Tag Archives: Sparrow

A Red Letter Day

gb-heron_edited-1Great Blue Heron

great-egretGreat Egret

stilt_edited-1Black-necked Stilt

Despite mentioning in my last post that the Glendale Recharge Ponds are not my favorite place, I was back there one day last week. My birding friend, Samantha, wanted to look for the Long-tailed Duck reported there (that I could not find a few days prior when I went). She’s really good at finding birds so I wanted to go, too. We actually had 2 other target birds that day, at other locations farther west of the ponds: White-tailed Kites (2 have been reported) and a Tundra Swan. I was also really hoping to find some Western Meadowlarks and Western Bluebirds as they have been seen in the places we were going. All would be Lifers for me. But…

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However, I had a 6 lifer day anyway! Samantha has more birds on her life list than I do so she was not so lucky. Here’s what I got at Glendale Recharge Ponds:

greater-yellowlegs-2Greater Yellowlegs

solitary-sandpiperSolitary Sandpiper

I was most excited about these two:

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savannah-sparrow-3Savannah Sparrow

pipit-1_edited-1American Pipit

I saw these cute guys before we left:

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ocwa-creosoteOrange-crowned Warbler

says-phoebeSay’s Phoebe

black-phoebeBlack Phoebe

sparrow-songSong Sparrow

We then drove several miles to our second location in search of Kites. No such luck but I did get one other lifer there and have a really bad shot to prove it:

vesper-sparrow_edited-1Vesper Sparrow

Then we drove several more miles to where we hoped to see the Tundra Swan. No such luck again but we did see these guys and there were lifers, for me, among them. I saw them slightly better with my binoculars than these photos show.

snow-geeseSnow Geese

Since we had already gone so far, we decided to make one other stop a few more miles away referred to as the “Thrasher Spot.” I had never been there but Samantha had with much success. It’s a nondescript little area known for a variety of thrashers, Horned Larks, and a few other less common birds but they all seemed to be taking afternoon naps by the time we got there. We saw hardly any birds and nothing unusual.

The most exciting thing I saw there was this mistletoe cluster in a mesquite tree with a tiny bird in the upper right corner. However, despite getting zero target birds, 6 lifers in one day was awesome!

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Glendale Recharge Ponds

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spotted-sandpiperLeast Sandpipers

Most of these photos will be pretty ugly…There is a place I’ve been to a few times just west of Phoenix called Glendale Recharge Ponds. These ponds belong to Salt River Project, one of our electric companies, and they attract a huge amount of waterbirds and shorebirds and quite a few rarities. They are next to New River, which is part of the attraction for the birds. The only problem is it’s a very unattractive area and the birds are usually way out on the ponds so it’s hard to sneak up on them and get good photos.

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I was out there a couple weeks ago, again, looking for a specific rare bird…that I never found but here are a few shots of birds I did find there.

spotted-sandpiper-grpSpotted Sandpiper

Western Sandpipers

shovelersNorthern Shovelers

ruddy-duckRuddy Duck

pintailsNorthern Pintails

mergansersCommon Mergansers

green-winged-tealGreen-winged Teal

gadwallsGadwalls

eared-grebeEared Grebe

Although I didn’t find the bird I was looking for (Long-tailed Duck), I did get one lifer there:

buffleheads-2Buffleheads

bufflehead-flyingBufflehead, female

rwbbSavannah Sparrow

These photos give an idea of how “industrial” looking the area is and how it also attracts people who enjoy graffiti and tagging. Even though there are houses nearby, the area is kind of creepy and remote, in my opinion. Almost every time I go there, I’m the only one around.

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Seriously not my favorite place to go but the variety and quantity of birds there is amazing. There are always several hundred birds in the water plus plenty of raptors flying overhead, including Bald Eagles.

Bald Eagle, immature

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This was my 700th post!

Dead Horse Ranch

Dasher DHRBlue Dasher

Queen DHRQueen Butterfly

Yesterday we went to Clarkdale, AZ, to see an old friend of Tony’s who was visiting his parents there. After lunching in nearby Cottonwood, we went to Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

The developed portion of the park covers 423 acres with a 3,300 foot elevation. It is part of a six-mile reach of the river known as the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area. Its unique ecosystem, the Cottonwood and Willow riparian gallery forest, is one of less than 20 such riparian zones in the world. Life along the river changes with the seasons, giving visitors a glimpse of the numerous species of raptors, neotropical migrants, resident songbirds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. (AZ State Parks)

DHR 1

DHR 2

The story of the park’s name begins with the Ireys family, who came to Arizona from Minnesota looking for a ranch to buy in the late 1940s. At one of the ranches they discovered a large dead horse lying by the road. After two days of viewing ranches, Dad Ireys asked the kids which ranch they liked the best. The kids said, “the one with the dead horse, Dad!” The Ireys family chose the name Dead Horse Ranch and later, in 1973, when Arizona State Parks acquired the park, the Ireys made retaining the name a condition of sale. (AZ State Parks)

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DHR 4

Clear water makes the underwater world visible.

I had high hopes of adding many new birds to my life list but, no. We heard a lot of birds but mostly what we saw were Grackles, which we have in our own yard. With 3 lagoons and the Verde River, I was surprised to not see more water birds. All I saw were a Great Blue Heron, a Green Heron, a Mallard mom and her 2 young ones, and a Coot. We have more birds in our lakes in Phoenix so I don’t know why there weren’t more. The lagoons get stocked every other week so there are plenty of fish.

This bird, below, is a Lifer, though, the only one I got yesterday. This is an immature Bullock’s Oriole. A gust of wind blew and the bird took off right after this.

Bullocks Oriole DHR

DHR SparrowSong Sparrow

Lizard DHRArizona Striped Whiptail Lizard

Widow Skimmer DHRWidow Skimmer

Ants DHR_edited-1The Stuff of Nightmares

Tons of ants everywhere so we didn’t want to stand still too long.

DHR 6

DHR 8

Once again, wrong time of year to be at this park. It was only a few degrees cooler than Phoenix so it was still over 100°.  We did get some exercise, though, and saw a beautiful new-to-us park. I’m sure in the fall it will be very “birdy.”

Backyard Enticements

OCWA Orange 2 2.16.16

My favorite little model lately has been this Orange-crowned Warbler. It loves to eat the oranges I put out in the mesquite tree everyday. I’m afraid it will be leaving soon to migrate north as it’s been unseasonably warm here.

OCWA Orange 4 2.2.16

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OCWA Orange 5 2.2.16

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I’ll miss this little cutie. The orange is a popular spot, though. Sometimes there’s a line.

Thrasher Orange 2Curve-billed Thrasher

Sparrow OrangeHouse Sparrow, male

Starling OrangeEuropean Starling

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Verdin Orange 2.2.16Verdin

And two Verdins are building a nest in our pine tree. Verdins build several nests a year, some for breeding, some for roosting, so time will tell which it is.

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Verdin Pine 2

Verdin Pine

Nectar break:

Verdin 2.10.16

There’s also pink grapefruit out there sometimes but it’s not nearly as popular. But this little female House Finch likes it and there’s no waiting.

House Finch F 2.20.16

The birdbath is also a popular spot.

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Mock Display 2Northern Mockingbird

TowheeAbert’s Towhee

Grackle Female copyGreat-tailed Grackle, female

And because I don’t want to encourage the birds to forage on the ground in harm’s way from the cats, I try to think up things I can feed them that won’t drop to the ground. Yum, pine cones coated in peanut butter is a new, delicious treat. You can add seed and suet but I’m not doing that. I don’t know how this will work when it’s 110 degrees but it’s working right now.

Pine Cone PB

Sparrow Pine Cone

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Perching

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Sparrow F Fly_edited-1

Sparrow F Perch 2House Sparrow, female

If you saw my last 2 posts, I mentioned how my birding friend, Samantha, has pretty perches set up in her gorgeous yard where she hides food so the birds will provide great photo ops as they look for the goodies. So, although my yard is entirely different with quite a few trees, making it dark, I decided that if I had a perch or 2, I could get more attractive photos.

Well, I have my first perch!

Perch

It’s a piece of Lake Erie driftwood with several little holes and areas to hide peanuts and other delicious snacks. Then I realized that, in my case, having it be portable so that I could move it around my yard to take advantage of better sunlight, would be a plus. Tony kindly put it all together with a dowel and an old Christmas tree stand. Different angles and creative zooming (and cropping, if necessary) provide different views.

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Thrasher Perch 2.9.16

Thrasher 3 2.9.16

Thrasher 4 2.9.16Curve-billed Thrasher

Sparrow 2.10.16

Sparrow Perch 2.10.16

Sparrow Perch 2.12.16House Sparrow, male

The only problem I have now is that only the Thrashers and House Sparrows will use the perch. I have halved oranges in the trees that other birds eat. I don’t want to put seed out because it will fall to the ground and the birds will forage for it which isn’t safe with cats around. Once I stock the perch, I stay outside to make sure the cats don’t get too interested (they don’t, they’re either sleeping or full) because I don’t think it’s right to lure birds into a dangerous situation. But I need more Bird Diversity!

Thrasher Drop Nut“Oops.”

Thrasher Mad“I lost my nut!”

Thrasher Mad B“Is there another one in there?”

Thrasher Mad C“Whew!”

And this is a little late (hope you had a good one) but it shows another angle of the perch:

Sparrow VD

Next time I’ll show a few other settings in my yard that provide somewhat attractive photo ops.

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