Date: 11/18/17 6:23 pm From: trose <trose...> Subject: [AZNMbirds] SEAZ Tucson More Red Crossbills South Lawn Cemetery
November 18, 2017 Tucson - South Lawn Cemetery (Park Ave. S of Irvington Rd.) RED CROSSBILLS, RED-BREASTED NUTCHATCH
[side note to begin with - darnit, I forgot to keep the info about the person that wanted Red Crossbill recordings - I have a camera movie clip, not the greatest, but it shows two male birds in a vocal face-off that ended in a tussle. Not sure how useful it would be for identification since the vocalizations are not flight calls per se, with the aggressor(?) calling a clear kyerp-kyerp-kyerp and the subordinate(?) a constant answering barrage of squeaky twit-twit-twit notes, but I'd like to get the movie to the person anyway. If someone could please forward me the contact info, I would be grateful.]
Anyway, this morning I decided to try one of John Higgin's haunts and headed to the South Lawn Cemetery in south Tucson, specifically to see if I could find any RED CROSSBILLS, since the location has lots of *big* pine trees, and it just seemed like a great place to check.
Yep! Found some! Wasn't having much luck (although plenty of other birds to see) until 10:30am when a small flock arrived from the north, from outside the cemetery, briefly calling "kip kip kip" as they flew, which clued me in. Small flock, at least eight (might have been nine or ten - they came in behind me at first, so I only got a brief look at them in flight initially, before they entered a tree).
Spent a fun time watching these guys work several big trees while I was there. Other than two very brief sets of flight calls as they switched trees, and a few very quiet contact twitters and kips, they were pretty darned silent, with only the teeny tiny crackling sounds of pine seeds shucking to give them away. As others have mentioned, these guys are surprisingly hard to spot up in the trees, even when you know they're there! Got some reasonably good photos anyway (which I will include in an eBird list tomorrow).
Also garnered a nice "field clue" to help locate birds - whenever they were high in a tree, even when I couldn't spot any, a steady little "rain" of papery tan pine seed husks would waft down on the light breeze, like tiny golden moths fluttering in the sunlight. At one point, while watching something else, I accidentally ended up directly under a tree with the Crossbills in it, which resulted in a fair bit of debris (seed husks and pine needles) falling through the sunroof of my car. Ergh.
Also seen and heard: a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (got one poor photo). Scanned through scads of House Finches and White-crowned Sparrows to see if there was anything else hanging around with them. Only thing I got was a PINE SISKIN calling (certain), which I hoped to get a photo of, but no luck on actually seeing it well - only got one brief look of its silhouette as it finally flew away, calling. Also, unseen, either a Plumbeous or Cassin's Vireo calling for a half a minute. Couldn't relocate it after that to peg it down.