Mar 9, 2017 - May 25, 2017
Katie and I spent most of this past spring in Southeast Arizona. I was determined to experience spring migration there since it is one of the major flyways for birds heading north for breeding and I had just missed it a couple of years prior. We also spent time in western New Mexico before we began our own migration north towards Spokane, WA.
We caught the beginnings of migration during our stay in Cascabel, AZ along the middle San Pedro River between the Rincon and Galiuro Mountains. We then stayed a week in Madera Canyon where we met a number of new species, including our first experience with the elegant trogon, a Central American bird whose northern range pushes up over the southern border of the US. We swung back eastward, revisiting Patagonia, AZ, exploring San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area near Sierra Vista for a few days, and then landing in Cave Creek Canyon near Portal, AZ for a week.
We were unable to escape the allure of the elegant trogon, especially in Cave Creek Canyon. We were blessed with great views of them as they scanned for prey (bugs), a mesmerizingly slow panning of their head that has to be seen to fully visualize. We had the opportunity to watch a male trogon court a female into a potential nest hole, and found a boundary zone that two males were contesting (see above image). I felt we got to know them as more than just a tourist attraction.
As the temperatures began to climb, we continued to veer to the left, heading into New Mexico and eventually following the Rio Grande northward. We stayed near Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge for a few days to catch some of the lingering birds that hadn’t left their wintering grounds.
At this point, we had stayed in 58 places in almost 9 months, school was getting out and campgrounds were filling up. It was time to head back to familiar grounds and we set our bearing towards Spokane.