SE Arizona – Day 2 (July 17) Part 1: Madera Canyon and environs

Due to the fact that Day 2 was so long, so many terrific birds are seen, and so many photographs were obtained, I have decided to put the Madera Canyon and California Gulch parts into separate posts.

Our day started bright and early searching for Rufous-winged Sparrows on the road leading into the canyon. We were able to gain quite a few good looks at singing individuals plus a number of Black-throated Sparrows, more Gambel’s Quail, as well as Say’s Phoebe, Cactus Wren, Verdin, Bell’s Vireo Curve-billed Thrasher and others.

Rufous-winged Sparrow

Gambel's Quail

Further along, we caught wind of a Botteri’s Sparrow song. We were able to get decent looks at the sparrow as well as 2 Zone-tailed Hawks, a few Cassin’s Kingbirds, Blue Grosbeaks, Bullock’s Orioles before heading up into the canyon.

Botteri's Sparrow

Zone-tailed Hawk

Our first stop was at a set of feeders below Madera Kubo. Here we enjoyed our first looks at some of the more common species including Mexican Jay, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lark Sparrow, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Acorn Woodpecker and another Bullock’s Oriole.

Acorn Woodpecker

Mexican Jay; in the same genus (Aphelocoma) as the Florida Scrub-Jay

Bullock's Oriole

My grandfather was greatly anticipating taking a shot at Elegant Trogon, thus we decided to bypass Madera Kubo until the way down and immediately take the trail up for the trogon. At the start of the trail, a Scott’s Oriole flew by and we were soon greeted by a loud Arizona Woodpecker, followed by a second bird.

As we climbed higher, Painted Redstarts, Cordilleran Flycatchers, Western Wood-Pewees, Hutton’s and Plumbeous Vireos and Bridled Titmice began making their presence known. A few Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers began vocalizing around us as we noted a nice, female Hepatic Tanager sitting out in the open.

One of two AZ Woodpeckers

After enjoying the Hepatic Tanager, we received a tip from two birders about the location of an Elegant Trogon nest. We raced up to the location and after around ten minutes of waiting a beautiful male Elegant Trogon arrived, bill full of food. We proceeded to watch the trogon enter the hole and feed its young, the calls of begging nestlings audible the entire time. Around a half-hour later the male Elegant returned and we again enjoyed fabulous looks. But it didn’t stop there. On the way down we enjoyed INSANE looks at the male Elegant Trogon foraging less than ten feet away!

Male Elegant with food for hungry nestlings

The nest with the male Elegant clearly visible



*(Note: the nest, nestlings, nor the individual Trogon itself were harassed nor was any disturbance to these birds caused during the entire viewing period)*

It was an experience we’d keep with us the entire trip, something we’d never forget. At the base of the trail, we enjoyed nice looks at a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and a few Black-throated Gray Warblers as well as a foraging Hermit Thrush.

Black-throated Gray Warbler

A small piece of the adjacent hillside. When it comes to scenery shots, 100-400mm lenses do not allow much room to maneuver

On the way back down the canyon, we spent a long while at the Madera Kubo feeders, enjoying the show. Numerous Broad-billed, Rufous and Black-chinned Hummingbirds vied for space at the feeders. Two Magnificent Hummingbirds came in, showing well for the entire time. A Violet-crowned Hummingbird then flew through, giving quick, naked eye views. Finally, the male Berylline Hummingbird that had been present for some time came in providing superb looks on three separate occasions, twice perched and three times at the feeders. We had great views of all the features including the stunning, green gorget and rufous wings and tail.

A male Broad-billed Hummingbird awaiting his turn at the feeders

female Broad-billed

Berylline Hummingbird

Besides the hummingbirds we enjoyed both male and female Blue and Black-headed Grosbeaks.

Black-headed Grosbeak

Incredibly, all of this took place before 1 o’clock! With many targets in the bag, and an incredible experience at Madera now fresh in our minds, we moved on to California Gulch.

Now for part 2…..


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3 Responses to SE Arizona – Day 2 (July 17) Part 1: Madera Canyon and environs

  1. The Elegant Trogon pics are absolutely incredible.


  2. Nick Bonomo says:

    Loving the trip report Alex, especially those trogon photos.

  3. Alex Burdo says:

    Thanks so much guys!

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