We made a quick trip to Arizona on January 6th to look for two potential Life Birds: Rufous-capped Warbler (an ABA Code 3) and Nutting’s Flycatcher (an ABA Code 5). Both were being seen regularly at specific, but widely separated, locations.
We stayed in Green Valley the evening of our arrival and drove up to Florida (pronounced “Floreeda”) Canyon early the next morning. We hiked up and down Florida Canyon several times looking for the Rufous-capped Warblers. Several other birders were doing the same thing. We arrived about 8:30 a.m. and at about 2:30 p.m. after a picnic lunch and a short rest at the dam, we decided to take one last hike back up the canyon. All but one of the pairs of searchers that we had encountered during the day had departed. As we neared the end of our last upward climb, Laurens and Louise Halsey motioned us to proceed forward quickly, as they had just seen the Bird. After a brief search, it was relocated and we saw it close and well and for quite some time. We thank Laurens and Louise who were very helpful to us in relocating this lovely little life bird. Laurens is a professional Birding and Nature Guide and he can be contacted at www.desertharrier.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 520-237-1284. The Rufous-capped Warbler became number 709 on my North American Life List, and number 52 of my favorite family, the Parulidae, or Wood Warblers.
That leaves me yet to find a Crescent-chested Warbler (ABA Code 5), and a Fan-tailed Warbler (ABA Code 4). Two other potential North American Parulidae Life Birds I have seen in Central America but not in “North America” as presently defined for ABA purposes: Grey-crowned Yellowthroat (ABA Code 4) and Golden-crowned Warbler (ABA Code 4). I’m hoping for one of them in the next year or two.
From Florida Canyon, we drove to Parker, Arizona and found a motel and a nice little Mexican restaurant where we enjoyed a delicious dinner and a glass of beer. We took our time getting started the next morning for the short drive to Planet Ranch Road, a few miles north of Parker, to look for the Nutting’s Flycatcher (ABA Code 5). I had looked for it for a full day a couple of weeks earlier without success. As we inched our way up the very primitive road to mile marker 2, where the Flycatcher has been seen, we met the only other birder on the road, John Battalio from Boise, Idaho. He told us he had just seen the Nutting’s Flycatcher (darn, why had we delayed our morning start??). We joined him walking along the road and soon Barbara spotted the target bird, which proved very cooperative in perching nearby for close-up photos. And so, the trip was a success, with two for two of our target birds sighted and a chance we could get back to Des Moines that day. Here is one of Barbara’s photos of the Nutting’s Flycatcher.
As we visited with John, he mentioned that he had come from Phoenix the day before, where he had seen several of the very recently approved addition to the ABA North American Bird List, Rosy-faced Lovebirds (ABA Code 2). He gave us directions to Encanto Park and we decided to drive to Phoenix right away to look for them, and, if successful, to try to get a flight back to Des Moines later in the day. When we drove into the Encanto Park golf course parking lot, the noisy little Rosy-faced Lovebirds appeared by the dozens in the trees around the parking lot.
We ended the trip with three for two new life birds, which was a much more exciting result than my prior one for three trip in December.