Rusty Blackbird in Tucson 11/19/2009

At Rich Hoyer's suggestion, Mark Stevenson, Molly Pollock and I birded the the neighborhood around Forty Niner Golf and Country Club this morning. The combination of ponds, many ornamental plantings, mesquites, washes, and small hackberry groves makes this a fantastic place to search for late fall and winter vagrants. A number of interesting species have been recorded here over the years including Little Blue-Heron, Cape May Warbler, Ovenbird, and Rufous-backed Robins. Perhaps the most unusual bird observed here today was a lingering Western Tanager. Other species detected include Great-Horned Owl, Plumbeous and Hutton's Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Western Bluebirds, American Robins, Cedar Waxwings,"Myrtle" Warbler, Black-throated  Gray Warbler, and Spotted Towhee.

Great-horned Owl at Forty Niner

A last minute decision to check Woodland road was fortuitous. While looking for a previously reported American Crow, Mark spotted a female Rusty Blackbird in a mixed blackbird flock. The dark eye patch, pale eye, gray rump and thinner more decurved bill separate this from Brewer's Blackbird. I managed to obtain a few shots, though distance was an issue. I believe that this is the second Pima county record. A state bird for me!

Female Rusty Blackbird

Good Birding!
Senior Guide
Keith Kamper

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