A trip to the White Mountains 
June 15-17, 2001, Hot down below,  beautiful & cool in the mountains 
Suzanne Gaytan & Henry Detwiler

Suzanne and I left early Friday morning on the 15th of June.  Our first stop was at a mesquite bosque and ponds on the western edge of the Paloma Ranch, several miles from Gila Bend.  Here we watched Double-crested Cormorants, Black-crowned Night Herons and three kinds of egrets on their nests and feeding their young.  Tarantula Hawks were feeding on the flowering Mesquite and allowed us to approach quite closely. We saw these birds:

  • Double-crested Cormorant

  • Great Egret

  • Snowy Egret

  • Cattle Egret

  • Great Blue Heron

  • Black-crowned Night Heron

  • Cinnamon Teal

  • American Coot

  • Red-tailed Hawk

  • Turkey Vulture

  • Mourning Dove

  • White-winged Dove

  • Greater Roadrunner

  • Cliff Swallow

  • Rough-winged Swallow

  • Great-tailed Grackle

  • Red-winged Blackbird

  • House Sparrow

At the Paloma Ranch house we stopped briefly and added:

  • Gila Woodpecker

  • Western Kingbird

  • Verdin

  • European Starling


It was warming up considerably by the time we ate lunch in the hills east of Phoenix.  At the Boyce Thompson Arboretum we stopped for a short hike to the Herb Garden.  Aside from the birds we enjoyed ripe figs and smelling the herbs.

  • Broad-billed Hummingbird

  • Bellís Vireo

  • Yellow-breasted Chat (quite vociferous and numerous)

  • Lesser Goldfinch

  • Northern Cardinal

  • Canyon Towhee

Yucca in Bloom      

Up through the mountains towards the Mogollon Rim we spotted:

  • Black Hawk

  • Common Raven

  • Brown-headed Cowbird

Henry & Suzanne

We camped on the Ft. Apache Indian Reservation below the Rim in the cool pines, where a swiftly running brook serenaded us to sleep.  Before camping we did some birding and found these:

  • Mallard

  • Western Wood Pewee

  • House Wren

  • American Robin

  • Bullockís Oriole

The next morning (Saturday), the birds were singing up a storm and feeding their young.  A short walk produced the following additional birds, including two Iíd never seen in Arizona before (Purple Martin and Common Nighthawk).

  • Acorn Woodpecker

  • Violet-green Swallow

  • Purple Martin

  • Common Nighthawk

  • Greater Pewee

  • Dusky Flycatcher

  • Mountain Chickadee

  • Plumbeous Vireo

  • Yellow-rumped Warbler

A 4-wheel road cut through the reservation up to the Rim, and we ended up close to Show-Low.  At the Rim Rock Trail and surrounding neighborhoods we added:

  • Stellarís Jay

  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

  • Bushtit

  • White-breasted Nuthatch

  • Hepatic Tanager

  • Black-headed Grosbeak

Aspens in the White Mountains         

We traveled farther east and gained elevation.  At the Sunrise Ski Resort and campground we entered the magical world of the aspen and fir forest.

  • Barn Swallow (nesting at the ski shop)

  • Brown Creeper

  • Pine Siskin

Mt. Baldy Trail

At Mt. Baldy we started up the trail next to a beautiful and lush mountain meadow.  We only hiked it for a quarter mile, but enjoyed seeing these birds.

  • Osprey

  • Sharp-shinned Hawk

  • Gray Jay (another first for Arizona!)

  • Pygmy Nuthatch

Driving over the high meadows we were able to approach a pair of Pronghorn Antelope quite closely.  The high lakes were like blue jewels in the green meadows.  In the Alpine and Luna Lake area we rounded up these additions:

  • Eared Grebe

  • Pied-billed Grebe

  • Canada Goose

  • Lewis Woodpecker (feeding young)

  • American Crow

  • Western Bluebird

  • Yellow-headed Blackbird

  • Vesper Sparrow

That night we camped along the Coronado Trail, and again the next morning awoke to the calls of many wonderful birds.  As we drove down this most scenic of highways we stopped to enjoy the views and birds in a number of spots.  We added these to our weekend list.

  • White-throated Swift

  • Western Tanager

  • Hermit Thrush

  • Horned Lark

  • Gray Vireo

  • Black-throated Gray Warbler

  • Painted Redstart

  • Black-chinned Sparrow

  • Eastern Meadowlark

Main street in Clifton

Just north of Clifton the Morenci Phelps-Dodge open-pit copper mine awaited us at the end of the Coronado Trail.  Not something a naturalist wants to see, but a marvel of engineering and awe-inspiring by virtue of its size.  By lunch we were in the Safford area and we added two final species.

  • Northern Cardinals

  • Black-throated Sparrow


Photos © Henry D. Detwiler