Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birds of Tucson

Dawn asked me if I had been out of town. Well, my husband and I did spend a week early in January in Tucson, Arizona. I don't usually post photos that aren't from around here. But, since I haven't had too much to post because of the cold weather (and me not getting outside like I should), I decided to tell you a little about our trip and publish some bird photos.

We visited missions, Kartchner Caverns State Park, Tucson Museum of Art, and the Sonoran-Desert Museum. Except for the cave, these were sights we have seen before on our previous 6 or 8 trips to Tucson around this time of year. We also hiked on trails in the Saguaro National Monument located on both the east and west side of Tucson.

Perhaps I had not paid attention on our previous trips but it seemed there were an abundance of birds in the desert. The recent rains may have helped or perhaps they were enjoying the warm weather just like me. Everywhere we went, I could hear or see the birds.

Harris Hawk

My best photographs of birds came from the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum which features native flora and fauna of the Sonoran desert. This Harris Hawk was being held by a museum volunteer.

Blue Hummer

The Humingbird Aviary is an enlcosed area where it's easy to get some good photos of the birds. I am not sure what species this one is or if it's native.

Purple Hummer

I am not sure what species this one was either but he cooperated nicely. He was the smallest one there--only about 3 inches.


The Curved Bill Thrasher is a common bird of the desert. This one was singing a lot like a mockingbird in front of the San Xavier del Bac Mission, located south of Tucson. You can almost see his yellow eyes.

On a hike in the Saguaro National Monument, I spotted this Phainopepla, a silky-flycatcher, about 7-1/2 inches in length.

The Cactus Wren is larger than our Carolina Wren. I saw and heard many of these wrens in the desert.

I was surprised to see a Purple Finch in the desert since we have them at our feeders in Virginia. Of course, they have different things to eat, like the fruit of this barrel cactus.

This woodpecker was too far away to identify. It may be using the nest hole of the Gila Woodpecker which makes new holes every year. Then, other birds use the old holes. The saguaro cactus is very plump from the rains in December.


  1. It is great to learn about nature, whether local to me or not! Thank you for not "holding back" but instead sharing these beautiful birds with us!

  2. Nature Nut--I agree, it's good to see nature when you travel. While I like all kinds of nature, the birds always get my attention.

  3. Stunning photos and I really would love to get out there some day! That is a really cool place!

  4. Your pictures are gorgeous! It's nice to see birds from other areas of the country. That hummingbird was awesome! ALL are lovely shots!

  5. mon@rch--thanks for the note. Try to get out to the desert sometime. Probably the best time is late winter or early spring when you will see a lot of flowers.

  6. Kerri--thanks for the note. I love to see nature no matter the place (even in cities).

  7. The bird photos are very beautiful and colourful and I love the Harris Hawk closeup. All of these birds would be a unique sighting for me so it is wonderful to view them vicariously through your post.

  8. I agree with the others..dont hold back on these wonderful adventures..

    Sonoran Desert museum is my favorite Museum in the world.. I love the hummingbird aviary!
    When we stay in Tucson it is usually for a few weeks...we always join the museum.
    We always camp at Catalina State Park..love it love it..
    You might want to wander further south if you haven't been
    Patagonia is an great birding area..I have more fav. places..let me know if you go again..
    and maybe you can share some of your favorite places.
    anyway...loved the visit to arizona!

  9. I am so glad you had a good time in Tucson- we do have an amazing number of birds here! The Desert Museum is a wonderful place to enjoy the desert!

  10. Wow! What neat birds! I love the one in with a little bit of purple.

  11. dAwN--you really get around! Yes, the Desert Museum (more like a park/zoo rather than museum) is my favorite in Tucson. We went hiking at Catalina State Park while we were were there. But, it had rained the day before and we couldn't get arcoss the creek so we couldn't go too far. On our next trip, we will check out Patagonia--I believe my husband was there when I was at a conference previously. Thanks for the note.

  12. Dee-thanks for the note. You live in a very special place.

  13. Chris--I love the hummingbirds too. They were fun to watch because each had a "territory", a shrub or small tree that they defended.

  14. Isn't that a GREAT museum? Really worth the day I spent there.

    Were there in the spring and we the ncamped in Organ Pipe just in time for the cactus blooms. That too is something to see.


  15. Hi! I am a native here in Tucson and I get to enjoy these wonderful sights every day and love it. The beauty of it all is that this is something we enjoy 357 days a year. Great photos keep up the good work.