Tommy J. DeBardeleben

March 2011


March 4th, 2011: Seven Springs Recreation Area-Winter Wren

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the late post, but yesterday on March 4th, 2011, I made a trip
up to the Seven Springs Area.  I stopped at the immediate Seven Springs
Recreation Area for most of the day, as the area takes a good amount of
time to cover.  I also stopped at Lower Camp Creek heading out for a few

Seven Springs was very birdy overall with nice abundance in numbers, and a
decent number of 42 species.  The elevation is around 3700' feet here, and
birding is certainly fun here at this time of year.  My favorite part of
the morning was exploring trail # 4, which can be found just north of the
Seven Springs Campground at the Cave Creek Trailhead.  I highly recommend
this trail, which is where I found an adult Golden-crowned Sparrow in
March of last year.  It goes through juniper forest, and along the creek
are great stands and habitat of willow, cottonwoods, and many sycamores. 
I can't wait to explore it more this year!  Birdwise, my main highlight
was once again finding another WINTER WREN (eastern).  The wren was just
north of the picnic area close to where one would first enter the Seven
Springs Recreation Area.  It stayed in two piles of wood along the creek
that were very close to each other, never leaving those wood piles.  Of
course I located it by it's call, it would be very hard to find one unless
it called.  I managed a photograph, not the best, but it's still
diagnostic.  It's the third Winter Wren I've found and photographed in the
last three weeks.  These guys are not rare!  At least this year!  BEWICK'S
WRENS were another highlight, and they were literally everywhere I
walked.  I also managed several HOUSE WRENS, as well as single calling
CANYON and ROCK WRENS.  Last year about this time of year, I had many
Cedar Waxwings, Western Bluebirds (some Mountain), and a ton of American
Robins.  Yesterday, out of those three species, I only managed two
AMERICAN ROBINS.  Another good highlight I had were at least three
HUTTON'S VIREOS along my hike.  They sang their one note song often, which
I think is cool. JUNIPER TITMOUSE were also present in good numbers, as
well as a handful of BUSHTITS.  Other highlights I had at Seven Springs
TAILED TOWHEES, and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS (first of year).  I birded at
Seven Springs for 5.5 hours, starting at 8 A.M.

I then spent almost three hours at the Lower Camp Creek area starting at 2
P.M.  There weren't very many birds around down at this location at all,
and I ran into Dave Powell and Ted who were searching for butterflies.  I
think there were more butterflies than birds.  I did however manage to
COOPER'S HAWKS were both present, in which I saw one of these species take
away a GILA WOODPECKER as I was exploring the area north of Lower Camp
Creek about a half mile north.  The woodpecker was screaming and as the
hawk carried it off, it's screams were still there but decreased in pitch
as the hawk kept going.  I've never seen that before, the woodpecker sure
died a painful death. 

I managed 46 species for the day in the area.

Then this morning on my way to work at 5:45 A.M., I got to see my first
two LESSER NIGHTHAWKS of the year on W. Glendale Avenue, just east of the
Black Canyon Freeway.  At the hospital I work at, we also have a PEREGRINE
FALCON, who is present more than half the year.  He's been around lately,
I've watched this bird over four years.

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)   

March 10th, 2011: Mount Ord, Sunflower, Salt River

Hi everyone,

Today on March 10th, 2011, I headed up the Beeline Highway (Highway 87) to
bird hotspots that are accessed from that main road.  My main goal was to
bird the Bushnell Tanks (something I have never done), but they are
temporarily closed to to habitat purposes, as I found out after I drove
there.  But the birding today was good otherwise, as I was able to bird at
Mount Ord and Sunflower, and on the way home I stopped at the Granite Reef
Recreation Site at the Lower Salt River Recreation Area. 

I actually chose to bird Mount Ord first for over three hours starting at
8 A.M. before I was going to visit the Bushnell Tanks.  There is a lot of
snow up here right now, escecially on the higher slopes.  I played it safe
and didn't go past road 1688 cause I'm sure the road up top is covered in
snow.  Hopefully there wasn't an amazing bird I missed at the top.  Road
1688 held a lot of the same species when I was up here on January 26th. 
The main highlight for me here today was once again a nice number of RED
CROSSBILLS.  They called throughout the morning all over the mountain, and
at times I was able to get good looks at them.  As I came upon a patch of
snow on the road, I saw 5 Red Crossbills at close range (2 males, 3
females) perched up about 10-15 feet up in a small pine.  They then came
and feed on the ground directly in front of me, I was amazed.  One of the
males feed about ten feet away from me.  I got to watch them for about
five minutes before I accidently made a stupid movement that scared them
away.  I also really enjoyed a small flock of JUNIPER TITMICE that were
feeding on the ground close to the water tank near the beginning of the
road.  I don't recall ever seeing a Juniper Titmouse on Mount Ord before
today.  Also, my first two ACORN WOODPECKERS of the year flew overhead
calling.  Other highlights this morning from Ord were two calling OLIVE
WARBLERS (heard only), many RED and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, as well as
TOWHEE were nice to see on the lower slopes in the foothills on the way
back down to the highway.

When I realized I wasn't able to bird at the Bushnell Tanks, I decided to
spend a good amount of time at Sunflower along the Old Beeline Highway,
which is one of my favorite places to bird.  Perhaps it worked out better
that the Bushnell Tanks area was closed, because I got a lifer at
Sunflower that is perhaps overdue that I have been looking for for a very
long time.  That bird was the FOX SPARROW (Slate-colored form).  I spied
the bird under dense cover and only caught a brief glimpse of it at first,
but I saw enough of it too see it's key field marks to know it was a Slate-
colored Fox Sparrow.  The brief look didn't satisfy me for a bird I've
been wanting to see so badly, so I whipped out my iPod and played it's
song.  I don't like to play calls much, but sometimes desperate times call
for desperate measures.  The bird then came right out and gave me perfect
looks, and even sang back, in the open.  What a thrill it was for Tommy! 
Sometimes the lifers you should have by now end up being some of the more
exciting ones!  At Sunflower I ended up with 32 species total, other than
the Fox Sparrow, highlights were COOPER'S HAWK, around five VIOLET-GREEN

After Sunflower, I then closed the day out at Granite Reef Recreation Site
along the Salt River.  I stayed here from 3:30 to 5 P.M.  No matter what
time of day it is here, birds always seem to be out, as I recorded 45
species in this shorter birdwatch at one of my favorite places to bird in
the county.  The WINTER WREN is still present and made a showing for me at
the very northwest part of the recreation site where it has been for at
least a few months.  Close to where Winter was at, I also had my first of
the year LUCY'S WARBLERS, as there was a pair foraging together.  I had my
first Lucy's Warbler right were I was standing at the exact spot as last
year, on March 4th.  I think it was the very same one I saw last year, it
probably recognized me from last year as well.  I also got to see my first
Plumbeous Vireo of the year in the picnic area.  Good duck numbers are
still around at Granite Reef as well- GADWALLS, several CANVASBACKS, one
male REDHEAD, a lot of RING-NECKED DUCKS, several LESSER SCAUP, at least
10 BUFFLEHEAD, around 20 COMMON GOLDENEYE, and a nice flock of COMMON
MERGANSERS close to the dam.  Other highlights at Granite Reef included a
nice number of around 10 COMMON MOORHENS at the east side of the site, two

I had 74 species for the day.

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

March 11th, 2011: Hassayampa River Preserve

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the late post, I didn't have internet yesterday when I got back
from birding.  I decided to spend Friday, March 11th, 2011 at the
Hassayampa River Preserve, where the birding was excellent.  The birdlife
was abundant at the preserve, as I hit an even 50 species, which is a good
day for here, where usually I get between 40-45 on average. 

I started the day off walking along the Palm Lake Loop, where I quickly
had my day's main highlight about fifteen minutes into my birdwatch.  I
scanned an open plowed area that is along the north end of the trail to
see a male and female PYRRHULOXIA, which is a new county bird for me.  The
area where these birds were hanging out can also be viewed well by walking
up the entrance road, where the habitat is more desert-like.  I was
pleased with the sighting even more when the male sat on a telephone pole
wire with excellent lighting.  I've only seen a few Pyrrhuloxias before
this in southeastern Arizona, and they were only brief looks, so this was
an excellent sighting for me.  It felt like another overdue lifer in a
way.  I was also pleased to find about ten LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCHES along
the Mesquite Meander Trail.  I'm sure there are more than ten, as there
were times that I heard them singing in different areas than the one I was
visually seeing them well at.  A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK also made an
appearance at the corner of the Palm Lake Loop were it turns to the
Mesquite Meander Trail.  The bird was calling high in a cottonwood, and it
flew before I could locate it's perch.  However, it still soared around
for a few minutes, giving me good looks. 

I also spent over an hour or so birding with Dominic Sherony, who was the
original observer who discovered the Green Kingfisher, definetly a hero in
my books!  He had two Common Black-Hawks soaring along the Lion Trail just
minutes before I came along, I would've loved to see that.  On the Lion
Trail however, we had a nice male WILSON'S WARBLER.  Shockingly no Winter
Wrens during the day.

LUCY'S WARBLERS were appearing in fine numbers here throughout the
preserve, which was the first bird I heard as I arrived and got out of my
truck.  I briefly heard a BELL'S VIREO singing once.  Other than the birds
I mentioned, other highlights among the 50 species I recorded at the
Hassayampa River Preserve were COOPER'S HAWK, a flyover GREATER

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)


March 14th, 2011: Southwest Maricopa County

Hello everyone,

I didn't have to make a post until now, but yesterday, March 14th, 2011 I
spent the day birding in the southwest part of Maricopa County as well as
the southwest Phoenix area.  My main goal was to visit the Thrasher Site
during March so I could have a better attempt at the Sage Thrasher, which
I've always managed to miss at this spot before now.  Melanie's great
reports always add to my interest in birding out here as well, as I also
wanted to see a few of the raptors she has found in this area.  Overall, I
had another fantastic day out here.

I've made it a habit go down M-C 85 instead of the 1-10 when heading out
to the Buckeye/Arlington/Gila Bend Area.  It gives more good agricultural
habitat to pass through.  Driving along this stretch before getting to
Highway 85 I was pleased to see two young BALD EAGLES flying together

As I was almost to the Old US 80 and driving down Hazen Road west and
approaching Wilson Road, I stopped at that intersection as I saw egrets
out in the field just west of that interesction.  The GREAT EGRETS were
joined by the ROSEATE SPOONBILL, which is a little northwest of where it
has usually been seen the last few weeks.  So if visiting here in hopes of
seeing the Spoonbill, keep a look out as far north as Hazen Road's
surrounding fields as well.  Once I got on the Old 80, I got to see my
first MERLIN of the year, which was roadside on a telephone pole wire.

I was happy with my start to the day before I arrived at the Thrasher
Spot, which Sage Thrasher was what I was hoping to find the most.  I
birded the site for two hours, starting at 7:20 A.M.  It took me awhile to
find a SAGE THRASHER, but once I found one, it turned into a mininum of
fifteen birds, I was very impressed.  I walked immediately south for
awhile and came upon a spot that is much more open and the Sage Thrashers
were abundant out here, and four to five would often perch in the same
bush.  I know there were more than fifteen of them, that is just what I
managed to count with a minimum number.  The other thrashers impressed
too, as I came across six LE CONTE'S THRASHERS, three BENDIRE'S THRASHERS,
and one CRISSAL THRASHER. I've also come to a conclusion that the Le
Conte's Thrashers love Tommy DeBardeleben.  Whenever I have come out here,
they have practically run right up me, and then perch about fifteen feet
away with eye level views in front of my eyes, I've haven't even had to
try much at all with them.  I observed all of the thrashers in song
throughout the morning, except the Sage.  What was really impressive was
when I was observing the Sage Thrashers, I looked on a tree/bush in midst
of the brush and open habitat that held three Sage Thrashers, 2 Le Conte's
Thrashers, and one Bendire's Thrasher.  It was an amazing sight, all in
one bush.  There were also other birds to enjoy here besides the
thrashers.  A WESTERN MEADOWLARK flock was present where I was enjoying
the Sage Thrashers.  They were singing away.  In midst of the Meadowlarks
somewhere, I was also surprised to here the "zeet" call and chatter of an
EASTERN MEADOWLARK.  BREWER'S SPARROWS were also present throughout the
area and singing away. 

From the Thrasher Spot, I went to the Arlington Wildlife Area from 9:45
A.M. to 11 A.M.  Here I found a somewhat early WESTERN KINGBIRD as I pulled
up.  Before I started birding, I sat in my truck bed for some reading. 
While I sat, a nice flock of at least a hundred LONG-BILLED CURLEWS flew
by.  A WHITE-TAILED KITE then flew around the field by the entrace road to
the wildlife area and perched on the ground.  Walking around the areas
ponds I came up with heard only VIRGINIA RAILS and SORAS.  CINNAMON and
GREEN-WINGED TEALS were in the open pond, as well as a few RUDDY DUCKS. 

I then made a quick stop at Gillespie Dam before noon.  Not much was
around in the waterbird department, but I did pish out many warblers,
CROWNED WARBLERS (one looked like the Eastern subspecies to me) and four
male WILSON'S WARBLERS.  The tamarisk here can certainly be productive for

I finished up my time in the Arlington Area before heading back to search
for some of Melanie's raptors that she has seen along M-C 85.  Along
Arlington School Road, I managed to find a dark-morph FERRUGINOUS HAWK,
which is probably the same one Melanie has seen for the last three years. 
I didn't find the Harlan's Hawk.  Large flocks of LONG-BILLED CURLEWS and
CATTLE EGRETS were along the flooded patches of Arlington School Road, and
at times, there were well over a hundred Curlews.  Many of them were
roadside once again, the looks and views are outstanding of these amazing
birds, one I'll always enjoy!  I also saw my first of the year CLIFF
SWALLOWS over the canals.

I then headed back along the M-C 85 and spent some time looking for the
hawks along Peryville and Jackrabbit.  I didn't get to see the Ferruginous
or Swainson's Hawks here, but I did get to see my first BLACK VULTURE of
the year.  Also present raptor wise was a WHITE-TAILED KITE (my second of
the day), and a BURROWING OWL.  I did some exploring in the area and came
across a sludge pond just northwest of the intersection of Broadway and
Airport Roads, which had a pair of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS. 

After M-C 85, I spent about two hours at the Baseline and Meridian
Wildlife Area starting at 3:45 P.M.  As Troy noted earlier, they are
indeed removing tamarisk out of the area.  What an awesome sight that is! 
Highlights I enjoyed here included OSPREY, GREAT HORNED OWL, BELTED
KINGFISHER, and as well as a good indication of migrating WARBLERS at the
west side of the area, which included good numbers of LUCY'S, WILSON'S,

For my last stop of the day, I peered through the fence at the new Tres
Rios Project to see numerous waterfowl, with a male COMMON GOLDENEYE being
most noteworthy.  I wish I could enter the pond area, cause there would be
MANY birds to search through.  Also present here among the many waterbirds

I finished the long day with a total of 94 species.

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)


March 19-20th, 2011: Southwest Phoenix Area Birding

Hi everyone,

This weekend I birded close to home in the southwest Phoenix area,
visiting the Tres Rios Wetlands area and briefly Baseline and Meridian
Wildlife Area.  I vistited Tres Rios Wetlands both days, which was rather

Yesterday on March 19th, I birded Tres Rios for three hours starting at
6:30 A.M., and I recorded 61 species during that time, which is one of the
higher days I have had at Tres Rios with a species count overall.  I
enjoyed seeing pairs of up close CINNAMON and BLUE-WINGED TEAL in the
north pond.  This is the most reliable place that I have seen for Blue-
winged Teal.  Flocks of AMERICAN WIGEONS were also using ponds in the
wastewater treatment plant immediately north of Tres Rios Wetlands.  A
single male RING-NECKED DUCK was also on the pond, otherwise, the duck
numbers were very down here compared to recent months were hundreds would
crowd on the north pond.  Raptor wise here, I saw 2 BALD EAGLES, an
OSPREY, and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK.  Usually I see more of a variety here, I
couldn't even pull up a Red-tail.  In the south pond in the immediate
wetlands, a SORA called.  Also present on the north pond was a SPOTTED
SANDPIPER, who sat on floating sticks.  I was also very happy to hear a
singing VERMILION FLYCATCHER, which I have never recorded at Tres Rios
before.  Sadly, I was never able to see it.  My first of the year WARBLING
VIREO also landed above me in a cottonwood, singing and calling.  I didn't
get to see the vireo either, who was with a mixed flock of warblers. 
Warbler wise, I had five species: YELLOW-RUMPED (both Audubon's and
Several CRISSAL THRASHERS thoughout the morning at Tres Rios was also a
nice highlight. 

I was then given permisson to explore the inside of the new project at
Tres Rios, where there are extensive and big ponds.  I was very impressed
with this site, I can't wait until it opens to the public whenever it
does.  There were still abundant duck numbers here, and the best were
several HOODED MERGANSERS.  Other ducks included a few BLACK-BELLIED
SHOVELER (very abundant-hundreds), LESSER SCAUP, BUFFLEHEAD, and RUDDY
DUCK.  There were also good numbers of EARED GREBES at the ponds, some of
them in breeding plumage.  A nice group of 13 AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS sat
in the middle of everything.  Three different OSPREYS were present.  I
also enjoyed seeing several hundred YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS in a very
reedy pond. 

Then today on March 20th, I went to Baseline and Merdian Wildlife Area and
saw that they have closed a lot of the area off due to construction of the
tamarisk removal.  I didn't spend a lot of time there and decided to head
to Tres Rios for a little over an hour.  On the way there, I saw several
BURROWING OWLS as well as my year's first BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS (should've
had that before now!).  Tres Rios wasn't much different from yesterday,
except the fact that a few GADWALL were on the north pond.

83 species for the weekend.

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)


March 25th, 2011: Birding in the Gilbert and Salt River Areas

Hi everyone,

Yesterday on March 25th, 2011, I made a trip out to the Gilbert area as
well as the Salt River.  In Gilbert I visited Gilbert Water Ranch,
Veterans Oasis Park, and the Higley Road Ponds.  For the second half of
the day at the Salt River, I birded the Granite Reef, Phon D. Sutton, and
Butcher Jones Recreation Sites.  It was overall a very good day, many
birds were out.

Gilbert Water Ranch was very productive in the three hours I spent there,
starting at 6:45 A.M., as I recorded 68 species during that time frame.  I
was strongly in hope of refinding the Eastern Phoebe, but once again for
probably the fourth of fifth try, I missed the bird.  It seems to be
either hit or miss.  I also wasn't able to locate the other rarites in the
Black-and-white Warbler and Ruddy Ground-Doves.  Other than that, birding
did not dissapoint.  My favorite highlights were my firsts of the year in
waterfowl numbers are still around here, including many CINNAMON and GREEN-
and RUDDY DUCKS.  An OSPREY was present most of the morning, and so was an
adult male SHARP-SHINNED HAWK.  The AMERICAN AVOCETS are a beautiful sight
to see as they are back in their breeding plumage.  Along the 1/7 path, I
was able to locate one of the male COMMON GROUND-DOVES.  Other than the
Barn Swallow, I was also able to add NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED, TREE, and many
CLIFF SWALLOWS.  A HOUSE WREN called and sang at the east side of the 1/2
path.  I didn't have much of good luck on the Warbler side, only four
species, YELLOW-RUMPED (both subspecies), ORANGE-CROWNED, and LUCY'S
WARBLER, as well as COMMON YELLOWTHROAT.  I couldn't even pull out one
Wilson's, which continued to be the case with the rest of my birding day. 
Another cool highlight was a GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE that landed directly
beside me along the 2/3 path.

Up next was a productive stop at Veterans Oasis Park.  The agricultural
fields adjacent to the park are excellent for raptors, as I had a good
highlight mix of raptors in the fields directly northeast of the park
boundary.  This included my year's first SWAINSON'S HAWK, which were
intermediately morphed birds.  Throughout my scanning and waiting, I had
three Swainson's Hawks.  I also found a young FERRUGINOUS HAWK out in the
fields, as well as a few RED-TAILED HAWKS and a PEREGRINE FALCON flying
overhead.  The walk out here also held grassland songbirds including
PIPITS.  Back on the immediate park boundary I enjoyed highlights of
BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD.  I tallied 39 species at Veterans Oasis Park.

After VOP, I stopped at the ponds on the east end of Higley Road that are
a mile or so north of Chandler Heights Road.  There are four large ponds,
and I always love stopping here, and this place is very valuable to
wintering ducks and raptors, as well as shorebirds.  There are several
lines of small cottonwoods bordering some of the ponds, in future years
when these cottonwoods grow bigger, this place will be even more
impressive.  Duck numbers are still very high in abundance, some species
well more abundant than others.  There were good numbers of AMERICAN
a few BUFFLEHEADS.  An OSPREY was present here the entire time as well,
and there were singles of WILSON'S SNIPE and SPOTTED SANDPIPER. 

At about 12:45 P.M., I arrived at the Salt River Sites, starting at
Granite Reef Recreation Site, where I birded for an hour and a half.  At
the usual northwest part of the site, my WINTER WREN buddy continued,
where it has been very reliable for this entire winter/early spring
season.  Duck numbers here have gone down dramitically, as this was the
first time I've come here in a long time and haven't seen a Common
Goldeneye by the dam.  There was a pair of CANVASBACK still, as well as a
few BUFFLEHEAD.  Other highlights at Granite Reef among 38 species were
LUCY'S WARBLERS saying hello to spring. 

The Phon D. Sutton Recreation Site was my next stop following Granite Reef
from 2:45 to 4:30 P.M.  It was very windy here, yet I still pulled up 38
species.  I particularly enjoyed seeing an adult BALD EAGLE flying
directly over my head at close distance, it soared above me for several
minutes.  Several GREATER ROADRUNNERS were present along the nature trail,
which is an excellent hike.  The trailhead is located at the west end of
the parking lot.  I had three hummingbirds here, BLACK-CHINNED, COSTA'S
and ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS.  Other Phon D. Sutton highlights were GREEN HERON
(not as common at the Salt River), BELTED KINGFISHER, GRAY FLYCATCHER, and

My day's last stop was then at the Butcher Jones Recreation Area.  It was
pretty productive here, as I recorded 35 species in an hours worth of
birding.  My favorite highlight here was a CASSIN'S VIREO.  CANYON, ROCK,
and CACTUS WRENS were all vocal at the west side of the parking lot. 
Scanning the lake, I was able to find VIOLET-GREEN, TREE, and NORTHERN
ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS, as well as a large flock of distant WESTERN GREBES
that are easily several hundred birds.  A surprise here came with two
SAVANNAH SPARROWS in the picnic area that were in midst of a LARK SPARROW
flock.  A nice male VERMILION FLYCATCHER sang in the picnic areas, and a
GRAY FLYCATCHER was also present. 

After a very long day, I tallied a total of 111 species, 85 in Gilbert,
and 73 at the Salt River Sites. 

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)


March 27-28th, 2011: Birding in the Glendale area, Highway 87 area

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the late post, I was too tired last night after I got home to
write a report up.  On Sunday, March 27th, I hit the Glendale Recharge
Ponds up after work and the following day on Monday, March 28th, I visited
and birded the hotspots along Highway 87 in Mesquite Wash, Sunflower, and
Mount Ord.  Both days had great birding.

I got to the Glendale Recharge Ponds at 4 after work on Sunday, and I
birded the ponds and surrounding area for just over two hours.  My
favorite highlight here was an adult FRANKLIN'S GULL (my first of the
year), which I have never seen at this location here before.  It was also
joined by a third-year CALIFORNIA GULL (my first of the year) and a young
RING-BILLED GULL, which all three were along the northwest pond.  I wanted
to get the word out about the gull, but when I got home, I saw that
Melanie saw and reported it earlier in day, so she was the first to see
it.  Certainly one of my favorite gulls!  The Franklin's and California
Gulls gave me an even 200 species in Maricopa County for 2011.  There were
also some other good highlights here during the outing.  Three SWAINSON'S
HAWKS soared near the northwest side of the area, and an OSPREY and
NORTHERN HARRIER were also present.  Six BUFFLEHEADS were in one of the
ponds, and the COMMON GOLDENEYES were also still present in the northwest
pond (where the gulls were also).  A flock of CINNAMON TEAL flew in also. 
Along the east side of the ponds, a BELTED KINGFISHER fished along the
canal, and a nice male VERMILION FLYCATCHER was along the mesquites in the
farmland.  Walking along the nice riparian area along the fence just
northwest of the ponds gave me a WESTERN KINGBIRD and a WILSON'S WARBLER. 

Then yesterday, March 28th, I decided to bird along Highway 87 when I woke
up.  I went to Mesquite Wash first out of the three sites I visited.  Bird
numbers were high, but diversity was rather low, as I recorded only 27
species in a place I would expect on average usually between 40 and 50
species.  LUCY'S WARBLERS here were the show and were everywhere.  I
recorded two different BELL'S VIREOS throughout the hike.  Other

My next destination was a stop at Sunflower that lasted over three hours. 
Sunflower was a very birdy place during the three hour stretch, as I got
many first-of-the year birds.  The COMMON BLACK-HAWKS are back near their
usual nesting site.  They were very active and vocal throughout the
morning.  The pair was tearing branches off the sycamores, and I even
observed them copulating once.  They also spent a lot of time soaring.  As
the morning went on, I observed another Common Black-Hawk pair about 1.5
miles north of where the roadside nest site is along the Old Beeline
Highway, so perhaps two pairs will be in this area?  I also got my year's
first ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, which was the pair that is usually seen on the
Old Beeline.  Once I came into their view, they screamed away.  I also got
five other first-of-the-year birds here as well.  One was a WHITE-WINGED
DOVE in a sycamore close to where I saw the first Black-Hawk pair. 
Another was a calling SCOTT'S ORIOLE up in the hills, where a cliff edge
blocked my view from were the oriole's calls were coming from.  A good
amount of empids were present, as I was able to identify both HAMMOND'S
and DUSKY FLYCATCHERS.  I think I also had a Pacific-slope, but the views
weren't very close at all, but it looked good for that species from where
I was.  I also had my year's first BLACK-CHINNED SPARROWS that sang from
the surrounding hills, which I usually get my first of this bird at Mount
Ord.  At least three Black-chinned Sparrows were what I heard.  A nice
surprise here were two VESPER SPARROWS along the entrance road.  There are
a few areas that are open, but I didn't expect them here.  Other
highlights at Sunflower during this stretch among 49 species were a large
amount of TURKEY VULTURES that probably numbered between 60 and 70 (they

Up next after Sunflower was the epic Mount Ord, where I birded for nearly
five hours starting at 12:30 P.M.  I went to the top this time before I
birded along road 1688.  There are a few patches of snow throughout the
mountain, but not much, as the road is completly dry and perfect for a
passenger vehicle to the summit.  Birds were numerous at the top, and I
had a great highlight just minutes into my birdwatch when I came across a
female CASSIN'S FINCH, which was a new Maricopa County bird for me. At
first, she was slightly in Gila County, but with my desperation for a new
county bird, I managed to fly her into Maricopa County.  It felt great
watching her fly into Maricopa.  RED CROSSBILLS were numerous up here and
throughout Mount Ord during the day.  VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS are very
numerous at the top of Mount Ord right now, as well as both RED-BREASTED
and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, which were also joined by a BROWN CREEPER. 
WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were also abundant at the top of Ord.  A single ZONE-
TAILED HAWK, HAIRY WOODPECKER, and calling OLIVE WARBLER were also present
up here.  As I was driving down from the top towards road 1688 in the Gila
County side, I then came across a large and noisy flock of CASSIN'S
FINCHES, which would probably favor this side better, which has much
better habitat than the Maricopa County side unfortunately.  My all-time
Gila County list grew to 17 species during my visit.  I then birded all
along Road 1688, where I had several new year birds.  This included a
heard only singing GRACE'S WARBLER as well as two singing and heard only
PAINTED REDSTARTS.  Both birds were in pines well off the trail.  Also
included in the mix was a heard only GOLDEN EAGLE calling from where I saw
a pair of them last year in April of 2010.  The heard onlys were
dissapointing during the day, but it's better than nothing.  Right after
the Golden Eagle, a male CASSIN'S FINCH came down and landed on a dead
tree very close to me, providing me with excellent looks.  Several BLACK-
CHINNED SPARROWS sang up here as well, and I also got excellent looks at
an individual.  I also saw BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS along this stretch for
the first time this year, as they will be abundant here very soon.  Also
present along road 1688 were three raptors in ZONE-TAILED, RED-TAILED, and
COOPER'S HAWKS.  On my way down through the lower slopes of Mount Ord on
my way back to the 87, I had a calling CRISSAL THRASHER.  I had 28 species
total at Mount Ord, which is the first time this year I believe I have
gotten above twenty at the site. 

I stopped at Sunflower once more to close out my day on the way home, and
I got my year's first CASSIN'S KINGBIRD out of the second and shorter

Today on March 29th where I work, I had a WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, which I
have heard before here.  It's an eight story hospital, so perhaps they
nest on the building. 

The Swift gave me 185 species this month so far in Maricopa County, which
my county year list has gone up to 212 species.  Last year at the end of
March, I had 180 species.  I haven't been out as much this year as last
year, so I've been very lucky so far!

Good birding,

Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)

Birding in Maricopa County

An online guide to the birds and birding locations of Maricopa County


Birding in Greenlee County

An online guide to Greenlee County Birding


Birding in Arizona's White Mountains

An online guide to Birding in Arizona's White Mountains