By Dan Weisz
This unseasonably warm winter in Tucson makes it pleasant to be outdoors, although the continuing drought will sure have a negative effect on local plants and animals. The birds I’ve been seeing around are “regular” residents.
This female Phainopepla sat atop a mesquite tree in our neighborhood. It is a very common bird in the Foothills especially in the winter. During summer, the birds move into higher elevations to avoid the heat. The Phaniopepla’s body shape, especially its crest, resemble a cardinal’s, but the beak is much thinner. And that red eye is striking!
This male Phainopepla was seen near the Tucson Audubon’s Mason Center on the northwest side of town. It was a cold morning and he remained fluffed up to remain warm. Look for these birds atop any tree in the Foothills.
A Cooper’s Hawk circled Fort Lowell Park and the sun shining through its wings made them glow. Tucson has more Cooper’s Hawks than any other location in the United States.
In my backyard, a male Pyrrhuloxia sat on the end of a cholla branch in late afternoon shadows. This is another desert specialist. While it looks like a cardinal, it is not related.
A Northern Mockingbird sits atop of a saguaro. Mockingbirds are present throughout the Foothills as well as throughout the city.
A female Vermilion Flycatcher rested in the shade one sunny morning at East Lawn Palms Cemetery. Vermilion flycatchers can be seen near any “field” in the Foothills- on golf courses, sports fields, etc.
While a male Vermilion Flycatcher hunted from treetops near the Mason Center.
And off we go!!