Arizona + Texas High Island, 26 April - 9 May 1997

Birding trip report   -   John van der Woude   - 

The South rim of the USA can be considered as a part of the Neotropic bird region. After earlier visits to California, Texas and Southern Mexico we wanted to fill part of the gap in between, by visiting Arizona and especially the Southeast. Flying to Tucson via Houston gives the possibility of a stop-over for a visit to High Island and surroundings at the NE-coast of Texas. After SE Arizona we also visited some areas in the North.

We used Lane's birding guides to both areas (Texas coast and SE Arizona), and for site details we refer to these booklets.

Photo: Grey Hawk at Patagonia Creek reserve.

See sketchy map with places mentioned.


26-28 April, Texas

Thanks to David Sarkozi's web site ( and some e-mailing we were able to take part in a Saturday afternoon excursion in the Anahuac reserve, mainly in order to see the typical rails (Sora and Yellow) along the long road towards the sea. The next morning the temperature had dropped considerably and yes there was a Northern cold wind, so there were many migrant warblers at both woods (Smith Oaks and Boy Scouts) in the village of High Island. Several migrants were found dead (photo; other photo is of Ovenbird).

Shorebirds did we observe after that along the oilfield road East of H.Island, at the Rollover Pass, at the Bolivar Flats (with our car on the beach, unheard of in Europe) and the loop road behind Bolivar Flats. On Monday 28 we had a nice time again at the Anahuac reserve (Shoveler pond loop now) and the 1985 road (old rice fields). In the afternoon drive to Houston (with short stop in the old forest before entering the IH 10 at White Memorial), flight to Phoenix, and drive to Tucson (Motel 6).

29 April, Desert Museum to Mount Lemmon

We took some time for birding the road from Tucson to the Desert Museum. The large open air museum, with natural habitats and many wild birds was a real treat. Impressive was also the free flight show with two Harris Hawks. Then through town up to Mount Lemmon, with short stops at Molino Basin campground and especially Windy Point. Night on the nearly deserted Rose Lake campground (with guard).


30 April, Mount Lemmon to Madera Canyon

After strolling around on the Rose Lake campground and a visit to some higher areas we drove back, again along Windy Point and Molino Basin campground, towards Madera Canyon, Bog Springs campground (the only one left now). Owling on foot from the campground.

1 May, Madera Canyon to Nogales

Did the (bit too long) nature trail behind the lodge, and then even the trail to the real Bog Springs (wonderful area). After leaving the canyon we looked a bit around at the Desert Wash at the foot of the canyon (photo right). After checking in at the Nogales Motel 6 we had sunset at the Kino Springs.


2 May, Patagonia and on to Douglas

Early at the Patagonia rest stop, and new birds all the time so only at 8.30 at the Patagonia reserve (photo). Magnificent walk here. Paton's house after that for the hummers was nice too. After Sierra Vistashort visit to the entrance area of the San Pedro riverine reserve, along the 90 (riverine forest looks nearly as promising as the Patagonia reserve). Festivities in Douglas, but still a room for us (M6).


3 May, Douglas to Cave Creek

Some roadside birding between Douglas and Rodeo. Afternoon quietly spent first on and around Stewart campground (we got the last vacant place, it is Saturday today), then along Spofford's house for the hummers, to the trees at Portal shop, and fruitless bit of road to Paradise. Photo of entrance of Cave Creek.

4 May, Cave Creek

Did the wonderful trail from P at end of South Fork road to nearly Maple (and counted 3 trogon territories). Up to Rustler Park then with a few stops (e.g. at head of Upper Turkey Creek). Walked a bit up Rustler Park trail. On the way back stayed some time just below top area. Night birding along South Fork road.


5 May, Cave Creek to White Mountains

Early walk into lower Cave Creek (below Portal shop). Then walk from campground to Sunny Flat (photo). Left the Cave Creek area via Willow Tank. Drive via intriguing border area of New Mexico (road 180) to Alpine in the White Mountains, with interesting birds at lake S of Alpine (Luna Lake). Night at the local motel.

6 May, White Mountains to Canyon de Chelly

Visited forest just N of Alpine, and a 6 km long side road (to the right) to the area of Mt Escudilla, and lake with marshes at left along main road. Then drove on through Petrified Forest National Park to Canyon de Chelly, Spider Rock campground.

7 May, Canyon de Chelly to Williams

Spectacular morning walk from Spider Rock camping to the canyon.Then sightseeing drive from Canyon de Chelly (photo) along Black Mesa and Monument Valley to Grand Canyon. Night in Williams, Motel 6.


8 May, Williams to Phoenix

Drive along the 89, with interesting stop at Sullivan Lake near Paulden (along the old road). The some birding close around Prescott: Granite Dells (small road, passes a wooded brook), and bits of the mountain forest along the 57 up to Walker. Continuing the 89 and then the 60 to Phoenix, with short stop at the Hassayampa River Preserve (just too late to get in, but some birds can be seen from the entrance). Night at Motel 6, for flight back home next morning.

Species list

HI = High Island Texas
AN = Anahuac reserve and Bolivar peninsula Texas
DM = Desert Museum and road from Tucson
ML = Mount Lemmon
MC = Madera Canyon
PT = Patagonia
DR = from Douglas to Rodeo
CH = Chricahua mountains (Cave Creek)
RA = remaining Arizona after SE-Arizona: White Mts - Canyon de Chelly - Grand Canyon

Eared Grebe RA White Mts, lake near Alpine
Pied-billed Grebe RA White Mts, lake near Alpine
Western Grebe RA White Mts, lake near Alpine

Double-crested Cormorant AN RA Clear view at Rollover Pass. One at lake near Alpine.
Anhinga AN From IH10 back to Houston airport (marsh along road)
Am. White Pelican AN Colonies at Rollover Pass (separate island from Brown Pel.) and at Bolivar Flat spit
Brown Pelican AN Colony at Rollover Pass (separate island from White Pel. colony); also at sea
Reddish Egret HI At marsh bordering High Island at seaside
Tricolored Heron HI AN 7 in Anahuac reserve first day
Little Blue Heron HI AN Both phases
Snowy Egret HI AN
Great Blue Heron HI AN PT
Great White Egret HI AN
Cattle Egret HI AN
Striated (Green) Heron HI AN
Yellow-crowned Night-heron HI In tree at Smith Oaks
Black-crowned Night-heron AN RA
Least Bittern AN Four times 1 or 2 flying shortly and low over reedbeds Anahuac reserve
American Bittern AN Seen before Shoveler pond when stopping for Killdeer chick
White Ibis AN One near Rollover Pass
White-faced Ibis HI AN PT Several groups close enough to see white in face
Roseate Spoonbill HI AN Closest view at loop road Bolivar Flats

Fulvous Whistling-duck AN Several groups, at Anahuac reserve and surr. only
Black-bellied Whistling-duck PT Kino springs group of 4
Canada Goose RA
Wood Duck RA
Ruddy Duck RA
Redhead RA
Mallard RA
Blue-winged Teal HI AN Small groups and pairs; even in the sea at Bolivar Flats
Ring-necked Duck RA
Lesser Scaup AN In the sea at Bolivar Flats, one walking across the beach
Common Merganser RA
Red-brested Merganser AN Especially at Western end of loop road Bolivar Flats

American Black Vulture AN ML TX: Last birds seen in Houston
Turkey Vulture HI AN DM ML MC PT DR CH RA TX: Not so common
Bald Eagle RA White Mts, lake near Alpine
White-tailed (Bl.Sh.) Kite AN
Northern Harrier DR Female halfway between Douglas and Rodeo
Sharp-shinned Hawk CH Probably at nest, Rustler Park trail, 150 m from start
Cooper's Hawk ML Nest at Rose Lake campground
Grey Hawk PT Two terrirories along creek in Patagonia reserve
Swainson's Hawk PT DR CH RA DR: c. 7 in total
Red-tailed Hawk DM ML MC PT DR CH RA RA: much less than in SE-Ariz.
American Kestrel AN PT DR RA Mostly single birds only; e.g. 1 pair at N entrance of San Pedro river reserve
Merlin AN Anahuac reserve first day, evening, flying fast and low across marsh
Peregrine Falcon AN CH TX: Along the road on Bolivar Pen., flight silhouette & behaviour

Scaled Quail DR First 10 mi of Douglas, also near Rodeo
Gambel's Quail DM PT DR CH RA First when leaving Tucson towards Desert Museum (walked across road); confiding at entrance S Pedro
Clapper Rail x One of both species (King or Clapper) seen on road at oilfield H.I.
King Rail x
Sora Rail HI AN Anahuac reserve rail excursion: 8 on 1 hectare; also some on road at oilfield H.I.
Yellow Rail AN Anahuac reserve rail excursion: 5 on 1 hectare; one catched.
Common Moorhen HI AN Not so common
American Coot HI AN PT CH RA TX: Some groups; AZ: small groups (of 4) in few places

Black-necked Stilt HI AN
American Avocet AN Bolivar Peninsula
Grey (Bl.-bellied) Plover HIAN
Semipalmated Plover HI AN
Killdeer HI AN RA
Piping Plover AN Along beach of Bolivar Flats, total of 6
Marbled Godwit AN At rice fields near Anahuac reserve, between Dowitchers
Greater Yellowlegs HI AN
Lesser Yellowlegs HI AN
Spotted Sandpiper HI AN CH RA TX: 3 in total, AZ: 3 at Willow Tank Cave Creek
Willet HI AN
Ruddy Turnstone HI AN
Short-billed Dowitcher HI AN Common, groups; many in 'rice fields' (reserve now) along Road 1985
Long-billed Dowitcher CH At Willow Tank Cave Creek
Red Knot AN Fine red specimens at beach of Bolivar Flats
Sanderling AN Beach of Bolivar Flats
Semipalmated Sandpiper HI AN Clearest view at oilfield near H.I.
Western Sandpiper AN At long road Anah. reserve - bill too long and thin for Semi-P
Least Sandpiper AN Just too small - between other sandpipers
Dunlin AN Most seen in 'rice fields' of Road 1985
Wilson's Phalarope RA Group of 6 foraging before flying on towards N, Sullivan Lake at Paulden near Chino Valley

Ring-billed Gull AN At Parking of Rollover Pass
Herring Gull AN Juvenal at beach of Bolivar Flats
Laughing Gull HI AN Common near sea, but several inland too; closest at Rollover Pass
Royal Tern AN Close view at Rollover Pass
Forster's Tern HI AN Close view at Rollover Pass
Black Tern HI AN Few only
Black Skimmer AN Some groups on beach of Bolivar Flats

Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) AN One in viaduct of Highway 8 (Houston area)
Band-tailed Pigeon MC CH Two singles only
Mourning Dove AN DM ML MC PT DR CH RA TX: Along dirt road to Anahuac reserve, AZ: common roadside species
White-winged Dove DM MC PT CH CH: at pediment below Portal
Inca Dove HI AN DM PT TX: Smith oaks forest; later in several habitats, DM: at Paton's

Yellow-billed Cuckoo HI AN Not shy
Greater Roadrunner PT DR PT: heard in Patag. res.; DR: close view at side road c.1 mi S of Rodeo+V202

Flammulated Owl ML CH ML: heard at Rose Lake, CH: heard at South Fork
Whiskered Screech-owl MC CH Two different sounds, heard on both sites. CH: near tent and at S.Fork
Great Horned Owl CH Seen near Portal store on telephone pole; heard at S. Fork
Elf Owl MC Seen with beamer torch 200 m down Bog Springs campground, and above our tent there too

Lesser Nighthawk CH At crossing of Lower Cave Creek with side road down Portal
Common Nighthawk (m) HI AN PT TX: Two sitting on branches in Smith Oaks; AZ: one at Kino Springs
Common Poorwill MC Heard near Bog Springs campground
Whip-poor-will CH Heard at end of road S. Fork

Chimney Swift (m) HI AN Only swift here, and clear silhouette
White-throated Swift ML MC PT RA First at Windy Point on Mt. Lemmon

Broad-billed Hummingbird MC PT Broad bill can be clearly seen
Lucifer Hummingbird PT In the pass (rest stop) right behind fence: dark throat with tufts, no dark head seen
Violet-crowned Hummingbird PT At Paton's
Blue-throated Hummingbird CH At tent and at walk towards Sunny Flat; once for a moment inside the tent
Magnificent Hummingbird MC At feeder on campground
Anna's Hummingbird PT At Paton's
Black-chinned Hummingbird ML MC PT DR First one at Molino Basin Mt. Lemmon
Ruby-throated Hummingbird HI AN Several
Broad-tailed Hummingbird ML RA First one fem. at Rose Lake border very close by. Commonest hummer in Northern Ariz. forests
Rufous Hummingbird PT At Paton's

Elegant Trogon CH At least 3 terr. along South Fork between P and Maple; well seen and heard

Belted Kingfisher AN Two along Road 1985

Gila Woodpecker DM PT Many between Tucson and Desert Museum
Acorn Woodpecker ML MC CH Several groups on campground Rose Lake; many at Cave Creek
Red-bellied Woodpecker AN At first side road in forest back from Anahuac reserve to IH10
Red-naped Sapsucker RA In forest N of Alpine, morning visit, near Red-faced Warbler
Ladder-backed Woodpecker MC PT CH First in Florida wash, second in Patag. reserve. Nest in willow of Willow Tank, Cave Creek area
Strickland's Woodpecker MC CH MC on long walk of nature trail in oak woodland behind lodge. MC: S. Fork
Hairy Woodpecker ML CH In spruce forests, first near tent in Rose Lake campground
Northern Flicker ML MC PT CH RA Common and conspicuous (sound too), mostly in small groups

Greater (Coue's) Pewee RA In forest above Prescott
Western Wood-pewee ML CH RA Presumably common
Eastern Wood-pewee HI AN Presumably common
Hammond's Flycatcher RA In forest (forest border) of first Red-f Warbler.
Cordilleran (Western) Flycatcher MC CH In spruce and fir forests. CH: near Upper Turkey Creek (road to Rustler Park)
Say's Phoebe RA Finallay found one convincingly near stone house of petrified wood, Petrif. F. NP
Black Phoebe PT CH RA First one at Patag. rest stop. Later several near streams, e.g. at campground in Cave Creek
Vermillion Flycatcher PT First one near Kino. Patag. reserve.
Dusky-capped Flycatcher MC PT CH Dusky-c, Ash-thr and Brown-cr all in their appropriate habitat - D-c: a.o. along streams
Ash-throated Flycatcher PT DR RA see Dusky-c - A-t in drier habitats
Brown-crested Flycatcher MC CH see Dusky-c - B-c: more in forests
Cassin's Kingbird ML PT CH First one at Molino Basin campground
Thick-billed Kingbird PT Conspicuous but sparse at Patagonia rest stop and reserve
Western Kingbird AN DR TX: One at brushy meadow along Road 1985
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher AN Roadside species, one swallowing a bramble or mulberry at dirt road to Anahuac reserve
Eastern Kingbird AN Rather common, conspicuously present on top of low bushes
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher CH Above tent at arrival at campground Cave Creek
Horned (Shore) Lark DR RA Near Rodeo, at two diff. spots. Later more in the North.

Tree Swallow AN A group at Shoveler Pond, Anah. res.
Violet-green Swallow ML CH RA First near Rose Lake campground, near lake, in small groups. CH: high in the mountains
Purple Martin HI AN Best view at martin house across street from Boy Scouts Wood HI, but not yet fully in colour
Northern Rough-winged Swallow HI AN PT RA TX: Not so common
Cliff Swallow RA Colony at Canyon de Chelly, first large stop from village.
Barn Swallow HI AN PT DR TX: Common

Phainopepla DM MC PT RA Best ones in Desert Museum itself. Often at a distance (white in wings).

Cactus Wren DM ML PT DR CH Several nests in cactusses. Conspicuous singer.
Rock Wren ML RA First amply seen at Windy Point
Canyon Wren CH Heard at canyon wall S. Fork trail
Sedge Wren HI AN Commonly heard in marshy meadows; clearly seen along trail from entrance of Anah. res.
Bewick's Wren MC PT CH RA Common, more heard than seen

Loggerhead Shrike AN ML PT DR CH RA TX: Bird of telephone wires
Grey Catbird HI AN Common where trees present
Northern Mockingbird HI AN DM MC PT DR RA TX: Not so common; one mocked us with its misleading song along dirt road to Anah. res.
Curve-billed Thrasher DM MC PT First one along road to Desert Museum, by telescope

Western Bluebird ML RA First one at Rose Lake, with nest
Mountain Bluebird RA A.o. at lake near Alpine
Veery HI At Smith Oaks
Swainson's Thrush HI AN ML Several noted after first meticulous identification. Rose Lake campground, very nearby, in forest
Hermit Thrush CH RA In mountain forests
Wood Thrush HI Several on wet forest floor of both woods H.I.
American Robin ML PT CH RA In mountain forests, nest on Mt. Lemmon

Golden-crowned Kinglet CH Several near Rustler Park: kinglet, size, behaviour, sound
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher HI ML RA TX: One at backside forest border of Smith Oaks. AZ: at Molino Basin campground
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher DM First ones 2 along road to Desert Museum, near Gambel's Quail
Verdin DM MC CH Along road to Desert Museum. In lower Cave Creek (below Portal).
(Black-eared) Bushtit MC CH RA MC: near tent (Bog Springs campground). CH: see Verdin.

Bridled Titmouse MC PT CH RA Rather common. Even its sound is like our Crested Tit.
Plain Titmouse RA Behind campground Canyon de Chelly
Mountain Chickadee RA First in forest near Alpine (morning visit)
Mexican Chickadee CH Below and above Rustler Park

Pygmy Nuthatch ML CH RA Groups flying high, indiv. lower.
White-breasted Nuthatch ML MC PT CH RA Rather common
Brown Creeper ML MC CH First near tent Rose Lake

Pinyon Jay RA Behind campground Canyon de Chelly
Scrub Jay CH In lower Cave Creek below Portal
Grey-breasted Jay ML MC CH First in Molino Basin campground (both times). Later: numerous. Nest and young above tent Cave Creek.
Blue Jay HI AN
Steller's Jay ML RA ML: top, Summerhaven village. RA: a.o. behind campground Canyon de Chelly.

Common Raven RA Prob. also on other locations. Only highest elevations sure.
Chihuahuan Raven PT DR CH RA DR: from closeby: size.
American Crow AN Near Houston

House Sparrow HI AN DM At Desert Museum.
European Starling HI AN PT DR RA Patag. reserve. DR: at ranches. Uncommon throughout.

White-eyed Vireo HI AN Two very good views (yellow lores, white eye)
Solitary Vireo ML CH Groups of 3 near border of Rose Lake, greyish. S.Fork trail one seen very closeby.
Yellow-throated Vireo HI
Philadelphia Vireo HI AN One on the ground
Red-eyed Vireo AN
Eastern Warbling-vireo AN At willows besides entrance of Anahuac reserve

Pine Siskin ML MC CH ML: large group flying around across Rose Lake campground
American Goldfinch PT Two at Patag. rest stop (male and later female)
House Finch MC PT DR CH RA DR: nest with two young along road. "Can't you take the House Finch back to Europe" (?)
Cassin's Finch CH At Spofford's, bigger than House Finch and one with head pattern
Evening Grosbeak CH Several lower Cave Creek, first right behind Portal store.
Red Crossbill ML MC CH Several groups and indiv., not to be mixed up with Pygmy Nuthatch (bit similar sound and flight).

Blue-winged Warbler HI AN
Golden-winged Warbler HI At entrance of Boy Scouts Wood
Tennessee Warbler HI AN
Lucy's Warbler PT Patag. reserve female
Virginia's Warbler ML CH First one after long chase between pines. Then rather common on ML.
Northern Parula HI About 4 at Boy Sc Wood, with very clear views
Yellow Warbler HI AN PT Common in trees and (at Anahuac) scrubs
Chestnut-sided Warbler HI AN Common in trees, with bright caps
Magnolia Warbler HI AN Very common, all in bright plumage
Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler CH RA CH: common, as well low as high in the mountains (migrating yet?)
Black-throated Grey Warbler ML MC RA More common in the North. Conspicuous one behind campground Canyon de Chelly.
Townsend's Warbler MC CH Few only, low in bushes
Black-throated Green Warbler HI AN Often higher in trees, not so common
Blackburnian Warbler AN Only one, near entrance of Anahuac reserve
Grace's Warbler CH Near Rustler Park, in pines.
Bay-breasted Warbler HI AN A few only
Black-and-white Warbler HI AN Rather common
American Redstart HI AN Rather common
Ovenbird HI Several on wet forest floor both reserves
Northern Waterthrush HI AN Less common than Louisiana this time
Louisiana Waterthrush HI Clear eyebrows
Kentucky Warbler HI One near shop of Boy Sc. Woods
Common Yellowthroat HI AN RA Several singing in bushes, wrenlike flutes
Hooded Warbler HI AN Often on ground in both forest reserves H.I.
Wilson's Warbler MC PT DR CH RA In different habitats, still migrating?
Red-faced Warbler RA Not found in Rustler Park etc.. Well seen in forest, near creek, at base of Escudilla Mountain, White Mts.
Painted Redstart MC CH Best seen at Bog Springs spring forest. CH: many along S. Fork trail.
Yellow-breasted Chat MC PT CH Singles only. Best seen lower Cave Creek below Portal

Hepatic Tanager CH S. Fork trail, with american family
Summer Tanager HI AN PT CH RA Also the female or young males
Scarlet Tanager HI AN Still always a splendid bird
Western Tanager PT CH RA Patag. rest stop. CH: in lower Cave Creek and at upper Turkey creek

Song Sparrow PT
White-crowned Sparrow PT CH At Patton's and at entrance San Pedro river reserve. CH: lower Cave Creek below Portal
Dark-eyed Junco RA Best in forest of first Red-f Warbler
Yellow-eyed Junco ML MC CH Rather tame on Rose Lake campground. Always near ground, mostly higher in mts.
Savannah Sparrow AN In Anahuac res., close enough for yellow eyebrow
Chipping Sparrow MC PT RA Apparently the commonest sparrow. Patag. reserve, Escudilla Mt.
Lark Sparrow PT RA Briefly Patag. reserve. Best seen at Paulden, Sullivan Lake (N of Prescott).
Black-throated Sparrow DM PT DR Common and conspicuus in dry areas. Esp. numerous at DR stretch, in desert scrubs.

Green-tailed Towhee PT Two in Patag. reserve.
Abert's Towhee PT Two at entrance of San Pedro river reserve
Brown Towhee PT DR CH In small canyons
Rufous-sided Towhee ML CH RA Two at Windy Point. Also in lower Cave Creek below Portal.

Dickcissel AN About 4 along Road 1985, singing too
Black-headed Grosbeak MC PT CH RA Conspicuous, apparently rather common. In forests.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak HI AN Several splendid views, e.g. at open weedy plot behind shop Boy Sc Woods
Northern Cardinal HI AN ML PT CH RA TX: Common, esp. at H.I., several singing, one found nesting
Pyrrhuloxia DM DR CH In desert scrubs only.
Blue Grosbeak AN Anahuac res., one together with Indigo Bunting (Blue Grosb is more blue than bunting)
Indigo Bunting HI AN Common! In groups
Lazuli Bunting PT At Patton's
Painted Bunting HI AN One pair at Galveston end of Bolivar Flats beach, one pair across street from Boy Sc. Woods

Northern (Bullock's) Oriole HI DR CH RA TX: The yellow (not orange) oriole with black head and white wingbars (no black throat). AZ: just Bullock's
Scott's Oriole DM MC CH Best seen in Desert Museum. Not so common.
Orchard Oriole AN Smallish and dark, not very oriole-like!
Hooded Oriole RA Last trip tick, at riverine reserve Hassayampa NW of Phoenix
Red-winged Blackbird HI AN PT CH RA TX: Nastily common, but beautiful when singing. AZ: esp. in the North; CH: at Willow Tank
Yellow-headed Blackbird RA Numerous and conspicuous at Nelson Reservoir N of Alpine (White Mts.), many singing (morning visit).
Western Meadowlark DR CH RA 'Always just singing when we passed along their telephone poles'
Eastern Meadowlark HI AN TX: Rather common atop bushes
Common Grackle HI AN
Boat-tailed Grackle HI AN Common near the sea
Great-tailed Grackle HI DR
Brewer's Blackbird RA White Mountains, Grand Canyon
Brown-headed Cowbird HI AN Not so common