phil jeffrey:: AZ-NM-CO trip report


Arizona - New Mexico - Colorado, May/June 2006

I toured Texas and Arizona in April 2001, the last time I did anything resembling a "big year". My planned return trip to AZ in 2002 was canceled when the forests were closed due to fire risks. In 2004 I toured Colorado in early April to find grouse, prairie-chickens and rosy-finches with reasonable success. In both cases the early spring nature of the trips precluded finding some species, especially in AZ where I was too early for classical AZ species like Elegant Trogon and Greater Pewee. So this trip, planned for late May into June 2006, was to cover south-east AZ, NM and CO with the aim of finding more of the breeding species - many of them turn out to be flycatchers, and quite a few are south-east AZ specialties.

Sunrise, Sunset


Originally I planned to go the second week in June. Subsequent changes allowed me to move this earlier to the last week in May, but apparently Common Poorwill and Buff-collared Nightjar are a lot easier when there is a full-ish moon, and the week starting May 27th 2006 has a new-ish moon using this moon predictor. Although it is up to nearly half by the end of the week. In contrast the previous week starts at a half-full moon and progresses into less-and-less moon as the week continues. It's not an ideal situation. Neither is the fact that the Buff-collared Nightjar(s) weren't being entirely cooperative as of May 16th. By the middle of June it was being pretty darn cooperative but it's hard to assess whether that is seasonal or just an individual case.

Consulting Stuart Healey's detailed journal entries for May for 2001-2009 it's obvious that my targets are already in place by May 20th, and further research on BNA suggested that Empidonax flycatchers would be on territory on or around then. The fact that Memorial Day is May 29th pretty much nailed the schedule: I decided to start on May 18th. This means losing the late spring migrants in NYC like Mourning Warbler, and I'd be cutting it fine for late spring arrivals like Varied Bunting and Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher but one cannot have everything. (I also saw both of those species on this trip, although only one Varied Bunting).

With 20/20 hindsight, some species were still on the move - Western Tanagers in unexpected lowland locations, some non-breeding Empidonax were certainly moving through non-breeding territories (the lowland ones may have been Pacific-slope, the ones on the higher ground looked more like Dusky/Hammond's) and there were a fair number of Townsend's (and two Hermit) Warblers. I missed Black Swift but to be certain of that species I would need to visit CO at the end of June or some time in July (the same is true of the Jemez Falls site in NM). Pacific-slope Flycatcher was apparently making its way through lowland AZ as of the middle of June.

Trip List with Locations

248 species, which until the April 2018 Texas trip was my personal best for any birding trip, and certainly benefits from several se.AZ specialities combined with more typical Rocky Mtn montane species.

Bold species are life birds.

Common Loon CO: Big Johnson Reservoir
Least Grebe AZ: Sweetwater Wetlands
Pied-billed Grebe AZ: Sweetwater Wetlands; NM: Bosque del Apache; CO: assorted lakes
Eared Grebe AZ: Willcox Playa; CO: Walden, Windy Gap Reservoir, Big Johnson Reservoir
Western Grebe NM: Bosque del Apache; CO: Walden, Windy Gap Rsvr, Big Johnson Rsvr
Clark's Grebe NM: Bosque del Apache del Apache;
American White Pelican CO: Walden, Windy Gap, Big Johnson
Neotropic Cormorant NM: Bosque del Apache del Apache
Double-crested Cormorant NM: Bosque del Apache; CO: Denver fly-overs, Big Johnson Rsvr
Least Bittern NM: Bosque del Apache del Apache;
Great Blue Heron AZ: Aravaipa, Kino; NM: Bosque del Apache; CO: various
Great Egret AZ: Kino Springs; NM: Bosque del Apache del Apache;
Snowy Egret AZ: Walden
Green Heron NM: Bosque del Apache del Apache;
White-faced Ibis AZ: Willcox Playa; CO: Big Johnson Reservoir
Black Vulture AZ: Patagonia rest stop
Turkey Vulture ubiquitous
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck AZ: Rio Rico agricultural fields
Canada Goose NM: Bosque del Apache del Apache, Albuquerque; CO: various lakes
Wood Duck NM: Rio Grande Nature Ctr
Gadwall NM: Bosque del Apache del Apache; CO: various lakes
American Wigeon CO: Hayden and other ponds
Mallard widespread
Blue-winged Teal CO: Big Johnson Reservoir
Cinnamon Teal NM: Bosque del Apache del Apache; CO: various lakes
Northern Shoveler AZ: Willcox; NM: Bosque del Apache; CO: various lakes
Northern Pintail CO: Walden
Green-winged Teal AZ: Willcox Playa, various lakes
Canvasback CO: Walden
Redhead AZ: Willcox Playa; CO: Walden etc
Ring-necked Duck CO: Hayden, other lakes
Lesser Scaup CO: Walden
Common Goldeneye CO: Windy Gap Reservoir
Bufflehead CO: Windy Gap Reservoir
Common Merganser CO: Windy Gap Reservoir
Ruddy Duck AZ: Sweetwater Wetlands; CO: various lakes
Osprey CO: near RMNP
White-tailed Kite AZ: State Line Rd near Portal
Northern Harrier CO: 80 Route nr Hayden
Cooper's Hawk various
Gray Hawk AZ: Patagonia, Kino Springs, Arivaca Cienega, Ruby Road
Common Black-Hawk NM: Gila River
Swainson's Hawk AZ: Sierra Vista; CO: eastern plains, Middle Park
Zone-tailed Hawk AZ: Cave Creek cyn and Patagonia
Red-tailed Hawk ubiquitous
Ferruginous Hawk CO: Pawnee NG; WY: near Cheyenne
Golden Eagle CO: North/Middle Park
American Kestrel various farmland
Chukar CO: Escalante Cyn
Ring-necked Pheasant NM: Bosque del Apache and Rio Grande; AZ: Barr Lake SP
White-tailed Ptarmigan CO: Medicine Bow Curve at Rocky Mountain NP
Sharp-tailed Grouse CO: 80 Route nr Hayden
Wild Turkey AZ: canyons (Scotia, Pinery, Madera)
Scaled Quail AZ: Portal
Gambel's Quail widespread
Common Moorhen NM: Bosque del Apache del Apache
American Coot AZ, NM, CO
Sandhill Crane CO: Hayden, Craig
Willet CO: Big Johnson Reservoir (Western ssp)
Killdeer various
Mountain Plover CO: Pawnee NG
Black-necked Stilt AZ: Willcox Playa; NM: Bosque del Apache; CO: Walden
American Avocet NM: Bosque del Apache; CO: various lakes
Spotted Sandpiper NM: Bosque del Apache; CO: various lakes
Western Sandpiper AZ: Willcox Playa
Wilson's Snipe CO: near WY border
Wilson's Phalarope AZ: Willcox Playa; CO: Walden and various lakes
Franklin's Gull CO: Walden, Windy Gap, other lakes
California Gull CO: Walden, Windy Gap, other lakes
Black Tern CO: Cortez, Big Johnson Reservoir
Forster's Tern CO: Walden
Rock Pigeon urban, colonizing Colorado NM and some overpasses near Grand Junction
Band-tailed Pigeon AZ: Carr Cyn, and other cyns
White-winged Dove AZ, NM
Mourning Dove ubiquitous
Eurasian Collared-Dove CO: Craig and Meeker
Common Ground-Dove AZ
Greater Roadrunner AZ: Sweetwater Wetlands; NM: Bosque del Apache
Great Horned Owl AZ: below Madera Cyn, Sulphur Springs Valley
Whiskered Screech-Owl AZ: Madera Cyn, South Fork Cave Creek
Elf Owl AZ: Madera Cyn fly-outs also heard at Cave Creek
Burrowing Owl CO: Pawnee NG
Lesser Nighthawk AZ: Continental, Sierra Vista, lowland desert areas
Common Nighthawk NM: Rio Grande Nature Ctr; CO: Pawnee NG
Common Poorwill AZ: Portal, Pinery Cyn at Chiricahuas
White-throated Swift ubiquitous at higher elevations
Broad-billed Hummingbird AZ: riparian, widespread
White-eared Hummingbird AZ: Miller Cyn at Beatty's CAS
Violet-crowned Hummingbird AZ: Patagonia at Patons
Blue-throated Hummingbird AZ: Ramsey, Miller Cyns
Magnificent Hummingbird AZ: Ramsey, Miller, Madera, Carr, Ash Cyns
Lucifer Hummingbird AZ: Ash cyn B&B
Black-chinned Hummingbird AZ: all cyns
Anna's Hummingbird AZ: Miller cyn, Ash cyn
Broad-tailed Hummingbird AZ: all the cyns; NM: montane; CO: montane
Elegant Trogon AZ: Madera Cyn (heard), South Fork Cave Creek, Scotia Cyn (heard)
Lewis's Woodpecker CO: Animas River nr Durango
Acorn Woodpecker AZ: Madera Cyn, South Fork Cave Creek, Scotia Cyn etc
Gila Woodpecker AZ: deserts, Aravaipa Cyn
Williamson's Sapsucker CO: montane near Ouray
Red-naped Sapsucker CO: Endovalley at Rocky Mountain NP
Ladder-backed Woodpecker AZ, NM: mountain cyns
Hairy Woodpecker AZ, CO: montane
Arizona Woodpecker AZ: Madera Cyn
Northern Flicker widespread
Gilded Flicker AZ: foothills of Mount Lemmon, also probably Aravaipa Cyn lower regions
Olive-sided Flycatcher CO: Pine Valley Ranch Park
Greater Pewee AZ: Mt Lemmon (heard), Carr Cyn at Comfort Spring
Western Wood-Pewee widespread in all woodlands
Hammond's Flycatcher NM: FR-289 near Los Alamos; CO: Rocky Mountain NP
Gray Flycatcher NM: Bandelier NM; CO: Ouray
Dusky Flycatcher NM: Los Alamos FR-289; CO: Black Cyn of the Gunnison
Cordilleran Flycatcher AZ: Madera Cyn, Cave Creek Cyn, Mt Lemmon; CO: Pine Valley Ranch Park
Buff-breasted Flycatcher AZ: Scotia Cyn, Carr Cyn at Comfort Spring
Black Phoebe AZ: widespread in riparian
Say's Phoebe AZ: Madera Cyn, other lower cyns
Vermilion Flycatcher AZ: widespread in riparian
Dusky-capped Flycatcher AZ: all canyons
Ash-throated Flycatcher AZ: most canyons, desert
Brown-crested Flycatcher AZ: most canyons
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher AZ: Ramsey, Cave Creek
Tropical Kingbird AZ: Arivaca Cienega
Cassin's Kingbird AZ: various riparian
Thick-billed Kingbird AZ: Patagonia, Patagonia Rest Stop
Western Kingbird AZ: multiple, NM: southern, CO: plains
Eastern Kingbird CO: Barr Lake SP
Rose-throated Becard AZ: Patagonia Rest Stop
Loggerhead Shrike AZ: Portal (1 only!)
Bell's Vireo all lower canyons
Gray Vireo AZ: Mt Ord; CO: Ouray, Colorado NM
Plumbeous Vireo AZ, NM: all canyons and montane; CO: Pine Valley Ranch Park
Hutton's Vireo AZ: canyons
Warbling Vireo AZ, NM, CO: riparian
Gray Jay CO: montane
Steller's Jay AZ: Mt Lemmon; CO montane
Western Scrub-Jay AZ, NM, CO
Mexican Jay AZ: all canyons
Clark's Nutcracker CO: montane
Black-billed Magpie CO: central
American Crow CO only but widespread there
Chihuahuan Raven AZ: Portal etc
Common Raven montane
Horned Lark AZ, NM, CO - widespread in all dry grasslands
Tree Swallow CO: Hayden
Violet-green Swallow montane, especially in CO
Northern Rough-winged Swallow AZ, CO
Bank Swallow CO: Big Johnson Reservoir
Cliff Swallow many locations
Barn Swallow many locations
Mountain Chickadee AZ: Mt Lemmon; NM, CO: montane
Mexican Chickadee AZ: Rustler Park in Chiricahuas
Bridled Titmouse AZ: mountain canyons
Juniper Titmouse NM: Bandelier NM; CO: Ouray, Colorado NM, South Rim Gunnison
Verdin AZ: all lower canyons
Bushtit AZ, NM, CO
Red-breasted Nuthatch AZ: Mt Lemmon; CO: Pine Valley Park
White-breasted Nuthatch AZ, NM, CO
Pygmy Nuthatch AZ: Mt Lemmon; NM: Bandelier; CO: montane
Brown Creeper various montane
Cactus Wren AZ: desert scrub
Rock Wren CO: Cameo
Canyon Wren AZ: canyons especially Ramsey and Madera where seen closely
Bewick's Wren
House Wren AZ: montane
American Dipper
Ruby-crowned Kinglet AZ, CO: montane
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher AZ, NM, CO various
Western Bluebird NM, CO
Mountain Bluebird NM, CO
Townsend's Solitaire NM: Los Alamos
Hermit Thrush higher canyons
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Sage Thrasher CO: Colorado NM
Curve-billed Thrasher AZ
Crissal Thrasher AZ: Portal
European Starling
American Pipit CO: Rocky Mountain NP, Mount Evans
Phainopepla AZ: Portal
Olive Warbler AZ: Cave Creek, Carr Cyn; NM: Emory Pass in Black Range
Orange-crowned Warbler AZ: Madera Cyn
Virginia's Warbler AZ: Mt Lemmon, Carr Cyn; NM: Bandelier NM; CO: South Rim Gunnison
Lucy's Warbler AZ: Florida Wash, Portal
Yellow Warbler AZ, NM, CO
Yellow-rumped Warbler AZ, NM, CO
Black-throated Gray Warbler AZ: cyns
Townsend's Warbler AZ: upper cyns, surprisingly widespread
Grace's Warbler AZ: upper cyns
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler AZ, NM: widespread, less so in CO
Red-faced Warbler AZ: upper cyns; NM: Emory Pass in Black Range
Painted Redstart AZ: most cyns
Rufous-capped Warbler AZ: junction of Sycamore and Montana Canyons
Yellow-breasted Chat AZ: San Pedro riparian corridor, Gila River
Flame-colored Tanager AZ: Madera Kubo
Hepatic Tanager AZ: cyns; NM: Bandelier NM
Summer Tanager AZ, NM
Western Tanager AZ, NM, CO
Green-tailed Towhee AZ: Carr Cyn Comfort Spring, CO: various
Spotted Towhee AZ, NM, southern CO
Canyon Towhee AZ, NM
Abert's Towhee AZ: San Pedro, Sweetwater Wetlands
Rufous-winged Sparrow AZ: Florida Wash
Cassin's Sparrow CO: Pawnee NG
Botteri's Sparrow AZ: Florida Wash, Proctor Rd parking lot
Rufous-crowned Sparrow AZ: Florida Wash, Sycamore Cyn, California Gulch etc
Chipping Sparrow CO: montane
Brewer's Sparrow CO: Pawnee NG
Black-chinned Sparrow AZ: Mt Ord, Proctor Rd at Madera Cyn
Vesper Sparrow CO: Hayden, Colorado NM
Lark Sparrow AZ: incidental desert edges, Patagonia
Black-throated Sparrow AZ: Florida Wash and other desert areas
Lark Bunting CO: Pawnee NG, WY: Cheyenne area
Song Sparrow AZ, CO
White-crowned Sparrow AZ: Sweetwater Wetlands !! CO: Rocky Mountain NP
Dark-eyed Junco NM, CO: montane
Yellow-eyed Junco AZ: Cave Creek, Mt Lemmon
McCown's Longspur CO: Pawnee NG
Chestnut-collared Longspur WY: Cheyenne area
Five-striped Sparrow AZ: California Gulch
Northern Cardinal
Pyrrhuloxia AZ: Portal
Black-headed Grosbeak widespread in AZ, NM but less so in CO
Blue Grosbeak AZ: Madera Cyn etc
Lazuli Bunting CO: Escalante Cyn, Hayden 80 Route
Indigo Bunting AZ: Madera Cyn
Varied Bunting AZ: Madera Cyn
Yellow-headed Blackbird CO: Walden
Red-winged Blackbird widespread
Eastern Meadowlark AZ
Western Meadowlark widespread
Brewer's Blackbird CO
Common Grackle CO
Great-tailed Grackle AZ, NM
Bronzed Cowbird AZ: Portal and Madera Cyn
Brown-headed Cowbird unfortunately quite widespread
Hooded Oriole AZ lower canyons
Bullock's Oriole various but especially Barr Lake SP
Orchard Oriole Barr Lake SP, CO
Scott's Oriole AZ, NM: various
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch Summit Lake at Mt Evans, CO
Pine Grosbeak CO montane near Ouray
Cassin's Finch CO montane
House Finch
Red Crossbill Rocky Mountain NP
Pine Siskin CO montane
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Trip Report

Life birds are in bold, year birds are in italics. In both cases they are only recorded as such the first time I mention them. Locations are underlined where it's a specific venue. Hyperlinks are included where I have the time. Page numbers as in [p.999] are to one of the appropriate bird finding guides:

Useful Links

The Colorado Birding Society (COBus) website still wins the award for the most useful one in terms of locating birds. BIRDWG05 - the AZ/NM birding list - is also very useful but Stuart Healey's journal of bird sightings is perhaps even more so. There is low activity on Utah and New Mexico lists, as far as I can tell, so you're pretty much on your own with those states. The Lane Guide for Arizona is still your best bet, with the Tucson Audubon guide a close second. The Colorado guide is a little old now, but still useful (best supplemented with the sites below). There is no NM "Lane" guide and the existing birding guide leaves something to be desired (religiously organized by county rather than geographical region, it is often tedious to follow). Nevertheless it did correctly point me to life birds, so it's still worth having. These days I'm more likely to scan pages from sparsely-useful birding guides rather than pack all of them - it starts to weigh quite a bit if you're packing AZ+NM+CO+UT+WY guides, plus maps.

Online Resources - Colorado

Online Resources - New Mexico

Online Resources - ARIZONA

Cyber/Internet Resources in Colorado

Adjacent States - Online Resources