Madera Canyon in Arizona is one of the prime birding areas in the U.S. Cynthia and I had been to this place several times before racking up several lifers such as Elegant Trogon and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, among others.
It was a pleasant morning as we drove up the road towards the Sta. Rita mountains. One of the very first birds we encountered was what I believed to be the uncommon Rufous-winged Sparrow. Nowhere else in the U.S. can this species be found except here in Southeastern Arizona. Although not a lifer - we've seen this before also in this area 8 years ago - we were still happy to be able to get a clearer shot this time.
Proctor Road yielded some passing migrants such as the Warbling Vireo
and the Grey Flycatcher
Sta. Rita Lodge, as always, is a favorite stopping point. Non-guests still can view the grounds where the management placed some feeders to attract the birds. All three hotels in Madera Canyon (Sta. Rita Lodge, Madera Kubo, and Chuparosa Inn) provide feeders in their respective grounds for the benefit of birdwatchers. Hummingbirds were not plentiful this time of year (June and July, when the rains come, is the best time to see them). Still, the Broad-billed Hummingbirds - another species found only here in Arizona - were dominating the feeders, with a few Black-chinned and Allen's joining them.
Mexican Jays, another Arizonan exclusive, were quite common.
The brightly colored Hepatic Tanager occasionally drops by to try the fruits on the feeders.
We moved on to the picnic grounds but did not try the steep trails leading to where the Elegant Trogon dwells - our ancient legs could no longer handle the arduous climb. Still, we were rewarded with a very tame Yellow-eyed Junco that kept looking for worms coming as close as less than a meter from our feet! (Take note that there are no feeders here).
It is interesting to note how similar this bird looks like to its cousin, the slate-colored subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco.
Before we left the canyon, we had some quick sightings and not so good photos of the beautiful Painted Whitestart.
As we were enjoying our lunch at Mama's Hawaiian Barbecue in the city of Sahuarita, we were thankful for the birds we had seen. Madera Canyon did not disappoint and we had a very happy, fruitful, birding day there.
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