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.
This bird has a stunning orange eye.
The Thrasher looks lovely posing with the Catalina Mountains in the background.
I enjoyed many encounters with cactus wrens, and they were most identifiable by their vocalizations.
Their markings are really beautiful.
I was happy to learn the Cactus Wren is the state bird of Arizona.
This was the first time I'd seen a Canyon Wren. Like the Cactus Wren, this bird drew my attention with its song.
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.
Just as I was complaining that I hadn't seen one, a Roadrunner came walking by.
To me, they look prehistoric.
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.
A birding trip would not be complete without a Red-Tailed hawk, and this one obliged by flying close overhead.
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.
You can see more Arizona birds on my Flickr page.