Date: 7/11/18 4:00 pm From: Chris Chappell <chris.chappell4...> Subject: [AZNMbirds] Box Canyon and Five-striped Sparrows
Spent a good chunk of the morning working Box Canyon from top to bottom. Started at the FSSP stakeout and immediately was greeted with a singing FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW from my car window. A short while later (outside the car now), another birder and I had pics of a bird (presumed male) with food, a hefty caterpillar, that it appeared to carry downslope to near the bottom of the canyon and out of sight. We both figured there were 3 birds singing (and clearly there was at least one female in the area as well). This all occurred early, but on my return back down the canyon at 9 am, there was still a bird singing not far below the road and seen in good light, with a photographer in pursuit. In terms of habitat, the vegetation structure and slope steepness and position seem very similar to California Gulch and upper Sycamore Canyon where the species is more regular, but shrub species composition appears different, with less diversity at this more northern locale.
In the same area, there was a singing male INDIGO BUNTING, nice looks at HOODED ORIOLE, and quite a few hummers (at least COSTA's and BROAD-BILLED). At 9 am or so, the photograher reported a LUCIFER.
Further up canyon, there were a number of singing VARIED BUNTINGS, and vocalizing MONTEZUMA QUAIL, among many other birds. SCOTT'S ORIOLES were scattered throughout, many singing. The bird of the morning in abundance terms, was ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER. They were pretty much everywhere in the canyon that I stopped. At the bridge at the mouth of the canyon, saw a ZONE-TAILED HAWK flying with a TV and heard a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO in habitat that seemed awfully sparse for what I am used to for that species.
With the monsoons having begun and rain threatening, BOTTERI'S and CASSIN'S SPARROWS were singing like crazy in the grasslands below the canyon and along Whitehouse Canyon Road above Florida Wash. Rain had already begun in Madera Canyon, so I passed on a trip to the feeders there and instead stopped at Green Valley WWTP on the way back to Tucson. Nothing terribly interesting there today, a few shorebirds of few species, and a lot of intergrade and fewer Mexican Mallards. The highlight was a WESTERN SANDPIPER.