The Chiricahua Mountains are one of the "sky island" mountain ranges. Sky islands are defined as isolated mountains surrounded by radically different lowland environments, such as, in this case, two major deserts. The Chiricahuas include a major watershed with three primary canyons: West Turkey Creek, Rucker, and Cave Creek. Cave Creek is a renowned birding area with great accessibility so we chose to focus our time there.
The Chiricahuas are unique in that you can see birds normally of much greater latitudes, such as, tanagers and nuthatches. Paradoxically, the close proximity to Mexico and similarity in habitat also affords opportunities to see Mexican specialties such as trogons and flycatchers.
We arrived in late May following our Spring Migration birding tour along the Gulf coast in order to get an opportunity to see the end of nesting season. As it turned out, we learned that nesting for various species continues all summer long:-)
Wildlife of Cave Creek Canyon Riparian Areas
Acorn Woodpeckers: Unlike other woodpeckers, Acorn Woodpeckers are noisy and gregarious with a complex social system. They are known to gather and store acorns by the thousands in holes in certain trees, known as granary trees.
Canyon Towhees are considered members of the sparrow family.
We came upon this rattlesnake sunning across the trail. Once it sensed our presence it slowly slithered away.
This female Elegant Trogon had just completed bathing in the creek.
Male Grace's Warbler: Grace's Warbler is a southwestern U.S. breeding specialist. Having never seen one previously, we were rewarded with great views of parents feeding recently fledged juveniles.
Male Hairy Woodpecker: there are not a lot of different woodpecker species in southeastern Arizona. It seems the Hairy Woodpecker fills many of the niches of more northerly woodpeckers.
Hermit Thrush taking on a moth.
Juvenile Hutton's Vireo: this bird stumped us as to its identity. We sent photos out to various friends and the consensus was Hutton's Vireo because of the black wing bar and lack of defined spectacles.
Intergrade Northern Flicker: We were fortunate enough to come upon an active Flicker nest. Much to our surprise, the parents had different under wing & tail colors: one had red and the other had yellow. Because of the presence of the red "mustache", we thought the "yellow" Flicker was a Gilded Flicker. It turns out, they do not have Gilded Flicker in the Chiricahua Mountains. Instead, they have Flickers known to be "Intergrades". This is a fancy word for hybrid.
Plumbeous Vireo: This vireo species was one of the most prevalent birds along the riparian corridors.....we saw and heard them everywhere! We were fortunate enough to come across this nesting pair. If you look closely in the photo below you will see the bird had nesting material in its bill.
This is a nest in progress....
Testing out the new nest
The results....this young Plumbeous Vireo from another nest was calling and calling. We searched and searched and finally found this little guy.....
Arizona Sister Butterfly
Red-spotted Purple Butterfly
Male Summer Tanager
Western Wood-Pewee: they are one of the most prolific flycatchers. This one appears to be nest building.
Wildlife of Higher Elevations
Red-faced Warbler is found in the U.S. during breeding season only in southeastern Arizona and southwest New Mexico. This was a new bird for us! Another interesting fact is that it nests on the ground.
Rufous-crowned Sparrow is locally common, found in habitats of rocky hillsides and steep brushy or grassy slopes.
Wildlife found on our visit to Paradise, AZ
Male and female Black-headed Grosbeaks with male and female House Finches
Male Scott's Oriole is an oriole of the desert and has a song similar to a Meadowlark.
Female Scott's Oriole
Wildlife seen in Portal, AZ
Ash-throated Flycatcher: another member of the Myiarchus family; nests in cavities.
Male Broad-billed Hummingbird: found in desert canyons and low mountain woodlands.
Adult Black-throated Sparrow in a blooming Soaptree Yucca
Immature Black-throated Sparrow
Immature Curve-billed Thrasher: the identification of this bird stumped us. The immature plumage differs from the adult with a shorter and straighter bill and triangular spotting on the chest. Coincidentally, the immature plumage is almost identical to that of a Bendire's Thrasher, hence our confusion.
Female Lazuli Bunting: this bird must have been a late migrant through the area since they do not typically nest here.
Male Magnificent Hummingbird: a large hummingbird of Mexican highlands that occurs in limited areas of the southwest U.S.
Female Summer Tanager meets female House Finch...
Thick-billed Kingbird: full-time resident of the Pacific Coast of Mexico; found in limited areas in the southwest U.S. during breeding season. It breeds along permanent streams, especially where sycamores and cottonwoods grow.
Regal Horned Lizard
Wildlife seen in Rodeo, NM
Our RV park is located in Rodeo, New Mexico at an oasis called Rusty's RV Ranch. Our surrounding landscaping includes ornamental trees, a beautiful pond, the surrounding desert and multiple mountain ranges. To us it is heaven on earth:-)
Male Blue-winged Teal: this little fella' skipped spring migration because of a wing problem. He is now part of the domestic duck community at the pond.
Our new favorite flower: the Soaptree Yucca
Wildlife found down south at San Bernardino NWR & Slaughter Ranch AZ
The San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge is located south of the Chiricahua Mountains, along the Mexican border near the town of Douglas, Arizona. The refuge was established in 1982 to protect water resources and provide habitat for endangered native fish.
Previously known as the San Bernardino Ranch in the San Bernardino Valley, it is significant for its association with the beginning of cattle ranching in southern Arizona and northern Mexico over 100 years ago. The ranch land and valley are part of the headwater region of the Yaqui River.
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher is a desert resident partial to washes.
Tropical Kingbird: there was a pair nesting in this area.
Female Varied Bunting
Parent Great Horned Owl
The immature Vermillion Flycatcher below may turn into ....
The World is Full of Beauty & Wonder,
Turtle & Hawk