Review of Birding Trip on June 8 / Kim Stone

At the very first stop on the recent birding trip to the Pinal mountains on the morning of June 8, author, bird guru, and trip leader Jim Burns informed a dozen well-rested and eager birding enthusiasts that he wanted to identify 50 species of birds, by sight or by ear, in the next 6 hours. This kind of challenge is a bugle call to birders and within 10 minutes, we added the first five birds to the list. By stop number two, we added four more.We were traveling in a caravan of four vehicles, slowly making our way up the unpaved Forest Road 651 towards Pinal Peak. The first few stops were in the thick chaparral vegetation of the Pinal foothills, where we heard and saw a Black-chinned Sparrow with its ping-pong ball song, a Western Tanager that some say sounds like a Black-headed Grosbeak, and a red-headed Turkey Vulture that makes no sound at all.With 40 birds still left to find, we found one of our most productive stops in the pines along Russell Gulch where a tiny rivulet crossed a low point in the road. We saw Hairy Woodpeckers nesting in a dead pine snag and watched many eye-candy song birds in the crowns of the large sycamores, walnuts, and Ponderosa pines that grew up from the gulch. We spotted a Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, and the Black-throated Grey Warbler. We also heard the song of the House Wren, considered by some in the group to be one of their favorite bird songs. At the nearby Sulphide del Rey picnic area, we added Hutton’s Vireo, a Hermit Thrush with its ethereal flute-like song, the Virginia Warbler, and still found time to discuss the striking similarity between the buzz of a flying Broad-tailed Hummingbird and the sound effect of the space age car from the Jetsons. Our final two stops were at the top of the Pinals at Ferndell spring and then lunch outside one of the vacation cabins that keeps five hummingbird feeders reliably filled. A sack lunch was provided by Globe restaurant DeMarcos with a dessert of cookies baked by Globe Chamber of Commerce director Ellen Kretsch. While we ate, we watched a giant Magnificent Hummingbird get its own sugar fix from the feeders.

Even though we added the Red-faced Warbler and the Red and the White- breasted Nuthatches at Ferndell Spring and then the spectacular Olive Warbler at the cabins, we fell slightly short of our goal with a total of 39 species for the trip. What we missed in quantity, we made up with quality with a great leader, a great group, and some very, very cool birds. In fact, one experienced birder in the group remarked that just seeing the Olive warbler “made it worth the trip.”

Number of species: 39
Gambel's Quail, Turkey Vulture, Accipiter sp. (Cooper's or Sharp-shinned Hawk); White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Magnificent Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern "Red-shafted" Flicker, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Western Scrub-Jay (Woodhouse's), Common Raven, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bewick's Wren, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Phainopepla, Olive Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Grace's Warbler, Red-faced Warbler, Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Black-chinned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow-eyed Junco and Black-headed Grosbeak.

Note: Photos were taken by Jim Burns and are copywritten.

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