Birdathon 2015 – Cochise County, Arizona

Team Arizona!
Team: Bradlee Sulentic, Bill Brown

First off, I’d like to thank my sponsors for this endeavor. To Erika W., Judy and Dave S., and Monica S., I am in grateful for your support. Second, a big thanks to my teammate, Bill Brown. Having never done a big day before this, your help was invaluable.

We started our day at 5:30am in Huachuca Canyon on Ft. Huachuca, in weather conditions that made both of us question why we were doing this. Despite the cold rain and wind, we left there after ninety minutes with 20 species, including most of the targets for the location (Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Brown Creeper, and Painted Redstart). Listed are species recorded in Huachuca Canyon:

1. Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
2. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
3. Western Wood-pewee (Contopus sordidulus)
4. Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer)
5. Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)
6. White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
7. Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
8. Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)
9. Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher (Myiodynastes luteiventris)
10. Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)
11. Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)
12. Plumbeous Vireo (Vireo plumbeus)
13. Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
14. Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans)
15. Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
16. Mexican Jay (Aphelocoma ultramarina)
17. Bridled Titmouse (Baeolophus wollweberi)
18. Painted Redstart (Myioborus pictus)
19. Hepatic Tanager (Piranga flava)
20. Buff-breasted Flycatcher (Empidonax fulvifrons)

After leaving Huachuca Canyon, we made a quick twenty minute stop at BS’s house to check out his hummingbird feeders for a Lucifer Hummingbird, a visiting rarity. Listed are species recorded at the Sulentic house:

21. Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)
22. Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cynanthus latirostris)
23. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
24. Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens)
25. Lucifer Hummingbird (Calothorax lucifer)
26. Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)

On our way to the Sierra Vista Environmental Operations Park (EOP) we were able to record seven species. They are listed below:

27. Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)
28. Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
29. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
30. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
31. Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
32. Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
33. House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

Before moving over to the EOP proper, we took a few minutes to drive around the animal shelter adjacent to it. This stop turned out to be one of our most productive stops of the day, bumping up our total for the day by thirteen species. Listed are species recorded at the animal shelter:

34. Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)
35. Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria)
36. Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)
37. Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii)
38. Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)
39. Cassin’s Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans)
40. Common Raven (Corvus corax)
41. Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)
42. Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)
43. Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)
44. Lucy’s Warbler (Vermivora luciae)
45. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
46. Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

Our reason for including the Sierra Vista EOP in the count was really for just a couple target species (Red-winged Blackbird and Yellow-headed Blackbird) that we weren’t likely to see anywhere else. That we added a couple extra birds to our list for the day was a bonus. Listed are species recorded at the Sierra Vista Environmental Operations Park:

47. Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
48. Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
49. Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)
50. Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
51. American Coot (Fulica americana)

By 8:35 we were at the San Pedro House to bird the nearby river. This was expected to be the location that made or broke our big day, and weather conditions were perfect (sunny and breezy). After adding Greater Roadrunner to the list on the way there, we added an additional 26 species to the days list over about two hours. Listed are species recorded at the San Pedro House and along the San Pedro River:

52. Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)
53. Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis)
54. Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla gambelii)
55. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)
56. Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)
57. Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea)
58. Wilson’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla)
59. Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
60. Botteri’s Sparrow (Aimophila botterii)
61. Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycerus)
62. European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
63. Common Ground-dove (Columbina passerina)
64. Gray Hawk (Asturina nitida)
65. Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia)
66. Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)
67. Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris)
68. Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis)
69. Abert’s Towhee (Pipilo aberti)
70. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
71. Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia)
72. Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)
73. “Mexican” Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos diaza)
74. House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
75. Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
76. White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
77. Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

By 10:30am we were leaving the San Pedro watershed, heading into the Sulphur Springs Valley, having recorded nearly 80 species in five hours of birding. Unfortunately, this was the “easy” part of the day. Facing us were nearly four hours of driving across stretches of nearly bird-less Chihuahuan desert scrub habitat. Our next big stop for the day was Lake Cochise, outside of Willcox, AZ. But, before arriving there, we picked up a couple raptors on the drive and made two quick stops to find a Great-horned Owl and a Barn Owl. Listed below are the species recorded between the San Pedro River and Lake Cochise:

78. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
79. Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
80. Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
81. Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
82. Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
83. Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

We arrived at Lake Cochise at 1:00pm hoping to pick up a handful of water-loving species that would be unable to get later in the day. What we actually recorded there went well beyond both of our expectations. Over an hour and fifteen minutes we recorded 27 species, including two “lifers” for me (Black Tern and Short-billed Dowitcher) and 15 species that should have migrated north by this time of year. Lake Cochise was our biggest surprise of the day. Listed are species recorded there:

84. American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
85. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
86. Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
87. Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
88. Eared Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
89. Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
90. Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)
91. Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
92. American Wigeon (Anas americana)
93. Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
94. Baird’s Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii)
95. Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)
96. Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
97. Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
98. Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)
99. White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)
100. Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
101. Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)
102. Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)
103. Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)
104. Gadwall (Anas strepera)
105. Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)
106. Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)
107. Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)
108. Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)
109. Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
110. Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
111. Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)

After a long drive out of the Sulphur Springs Valley and back into the San Pedro watershed, we headed to Carr Canyon for our last stop of the day. Carr Canyon is one of the highest roads in Cochise County, so we headed there with hopes of finding some of the high altitude species that migrate through or breed there. Being that we were covered multiple habitats ranging from around 5,000 ft. to around 7,500 ft., this stop took more time than any of the other stops of the day We started birding lower Carr Canyon at 3:50pm, travelling into upper Carr Canyon as the sun was setting, and finished our day owling lower Carr Canyon in the dark. Listed are species recorded in Carr Canyon:

112. Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)
113. Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus)
114. White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis)
115. Greater Pewee (Contopus pertinax)
116. Black-throated Grey Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens)
117. Grace’s Warbler (Dendroica graciae)
118. Yellow-eyed Junco (Junco phaeonotus)
119. Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)
120. Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)
121. Virginia’s Warbler (Vermivora virginiae)
122. Olive Warbler (Peucedramus taeniatus)
123. Hammond’s Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii)
124. Arizona Woodpecker (Picoides arizonae)
125. Montezuma Quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae)
126. Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi)
127. Whiskered Screech-owl (Otus trichopsis)
128. Mexican Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus arizonae)
129. Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis)

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