Tucson - Varied Thrush, 28 November 2008

Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson attracts a lot of migrants and vagrants, probably owing to its location along the (historically) once-lush Santa Cruz River. Birds that once found their way to the meandering, cottonwood-lined channels of the river now fly over the seemingly forbidding desert, chancing upon the oasis that is Sweetwater Wetlands. Roger Road Wastewater Reclamation Facility has done an excellent job managing the habitat for birds, and the payoff is sometimes rarities like this one:

Thanks to Meaghan Conway for contributing this picture of a beautiful male Varied Thrush! First photographed by Andrew Core and Tom Aldrich on 25 November 2008, the bird has been hanging out in the southeast corner of the wetlands. With the bulk of its range in the Pacific Northwest, I'll admit it was a bit incongruous seeing it hopping around under Fremont Cottonwoods bordering three-edged bullrush, then diving across the path into saltbush!

Another contribution from Meaghan Conway, showing the dense greenery to which the birds flock, under clouded skies from the first good winter rains.

Good birding,
John Yerger
Senior Guide, Adventure Birding Co.

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