I Got Lucky!

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

Northern Mockingbird

Queen

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.

Desert Cottontail

And I saw a ton of these fast, little guys:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Say’s Phoebe

Western Meadowlark

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

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The Halloween Ball

Curve-billed Thrasher with treat

The birds (and other critters) have been having a ball in our yard the last few days leading up to Halloween. In addition to their regular oranges, grape jelly, and suet, they’ve been enjoying bird seed packed with fruits and nuts that I recently won in the Pennington Wild Bird Photo Contest (with this photo). Plus they find extra goodies in the yard like insects, berries, and pomegranates.

Gilded Flicker, female, yard bird species #33

This girl, above, has started dropping by for a drink now and then. She’s so pretty.

Honey Bees enjoying pine sap

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Northern Mockingbird

House Finch, female

White-crowned Sparrow, first of season

Eurasian Collared-Dove

House Finches, male

Gila Woodpecker, male

Queen Butterfly in Mesquite

Orange-crowned Warbler

If this is the same warbler, this will be its third year to winter in our yard. He or she is also over a month early so I’m not positive it’s the same one yet. Time may tell…I hope it is or, if not, I hope the other one will show up later and I’ll have 2. There is grape jelly in this feeder and this bird loves it.

House Sparrow,male

Abert’s Towhee

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Bird Patio, Part 1

GilaGila Woodpecker, male

Gila Female 2

Gila FemaleGila Woodpecker, female

In my last post, I mentioned that I went to a birding friend’s house in Apache Junction after she, two other friends, and I met at Gilbert Riparian Preserve. Well, as fun as Gilbert was and as cool as getting 8 lifers there was, going to Samantha’s house was the icing on the cake and one of the best birding experiences I’ve had.

Samantha's Patio

I didn’t have a wide angle lens with me but this is a photo that Samantha took awhile ago (I have her permission to post it here). She has a phenomenal patio that looks out over a wash with the Superstition Mountains beyond. In the foreground, you can see her hummingbird and bird feeders but what you can’t see are all the beautiful perches she also has for the birds.

Flicker F

Flicker 3Gilded Flicker, female

She hides suet, seed, peanuts, etc. on them and the birds come flying in to search for the food thereby providing attractive and closeup photo opportunities.

Blackjack 1

Blackjack 2

Blackjack 3Curve-billed Thrasher, melanistic

This handsome guy above, Blackjack, is much darker than a typical Curve-billed Thrasher and is a topic of interest among local birding experts.

Cactus WrenCactus Wren, Arizona State Bird

Finch M

3 Finches

Finch CoupleHouse Finches, male and female

Abert's Towhee

Towhee 2Abert’s Towhee

I don’t count birds on my life list unless I’ve seen and photographed them since beginning birding so, although I grew up in Illinois and Indiana and used to see Northern Cardinals (the State Bird of both those states) all the time, I had yet to see them in Arizona. I knew Samantha had them in her yard frequently so I was hoping they would drop in. I got half my wish…and I was excited!

Cardinal 2

Cardinal 5_edited-1

Cardinal 3

Cardinal 1

Cardinal 4Northern Cardinal, female

The males are more timid, unfortunately, but she’s so beautiful anyway. Samantha said the boy showed up later that afternoon after we had left, of course.

Anna'sAnna’s Hummingbird, male

Anna's 2Anna’s Hummingbird, female

Her hummingbird feeders attract a ton of hummers but I was concentrating on the other birds more.

Next time, more birds from this awesome bird patio..

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More Beauties at the DBG

Flicker WingsGilded Flicker

It’s fun to get lifers, as I showed in my last post, but it’s also nice to get shots I like of familiar birds. These were taken on my excellent birding day at the Desert Botanical Garden last week. Click to enlarge any of the photos.

DoveMourning Dove

Dfly and BeeDragonfly and Bee

Hummer Girl

Hummer SuckingHummingbirds

Cactus

RTHA_edited-1Red-Tailed Hawk

Lizard 2Desert Spiny Lizard

Flower and Bee

DSC_3874

CW Bfly  DSC_3878Cactus Wren

Queen BatteredQueen Butterfly, a little battered

Flicker 2

Flicker BackGilded Flickers (2 different ones)