I am not an avid birder. I’m a rabid birder. My deep dive into serious birding last year propelled me into the orbit of two dedicated and knowledgeable birders, who think nothing of driving halfway across the state of Arizona in pursuit of an uncommon bird.
Even with its mild winters, the Phoenix area can get a little dreary as the months drag on while waiting for spring. Throw in a little cold snap, courtesy of Mother Nature, and the onset of a winter chest cold that kept me house-bound for over a week and I’ve got a bad case of the Winter Blues. However, a clear day and a little birding can work miracles…
Ever since Hollywood began producing moving pictures, the industry has promoted a stereotype of the Villain: he’s the one dressed in black, wearing a black hat, riding a black horse. In the avian world, black birds often get saddled with the same bad rap.
Arizona’s species list of around 550 birds is the highest of any state without an ocean coastline. The total is aided by quite a few rare vagrants that occasionally cross the border from Mexico, such as Flame-colored Tanager and Streak-backed Oriole. Come along with me as I introduce you to just a few of the beautiful birds – some of them rare that have found their way to my little patch.
Nothing seems to last forever, but sometimes the loss of something so wonderful, spurs growth and leaves you open to exploring new possibilities. Such was the case on our recent visit to one of our favorite spots in Lake Havasu.
I’m discovering that reaching some of Arizona’s most interesting birding sites requires a certain amount of commitment. Whether it’s time, vehicle requirements or sheer guts, you often have to give a lot in order to get something in return. The drive to Mount Ord is the perfect example. Between the fist-clenching moments around every switchback and the bump and grind of the rocky road, you must go slowly, not only for the sake of your vehicle and the comfort of your passengers, but because you never know what you’ll see coming around the next corner….
A long-held belief among people who don’t know Arizona is that we only have one season – one long summer of searing heat. I’m here to tell you they’re wrong.
With colorful fields of wildflowers, the haunting call of coyotes at dusk, an elk stag party and a near total solar eclipse, this trip was beyond my wildest dreams….
Dizzying heights. Gravity-defying balancing acts. Leaps over yawning crevasses. Flights from sheer cliffs of living color. If this sounds like a circus act, you would only be partially right.
Just when the late-spring migrating birds have nearly left my neighborhood – along with every human snowbird that can afford to pack up and roll on to cooler summer RV pads – the monsoon season gives me reason to continue my search for exciting new birds. A birding trip was definitely in order!