Above-the-Rim Bridled Titmouse reports
21 Dec 2017, 1:32 PM,
#1
Above-the-Rim Bridled Titmouse reports
Every once in a while an eBird report comes in of Bridled Titmouse in the Flagstaff area. When I follow up the response is usually that the report was an error, but sometimes the observer expresses confidence in the identification. These reports always leave me a bit mystified, as they typically come from non-Flagstaff area birders, and none yet have included a photo or any other kind of documentation.

Most recently, there was a report of BRTI on December 18 at Elden Spring, and two observers report high confidence that the bird was, in fact, BRTI.

Anyway, keep your eyes open for stray BRTIs up above the Rim, and if you see one please document the sighting as best you can (even if just enough to rule out potentially confusable species like the Juniper Titmouse and chickadee). Reports here would be welcome!

Jason
Flagstaff, AZ
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21 Dec 2017, 6:30 PM,
#2
RE: Above-the-Rim Bridled Titmouse reports
man... especially with how many people are doing mobile checklists while they're in the field, wouldn't it be nice if ebird reviewers could flag stuff like this with some sort of more specific message that might lead people to document the bird in the moment? I feel the same way about Black-tailed Gnatcatcher reports.....
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21 Dec 2017, 8:15 PM,
#3
RE: Above-the-Rim Bridled Titmouse reports
Any idea if the Gila Woodpecker reports in the Rio de Flag this fall are legitimate? I suspected they were actually Williamson's Sapsuckers but maybe you got more details from the observers.
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21 Dec 2017, 8:57 PM,
#4
RE: Above-the-Rim Bridled Titmouse reports
An above the rim Gila Woodpecker falls into the same category of really deserving documentation!

Jason
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27 Dec 2017, 12:00 AM,
#5
RE: Above-the-Rim Bridled Titmouse reports
There was at least one report I remember seeing from a high elevation forest location in the White Mountains and the observer got offended when I asked them for details and informed them of BRTI normal range/habitat requirements (they of course complained rather than provide an actual description of the dang bird!). I seem to recall another report from the Show Low area, which is actually more plausible since the Mogollon Rim is very gradual there and some of the chaparral habitat spills over the Rim there, occasionally attracting documented sightings of Hutton's Vireo, Mexican Jays, and a small breeding population of Black-chinned Sparrows. Bridled Titmouse does make it into some of the drainages on the southwest flank of the White Mountains (below the Rim) into far southern Navajo County and southwestern Apache County, but only in areas of Madrean pine-oak habitat there.

Speaking of Hutton's Vireo, this is another one which people will report above the Rim without details. As mentioned above, there is a photographed record of one just above the Rim near Show Low and an experienced birder described one near Heber earlier this fall. Interestingly, during the Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas (Corman and Wise-Gervais 2005) there was a detection on a block just northeast of Escudilla Mountain, I believe. Haven't Hutton's Vireos been reported from the south slope of Mt. Elden in the past too? It would seem where appropriate chaparral/shrubland habitat sparingly exists above the Rim, especially with the presence of evergreen species of oaks (gray, Arizona white, Emory, turbinella), that occasionally wandering or even breeding Hutton's Vireos might be present. However, the reports of them out of habitat have not been documented yet and are presumably other species being misidentified. I recall another person reporting this species from high elevation spruce-fir forests in the White Mountains and claiming they were common there, but undoubtedly they were misidentifying the similarly-appearing Ruby-crowned Kinglets that actually do reside in that habitat.

There is one supposed record from expert birders of a Gila Woodpecker from Springerville-Eagar in the 1970s or 80s (was listed in Monson & Phillips 1981, which I don't have access to at the moment), but I don't know if that was a photo-documented bird. With how sedentary Gila Woodpecker is compared to other species, I'd expect female Williamson's Sapsuckers or a vagrant Red-bellied Woodpecker to comprise any reports of "Gila Woodpecker" above the Mogollon Rim (Red-bellied Woodpeckers have moved west into eastern NM and there was a photograph of this species reported from Apache Junction, AZ last year, but I don't believe the observer ever submitted the report to the Arizona Bird Committee and no one was able to re-find the supposed bird).

Eric
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12 Jan 2018, 6:29 PM,
#6
RE: Above-the-Rim Bridled Titmouse reports
Eric,

I saw a Hutton’s Vireo on Fat Man’s Loop Trail, Aug. 11, 2005. See my forum post “Good birding on Fat Man's Loop Trail, base of Elden”. Someone at that time told me they’d been seen above Lower Lake Mary on the road up to Marshall Lake too.

Then I had another on Sept. 25, 2010, at Dogtown Lake on the KNF. See my forum post “Swainson's Hawk, Hutton's Vireo on Kaibab NF”. This was out of habitat but I figured it was a migrating bird. The south slope of some nearby hills - like the slope on the south edge of Williams - have such shallow, rocky soil and chaparral-like veg, they are often a PJ mixed with mt. mahogany and cliff rose.

Brian Gatlin posted them at South Rim in 2004 and 2015
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