Taylor; Holbrook BRONZED COWBIRD (Navajo Co.)
31 May 2018, 12:25 AM,
Taylor; Holbrook BRONZED COWBIRD (Navajo Co.)
On May 29, 2018 I checked out Nick and Connie Worth’s yard in Taylor (Navajo Co.) to look for the male Varied Bunting they had photographed two days prior, but failed to re-find it (Nick Worth and Mary Williams looked the day before and it was also absent then). However, their yard was very birdy with the assortment including several lingering migrants including two female BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRDS, a DUSKY FLYCATCHER, a WARBLING VIREO, single MACGILLIVRAY’S and WILSON’S WARBLERS, a dark-lored WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW with apparent eye infection/deformity, a few LAZULI BUNTINGS, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS, WESTERN TANAGERS, and a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT. The BALD EAGLE nest in nearby Snowflake had a couple of birds on it, WHITE-WINGED DOVES continue in the area, and both YELLOW WARBLERS and YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS were singing on territory in the riparian areas along Cottonwood Wash and Silver Creek. 

Later in the afternoon I headed over to the Holbrook wastewater ponds and Hidden Cove Golf Course area, both accessed from exit 283 off I-40 just west of town (follow the signs to the golf course). The wastewater ponds can be birded from pullouts along the road. To bird Hidden Cove Golf Course and get access to the petroglyph park area behind it (including the reservoir, old tree farm, and farm fields), stop by the club house at the golf course and ask for Michael O’Dell. If you want his contact info., please email me off-list. 

The best bird was a male BRONZED COWBIRD mixed in with four other species of icterids along the reservoir north of the golf course. This would only be a third county record I believe. This species will likely increase in occurrence as it follows the range expansion of its preferred host for nest parasitism, the Hooded Oriole, onto the Colorado Plateau. 

Both the wastewater ponds and reservoir all had water, which was especially surprising given how dry this winter and spring have been. All of the ponds had water, although the first visible one had a little bit of mud flats along the edges. A fair number of water birds were still present at the water bodies including CINNAMON,  BLUE-WINGED, and GREEN-WINGED TEAL, GADWALLS, MALLARDS (including three ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARDS and a couple of intergrades), a few REDHEADS, one RING-NECKED DUCK, a few RUDDY DUCKS, a couple of PIED-BILLED GREBES and one EARED GREBE, dozens of AMERICAN COOTS including one pair with four fledglings, one GREAT BLUE HERON, 2-3 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS, a few KILLDEER, and two SPOTTED SANDPIPERS. The real show, however, were the hundreds of swallows flying low over the reservoir and wastewater ponds in the gusty winds, followed by hundreds of bats at dusk. Oddly, nighthawks had not yet arrived yet. At the reservoir north of the golf course I estimated 1650 CLIFF SWALLOWS, with fewer numbers of BARN and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED, and a handful of late migrant BANK and VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS; a few hundred swallows were over the wastewater ponds, as well. Several late migrant species were also encountered including a couple of flyover BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRDS heard loudly buzzing by, several WESTERN WOOD-PEWEES, single DUSKY and WILLOW FLYCATCHERS, 15+ WESTERN KINGBIRDS hanging around the reservoir (resident or migrant?) small numbers of YELLOW-RUMPED, YELLOW, MACGILLIVRAY’S, and WILSON’S WARBLERS, a GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, a BREWER’S SPARROW, and a LINCOLN’S SPARROW. Pairs of AMERICAN ROBINS at the ponds and the reservoir could be local nesters rather than migrants. While going around the reservoir a PEREGRINE FALCON stooped down over some of the ducks.

Good birding,

Eric Hough
Wickenburg, AZ

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