This is a male Pyrrhuloxia, sometimes called the “Desert Cardinal.” It is a cousin to the Northern Cardinal. He has been a nemesis bird for me. Their range is more in southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southern Texas, and Mexico so they are not very common in the Phoenix area. However, this particular bird is now spending his 3rd (at least) winter at the Desert Botanical Garden and I’ve been chasing him that whole time but he was very elusive. I kept seeing photos of him in my Facebook birding group from many other people. He hangs out in a specific area quite a bit and, a few days ago, I sat there for 2 hours waiting for a glimpse. No show. I was getting discouraged but decided to go over one afternoon this past week and get disappointed again. I sat down and, within about a minute, he appeared! And he seemed to do a lot of posing just for me, probably recognizing me from all the times I’ve been looking for him:
Isn’t he beautiful/adorable/unusual? During breeding season, his bill is also bright yellow so he’s even more colorful then but he doesn’t breed up here so I’ll have to try to catch one in southern Arizona sometime.
Gilded Flicker, male
A couple days before finally seeing the Pyrrhuloxia, I went to Gilbert Riparian Preserve (Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch) in search of some rarities being seen there. I never have good luck there unless I’m with an experienced birder. Fortunately, one showed up and, when the bird finally appeared, helped me find it. It was a Prairie Warbler, very unusual for this part of the country, but my picture is not good at all. There are now several more rare (for Arizona) birds there so I should try to make it out there one day this coming week and hope someone can help me find them, too.
And I saw a ton of these fast, little guys:
And these little warblers were energetically flitting about right in the same area as the Prairie Warbler giving me false hope several times as they have the same coloring.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s
In March, this female Williamson’s Sapsucker showed up at the Desert Botanical Garden for a few days. She really loved the aloe nectar so she stayed in one area and was easy to find. They are rare here (preferring western mountains) so many birders went out to see her.
She looked very pretty foraging through the blooms.
These are from the new Butterfly Pavilion at DBG. I guess I don’t enjoy photographing them in a controlled setting like that; it’s more challenging to get them in their native environments. Apparently both these species can be found in Arizona but I’ve never seen them.
Desert Spiny Lizard
Lesser Goldfinch, female
Gambel’s Quail, male
And just in time for Easter!
Anna’s Hummingbird, female
Yesterday I went to Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden again. I’ve written about it before (1, 2, 3, 4). It’s only 5.5 acres but it’s really pretty and, this time of year, it’s very yellow. I didn’t have a wide-angle lens with me but here’s a sample:
And I got a Lifer! Isn’t he handsome?
Anna’s Hummingbird, male
Costa’s Hummingbird, female
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s
And a little someone to keep them all on their toes:
Despite the continuing miserable heat and additional humidity of our monsoon season, I am still attempting to get to Granada Park at least once a week to see who might be hanging out there. These are from my last 2 trips there in the last couple of weeks, one with a new birding friend, Marika.
House Finch, possibly molting
Although I’m not usually overwhelmed with the quantity of birds, I normally see an interesting thing or 2 on my 2 mile walk or at least get a couple photos I like.
I dropped by there late one afternoon (when it was extra hot!) and was surprised to see dozens of cottontails hanging out together. And I also saw about ten nighthawks. The below photo is from a few weeks ago but the following 2 were taken on this same visit. I generally go in the morning so the wildlife was a little different in the afternoon.
Lesser Nighthawk, juvenile
Harris’s Antelope Squirrel
American Kestrel, male
I always look for this little guy, below, as he spends the whole summer at one of the lakes at Granada, and was there last summer, too. Soon, his relatives will be migrating here for the winter and I won’t be able to pick him out of the crowd anymore. I don’t know why he stays, he looks healthy. Maybe he just likes it here.
We are in fall migration now so it’s the time to watch for birds not usually seen in your area (interesting article on migratory pathways). This was a lifer, hope to get plenty more this season! He was there just long enough for me to fire off one shot and off he went: