Photography Adventure through Southern Arizona - May 2012
by Henry Detwiler

A great nine-day trip from Organ Pipe through SEAZ to the White Mountains and then back to Yuma

187 species seen  Click here for bird checklist
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.

Brian and Lise Young were on a quest to photograph and video a long list of targets on a three week tour through Arizona and California. I was their guide for the first half of the trip. Our first stop of the trip was at Organ Pipe National Monument in search of the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. We heard it well from several points in the wash, but we never could glimpse it. Did get some nice shots of woodpeckers and doves, though!

Brian Young

Crested Caracara
Crested Caracara

The next two stops were north of Nogales, at the Rio Rico Ponds and at Kino Springs, where we had good luck with both Tropical Kingbird and Gray Hawk.

On the way west through the Tohono O'Odham Tribal Reservation we added to our growing list with two Crested Caracaras and several Harris's Hawks.

Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk

Five-striped Sparrow
Wood Ducks

Other beauties were Varied Buntings, Warbling Vireos, tanagers, Lucy's Warblers, as well as some fine lizard specimens! Along the canyon walls were beautiful cacti and a host of early summer wildflowers.

The next morning we headed out early and drove to California Gulch. The primary target was Five-striped Sparrow, which obliged us with lots of singing and close-up views.

Clark's Spiny Lizard
Clark's Spiny Lizard

After lunch we headed up to Madera Canyon and the Santa Rita Lodge. Acorn Woodpeckers abounded, and we saw other regulars like Board-billed Hummingbird, Hooded Oriole, and White-breasted Nuthatches.

Acorn Woodpecker

corral bean
Coral Bean in front of Montana Peak

That evening we did our first night-time owling; we had beautiful views of Mexican Whip-poor-will and Elf Owl, and heard Poorwill and Whiskered Screech-Owl.

Plain-capped Starthroat

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Bald Eagle


At the Beatty's we went to the upper feeding station, and before long had the rare White-breasted Hummingbird come in several times. Other fine hummers included the Blue-throated, Broad-tailed, Black-chinned, and Magnificent.

White-eared Hummingbird
White-eared Hummingbird

Blue-throated Hummingbird
Blue-throated Hummingbird

From there we went down to Mary Jo's, but the heat and time of day made for slow birding. We hah some cooperative Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, but missed the Lucifer Hummingbird.

Olive Warbler
Brown Thrasher



Mississippi Kite
Canada Geese at sunrise

Virginia's Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Common Black-Hawk


Lewis' Woodpecker
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

During an et excellent looks at both of the owl species.

Red-backed Junco

Lunch wn's Vireo and Hermit Thrushes.

Scarlet Tanager

Williamson's Sapsucker

Mountain Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird

Our last full day together was a long drive from the White Mountains to Yuma. We stopped for lunch at Encanto Park in Phoenix, not only to eat, but also to see the lovely Peach-faced Lovebirds which have taken up residence there.

Peach-faced Lovebird
Peach-faced Lovebird


Early on Monday morning we headed up to West Pond and Mittry Lake to try for Black Rail. We heard three of them, a couple of Clapper Rails, and the biggest surprise of the morning--an American Bittern doing its water pump call. Once they dropped me back off at home, Brian and Lise headed on to California--while I headed back to the office. It had been a great week on the road!

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