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Jake Mohlmann on his recently completed tour, Arizona: A Winter Week in the Southeast

February 06: Jake Mohlmann on his recently completed tour, Arizona: A Winter Week in the Southeast

Our group at the mouth of Cave Creek Canyon

We just wrapped up another Winter Week in Arizona tour filled with beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife. This year 156 species of birds were encountered, as well as 10 mammal species. Every day of our tour explored a unique area of southeast Arizona, each worthy of day’s exploration. The Santa Cruz River Valley with its lush riparian zone and flowing surface water yielded Sage Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, Red-naped Sapsuckers and perhaps most surprising of all a very rare Sinaloa Wren.

The graceful, lovely Mountain Bluebird

A Sinaloa Wren was the great surprise

The vast grasslands of Las Cienegas National Conservation area produced several highly sought after specialties such as Baird’s Sparrow, dozens of Chestnut-collared Longspurs and even a rare McCown’s Longspur.

The sought after Baird's Sparrow

Over 12,000 Sandhill Cranes were seen as they came in to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Management Area in waves. Several other species of interest were in the wetlands here including Swamp Sparrow, Marsh Wren, and an initially reluctant Virginia’s Rail. The bushy side roads of this region also hosted Sagebrush Sparrow for some, and the regional Bendire’s Thrasher for all. The Sulphur Springs Valley’s raptor show did not disappoint and we were excited to find both Ferruginous and Harris’s Hawks in close succession.

Thousands of Sandhill Cranes roost in the Sulphur Springs Valley

A curious Bendire's Thrasher perched up nicely

Portal is a must-see for anyone visiting this region of Arizona and can be quite productive any time of year. This year scope views of Crissal Thrasher and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay were relished. The hummingbird show was top notch and we got to enjoy both male and female Rivoli’s and Blue-throated Hummingbirds coming to feeders. Cassin’s Finches were present in higher numbers than usual. In the upper reaches of the Chiricahua Mountains we were successful in tracking down a few Mexican Chickadees, this being he only location to see them north of the Mexican border!

The tough Magnificent Hummingbird winters in small numbers at feeders in the the cold canyons

It was a good winter for Cassin's Finches, here with a Pine Siskin escort


Posted: February 06, 2018