I was in Phoenix on business last week, and fortunately I was able to break free for a day and a half to go birding. The map below was prepared before I left Portland to help me develop a sense of the relative location of the top birding hot spots. I drew a circle with a 30 mile radius around the central intersection of 2 freeways (one running north and south, the other east and west) with the hope of locating quality birding areas within (what seemed to me at the time to be) a reasonably sized search area. It didn't take me long, however, after I hit the ground to figure out that I would only have time to bird a few locations, and that it would be best if the locations were in the same quadrant of the sphere that encompasses 2,800 square miles. The top hotspot, in terms of species diversity and the number of checklists within the sphere, is The Riparian Preserve at the Gilbert Water Ranch. Its location is denoted by map marker number 0.
INTERACTIVE MAP - Click the icon in the upper left-hand corner to display the legend.
I came across just a fraction of the number of species that I hoped to find on this trip, but I enjoyed my time in the field nonetheless. One of the more interesting interactions that I had with local birders came at the Riparian Preserve when a gentlemen told me how unusually quiet it was just a few minutes after I had a long talk with myself about the need to keep calm, focus, and not indiscriminately chase every new bird call that I was hearing. I guess we all tune-out the ordinary when we are in search of the unusual.
Verdin were everywhere. I found them building nests, feeding fledglings, and foraging in just about every corner of the preserve.
Black-crowned Night-Heron: White-winged Dove: Zanjero Park - a city park that doubles as a Burrowing Owl preserve, or vice versa:
Tubes Burrowing Owls use for shelter - there are dozens in the park and they are often found near high-traffic trails:
Salt River - Granite Reef Recreation Area:
Unidentified Flycatcher: I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on the identity of this bird.
Desert Botanical Garden:
Gamble's Quail with young:
Another Gila Woodpecker: