Saturday, September 26, 2015

August in the Chiricahua Mountains

Some birds and insects are stopping by on their way south, some are migrating in for the winter and others are year round local residents.....the scenery is constantly awe inspiring and changing:-)

The Chiricahua Mountains
It looks like this Sonoran Bumble Bee is either eating or shedding something
The Anna's Hummingbird can be either a year round  or winter resident. The photo below is an immature male Anna's with almost a complete gorget.
This male Broad-billed Hummingbird probably bred here and will be heading down to the west coast of Mexico for the winter.
This young male Broad-billed Hummer is coming into its colors:-)

You can tell this is a Broad-billed female vs. a Rufous immature or female because of the way the buffy color comes all the way up to the shoulder. The Rufous has a white collar on the shoulder. (in theory anyways)

This is a female or immature Calliope Hummingbird. This is one of the smallest birds in North America. It breeds in the Pacific Northwest and winters in western and southern Mexico.

The Rufous Hummingbirds breed in the Pacific Northwest and migrate through to their wintering grounds of the Pacific slope of central and southern Mexico. The female and immature Rufous and Allan's Hummingbirds are indistinguishable in the field. The male Allan's back and rump are iridescent green and the male Rufous's back is all rufous.
Immature female Rufous/ Allen's Hummingbird

Immature male Rufous/Allan's below:

Grace's Warbler is a mountain warbler of the southwest pines. It winters from Mexico to Nicaragua.
Hermit Warblers live in the tops of some of the tallest trees and are typically found in California, Oregon and Washington. They winter in the mountains from Mexico through Nicaragua.
Male Hermit Warbler

Immature Hermit Warbler: they are very difficult to differentiate from female and immature Olive Warblers.

Townsend's Warblers breed in the pines of the Pacific Northwest. This bird is probably heading south anywhere from Mexico to Costa Rica.
Male Townsend's Warbler

MacGillivray's Warblers breed across the Pacific Northwest to the Rocky Mountains. They winter anywhere from from Mexico to central Panama.
Male MacGillivray's Warbler

Female MacGillivray's Warbler
Nashville Warblers nest on the ground in second-growth forests in the northern part of North America. This bird is probably heading towards Mexico, Guatemala or Honduras.
We caught this male Nashville Warbler taking a bath in Silver Creek.

Yellow Warblers breed across most of North America. This immature bird is most likely heading down to Mexico.
Immature Yellow Warbler

Wilson's Warblers breed across the Pacific Northwest and most of the northern part of the continent. This bird is probably heading anywhere between southern Mexico and Panama.
This Wilson's Warbler has a black collar around its neck. It looks like something damaged its feather.

It seemed to be healthy and flying with ease and grace:-)

Northern Waterthrush breed across the northern part of North America. They winter anywhere south from Mexico to South America.
We had two Northern Waterthrushes stop by at our campground to feed and rest for a few days on their way south.

Virginia's Warblers breed in pinyon-juniper oak woodlands throughout the southwest. This bird is heading toward southwestern Mexico.
We caught this shy Virginia's Warbler scratching an itch.

Red-faced Warblers are typically found in the mountains of Mexico. The only places they are found in the U.S. is in the sky islands of Arizona and New Mexico.
Adult Red-faced Warbler 

Olive Warblers are similar to Red-faced Warblers in that they are typically found in Mexico and Central America. The only locations they are found in the U.S. are the sky islands of Arizona and New Mexico.
Male Olive Warbler

Immature or female Olive Warbler- note how similar they look to an immature or female Hermit Warbler.
Pygmy Nuthatches are year round residents of the mountains here.

The Mexican Chickadee, similar to the Olive and Red-faced Warblers, is typically found in the mountains of Mexico. They are also year round residents of the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona and the Animas Mountains of New Mexico.
This Mexican Chickadee found itself quite a meal in a huge caterpillar. We watched it capture it in the tree and carry it down to the ground.

Lazuli Buntings can reside in parts of southern Arizona but this is the first male we have seen this summer. He is probably flying south to the west coast of Mexico.
I know this is not the greatest photo but it was one of the only male Lazuli Bunting we had seen. He stopped over for a bath on his way south.

Black-chinned Sparrows are year round residents of this area but we had not been able to find any...and we looked! Bob spotted this immature bird heading down a wash in the Portal area. The photo was taken through a window.
Immature Black-chinned Sparrow
Lark Buntings are considered a common sparrow of the Great Plains.
We have been witness to huge flocks of Lark Buntings coming into the area for the winter. They appear larger than the average sparrow and have a distinct white shoulder/ edge to their wings.

Lark Sparrows are year round residents here.
We have been seeing large groups Lark Sparrows from the north joining the locals or migrating further south into Mexico.
Band-tailed Pigeons are a year round resident of the area.
Black Phoebe is another year round resident.
Black-headed Grosbeak breed through out the west and winter in southern Mexico.
Female Black-headed Grosbeak
Male Black-headed Grosbeak
Black-tailed Rattlesnakes can live where ever they want:-)
Bullock's Orioles breed throughout the west. This immature Bullock's will be heading down to central and southern Mexico as well as areas as far south at Guatemala.
This young Bullock's Oriole landed in the tree outside our window...
It was trying to figure out how to feed from our hummingbird feeders...
The young Canyon Wren still has a very short tail. It is a year round resident of the beautiful canyons of Cave Creek.
Cassin's Vireos breed in the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. For the most part, they winter in Mexico, so this Cassin's is heading south for the winter.
Chipmunk busy feeding...he lives here year round....with the rattlesnake:-)
Cooper's Hawks breed  and winter thoughout much of the U.S. We did see a family of Cooper's Hawks in Cave Creek. This immature Cooper's could either be a year round resident or migrating south to Mexico.
Immature Cooper's Hawk
Hepatic Tanagers are birds of the pine-oak forests of the mountains of the Southwest. Range maps indicate they are most likely breeding here and will winter in Mexico.
Immature Hepatic Tanager

Adult male Hepatic Tanager
Loggerhead Shrikes are a resident of the area.
We can hear the nasally call of the Loggerhead Shrike from our loves the Horse Lubber Grasshoppers
Horse Lubber Grasshoppers trying to escape on Merlin's Hat :-)
A cool beetle
Another cool beetle
The House Wren is another year round resident of the area. They breed thoughtout the U.S and spend winters in the southern part of the U.S and Mexico.
This immature House Wren was trying to find a hiding place or go back to its nest:-)

The Juniper Titmouse is a year round resident of the area.
An immature Yellow-eyed Junco and female Red Crossbill
Yellow-eyed Juncos are residents of the area. They may migrate to lower elevations in the winter.
Immature Yellow-eyed Junco
Red Crossbills are of pine mountains of much of Canada and the western U.S. They are residents of this area.
Female Red Crossbill

Zone-tailed Hawks breed in the area and winter in southern Mexico southward.
White-lined Sphinx Moths whir like hummingbirds and even look like a giant hummer. They are typically out at dusk or later. We were lucky to see this moth feeding in the garden of some friends.
Note the spider and web in the background:-)

Swainson's Hawks are a common hawk of the western prairies, grasslands and agricultural areas. They gather in huge congregations to migrate to their wintering grounds of South America. We see many Swainson's hunting in the valley but have not seen them congregating yet...
Immature Swainson's Hawk calling from a tree outside our door
Adult Swainson's Hawk
Pygmy Short-horned Lizard is most active during the midday warmth and burrows into the soil at night. They have litters of 6-31 that are born live in July and August. We must have been seeing some of the babies.
Pygmy Short-horned Lizard (that is Bob's pen top for scale)
Scott's Oriole is a bird of desert hillsides, found in the arid Southwest and into Mexico. The range maps indicate they breed in the area and winter in Mexico.
We could hear this immature male Scott's Oriole singing as we were driving along the road to Paradise near Silver Creek.

The Olive-sided Flycatcher lives in the boreal and western coniferous forests. They are often associated with burned forests. We usually see them perched on top of a dead tree as in the photo below. They winter from Panama to southern South America.
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Northern Walkingsticks live in deciduous woods and forests. Females lay eggs in leaf litter. Eggs overwinter in the ground litter and hatch in the spring.
Blue Grosbeaks breed in the area and winter from Mexico to Panama. We see them all over the San Simon Valley!
Immature Blue Grosbeak after a bath
Northern Cardinals are a year round resident of they area.
Immature Northern Cardinal

Montezuma Quail is a bird of the Mexican mountains. It reaches the U.S. in souther Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas. We have been so blessed to have had many opportunities to see these amazing beings. They are full time residents here.
Flowers everywhere....


The World is Full of Beauty & Wonder,

Turtle & Hawk


  1. The wealth of birds you are seeing is staggering! Wonderful shots and boy, are you good at identification! :-)

    1. THANKS! This is a very special place. Half of the fun of taking photos is coming home and sitting down with our ID guides and figuring out what species we are seeing...especially with juveniles and female:-)

  2. Wonderful photos. Sraddha and I have talked about spending time in the monsoon season down in So Arizona. Fun.