Madera Canyon #2

By Dan Weisz

Here are some additional photos from my recent morning in Madera Canyon.  One of the special birds in the Canyon was a Summer Tanager.  While this bird is seen throughout much of the United States during the summer, it is not a common bird to find.  It is the only all-red bird in the United States and striking when you do chance upon it.

The Summer Tanager returned and dropped down to the creek for a drink of water.  It would dip its beak in the creek, then throw its head back to let the water trickle down its throat.

I saw more Arizona Woodpeckers on that morning’s walk than I ever had seen in my life.  The Arizona Woodpecker is the only brown woodpecker in the United States- others are black and white (plus some accent colors).  This one is a male, of course because of its red cap.

The Arizona Woodpecker is another species of Mexico’s Sierra Madre range that barely reaches into southern Arizona and New Mexico.  It can be found in pine-oak forests around 5000 foot elevation.

White-breasted Nuthatches are compact birds that cling to tree bark, moving up and down and around trees. They have a long sharply pointed bill and they don’t seem to have any neck.  I like the look of the clean black, gray and white markings of its wing and back feathers.

The Painted Redstart is another bird of the borderlands of the American Southwest.  This warbler arrives for breeding season and is known for its foraging methods.  In the photo below, you can see how the Painted Redstart flashes its white wing patches and white outer tail feathers.  The Redstart does this constantly while flitting around a tree. This action appears to flush insects that the bird then chases and captures.

There were many Painted Redstarts moving through the riparian area.  Male and female Painted Redstarts look alike, but the bird below may be a female as its breast plumage is a bit paler and more orange than the bird in the photo above.  Another feature of Painted Redstarts is the white crescent under its eye!

One more look at another Painted Redstart.  You can listen to the song of the Painted Redstart here:  In this  recording, you can hear the “barking” sound of an Elegant Trogon in the background, making me think this recording could have been done in Madera Canyon. Because of the heat this week, we neither heard nor saw any Trogons and I imagine they had moved higher up in elevation to escape the heat.

We also saw this cute Sonoran Spotted Whiptail lizard at the base of a huge tree.  It stood quietly observing us before running off to chase away another lizard. I like how this Whiptail is resting one foot on its own tail.  Those yellow/cream colored stripes on its body are a nice look.

We do have whiptail lizards in the Foothills.  Look for a lizard with a pointed snout and a very long tail and look very different from the more common Desert Spiny Lizards (with the black collars) and others that you might see.

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