Agua Caliente & Saguaro NP

I have been in San Antonio for a couple days now, sweating my butt off but it's been totally worth it to see my friends (and for our dogs to be reunited after 7 months apart).  We went out this morning and are taking the afternoon easy with some Cinco de Mayo inspired Dos Equis's, so I finally have some time to post another blog.

Sunday afternoon my friend and I headed to Agua Caliente Park in Tucson to look for birds.  I would call it the dogs' first real taste of the desert...

It was really freakin hot.  The dogs did not handle it too well so we only managed about an hour wandering around the park.  We got to see some cool birds, though, like this Curve-billed Thrasher:

We saw two more of these thrashers apparently working on a nest in this spiky plant:

I will tell you right now, I have seen a lot of flycatchers on this trip, and I am still struggling with ID-ing them.  I want to call this one a Dusky-capped but I could be wrong:

I saw my first Ladder-backed Woodpecker in the park:

And one more flycatcher I can't figure out...

Maybe Eastern Wood-Pewee?  Unfortunately we couldn't spend more time at the park because the dogs were acting like we were trying to kill/melt them, so we headed to Saguaro National Park to drive around with the a/c going for a bit.

I saw my first Pyrrhuloxia but only got this fuzzy photo of it:

I saw my first Verdin here, of which I also got fuzzy photos...

We stopped to look at a Greater Roadrunner perched in a shrub next to the road:

Next up are some gnatcatchers that I think are Black-tailed but I could be wrong...

Alright and another bird I am having trouble with is this sparrow:

I am leaning towards Rufous-winged but would love to know what you think.   That's about it for Sunday's birds...  Hopefully my next post will not be filled with birds I need help with... Good times!


  1. I don't know about that first flycatcher...the light makes it really hard to tell. The next one is a Greater Pewee, which is a decent bird at that low elevation. You are correct about the sparrow and the gnatcatchers (well, for sure the first one at least). The spiky plant is a cholla cactus. Rage.

  2. Hi Jen, sorry it's been so hot here lately. But I'm glad you got to see some really cool desert birds! The first flycatcher is probably an Ash-throated. The second one is a Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, that's a great bird! Aqua Caliente is one of the most reliable spots to see this bird in the whole country. Your id of the gnatcatchers are correct and the sparrow does look like a juvenile Rufous-winged. Congrats!

  3. Shit, I think Jeremy is right about the flycatcher...its hard to gauge the size there. Anyways, how embarrassing.

  4. Are you going to tell us how many birds you've seen so far? Looks like an amazing trip. Thanks for the birdathon donation! I hope to have some blog worthy stuff to post tomorrow evening.

  5. Nice haul Jen! Rufous-Winged and Tyrannulets are none too common. It looks like you made the most of your brief desert survey. Hope you're getting some good birding in Texas, maybe some Golden-Fronted Woodpeckers? Colima Warblers?

    Eagerly awaiting your findings

  6. Thanks for the help, guys! I had thought tyrannulet about that flycatcher at first but changed my mind for some reason.

  7. Jen, great outing and photos. I love the Verdin and the cool RoadRunner. An awesome place for birding. I do feel sorry for the dogs out walking in the heat. Happy Birding!

  8. Yes, amazing sights, and I must say the ONLY time I saw Pyrrhuloxia I thought we'd crash the car. SOOO cool. We saw them fly across the road and their picture from the bird book appeared in my head and I said "TURN AROUND!!" And we did. And it was awesome. That is SO cool you got a photo.

    Nice work, and glad the dogs caught a cooling break. =)

  9. Wow! Fun birding! Okay, are you doing a big year or what? This is getting quite ridiculous - Beardless Tyrannulet and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher!

    San Antonio is my home turf and you didn't even contact me for tips? I could have easily gotten you on Great-tailed Grackle and Northern Cardinal!

    Nice birding :-)

  10. HI JEN, glad you survived the desert in late spring...I was there just prior to Memorial Day in 2010 and it was HOT but still not as bad as HUMID like we have here and you have now in TX, You got some great birds in AZ I didnt get the RR which was a target bird, but MAYBE next time...WTG!!!! Safe travels.


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