Saturday, August 8, 2015

Birding around the Huachuca Mountains of Southeast Arizona

We needed to take our trailer to Tucson for some warrantee work and decided to stop by Sierra Vista on our way back to Rodeo, NM to bird for a few days. We love the areas around Sierra Vista: the Huachuca Mountains, the San Pedro River corridor, the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (NCA) and Patagonia.

The areas we visited had been experiencing the nourishing monsoon rains that we had been having in the Rodeo/ Portal area. Please enjoy some of the photos of the wildlife we were lucky enough to see

Dragonflies and Damselflies are both of the order Odenata. They undergo partial metamorphosis, the mature larva climbs out of the water, usually at night, and the winged adult emerges from the split exoskeleton. North of Mexico there are about 300 species of dragonflies and about 130 species of damselflies. Damselflies are typically smaller and more slender-bodied than dragonflies. The Damselflies forewings and hindwings are about the same shape. Dragonflies have hindwing that are broader at the base.

We saw many dragonflies and damselflies on our visit to Patagonia Lake State Park. I have made an attempt to identify a few of the ones I caught photos of below....

A male Blue Dasher...
A Wandering Glider: these broad-winged skimmers can drift on the wind for days, even across deserts or oceans, until they find a suitable spot for breeding. Females may lay their eggs in temporary rain pools, where the larvae may develop into adulthood in as little as five weeks. If the water dries up faster that that, larvae can survive for months in dry mud, waiting for the rains to fill the puddle again.
Spot-winged Glider ??
We are learning more about  hummingbirds this summer. While living on the west coast, we were fairly limited to the hummingbird species we would typically have a chance to see: Anna's, Rufous/Allen's and Calliope. A much larger number of hummingbird species make their home or migrate through southeast Arizona. In general, the male of the species is much more colorful and therefore far easier to identify than either the female counterpart or immature. Immature hummingbirds typically take on the plumage configuration of the female. We have found it almost impossible to identify the various female and immature variations of hummingbirds while in the field....but we try to get photos to analyze with field guides in hand. Even then, we end up only positively identifying about half:-) So here we go....  

One male with lots of female Black-chinned Hummingbirds

Immature Broad-billed Hummingbird

Adult male Broad-billed Hummingbird (see what we mean about adult versus immature?)

Male Violet-crowned Hummingbird

This Gila Woodpecker thinks it is a hummer:-)

Young of the year......
We continue to come across young birds either still being fed by their parents or just learning to make it on their own.

Immature Common Ground-Dove seen at the San Pedro House
Immature Bell's Vireo seen at Patagonia Lake State Park
See the continuing gape of bill?

Two juvenile Cooper's Hawks seen on our walk at Patagonia Lake State Park...they were calling very loudly, probably looking for food from a parent. Juvenile Cooper's Hawks can be differentiated from juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawks by the shape of the streaking on the breast. 

Maybe a first kill?
Adult and immature Pied-billed Grebes out for a swim. Notice the beautiful head streaking of the immature bird on the right.

Immature Common Raven seen at Paton's in Patagonia.
An adult and two immature Chihuahuan Ravens on the San Pedro River
Young Summer Tanager male....
Young Varied Bunting male calling like mad at Patagonia Lake State Park
We love sparrows! We saw these guys at the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.

Botteri's Sparrows

Grasshopper Sparrow......incredible views and singing away....

A pair of Rufous-winged Sparrows at Patagonia Lake State Park

Other birds seen in the area....

Eastern Meadowlark (Lilian's subspecies). Being in the west, you would think you would being seeing Western Meadowlarks when viewing grassland birds, but in fact, we have been seeing more of this subspecies.

Lucy's Warbler, seen at Patagonia Lake State Park. Notice the red patch on the head?
Lesser Goldfinches: males are bright yellow with a black head while females are gray/olive-green. 
They love the local feeders.
We are not sure who this is sleeping in a tree along the San Pedro River near the San Pedro House. Any ideas?

The World is Full of Beauty & Wonder,

Turtle & Hawk

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