We kicked off the morning on Day Six at Mary Jo Ballator’s Ash Canyon B and B with one major target: Lucifer Hummingbird. Most of the Eastern Slope of the Huachucas had been absolutely devastated by fire earlier in the summer and thus ash and blackened earth and trees were everywhere you looked. Nearly, if not all the trees on Mary Jo’s street showed some sign of major burning-either having very browned leaves or none at all. And all trees were blackened somewhere.
Upon arriving at Mary Jo’s feeders, the sadness quickly dissipated as we watched eight species of hummingbird swirling around the feeders, vying for a perch. The highlights came fast and furious. We were able to nail Lucifer Hummingbird without much trouble in the form of a female-type bird. A male hybrid Costa’s X Lucifer Hummingbird also visited and provided an interesting comparison (more structurally than anything) to the pure Lucifer.
Other highlights included: Canyon Towhee, Bushtit, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Bridled Titmouse, Mexican Jay, Hooded Oriole and Acorn Woodpecker, plus the aforementioned eight species of hummingbird: Broad-billed, Lucifer, Magnificent, Black-chinned, Anna’s, Rufous, Broad-tailed, and the big surprise, Allen’s Hummingbird.
The Allen’s was a male and was identified plumage-wise by the extensive green on the back and head and the unnotched R2 and the very thin outer rectrices (R4 and 5) in comparison to Rufous. Many other factors went into the identification of this bird which I will detail in a later post, including shots of the open tail and back.
After Mary Jo’s, our next, and only other location visited on the day was the Ramsey Canyon Preserve in an attempt to rope in species that were more accessible or abundant in other locations in the Huachucas that were unfortunately closed due to fire.
Our five-hour hike took us through terrific oak and pine woodland and included a nice meeting with young birders from Camp Chiricahua. Although we were unable to rope in our major target here, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, we were still able to pin down a variety of species, most notably Northern Pygmy-Owl (heard), Elegant Trogon, Greater Pewee (heard), Steller’s Jay, Grace’s, Red-faced and Lucy’s Warblers, Hepatic and Western Tanagers, Band-tailed Pigeon, White-throated Swift, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and others.
After the hike, we spent awhile at the hummingbird feeders. Our highlight here was our first Blue-throated Hummingbird of the trip but the adjacent Magnificents and Broad-taileds as well as a Violet-crowned and Calliope also competed for our attention.
Mammilian highlights at Ramsey were a Brown Bear right off the trail and a number of Mule Deer.
Due to the success of our morning visit we ended up returning to Mary Jo’s for a late afternoon vigil, partly as an attempt to try to get more looks at Lucifer Hummingbird and partly because it had just been so darn good!
In the next few hours, we were able to gain terrific looks and a few photos of a female Lucifer Hummingbird as well as nailing the Painted Bunting that had visited Mary Jo’s feeders on days before – a huge surprise! All the other regulars were also seen as well as a nice male Calliope Hummingbird, our second of the day.
Overall, a fantastically successful day split at only two locations. Pretty much all of the key birds were quite easy with a few nice surprises thrown in! And who doesn’t like 11 species of hummingbird in one day?