 Jan (J. Duncan), and nine at Coachline 8-11 Jan (A. Core). Violet-green Swallow is also casual in early winter. Two lingered at Arthur Pack RP 2 Dec (THj), and up to two were reported at Patagonia L. 25-31 Dec (EW). Less expected in winter is Bank Swallow, so singles at Coachline 8 Dec and 8 Jan (ph. ACo) were noteworthy. One to two Cliff Swallows at the Ajo STP 2-3 Feb (JV et al.) were likely early migrants. Up to three Barn Swallows lingered at Amado WTP from fall until 13 Dec (ph. LHal, m. ob.) and two were at Patagonia L. 25 Dec (EW), with one remaining until 1 Feb (ph. D. Yeamans). One at Arivaca Cienega 21-22 Feb (ASc) was likely an early migrant.
Red-breasted Nuthatch was only reported at two lowland locations: one at Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon 5 Dec (D. Carney) and three at San Pedro House 14 Feb (D. Nichols). Single Pacific Wrens, rare winter residents, were reported from Patagonia L. 19 Dec – 7 Feb (ph. KBl, ASc) and Sonoita Cr. State Natural Area 24 Jan (ph. M. Schall). Casual, a well-documented Winter Wren, continuing from November at Tanque Verde Wash in the Tucson area, was relocated 18-19 Dec (JMc, s. r. CBen, JM). One of two Winter Wrens found at Dankworth Pond SP in November was refound 28 Jan (JC). Last winter, two Sinaloa Wrens were reported in different locations. This winter only the one in Huachuca Canyon was reported, and it continued through the season (m. ob.). Black-capped Gnatcatchers were reported from several known locations, including California Gulch, Chino Canyon (an impressive seven) 16 Dec (DSt), lower Florida Canyon (up to six), Box Canyon Rd., Madera Canyon at Proctor Rd., Montosa Canyon, and Patagonia L., as well as some less-expected places, including Kino Springs 13 Dec (ph. ASc), Patagonia 24 Dec (ph., s. r. KBl), Salero Ranch 27 Dec (CuS, SC), and Upper San Luis Wash in the Atascosa Highlands 3 Jan (ph. RHo). One team on the Patagonia CBC reported a remarkable 10 along Sonoita Cr. at Circle Z Ranch 17 Dec (MSt, MPo, ph. CBen). Casual winter visitor in the region, an American Dipper was at the west end of Aravaipa Canyon in Pinal Co. 15 Feb (ph. V. Heron).
The resident breeding form of Eastern Bluebird in the region, S. s. fulva, is seldom detected in the lowlands. Those seen in the lowlands and away from nesting areas in winter should be scrutinized to determine if they are the nominate eastern form, S. s. sialia, which is a casual winter visitor. The following appeared to be of the nominate form: Six at Rillito/Pantano Wash confluence, Tucson 2 Dec (ph. DSt) where four were reported the previous winter; and four at the Tucson Country Club Golf Course 14 Dec (ph. RCa, ph. DSt), which may have been part of the six reported earlier. Two Rufous-backed Robins, rare winter visitors, were reported, including one that spent the entire winter at Catalina SP (m. ob.) and one at the Brown Canyon Ranch 4 Feb (P. Fuller, M. Burge, ph. K. Felkar). A Varied Thrush was found at Ventana Canyon 1-3 Dec (ph. S. Bucciarelli) and a second was at Pena Blanca L. 2 Jan (ph. JM). A Gray Catbird wintered in a Portal yard (R. Paige), and another was found at the Santa Cruz R. along Ina Rd. 14-15 Dec (LHal, ACo et al.). A greater number of Brown Thrashers were reported this winter than usual. Two remained the entire season, including one at a yard in Catalina and one at La Posta Quemado Ranch in Vail. An individual continued at Sweetwater from the fall until 21 Feb (m. ob.). Three other reports were of individuals at Las Cienegas NCA 5 Dec (BA), in Portal 31 Dec (R. Plage), and at Dankworth Pond SP 27 Feb (JC). Although a rare resident in the San Rafael Valley grasslands, only one Sprague's Pipit was reported from there 19 Dec – 9 Jan (JC). Away from this expected location a single bird was found at Quail Ranch 22 Dec (LHal). The greatest number (up to seven) were at Bermuda grass hayfields near Evergreen Turf sod farm 5 Dec – 27 Feb (DPe, B. Meding, m. ob.) where they were first discovered last winter. A single Lapland Longspur was at Evergreen Turf sod farm 13 Dec (CMc, MLe). The largest reported concentration of Chestnut-collared Longspurs was of 100 at Curly Ranch Rd. near Sonoita 5 Feb (JM, K. Kirmaier, M. Hopper). Away from the San Rafael Valley and Sulphur Springs Valley, one to two McCown's Longspurs were reported at Quail Cr. 23 Dec – 10 Feb (ACo, MSt, MPo, LHal, m. ob.) and up to 15 were seen intermittently at Evergreen Turf sod farm 30 Dec+ (DSt, m. ob.).
Louisiana Waterthrush put in a good showing again this winter with five individuals reported. Singles continued along the Santa Cruz R. at Sasco Rd. all winter (m. ob.), along the Santa Cruz R. at Ina Rd. 11-14 Dec (LHal), along Sonoita Cr. at Circle Z Ranch 17 Dec (MPo, MSt, CBen), along the Santa Cruz R. near Tubac 24 Jan+ (LH, ph. BLi), and at Sabino Canyon 9 Feb (MSt). Rare in winter, seven Black-and-white Warblers were reported. Reports were from Sweetwater all winter (m. ob.), along the Santa Cruz R. at Sasco Rd. 7-9 Dec (ph. SMil), Patagonia-Sonoita Cr. Preserve 19-24 Dec (ph. K. Furnier), Tanque Verde Wash 19 Dec+ (ph. CBen, JM), Pena Blanca L. 2 Jan (JM), Madera Canyon 13 Jan (R. Dietrich), and along the Santa Cruz R. near Tubac 23 Jan – 17 Feb (R. Batie). Accidental in winter, a male Hooded Warbler was a good find at Patagonia-Sonoita Cr. Preserve 19 Dec (N. Beauregard). As usual, there were a few Northern Parula vagrants lingering into December. Among the six reported was one along the Santa Cruz R. at Ina Rd. continuing from fall until 15 Dec (m. ob.) and one at Sweetwater continuing from fall until 6 Jan (m. ob.). Singles were also at Sabino Canyon 1-2 Dec (MSt), along the Santa Cruz R. at Sasco Rd. 6-9 Dec (ph. JWill), at Madera Canyon 21 Dec (J. Battalio), and at Isabella Lee Natural Preserve in Tucson 23 Dec (MSt, MPo). A common summer resident, Yellow Warbler is casual in the winter. The only reports were one at Coachline 9-11 Jan (ph. ACo) and one at Sweetwater 23 Feb (D. Bygott). With only about a dozen winter records from the region for Pine Warbler, any reports are noteworthy. Three reports were submitted to the ABC this winter. One was near Las Cienegas NCA 5 Dec (ph. K. Cudney), another was at Reid Park in Tucson 14-20 Dec (WR), and a third was at Sunnyside Canyon in the Huachuca Mtns. 29 Dec (KBl). Accidental in winter, the Yellow-throated Warbler that spent most of the season at Patagonia Town Park 5 Dec – 27 Jan (M. Brown, ph. EH, ph. D. Widman, m. ob.) was likely the same one reported from this location the previous winter. Locally a rare to uncommon winter resident, Black-throated Gray Warblers are reported every year. Noteworthy, however, were the 19 reported by the Tucson Valley CBC 14 Dec (fide RHo), the highest tally for this species nationwide. Casual in December, two Hermit Warblers were reported, one at Garden Canyon in the Huachuca Mtns. 15 Dec (ph. KBl) and a very late one at Gardner Canyon in the Santa Rita Mtns. 31 Dec (ph. EH). A Rufous-capped Warbler continued at Peña Blanca Canyon all season (m. ob.) and in Hunter Canyon, Huachuca Mtns. from fall until 19 Dec (m. ob.), a less expected bird at Ventana Canyon, Catalina Mtns. from fall until 19 Dec (m. ob.), and up to three at Florida Canyon, Santa Rita Mtns. from fall until 22 Jan (m. ob.). Singles were reported from Peña Blanca L. 15 Dec+ (ph. BLi) and Peña Blanca Canyon 25 Jan (C. Feger). Casual to recently becoming rare in winter, at least eight Wilson’s Warblers were reported during the season.
Only in recent years have Botteri’s Sparrows been found in winter in the region and state. At
L. Patagonia Ranch Estates one to four were reported all through winter (m. ob.), and singles were at lower Ash Canyon 12 Dec (K. Lemy), Hereford 25 Jan (HH et al.), and near Tubac 20 Feb (A. McDonnell). Among the 24 Clay-colored Sparrows reported in the region were up to five at Las Cienegas NCA 10 Dec – 3 Jan (LHal). Accidental, a Le Conte's Sparrow was reported from Redington Pass 18 Jan (J. Barron). If accepted by the ABC it would be only the second record for the region. The "Slate-colored" Fox Sparrow is the expected form throughout much of Arizona while the "Red" Fox Sparrow, recently removed from the ABC’s review list, is a rare fall migrant and winter visitor. An unusually high number of "Red" Fox Sparrows were reported this winter. Singles were at Hunter Canyon, Huachuca Mtns. 7 Dec (RBe), lower Florida Canyon 16 Dec (ph. LHal), Whitetail Canyon, Chiricahua Mtns. 26 Dec+ (ph. RT), San Pedro House 5 Jan – 24 Feb (ph. ARi), Redington Pass 14 Feb (ph. PSu, BN), and Ventana Canyon 22 Feb (MSt). At least 22 Swamp Sparrows were found during the season. Casual to rare in the winter, a Golden-crowned Sparrow was reported from Whitetail Canyon 27 Dec – 5 Jan (ph. RT), and another was at the Pinal Airpark pecan grove 6 Jan (KK, PTer). Five "Red-backed" Dark-eyed Juncos were more than usual for this region. Reports were from Whitetail Canyon 27 Dec – 9 Jan (RT), Bear Canyon 31 Dec (ph. PSu), Chiricahua NM 17 Jan (ph. D. Kainauskas), Rucker Canyon 23 Jan (A. Johnson, M. Baumann), and Madera Canyon 23 Feb (LHal, M. Carroll).
Summer Tanagers, casual to rare in winter, were reported as follows: a male at Reid Park through the season (m. ob.); two males at Evergreen Cemetery, Tucson lingering from fall until 28 Dec (m. ob.); a female at Sam Lena Park 21-28 Dec (JM); and a female at Cook's L. 2 Jan (TC, ph. TLew). Typically casual in winter in Arizona, an exceptional six Black-headed Grosbeaks were reported. These included an adult male from Pima Community College West, Tucson 14 Dec (ph. CBen), Sonoita Cr. at Circle Z Ranch 17 Dec (MSt, MPo, ph. CBen), California Gulch 23 Dec (ph. KBl), Gardner Canyon 20 Jan (ph. KBl), Patagonia L. 3-5 Feb (T. Hall, ph. K. Ellwood), and Humboldt Canyon 14 Feb (KBl, ph. ASc). A lingering male Blue Grosbeak was at Sweetwater 11 Dec – 19 Feb (ph. EH), and another was at Pima Community College West 14 Dec (ph. CBen). Often abundant locally in winter, the 39,725 Yellow-headed Blackbirds reported on the Tucson Valley CBC, the high count nationally, was impressive. Casual in Arizona, a Rusty Blackbird was at Willow Tank, Portal 19 Dec – 5 Jan (ph. D. Johnson, BJ). Three Hooded Orioles were reported in midwinter, one at Catalina SP 3 Jan (BSc, MSt), one in Vail 18 Jan (PC), and one in Oro Valley 19 Jan (K. Rishor). Singles at Cave Cr., Portal 17 Feb (J. Geiger) and Picacho Peak SP 28 Feb (ph. H. Sweeney) were early. An early female Bullock's Oriole was at Cave Cr., Portal 17 Feb (J. Throckmonton). An adult male Baltimore Oriole wintered for the second year at Sweetwater (m. ob.).
Cassin’s Finches were more widespread in the region than in recent winters. The incursion of Purple Finch continued from fall into winter in this region as it did in some other parts of the state. Single females were reported from Tanque Verde Wash 15 Dec (ph. PSu), upper Madera Canyon 16 Dec (ph. RHo, KBl), and Ash Canyon 28-29 Feb (ph. D. Parker). Two females were seen at Brown Canyon, Buenos Aires NWR 18 Jan (DG), and up to five were near Safford 9-10 Jan (ph. JC). Three Evening Grosbeaks were reported from Temporal Gulch, Santa Rita Mtns. 19 Feb (PSu).
Cited observers: Joey Alsadi (JAl), Kathe Anderson (KA), Walt Anderson (WA), Rich Armstrong (RAr), John Arnett (JAr), Ron Auler (RAu), Charles Babbitt (CBab), Tony Battiste (TBa), Ron Beck (RBe), Chris Benesh (CBen), Tom Benson (TBen), Kathleen Blair (KB), Ken Blankenship (KBl), Troy Blodgett (TrB), Terence Blows (TBl), Harold Bond (HBon), Al Borgardt (AB), Gary Botello (GBo), Robert Bowker (RBow), Steve Boyack (SBo), Keith Brink (KBr), Iza Bruen-Morningstar (IBM), Brock Buchanan (BrB), Babs Buck (BBk), Bill Burger (BB), Steve Burk (StB), Jeanne Burns (JeB), Neil Butchard (NB), Laurence Butler (LBt), Richard Carlson (RCa), Ricki Carlson (RiC), Sue Carnahan (SC), Dale Clark (DC), Karina Cocks (KC), Jeff Coker (JC), Peter Collins (PC), Tom Conlin (TCo), Bea Cooley (BCo), John Coons (JCn), Jennifer Cordova (JCv), Andrew Core (ACo), Troy Corman (TC), Judy Crawford (JuC), Joe Crouse (JCr), Ryan Crouse (RyC), Tommy DeBardeleben (TDeB), Ken DeBrosse (KD), DeeDee DeLorenzo (DDe), Henry Detwiler (HD), Suzanne Detwiler (SDe), Pierre Deviche (PD), Sue Drown (SDr), Lowell Dubbels (LD), Russell Duerksen (RDue), Ed Dunn (EDu), Allan Dupilka (AD), Reba Dupilka (RD), Mike Evans (MEv), Sidd Finch (SiF), Susan Fishburn (SF), Sean Fitzgerald (SFi), Joe Ford (JF), Cody Funk (CoF), Steve Ganley (SG), Tom Gaskill (TGa), Brian Gatlin (BGa), Eric Gdula (EG), Peter Ginsburg (PGi), Eric Gofreed (EGo), Arthur Gonzales (AG), Katie Gooby (KG), Anne Greenwood (AGr), Dave Griffin (DG), Felipe Guerrero (FG), Dave Hallock (DHal), Laurens Halsey (LHal), Homer Hansen (HHa), Brooks Hart (BH), Lauren Harter (LHar), Brian Healy (BHe), Tim Helentjaris (THj), Melanie Herring (MHe), John Higgins (JH), Tom Hildebrandt (THld), Louis Hoeniger (LH), Tonya Holland (THo), Jack Holloway (JHol), Eszter Horanyi (EH), Joan Hosmer (JHos), Steve Hosmer (SHos), Eric Hough (ErH), Sam Hough (SaH), Bob Hough (BHo), Helen Howard (HHo), Rich Hoyer (RHo), Brian Ison (BIs), Jerry Jackson (JJa), Doug Jenness (DJ), Brian Johnson (BJoh), Bud Johnson (BJ), Glenda Jones (GJ), Justin Jones (JJ), Keith Kamper (KK), Charlie Karr (CKa), Gordon Karre (GKa), Holly Kleindeinst (HKl), Chrissy Kondrat-Smith (CKS), Larry Langstaff (LL), Shawn Langston (SLa), Chuck LaRue (CLR), Joe Leeak (JLee), Paul Lehman (PL), Anne Leight (ALe), Tim Lenz (TLen), Michael Lester (MLe), Tom Lewis (TLew), Kurt Licence (KLi), Tom Linda (TL), Bill Lisowsky (BLi), Tyler Loomis (TLo), Paul Mackesey (PMa), Cindy Marple (CMar), Tracy McCarthey (TMc), Chris McCreedy (CMc), James McKay (JaMc),
Barry McKee (BaMc), Jeremy Medina (JMe), Barb Meding (BMe), Bobbie Metz (BMz), Ken Milender (KMi), Shawn Miller (SMil), Jake Mohlmann (JM), Eric Moody (ErM), Eric Moore (EMo), Roy Morris (RMo), Ryan Munes (RMu), Muriel Neddermeyer (MNe), Vic Nelson (VN), Brian Nicholas (BN), Brian Nordstrom (BNo), Don Normandin (DNo), Larry Norris (LN), Mark Ochs (MOc), Ryan P. O'Donnell (RPO), Melissa Okimoto (MO), Jan Parrott (JPar), Bryan Patrick (BPt), Dave Pearson (DPe), Anne Pellegrini (APe), Jason Pietrzak (JPz), Lonnie Pilkington (LPi), Dan Pittenger (DPi), Molly Pollock (MPo), Helen Pugh (HP), Kurt Radamaker (KR), Laura Rhoden (LR), Jan Richmond (JRi), Carol Riddell (CRi), Micah Riegner (MiR),Arlene Ripley (ARi), Chris Rohrer (CRo), Gary Rosenberg (GR), Will Russell (WR), Luke Safford (LSa), Alan Schmierer (ASc), Myron Scott (MSc), Ryan Shaw (RSh), Dominic Sherony (DShe), Allison Shock (AS), Roger Sleeper (RSl), Curtis Smith (CuS), Zachary Smith (ZS), Zeke Smith (ZeS), John Spence (JS), Diane Steele (DSt), Dave Stejskal (DSt), Mark Stevenson (MSt), Keith Story (KSt), Lindsay Story (LSt), Caleb Strand (CSd), Anita Strawn de Ojeda (ASO), Paul Suchanek (PSu), Betty Sue Dunn (BSD), Tice Supplee (TSu), Jarrod Swackhamer (JSw), Cheyenne Szydlo (CSz), Andree Tarby (ATa), Cathy Taylor (CTa), Jay Taylor (JaT), Jim Taylor (JTa), Rick Taylor (RT), Patty Tersey (PTer), Walter Thurber (WT), Carl Tomoff (CT), David Vander Pluym (DVP), Marceline VandeWater (MV), David Wahl (DaW), Kyle Waites (KWa), Magill Weber (MWe), John West (JWe), Darrel Wilder (DWi), Jason Wilder (JWi), John Williams (JWil), Mary Williams (MWi), Nathan Williams (NWi), Sheri Williamson (SW), Erika Wilson (EW), Anne Winters (AWi), Don Witter (DW), Tom Wood (TWo), Michael Woodruff (MWo), Connie Worth (CWor), Nick Worth (NW), John Yerger (JY), Zack Zdinak (ZZ).
Seasonal Reports Archive
Abbreviations for AZFO Seasonal Reports
ABC=Arizona Bird Committee
Atlas=Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas
AZFO=Arizona Field Ornithologists
B&B=Bed and Breakfast
BBS=North American Breeding Bird Survey
IBA=Important Bird Area
m. ob.=many observers
NCA=National Conservation Area
NRA=National Recreation Area
NWR=National Wildlife Refuge
NAMC=North American Migration Count
STP=sewage treatment plant, WTP (water waste treatment), or EOP (Environmental Operations Park) when those are the specific local sewage treatment plants as at Roger Rd. WTP or Sierra Vista EOP
s. r.=sound recording submitted to ABC or AZFO
AZ 79; AZ 88; etc.=state highway
Observations Entry Support
Steve Ganley's Arizona Birds Database
Regional Coordinator Sightings Review
Printable County Checklists here
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