Bald Eagle at Coon Bluff near the Salt River, 6/20/12.
This eagle took me by surprise -- luckily I had my camera in hand and was quick enough to catch a few shots. The eagle was perched high on a dead cottonwood tree skeleton, where I usually see smaller and less exciting birds. I came around a bend in the path and spooked it!
Now I'll have to approach that area more cautiously so I won't scare the eagle off, if I'm lucky enough to ever find it there again.
Male Varied Bunting in breeding plumage, in an ironwood tree at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, 6/18/12.
This male Varied Bunting is an unusual bird for our area and has been generating a lot of excitement among birders & photogs for the past few weeks. It has been sighted in several different areas at BTA, but primarily the Demonstration Garden.
So I went early Monday, hoping but not really expecting to be able to spot it. I am much more a sight than sound birder, and at Boyce there are so many dense trees that I could easily miss seeing one particular bird.
To my surprise, it was its pretty but unfamiliar song that drew my attention and led me to locate it. A new lifer! Once spotted, I was able to track it as it flew from one tree to another over a period of about 10 minutes, before it finally disappeared out into the nearby wash.
It always perched within tree foliage, so getting a clear shot was difficult, but I'm happy I got to see it at all. Local birders are hoping it may have a mate and be nesting at BTA, well north of its normal Arizona border range limit.
Ash-throated Flycatcher bringing a dragonfly to feed its young in its cavity nest, 6/17/12.
Until recently, I didn't realize that Ash-throated Flycatchers would nest in empty saguaro cavities. I'd only seen & photographed them bringing nest materials to trees, so I thought that was where they nested. A saguaro cavity is much more protected while incubating and while the babies are young, though probably a bit scarier for the young to fledge from.
Mama Gambel's Quail with some of her tiny crew on the front patio, 6/16/12.
Today was yard clean-up day, so I didn't even set out fresh seed till mid-afternoon. The quail probably can get enough food naturally, but I supplement with waste-free seed in sheltered areas, where their hungry young won't be so vulnerable to predators.
And in exchange, I get to watch the impossibly cute young chicks.
Greater Roadrunner at Pebble Beach Rec Site along the Salt River, 6/15/12.
I was on a mission to find wild horses and I found this roadrunner instead. It was clacking, which is my unofficial term for the sound that roadrunner parents and children make when trying to locate each other. This appeared to be an adult, but maybe it was an insecure teenager. It perched atop a picnic table in one of the ramadas, clacking away, and then finally disappeared into the nearby shrubbery.
Hopefully, a friend or relative was close by... though roadrunners do give the impression of being pretty fierce, regardless.
Gambel's Quail parents and 13 chicks on our front entry patio, 6/14/12.
Today we had our first visits by this summer's neighborhood quail families. The Mom & Dad above had 13 very teeny babies in tow; there was an earlier family that had a smaller group. The quail chicks are unbelievably cute. Seeing them again made my day.