Mexican Jay (lifer)
Although I’ve lived in Arizona for over 40 years, I’ve never been to Madera Canyon before and only really became aware of it a couple of years ago from other birders. So, finally, I’ve experienced it and, like most of the other places in AZ that Tony and I have visited, it was beautiful!
Wikipedia says, “Madera Canyon is located in the Santa Rita Mountains, which is one of the largest of the Madrean Sky Islands. The canyon and its immediate surroundings are therefore home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, ranging from cactus covered desert in the lower reaches of the canyon to aspen and pine forest on Mount Wrightson.
With fifteen species of hummingbirds, elegant trogon, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, black-capped gnatcatcher, flame-colored tanager, thirty-six species of wood warblers, and over 256 species of birds documented in total, Madera Canyon is rated the third best birding destination in the United States. Other animals that can be found in Madera Canyon include black bear, mountain lion, bobcats, white-tailed and mule deer, foxes, coatis, ring-tailed cats, raccoons, wild turkeys, squirrels, and rabbits. Sixteen species of bats have also been recorded in the canyon.”
Unfortunately, we were only there for a few hours as we got a late start and, although it was several degrees cooler than Phoenix, we didn’t hike much because of the heat and time constraints. If you hike around, you can get some rare and unusual birds. We’ll go back in the fall and hike but, meanwhile, I did get 5 lifers and had a great time.
What we mostly did was hang out at the birdwatching area at Santa Rita Lodge. They are kind enough to let people who are not guests in their cabins also have access to this site for a donation to their bird food fund.
If you click on this photo (above), you can see the benches and chairs overlooking the feeding areas. We sat in the shade, a gentle breeze blowing, and watched the birds fly in to eat below…with cameras ready. It wasn’t even crowded since it was a weekday.
Broad-billed Hummingbirds, male and female (lifers)
Magnificent Hummingbird (lifer)
Magnificents are much larger than other hummingbirds but this guy stayed far away in a dark tree so I was lucky to get any photos at all of him. Someday I hope to get a good shot.
Hepatic Tanager (lifer)
Wild Turkey (lifer)
And I was able to get shots of some birds that were not lifers but ones I had never gotten decent shots of before.
Black-headed Grosbeaks, male and female
And a couple more:
Coues White-tailed Deer
As we were leaving in the late afternoon, we saw 3 deer together and another by itself. It had been many years since I came across a deer and was able to get a photo…the perfect end to a fun day.