Wednesday, November 29, 2017

And now for something completely different

I recently took a trip to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, which is pretty much the opposite of Manhattan - arid, intense sun, huge sky, open spaces, alien vegetation and unique wildlife.  Catalina State Park, 17 miles north of Tucson, is a great place to experience all of these things.  Below are a few of my favorite birds seen in the area.

Curve-Billed Thrasher

Curve-billed thrasher

This bird has a stunning orange eye.

Curve-billed thrasher

The Thrasher looks lovely posing with the Catalina Mountains in the background.

Curve-billed thrasher

Cactus Wren:

Cactus wren

I enjoyed many encounters with cactus wrens, and they were most identifiable by their vocalizations.

Cactus wren

Their markings are really beautiful.

Cactus wren

I was happy to learn the Cactus Wren is the state bird of Arizona.

Cactus wrens

Canyon Wren:

Canyon wren

This was the first time I'd seen a Canyon Wren.  Like the Cactus Wren, this bird drew my attention with its song.

Canyon wren

Hummingbirds were everywhere and they could be heard much easier than they could be seen.  I found this was true for almost all of the birds I saw.  Despite the sparse vegetation and bright sunlight, wildlife was surprisingly tricky to see.

Hummingbird

Greater Roadrunner:

Roadrunner

Just as I was complaining that I hadn't seen one, a Roadrunner came walking by.

Roadrunner

To me, they look prehistoric.

Roadrunner

The Roadrunner is a really colorful bird, especially its rainbow tail.  My companion found a tail feather on one of the hiking trails.  It's brown with an emerald green sheen and can be seen below with a pigeon tail feather for reference.

Roadrunner tail feather

A birding trip would not be complete without a Red-Tailed hawk, and this one obliged by flying close overhead.

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

I was struck by the amount of color on this hawk and the barring pattern across the body.  Below is a photo of Christo for comparison.  He has a lot more white on him, while the desert hawk shows much more brown.

Christo flies around with food

You can see more Arizona birds on my Flickr page.






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