SE Arizona, Day 5 – Mt. Lemmon and Tucson

This is the fifth in a series of posts about my recent trip to southeastern Arizona, the other posts can be seen at these links (day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4). On July 31st, we spent the night at the “Rooster Roost” cabin in Summerhaven. This put us already at the top of Mt. Lemmon the next morning, August 1st. We birded around the cabin for a few minutes and then drove up to the Ski Valley area, just about a mile up the road. All three nuthatch species could be heard calling and we ran in to some Red-faced Warblers foraging in a small flock. A Great Horned Owl was calling in the distance. Mountain Chickadee was a lifer for Chris, and some other mountain species such as Stellar’s Jay and Yellow-eyed Junco were nice to see.

At a pulloff overlooking Summerhaven, we pulled over and spotted some close Pygmy Nuthatches. Chris called out that he saw some warblers nearby with yellow-ish throats. I knew right away that they could be Olive Warblers, and we were all very excited to see that they actually were! This was a lifer for both Chris and Mark.

Olive Warbler - female

Yellow-eyed Junco - fledgling

We then slowly worked out way down the mountain, stopping occasionally at pulloffs and forest roads to see what birds were around. One highlight was seeing multiple Virginia’s Warblers, which were lifers for all four of us! Once we got back in to Tucson, Chris spotted a Zone-tailed Hawk. I drove over closer to it and we were lucky enough to have the hawk fly right over our heads! This was by far the closest I have ever been to a Zone-tail.

Virginia's Warbler

Zone-tailed Hawk - adult

After getting some breakfast, the four of us visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and then we drove around a section of the Saquaro National Park. Chris were able to pick up a few more lifers including Cactus Wren and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. After that we all grabbed some ice cream, and the Anna and I had to drive back to Blythe to work the next day, while Chris and Mark went to their hotel for the night and flew back to Pennsylvania the next morning.

We were able to find 163 species of birds during our short trip, 83 of which were lifers for Mark and at least 90 were lifers for Chris! Anna and I each picked up 5 lifers!