Nature Notes

July 5, 2015

Southern Arizona-Huachua Mountains

Filed under: Arizona,Birds — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 6:00 am

Bewick's Wren

The Huachuca Mountains form a link into the Sierra Madres of Mexico, and much of the birdlife shows this affinity. Their are four major peaks, Miller, Carr, Ramsey and Huachuca. Their watered canyons are where the majority of the birds can be found.

These canyons can be accessed from Sierra Vista. Huachuca Canyon is accessed through Fry Blvd. which passes through Fort Huachuca Military Reserve. Their are currently restrictions on entering, and, as a Canadian, I was refused admittance. I don’t know how easy it is for U.S. residents to obtain a permit to pass through.

Ramsey Canyon is accessed from Ramsey Canyon Road off of Highway 92. The lower portion go through dry desert grassland, good for such birds as Scaled Quail , Greater Roadrunner , Cactus Wren , Curve-billed Thrasher , Pyrrhuloxia and Lark Sparrow . You will also see the similar looking Cassin’s and Western Kingbirds .

Higher up the canyon becomes wetter fueled by the Ramsey Creek. At the end of the road is the Ramsey Canyon Reserve. During the busier times, you want to get here early as parking is limited.

Western Tanager

As you move south along Highway 92, you come to the Carr. Miller and Ash Canyons, all of which will give you entry to excellent birding habitant.The lower portion of Carr is pine and oak woodland with birds like Cooper’s Hawk , Whiskered Screech-Owl , Magnificent , Blue-throated and Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Arizona and Acorn Woodpeckers , You can sort out similar flycatchers like Dusky-capped , Brown-crested and Ash-throated Flycatchers , and also find Cassin’s Kingbird . Also found are Mexican Jay , Bridled Titmouse , Bewick’s Wren , Plumbeous Vireo , Black-throated Gray Warbler, Painted Redstart , and Black-headed Grosbeak .

At higher elevations, you can expect to find Band-tailed Pigeon , Grace’s Warbler , Broad-tailed Hummingbird , Hairy Woodpecker , Pygmy Nuthatch , and Steller’s Jay .

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Miller Canyon wends its way through elevation changes, and offers access to southern Arizona’s bird specialties. The lower portion is dry desert grassland, home to species like the Greater Roadrunner , Cactus Wren , Ladder-backed and Acorn Woodpeckers , Verdin , Curve-billed Thrasher , and Pyrrhuloxia .A you go higher, you may find Mexican Jay , Hutton’s and Plumbeous Vireo , Bewick’s Wren , Bushtit , Northern Flicker , Rufous-crowned Sparrow , Ash-throated and Brown-crested Flycatcher , Black-throated Gray Warbler , and Black-headed Grosbeak .

At the end of the road lies the Beatty Guest Ranch, and they kindly allow visiting birders to check the hummingbird feeders along the fence. Here you can expect to find many species including Magnificent , Blue-throated , and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds .

Cassin's Kingbird
The Turkey Track Road runs into Ash Canyon where Mary Joe Battalor has a B&B which has been transformed into a bird oasis. her many feeders include those for hummingbirds and she welcomes birders. You will likely see Ladder-backed and Arizona Woodpeckers , Bridled Titmouse , Curve-billed Thrashers , Verdins , Mexican Jays ,and Canyon Towhee . We saw a Whiskered Screech-Owl that had taken over a nesting box as well as Scott’s Oriole .

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  1. Harold,
    Thanks for your input on the Canon 40d user settings on Bird Forum. I enjoyed perusing your photo gallery – great photos. Which reminds me, my wife and I are going to Oregon (where I grew up) in late September htis year. We will spend a few days on the Oregon Coast, a few days in the Cascades, and a few days in the Willamette Valley to visit family. After seeing your Pelagic birds, I might try to fit that in out of Newport where we are going to spend 2 days. In another parallel, we are going to spend a week and a half in Southern Arizona in May 2009. I met my wife there when I was stationed at Fort Huachuca. Of course, my main objective is birding and bird photography for these trips. My wife understands.

    Comment by Jim Lundberg — July 19, 2008 @ 8:00 am

  2. Thanks for the kind words Jim.

    A Newport pelagic is something you should try but book early as late September dates get sold out.

    I would also recommend the Newport Aquarium if you haven’t seen it. They have an excellent exhibit on shorebirds including some close unobstructed view of two species of Phalarope. If you are not against photographing captive species, it is a fabulous place for some great shots.

    Good luck, Harold

    Comment by Harold — July 19, 2008 @ 10:45 am

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