A morning in Madera - 22 June 2008

Morgan Jackson and I enjoyed a fine, cool early morning on the Vault Mine Trail in Madera Canyon. The most interesting non-bird sighting of the day, unarguably, was a black bear meandering along just uphill from the old mining equipment. This was very near where we watched families of HUTTON'S VIREOS, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS, and YELLOW-EYED JUNCOS coming down to drink and bathe in a few little puddles created by a natural seep, so perhaps the bear wanted a drink, too...

On our way back down, just below the junction of the Carrie Nation Trail, we had no less than 4 ELEGANT TROGONS and a SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER. Several active families of PAINTED REDSTARTS were enjoyable as well.

In the rarities department, we ran into Laurens Halsey at Madera Kubo and joined him to verify that there are 2 different BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRDS coming in to the feeders by the store! Looks like one male and one female - exciting stuff. Laurens managed a few photos, available on the AZFO website at http://www.azfo.org/gallery/BEHU_Madera_Halsey_20080622.html.

We personally missed the WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD(S), but Darlene Smyth and crew saw them earlier in the morning. The FLAME-COLORED TANAGER serenaded us and popped in for a visit to the oranges stuck on the wire fence, as well as the metal flower-shaped feeder just left of the dry stream. ARIZONA WOODPECKERS delighted as well, working their way up an oak about 5-10 feet from our heads, and later feeding a nearly independent fledgling. Laurens mentioned that VARIED BUNTINGS were thick at Proctor Rd this morning.

Photo highlights:

Fine specimen of a male Flame-colored Tanager (Piranga bidentata), single and lookin' for the ladies. Unfortunately, there don't appear to be any female Flames in the area... In the past, this bird has paired with a female Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), which definitely leads to confusing progeny.

Ah, the temptation of the orange. The best part about this shot is that the tanager is a more intense orange than the fruit itself!

Arizona Woodpecker (Picoides arizonae), one of my own personal favorites.

In case you're wondering, Strickland's Woodpecker was split into two species a few years back. The woodpecker that is actually still called "Strickland's" (Picoides stricklandi) is only found in a very restricted range in the state of Mexico (yes, the state of Mexico in the country of Mexico) through central Veracruz. Oddly, the range of the Arizona Woodpecker only just reaches Arizona; it is found well south, into eastern Michoacan - abutting the range of its congener.

A parting shot: looking back up Madera Canyon, hoping those clouds pile up into regular monsoon thunderstorms. Soon enough!

Good birding,
John Yerger

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