Central Arizona - April 6-14, 2014

All photos are © Marshall Faintich

Greater Roadrunner while enroute to the Thrasher Site

Alice and I spent a week in Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, where Alice competed in a duplicate bridge tournament, and I photographed birds and other wildlife. Three of my birding pals, Walt Childs (Virginia), Dave Pierce (Missouri), and Terry Weymouth (Texas) were in Arizona at the same time, and on some of the days, one or more of them went with me. I also met a few local birders who were very helpful, telling me likely places to search for some of my target birds.

Prior to the trip, I had compiled a list of about 15 target birds that I wanted to see and photograph. Most of them were western warblers and hawks, as well as a few other species for which I needed photos, or better photos. Although I didn't get all of the birds on my target list, I did get most of them. My trip bird list numbered 99 species plus three unidentified species, and I was able to add 29 avian species as life birds.

I visited a number of locations within an hour's drive of Phoenix, and went to some of them more than once.

Gilbert Water Ranch (April 7 with Walt; April 12 with Dave and Terry)

The Gilbert Water Ranch is a 110 acre facility of seven large shallow basins used to recharge the water table with processed waste water. Most of the basins were dry when we were there, but the ones with water were filled with ducks and shorebirds. Almost 200 avian species have been seen there by other birders.

Lower Salt River (April 7 with Walt; April 8)

The Lower Salt River Recreation Area is located just northeast of Mesa and is part of the Tonto National Forest. This recreation area is accessed by taking the Bush Highway as the central route to several birding sites along the river. The Salt River is in the middle of the lower sonoran desert habitats that make up this part of Arizona, and all along the river are tree stands of cottonwood, willow, and mesquite.

Sunflower (April 8; April 10 with Walt and Dave)

Sunflower is an unincorporated community in Maricopa County, AZ located off of highway 87 a few miles before Mt. Ord. Common Black-Hawks and Zone-tailed Hawks nest there.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum (April 9)

The Arboretum is located near milepost #223 on US Highway 60, and was only 45 miles east of Mesa in the Arizona upland division of the Sonoran Desert. The chief attraction at the Arboretum is the system of nature trails, with over two miles of combined length that weave through the botanical gardens. I spent six hours there and saw many birds.

Mount Ord (April 8; April 10 with Walt and Dave; April 13 with Dave and Terry)

Mount Ord is the second highest mountain in the Mazatzal Range of central Arizona. It is an interesting summit that starts in an upper sonoran landscape of creosote, saguaro, and paloverde, ascends through grasslands of manzanita, and ends in a decidious forest of oak trees. The area has one of the densest concentrations of deer, black bear, and mountain lion in all of Arizona plus a variety of birds that vary in species with the changes in elevation. The paved road ends after 1/4 mile from highway 87, and a somewhat rugged and single lane, dirt road goes to the summit.

Road to the summit of Mt. Ord

Encanto Park (April 11 with Walt and Dave)

Encanto Park is a 222-acre park with picnic areas, a lagoon, a boat house, a swimming pool, a nature trail, urban fishing, and two golf courses. Rosy-faced Lovebirds nest in the palm trees along one of the parking lots.

Thrasher Site and Route 60 rest stop (April 11 with Walt and Dave)

The Salome Highway Thrasher Site is located in Maricopa County, Arizona, west of Phoenix. Six Thrasher species can be found in there: Sage, Brown, Bendire’s, Curve-billed, Crissal, and Le Conte’s. Brown is only a winter vagrant. The other five all breed there. We only saw a Bendire's when we were there, but were treated to a Prairie Falcon and a dark morph Swainson's Hawk.

The route 60 rest stop northwest of Phoenix is adjacent to the Hassayampa River Preserve. We saw a few warblers and flycatchers there.

Trip Bird List and Photos

Click on the any link to see photos, and then click on your browser back button to return to the same location in the list. You can also click on the link at the bottom of each photo page to take you to the next photo page on the list. Life bird species are shown in bold. I photographed almost all of the following species, but have posted photos that are mostly life birds and western species, and some photos that I thought might be enjoyed by others.

Lucy's Warbler (photos)
Grace's Warbler (photos)
Black-throated Gray Warbler (photos)
Painted Redstart (photos)
Yellow Warbler (photos)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) (photos)

Common Black-Hawk (photos)
Harris's Hawk (photos)
Swainson's Hawk (dark morph) (photos)
Red-tailed Hawk (photos)
Prairie Falcon (dark morph) (photos)
American Kestrel (photos)
Northern Harrier
Turkey Vulture

Costa's Hummingbird (photos)
Anna's Hummingbird (photos)
Broad-billed Hummingbird (photos)
Black-chinned Hummingbird (photos)

Rosy-faced Lovebird (photos)

Greater Roadrunner (photos)

Vermillion Flycatcher (photos)
Ash-throated Flycatcher (photos)
Black Phoebe (photos)

Cassin's Vireo (photos)
Bell's Vireo (photos)
Gray Vireo (photos)
Hutton's Vireo (photos)

Ladder-backed Woodpecker (photos)
Acorn Woodpecker (photos)
Gila Woodpecker (photos)
Hairy Woodpecker

Green-tailed Towhee (photos)
Canyon Towhee (photos)
Abert's Towhee (photos)
Spotted Towhee (photo)
Black-chinned Sparrow (photos)
Brewer's Sparrow (photos)
Savannah/Lincoln's Sparrow (photos)
Song and White-crowned Sparrows (photos)
House Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Sage Sparrow

Curve-billed Thrasher (photos)
Bendire's Thrasher (photo)
Northern Mockingbird

Cinnamon Teal (photos)
Green-winged and Blue-winged Teals (photos)
Northern Shoveler
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Pied-billed Grebe
Canada Goose

American Avocet (photos)
Black-necked Stilt (photos)
Long-billed Dowitcher and Least Sandpipers (photos)
Killdeer and American Coot (photos)
Neotropic Cormorant (photos)
Spotted Sandpiper
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Great Blue Heron

White-throated Swift (photos)
Violet-Green, Northern Rough-winged, and Cliff Swallows (photos)
Tree Swallow

Bridled Titmouse (photos)
Black-tailed and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (photos)
Bushtit (photo)
Verdin (photos)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Lesser Goldfinch and House Finch (photos)
American Goldfinch

Western Tanager (photos)

Cactus Wren (photos)
Bewick's Wren (photos)
House Wren

Bullock's Oriole (photos)
Brown-headed Cowbird (photos)
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Kingbird
Great-tailed Grackle

Western Bluebird (photos)
Mountain Bluebird

American Pipit (photos)
Phainopepla (photos)

Inca Dove (photos)
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove

Common Raven
Gambel's Quail

Three unidentified avian species (photos)

Snakes, Lizards, and more (photos)

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