It's a Great Day to Bird

Catalina State Park – Arizona

January 6, 2017

We left our friends, and wonderful hosts, Carla and Wayne today and headed south to Catalina State Park just outside of Tucson, Arizona.   We plan to camp here two nights.  This is another one of our favorite birding spots in Arizona – I have a lot of them.  We have visited here a number of times, never tiring of the opportunity.   On the way, via back roads, we did stop several times to check out raptors on the powerlines – mostly Red-tailed Hawks, but we did find three Harris’s Hawks (FOY – First of Year).

We got to the park around noon, set up camp (well that took us about five minutes), had lunch and then did a short trail walk from the campground to a trailhead parking lot.  We, did of course, bird along the way – bagging five more FOYs: Pyrrhuloxia, Bewick’s Wren, Canyon Towhee, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and the Rufous-winged Sparrow.   Woohoo!!!  Great birds.

Oh, least I forget, while we were having lunch a Roadrunner came into our camp and proceeded to feast on the bugs at our campsite.  Yeah!!!  We later saw two other Greater Roadrunners on the trail.  One year when we stayed here we had five Roadrunners come in to our campsite.  These birds are very habituated to humans.



Greater Roadrunner


Greater Roadrunner. The song “roadrunner, the coyote is after you, roadrunner if he catches you your through” always comes to mind when I see this bird.



Bridle Trail from campground to (multiple) trailhead parking lot


Catalina Mountains



Wow,  does this Saguaro Cactus have a lot of arms or what? The arms don’t start growing until the cactus is at least 75-100 years old (according to Wikipedia), and it’s growth rate is strongly dependent on precipitation. The more precip, the greater the growth (entire cactus).



Male Phainopepla


Rufous-winged Sparrow


Northern Mockingbird


Habitat along the Bridle Trail


Bewick’s Wren (I so love these birds – my favorite wren) – a bird with an attitude.

January 7, 2017

Today we hiked from the campground to start of the Bird Trail, then hiked the one-mile loop Bird Trail, plus took a side trail off the Bird Trail.  In all, I estimate we hiked over three miles.  Poor Doodlebug (our dog).  She was really tired when we got back.  Luckily, there were several watering spots for her plus the water in our backpack. We were gone for over 3.5 hours.  When you are birding, you don’t cover large distances in a short period of time as you might do when just plain hiking.  I’m not sure I could go on just a straight-out hike anymore – without stopping to check the birds I see.

In the afternoon we stuck around our campsite and I finished reading a book.  One thing I do like about camping – I don’t feel guilty sitting around and reading a book.  While reading, it was fun to watch two Greater Roadrunners venture into our campsite in search of food.  They must be used to people feeding them because they came within 5-10 feet of Jack or I.  Fun to watch them.  Then later, Jack saw one jump into a tree and then run up one of the larger limbs.  They must roost in trees at night.


Red-tailed Hawk



Bridle Trail


Anna’s Hummingbird


Lots of Saguaro Cacti here


Bridled Titmouse



Bird Trail


American Kestrel


Barrel Cactus fruit



House Finch pair


Brewer’s Sparrow


This Greater Roadrunner at our campsite found something good to eat



Okay this guy was right next to the picnic table I was sitting at – about five feet away from me. Probably looking to be fed. Not going to happen.

Bird Species Seen or Heard at Catalina State Park (January 6-8, 2017)

  • House Finch
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Gila Woodpecker
  • Phainopepla
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Rufous-winged Sparrow
  • Abert’s Towhee
  • Canyon Towhee
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Canyon Towhee
  • Pyrrhuloxia
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Common Raven
  • Verdin
  • Bridled Titmouse
  • Anna’s Hummingbird
  • Northern Flicker
  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • Ladderbacked Woodpecker
  • Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay
  • Gray Flycatcher
  • Western Bluebird
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Mourning Dove
  • House Sparrow
  • American Kestral
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Cactus Wren
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • Brewer’s Sparrow
  • Chipping Sparrow

Next Stop – Madera Canyon.  Until then …




1 Comment

  1. Nina Faust

    Be sure to visit Sabino Canyon and both Saguaro East and West NPS.

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