Monday, May 17, 2010
Madera Canyon, Arizona
I was in the air just after 8 AM winging my way to Tucson via Chicago. I arrived about noon, and immediately drove the short 35 miles to Madera Canyon. Since it was now 1 PM, and the temp was hovering around 90 degrees even in the canyon, the birding was a bit slow. So I decided to go find the star bird of Madera, the flame-colored tanager (top photo above). This is the 8th consecutive year that this bird has returned to Kubo Lodge (bottom photo above). Remember you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.
The flame-colored is a code 5 bird in the ABA (American Birding Assoc.) rating system which means it is extremely rare in the U.S. Prior to this particular bird returning each year to Kubo Lodge, finding a flame-colored tanager was very iffy since you never knew where it might show up. So this bird has made many a birder very happy since now you just need to visit the lodge, and wait for the flame-colored to come in to eat some jelly put out by the lodge. And while you are waiting you can watch alot of other birds that come in to the various feeders. Hummingbirds are easy to see here. Today I saw broad-billed, magnificent and black-chinned hummers. I also saw western and hepatic tanagers, and several black-headed grosbeaks.
After checking into my motel, I went back out to try again to locate the rare rufous-capped warbler that has been residing for several months in Florida Canyon, which is adjacent to Madera. As back in February, I came up empty, so I will try again early tomorrow morning.
At dusk I went to the Santa Rita Lodge to find there were 10+ other birders waiting to see the resident elf owl come out of its hole in a telephone pole. He and his mate popped out to everyone's delight. A lesser nighthawk flew over while we were waiting to see the owl. I then listened for, and tracked down a whip-poor-will. I was not successful, however, in finding or hearing either a common poor-will or a whiskered screech-owl. At 9 PM I decided it was time to head back to my motel since for me it was midnite east coast time.
36 more new birds were added for the week, 8 of which were also new for the year bringing the YTD total up to 549. Besides birding in Florida and Madera canyons again tomorrow morning, I will be going into California Gulch tomorrow afternoon to search for more Arizona rarities like buff-collared nightjar and five-striped sparrow. Stay tuned!