Thursday, July 17, 2008

Madera Canyon

Ok, here's the followup I promised.

The day before yesterday, we went to Miller Canyon for a very special bird.
White-eared Hummingbirds are one of our rarest nesting hummers. There are perhaps only 10 individual birds in the USA. There are only 4 that we know of. At the feeders in Miller Canyon, we found exactly half of the known population of White-eareds in the USA. Both male. I'll post pictures after I get to California.

Yesterday, on our way back to Tuscon, we stopped at Madera Canyon as our last stop. Madera canyon is quite a birding mecca for most birders. It's birding is fantastic and some of the species found there can be found only in a few other places.
Madera is especially famous for the rare birds it sometimes attracts. In the past, it has attracted such rarities as Plain-capped Starthroat, Crescent-chested Warbler and several others. This year, it was 3 Berylline Hummingbirds. A bird that can be found almost nowhere else in the USA. They were reported to be coming to the feeders at the gift shop at Madera Kubo.
On this trip however, we had a chance at a double rarity. There was also a resident male Flame-colored Tanager present in the same area as the hummers.

We pulled into the canyon and quickly got ourselves set up at the feeders. The guys quickly picked out a singing Plumbeous Vireo as well as several species of hummers. I had just seen my 499th life bird that morning at Patagonia rest stop in the form of a Thick-billed Kingbird. Naturally, I was rather loathe to hang around for an ABA code 3 hummer to add as my 500th. I was much more interested in the Tanager.

Suspecting that the Plumbeous Vireo wasn't really "Plumbeous", I wandered up the road in search of the bird in question.
I quickly located the source of the song to be near a house about 100yds up the road. As I was searching for the bird, the Adult male FLAME-COLORED TANAGER hopped up on an open, dead branch and sang the same song that we had been hearing and had IDed as Mr Plumbeous. I instantly yelled to Dave Jasper that I had the bird. It was a full 30 seconds before I even thought of reaching for my camera. I managed to squeeze off a couple badly underexposed shots before the bird flew.
I was literally shaking with excitement!! I had just found my 500th life bird on my own without anyone else!!!!!!!!!
I very rarely find life birds without someone else along and they usually spot it first so it was a big treat for me to find this one.

We quickly relocated the bird and Trey spotted the bird so that we could get everyone else on it. We had absolutely spectacular views of the bird and I managed to get off a few more decent pictures!!

It was absolutely amazing!!!

On the way down the Canyon, we stopped and picked up my lifer #501. Rufus-winged Sparrow!!!
So that's what I'm at now.

I'm currently sitting in Phoenix Airport waiting for my flight to California. The birding at Camp C has been great and the birding in Cali will be!!!

Happy Birding!!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Chris! We are so happy for you in attaining your goal of #500. What could be more satisfying then a special bird in a special place to make the occasion a memorable one. We love and miss you.
Mom, Dad and Anthony.

Amila Salgado said...

Congratulations on achieving and surpassing 500!

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Camp C sure sounds awesome! I would shure love to go one day, sounds like fun. Congrats on your 500th lifer.