California and Arizona - September/October 2013

This was a month-long trip to California and Arizona in the USA. Whilst I have travelled to the USA many times, this was my first holiday there and it was also Yvonne’s first visit.
The itinerary was designed to see as much of California and Arizona as possible, with visits to the national parks covering a wide range of habitats, some city attractions and also to allow time for shopping.
The trip included Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands, the mountains and forests of Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite, the huge wetlands north of Sacramento, the city of San Francisco, two pelagic trips, Las Vegas, south east Arizona, the Salton Sea and San Diego.
The trip timing was probably best for California, with the fall migration underway, and probably a little late for south east Arizona, although there were still plenty of birds around, including hummingbirds. South east Arizona reputedly has some of the best birding in the USA with many of the Mexican species being seen in the border region.

Greater Roadrunner

Overall it was a very enjoyable and successful trip with some great places visited, good mammal sightings and excellent birding.  The weather for the entire trip was excellent with blue skies nearly every day and nice warm weather, typically 25 to 30oC.
The major downside of the trip was the Federal Government funding crisis which resulted in funds being cut for non-essential services, which unfortunately included all the national parks and wetlands. Luckily the state parks and wetlands were still open. Also we were fortunate that the State of Arizona decided to provide funds for staffing the Grand Canyon and it was opened the day before we arrived. The views of the Grand Canyon were the best part of the trip and we also saw a pair California Condor there, which was the birding highlight of the trip.
Before we left Australia there had been an increasing number of Blue-footed Booby sightings along the California coast, as far northwards as Bodega Bay, which is north of San Francisco.  This was a Booby more often seen on the Galapagos Islands and is a rarity for California. We were hoping that the birds would stay around long enough for us to see them and we eventually caught up with them at Anacapa Island off Ventura, and then saw more down at the Salton Sea.  As a bonus we also saw Brown Booby on our second trip out of Ventura harbour. 
My sister and her husband flew down from Canada and joined us for five days on our visit to Cave Creek and Green Valley in south east Arizona. This was one of the more enjoyable parts of the trip, particularly Cave Creek Ranch where we stayed.  Arizona is quite a spectacular place to visit, not as crowded as California, with lots of good scenery. We saw a range of mountains from the Grand Canyon in the north, to the volcanic San Francisco Peaks just north of Flagstaff, the Sierra Anchas ranges to the east of Phoenix and the isolated sky island mountain ranges of south east of Arizona, extending into New Mexico and Mexico.

Trip Report
Tuesday: 24th September 2013
Departed Melbourne at 09:15 on the direct flight to Los Angeles on the Qantas A380 arriving at 06:30 the same day.

Arrived ahead of schedule and it didn’t take long to clear customs and pick up the Avis rental car. Managed to avoid the worst of the LA morning traffic and drove up the coast to Malibu and then onto Ventura. Stopped at a couple of state parks and beaches on the way, but as one has to pay for everything and as they didn’t look appealing, we kept going till we got to Ventura Harbour. Much of the area north of Los Angeles along the coast was very dry and large areas had been burnt recently.  

Marbled Godwit

Saw quite a few Willet and Marbled Godwit on the surf line of the beach at Ventura Harbour together with people using the beach.  Saw our first Heermann’s Gull, Surfbird and Black Oystercatcher there as well. 

Heermann's Gull
Stayed at the fully self-contained Residence Inn in Oxnard, which was excellent and was located next to a golf course. Took a walk around the golf course in the late afternoon and saw some interesting birds including California Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Bewick’s Wren and Song Sparrow.   
Wednesday: 25th September
Took a boat trip with Island Packers to Santa Cruz Island, which is part of the Channel Islands and is about 32km from Ventura Harbour. On that day the boat landed at Scorpion Anchorage which is on the eastern end of the island and is mainly grassland. The other landing point is Prisoners Harbor which is a forested area and is the best area for the endemic Island Scrub Jay.

Santa Cruz Island walking along the trail towards Scorpion Canyon
In any event we saw both endemics, the Island Fox and Island Scrub Jay. We had a very pleasant day on the island, a nice way to get over the jet lag. Some good sightings of birds included at least eight Island Scrub Jay plus Loggerhead Shrike, Cassin’s Vireo, Hooded Oriole, Allen’s Hummingbird and a possible Sage Sparrow. The Sage Sparrow sighting would need to be confirmed and would be a rarity for the island.

Thursday: 26th September
Drove up to Morro Bay stopping off at Cachuma Lake in the morning.

Acorn Woodpecker stocking up on acorns for winter
Cachuma Lake was a great place to spend some time and we saw lots of Western Grebe, Acorn Woodpecker, California Quail, Oak Titmouse, California Scrub Jay, Western Bluebird and three species of warblers. The warblers were migrating southwards and were found in mixed flocks of birds.

California Scrub Jay
Morro Bay itself is a lovely place to visit and has some good seafood restaurants. It’s a bit off the main freeways and is a nice quiet fishing village. We saw about 14 Sea Otter in the Morro Bay harbour. 

Morro Rock
The Morro Bay State Park has some good habitat for birds and extensive wetlands favoured by waders, although a telescope is necessary to identify many of the shorebirds. The smaller shorebirds are often reported as peeps by North American birders and these represent seven species of the small Calidris sandpipers which are difficult to identify. We would refer to them collectively as stints.
Sunset over Morro Bay

Saw some interesting birds including the lovely Red-shouldered Hawk plus Brant Goose, Ruddy Duck, Long-billed Curlew, Say’s Phoebe and Common Yellowthroat. Birds that we were seeing frequently on the trip so far included the migrating White-crowned Sparrow plus Red-tailed Hawk, Black Phoebe, Dark-eyed Junco, Bewick’s Wren and Anna’s Hummingbird.

Long-billed Curlew
Friday: 27th September
We took the coastal route northwards up to Monterey which is quite spectacular, especially as one gets closer to Monterey. We stopped at the San Simeon and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Parks along the way and also enjoyed quite a few of the coastal viewing areas, including the site for the hundreds of Northern Elephant Seal. This coastal route is good for California Condor although we didn’t seen any on the drive.

Northern Elephant Seal
Saw our first Steller’s Jay at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park plus the first Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker and Brown Creeper for the trip. The state park was quite busy on the Friday afternoon and it is a popular camping area.

Steller's Jay
Monterey is a popular tourist destination and most of the accommodation had been booked out by the time we made our bookings. We stayed at the Comfort Inn Monterey by the Sea which was acceptable but not up to the same standard of accommodation experienced on the rest of our trip. There is a large shopping complex across the road which was quite handy. The Vietnamese restaurant close to the hotel is best avoided and the food is pretty awful and nothing like real Vietnamese food.
Saturday: 28th September
In the early morning we visited the harbour at Moss Landing which is good for birding and the Blue-footed Booby had recently been seen here. Other than many gulls we did see about 10 Long-billed Dowitcher plus Semipalmated Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper and a couple of hundred Marbled Godwit. We also saw a large group of about 26 Sea Otter.

Later in the morning we went to Moonglow Dairy which is on the Elkhorn Slough (pronounced slew), a private dairy farm which allows birders to visit. The target bird for many birders is the Tricolored Blackbird which I eventually found in amongst the large flocks of Red-winged Blackbird. The difference between the birds is quite subtle and I had good looks as the bird flew towards me and then settled, with the deep red wing markings and buffy border (winter plumage) seen clearly.
Went to Kirby Point further up the Elkhorn Slough at midday and had close-up views of Red-necked Phalarope, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs and Least Sandpiper. Saw more Long-billed Dowitcher and didn’t manage to identify any Short-billed Dowitcher.

The afternoon was dedicated for shopping at the complex over the road from the hotel.
Sunday: 29th September
We had a pelagic trip booked for the day leaving from the Whale Watch Centre in Monterey. Met up with some of the birders on trip and Don Roberson who lives in Monterey, with whom I did a trip up the Birdsville Track in 2009.  Don is the author of “Monterey Birds” a guide to the birds of Monterey County and has a pretty impressive life list of just under 6,000 birds.

Monterey Harbour
The trip started off with quite a few birds seen in and close to the harbour, including Black-crowned Night Heron, Pelagic Cormorant, Black Turnstone and Surfbird.

The weather was sunny and warm with light southerly winds and hardly any swell. The route was inshore from the harbour to Point Pinos, then headed southwest to about 30km northwest of Point Sur. Headed eastwards towards Granite Point and swung inshore towards Point Lobos. The final leg was entirely inshore from Point Lobos to Point Pinos and back to the harbor. We were all keen to see Blue-footed Booby, which should have been close inshore and associating with Brown Pelican, but didn’t have any luck. On getting back in the afternoon we heard that one had been seen in Carmel Bay in the morning, which we had passed by in the afternoon and found nothing.

This pelagic trip was quite different to the many pelagics I have done in Australia and South Africa, in that popcorn was thrown over the side as burley during the trip and the boat never stopped for a drift. In Australia, typically a chum of chopped fish and shark liver is used to create a slick and the boat then drifts with the pelagic birds flying up the slick towards the boat. 
Black-footed Albatross
The actual pelagic had some great birds including Black-footed Albatross, five Shearwater species (Manx, Buller’s, Sooty, Pink-footed and Black-vented Shearwater), South Polar Skua, Pigeon Guillemot, Rhinoceros Auklet, Common Murre and Pacific Loon. The Manx Shearwater was the rarity of the day. No Storm-Petrel species were seen during the trip whereas further south off San Diego there had been sightings of huge rafts of Storm-Petrel. This was due to the colder water being trapped in Monterey Bay whereas the water temperatures were higher around San Diego.

Rugged coastline of Monterey Bay
Mammal sightings included the lovely Risso’s Dolphin, a Northern Fur Seal floating on its back, Sea Otter, California Sea Lion, a couple of Harbour Seal and Humpback Whales. Unfortunately no Blue or Grey Whales were seen during the trip.

Northern Fur Seal
When we got off the boat we had an early dinner at one of the many restaurants around Monterey Harbour. Most of the restaurants were offering Australian lobster tails but we preferred to have local seafood and ended up having Clam Chowder and Red Lobster.
Monday: 30th September
We left Monterey early in the morning for the drive to Three Rivers, which is close to Sequoia National Park. On the way we stopped at Pinnacles National Park which is a very scenic and mountainous area located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California. This park was also the release site for California Condor.

Pinnacles National Park
We stopped at the National Parks office and saw three Coyote crossing the road, which was excellent and were to be our only sightings for the trip. We also saw California Ground Squirrel and Merriam’s Chipmunk.
In the park we saw many California Quail plus Red-breasted Sapsucker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, California Thrasher, Western Bluebird, Hermit Thrush and California Towhee.

California Quail
Leaving the park at about midday we saw our only Bald Eagle of the trip while crossing a mountain range.
We stayed at the Comfort Inn Sequoia Kings Canyon which was a very pleasant place to stay although the Mexican restaurant over the road is not recommended.
Tuesday: 1st October
We left the hotel early in the morning and headed up into Sequoia National Park.  On the way up towards the top of the park we saw an adult Black Bear crossing the road, then had two youngsters feeding on berries in trees alongside the road. Later on we saw another adult bear climbing a hill quite far off. These were to be our only sightings of Black Bear.

Young Black Bear
We spent quite a bit of time walking along the trails in amongst the magnificent sequoia trees, with close up views of Mule Deer, Western Grey Squirrel, Douglas’s Squirrel, Alpine Chipmunk and Lodgepole Chipmunk.

Tall trees at Sequoia
Also saw some interesting birds including Hairy Woodpecker, Mountain Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pacific Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Pipit (Western Montane subspecies), Black-throated Grey Warbler, Fox Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrow.

Mule Deer
Later that afternoon when we left the park, we discovered that the park had been closed as a result of the Federal Government funding crisis which had cut off funding to the National Parks. In Australia we have recently had to endure a completely incompetent and dysfunctional Labour Government but at least they weren’t stupid enough to shut down the parks.

One of the many park closure signs
The closing of the parks was great for politics and for generating headlines in the newspapers, but it resulted in many hotel booking cancellations and had a ripple effect that impacted on many of the small businesses which rely on tourism. It also upset a lot on USA citizens that we spoke to.
Wednesday: 2nd October
Drove to Oakhurst via Kings Canyon in the morning. Whilst all national parks had been closed the main through roads remained open. However all the picnic and parking areas had been closed off and there were a few parks staff enforcing the closures. Many visitors just ignored the no-parking signs and walked to the main attractions such as the General Grant Tree, the third largest tree in the world.
We felt uncomfortable about stopping in the national park, so just drove through on our way to Oakhurst. After leaving Kings Canyon, we stopped at Bravo Lake in Woodpark which was good for birding, with Hooded and Common Merganser, American White Pelican, California Gull, American Herring Gull, Rock Wren, Western Meadowlark and Savannah Sparrow being seen.
We stayed at Yosemite Southgate Hotel in Oakhurst, which we had originally booked for two nights. We cancelled the second night and booked a hotel at Lake Tahoe which is a lovely area to visit.
Thursday: 3rd October
We left the hotel early in the morning and drove though Yosemite National Park, at least the main access roads remained open. Again all the parking and picnic areas had been closed down, as had the accommodation in the park. Also some of the best spots for taking photos of the mountain peaks at sunrise had been closed off, just to spite the visitors and maximise the political impact of the closures. Again many visitors just ignored the signs.   

Yosemite National Park
There were quite a few target birds for Yosemite which we missed out on such as the Mountain Quail, Sooty Grouse, White-headed Woodpecker and American Dipper, which we didn’t see during the balance of the trip. This was the low-point of our trip and we didn’t record any birds for Yosemite.

Fresh Water Mountain Lake at Yosemite
We drove through to Mono Lake on the eastern side of Yosemite and did manage to stop at some viewing sites on the northern side overlooking Yosemite, which for some reason hadn’t been closed down. Quite a spectacular drive through the mountain ranges, with some beautifully clear fresh water lakes and snow on the peaks.

Snow capped mountains on the pass heading down to Mono Lake
Mono Lake is a saline lake, with a salt content about 2 to 3 times that of sea water, depending on the water levels. The lake is an important refuelling site for migrating birds and attracts about 2 million waterbirds, including 35 species of shorebirds. Over 1.5 million Black-necked Grebe and tens of thousands of Wilson's Phalarope and Red-necked Phalarope use Mono Lake during their long migrations. In addition to migratory birds, the lake has the second largest nesting population of California Gull, second only to the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
We saw well over 1,000 Black-necked Grebe and 300 California Gull, plus many Ruddy Duck, American Avocet, Red-necked Phalarope and Semipalmated Plover. There is a visitor’s centre, which was closed down, and the lovely Mono Lake County Park, which has a grassed area for picnics and walkway access to the lake shore.

Lake Tahoe
We spent the night at South Lake Tahoe, on the border of California and Nevada. The town has a number of ski resorts with ski lifts in town, plus casinos across the border in Nevada. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, with a surface elevation of about 1,900m and a depth of 500m, and is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Friday: 4th October
Whilst shopping in Lake Tahoe we had heard that the Kokanee Salmon were migrating up the Taylor Creek, a few kilometres away. These salmon were introduced from the North Pacific to Lake Tahoe in 1944.  After spawning they die and their carcasses provide a feast for the Mink, Black Bear and Bald Eagles.
We visited Taylor Creek in the morning and saw large concentrations of migrating salmon, which were very impressive. We also just missed Black Bear which had been chased off earlier by a photographer. We did see evidence of North American Beaver which were reintroduced to the Tahoe Basin between 1934 and 1949, and can now be seen in Tahoe Keys, Taylor Creek, Meeks Creek at Meeks Bay on the western shore, and King's Beach on the north shore.

Migrating Kokanee Salmon
The birding around Taylor Creek is good with over 100 species recorded for the site. We saw a juvenile Greater White-fronted Goose together with a flock of Canada Geese, plus Common Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe and our first Sharp-shinned Hawk, with a couple of hawks seen hunting in mixed woodlands. The Sharp-shinned Hawk is referred to locally as a “sharpie” and not to be confused with the “sharpie” in Australia (Sharp-tailed Sandpiper).
We drove along the western side of Lake Tahoe and stopped at Eagle Falls for a short walk up the valley. Some nice scenery there and we saw a Hermit Thrush and more Steller’s Jay.

Eagle Falls area at Lake Tahoe
We then drove towards Willows, taking the shortest route which bypasses Sacramento. Saw our first Sandhill Cranes in farmlands close to Marysville. Stopped at the Delevan National Wildlife Reserve, which was closed due to the funding crisis, and then at some of the farming areas. In the wetlands and flooded farm paddocks we saw hundreds of Greater White-fronted Geese and White-faced Ibis. We also pleased to see about 20 Snow Geese flying over which I thought may not be this far south in early October. 
We stayed at the Days Inn in Willows for the next couple of nights.
Saturday: 5th October
In the morning we headed over to Gray Lodge Wildlife Area which is a state owned wetland used for hunting and was open to visitors. As we drove out of Willows we saw our first Yellow-billed Magpie alongside the road, this is one of the two endemic birds for California, the other being the Island Scrub Jay.
Gray Lodge Wildlife Area was being used for hunting and we went to an area which was away from the hunters. At least we had access to the wetlands and the birding there was excellent with many Greater White-fronted Geese and Northern Pintail seen, about 50 Sandhill Crane mostly seen flying over, plus Common Pheasant, Virginia Rail, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Marsh Wren and more Yellow-billed Magpie.

Greater White-fronted Geese (Taiga subspecies)
Stopped alongside the road overlooking Delevan National Wildlife Reserve and saw over 2,000 Greater White-fronted Geese, over 120 Snow Geese, 120 White-faced Ibis and a lovely California Red-shouldered Hawk hunting in a channel alongside the road.  
Further along in recently flooded farmlands we saw over 1,000 White-faced Ibis, 300 California Gull, 140 Long-billed Curlew and 60 Northern Shoveler.
We then stopped on the road going through the Sacramento National Wildlife Reserve, which was closed, and saw many more Greater White-fronted Geese and Snow Geese. In the late afternoon we went back to the Sacramento National Wildlife Reserve and saw about 1,000 Greater White-fronted Geese, 14 Common Pheasant and a good range of ducks. There were also many Red-winged Blackbird and Brewer’s Blackbird flying in and out of the reeds.
I had been told before the trip that a visit to this area would be disappointing, as it was a bit too early for most of the over-wintering migrants, however we were very impressed with the numbers of birds seen.  Although we couldn’t access the National Wildlife Reserves (NWR’s), which were closed due to the Federal Government funding crisis, we did see most of birds that we could have seen in the NWR’s from the State Wildlife Reserve and later on in our trip.
Sunday: 6th October
In the morning we drove to Clear Lake State Park which is a lovely park situated on Clear Lake and well worth visiting. We saw about four North American River Otter in the early morning on an inlet feeding into the lake.

North American River Otter
Birding was good with Green Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron seen on the inlet, Sora and Wilson’s Snipe seen in the reed beds, a pair of Red-shouldered Hawk in nesting mode, Cedar Waxwing and plenty of warblers including Yellow, Audubon’s, Townsend’s and Wilson’s.

Green Heron
We then drove across to Rio Nido in Guerneville, which is a lovely small town situated alongside the Russian River. Stayed at the Rio Nido Lodge, a 100 year old lodge with great accommodation and made-to-order breakfasts, situated well away from the busy road and in amongst huge Redwood trees. 
The Russian River valley is well known for its wine farms and we stopped off to buy heritage tomatoes, which had a range of interesting tomatoes never seen in grocery stores.  Also good restaurants in the area, especially in Guerneville just down the road.
Monday: 7th October
Drove down to Bodega Bay in the early morning and saw about four of the attractive Harbour Seal on the rocks just off the coast. The Bodega Bay area has an interesting coastline and is a popular destination, being close to San Francisco, so it’s advisable to get there early. There were good viewing stops along the coast and in one area the houses were collapsing into the sea as the coastal cliffs are continually being eroded.

Bodega Bay - Collapsing Houses
We drove down to Bodega Harbour and then to Bodega Heads, with some good birds seen from the cliffs including an adult male Northern Harrier hawking over the grasslands, Western Osprey, Common Murre, Surf Scoter, Red-throated Loon, Great Northern Loon, Black Turnstone and Surfbirds.
Bodega Bay Coastline
For lunch we went around to the southern part of Bodega Harbour, to the state owned Doran Regional Park, where we saw well over 1,000 Marbled Godwit, 120 Willet, Grey Plover, Long-billed Dowitcher, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper and Dunlin all very close to shore.  

Harbour Seals
Tuesday: 8th October
Today we drove down to San Francisco, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, and then stopping off at the Golden Gate Park for a couple of hours. Some nice birds seen at the park but nothing new for the trip except for Pygmy Nuthatch.

Golden Gate Park

We then drove down the coast and then across to San Bruno where we were staying at Villa Montes Hotel. The hotel was upmarket and well located with good access to railway stations, shopping centres, restaurants, a laundry and car wash. Had the car cleaned inside and out, all hand done by a team of cleaners for a very reasonable cost.

The shopping centres were having some really good sales on, with 50% discounts on most goods, so we ended up shopping over several evenings.
Wednesday: 9th October
We took the train into San Francisco but it was the wrong train service, so ended up on the opposite side of the city to where we wanted to be. Had a long walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and visited the aquarium, which was excellent, and took the touristy boat trip to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island (also closed being a Federal facility).

Fisherman's Wharf

Took a slower walk back over the steep hills of San Francisco via China town and had a good lunch at an Italian restaurant.

Alcatraz Island
Thursday: 10th October
Spent the morning at San Bruno Mountain State Park which is a good park well away from the city and has some good habitats for birding. Saw our first Wrentit at the park, plus Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Northern Mockingbird, both Steller’s and California Scrub Jay, Northern Flicker and many Northern Raven. Quite a few sparrow species with Fox, Song, Lincoln’s, White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrow seen. By now it was getting more difficult to find new birds in this part of California, so I was looking forward to getting across to Arizona and then Southern California.
Northern Mockingbird
Went to the Red Lobster Restaurant in the evening, after some more shopping, for a very good meal.

Friday: 11th October
We left San Bruno very early in the morning in order to miss the traffic and as we had a long drive to Ventura. We stopped at Lake Cachuma again for lunch and then arrived in Ventura in the early afternoon. At Lake Cachuma we saw a couple of new birds for the trip, Western Wood Pewee and Western Blue-grey Gnatcatcher.

The Ventura County is a good for birding, being located on the Pacific Flyway, and is particularly good for warblers. Recent sightings, some since our visit, have included Red-throated Pipit, three species of Longspur and up to 12 warbler species being seen in a day.
Stayed at the Courtyard Oxnard Ventura which was comfortable, spacious and conveniently located with good freeway access.

Saturday: 12th October
Today we had booked a 12-hour pelagic with Island Packers out of the Ventura Harbour and we met up with about 65 birders just before sunrise. 
Ventura Harbour

Our route took us south to Anacapa Island, then through the Anacapa Passage to the area south of the northern Channel Islands where we then travelled west-southwest to the waters north and west of San Nicolas Island.  From there we went around the south side of San Nicolas, then east to the Osborne Bank and Santa Barbara Island, and then back to Ventura.

Anacapa Island
The first stop was for the Brown Booby on the channel marker No. 3 on the outer breakwater of Ventura Harbour.  On the way to Anacapa Island we passed through sizable flocks of Black-vented Shearwater in the Santa Barbara Channel, where we also encountered Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwater plus Parasitic Jaeger and Pomarine Skua. East Anacapa Island produced eight Blue-footed Booby on the cliffs below the lighthouse with some flying close to the boat.    
Blue-footed Booby
We cruised west along the northern shore of Anacapa Island where we saw a Peregrine Falcon, then two American Oystercatcher, which would pass the Jehl Scale as “pure” American Oystercatcher. These are rare in southern California as most birds show hybrid characteristics with the Black Oystercatcher.

Leaving Anacapa Island, we went south through the Anacapa Passage and then headed west, then south towards San Nicolas Island. We saw about 60 nesting Royal Tern on one of the islands, about 20 Elegant Tern and a single Arctic Tern. While it was still calm we saw a number of Northern Fulmar and got some good photos.

Northern Fulmar

The seas got rough and birds were sparse except for the occasional Northern Fulmar but we did see a Buller's Shearwater, a couple of South Polar Skua and a late Long-tailed Jaeger.  The return trip turned up the occasional shearwater, Northern Fulmar and small groups of Red-necked Phalarope, until we started back north from Santa Barbara Island where we encountered several Black Storm-Petrels to cap off our day at sea.
Most of the excitement of the trip was in the first two or three hours, and after that we just cruised around a largely empty ocean, chatting to other birders and catching up on sleep.

Sunday: 13th October
Today we had a longish drive to Las Vegas and took the most direct route, avoiding the busy freeways around Los Angeles, arriving in Las Vegas just after midday.

Spring Mountains Ranch State Park
We drove to Red Rock Canyon National Park which is west of the city. As the national park was closed we went onto Spring Mountains Ranch State Park, which was scenic although very busy. Took a walk up the valley and saw a few interesting birds including Ring-necked Duck and Red-naped Sapsucker. Also saw a Palmer’s Chipmunk which is listed as endangered as it is severely range restricted, being found only in the Spring Mountains and mostly confined to Mount Charleston.

Spring Mountains Ranch State Park
We spent the evening at the Desert Club Resort in Las Vegas.

Monday: 14th October
We had planned on doing a tour of the Hoover Dam, but being another National Park was also closed, so we just kept driving till we reached Tusayan, a town just south of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The State of Arizona had decided to fund the staff running the Grand Canyon so that it could be opened to visitors, and luckily the canyon was opened up the day before we arrived. There was talk of the State of Arizona taking over the Grand Canyon from the Federal Government. Using our National Park Annual Pass, which provides access to National Parks across the USA and which hadn’t been used yet, we drove up to the canyon arriving just after midday. We stayed there till just before sunset and the canyon is best seen with the afternoon light.
The Grand Canyon was the best park we visited and the views were magnificent. We walked along the rim of the canyon and drove to several viewing sites along the way. The park wasn’t busy probably as the closures had resulted in many cancellations and disrupted travel plans.

Grand Canyon from the South Rim

The sighting of the trip was two California Condor which took off from the cliffs below us and then flew slowly over the valley and landed on a rocky outcrop quite far away. The California Condor is a vulture and is the largest North American land bird, with a 3m wingspan and a lifespan of up to 60 years. The condor became extinct in the wild in 1987, with all 22 remaining wild individuals being captured, but has since been reintroduced to northern Arizona and southern Utah, coastal mountains of central and southern California, and northern Baja California.

Numbers rose through captive breeding and condors were reintroduced into the wild, starting in 1992 in California and 1996 in Arizona. The condor is one of the world's rarest bird species and the May 2013 estimates had the population at 435, with 237 living in the wild and 198 in captivity. The condors have only recently started breeding in the wild and as of September 2013, thirty five California Condor have fledged in the wild (

Grand Canyon

Other interesting birds seen at the Grand Canyon included Sharp-shinned Hawk, Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, Mountain Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse, many Western Bluebird, Swainson’s Thrush and Townsend’s Solitaire.
We saw some Uinta Chipmunk and Spotted Ground Squirrel at the canyon, and on leaving the park saw three Elk, including a male with impressive antlers.  Some idiots got out of their cars to get a bit closer with their telescopic lenses and didn’t seem to worry about the mock charges the Elk were making.

We spent that evening at Red Feather Lodge which was a lovely hotel in Tusayan. Had dinner over the road at the Big E Steak House and Saloon, which had excellent steaks and live entertainment. It got cold that night, down to -6oC, and we had a thick layer of ice on the car the next morning.

Tuesday: 15th October
In the morning we drove to various viewing sites along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and then exited the park on the eastern end, before driving down to Flagstaff.  The scenery along the drive was quite impressive and just north of Flagstaff, Humphreys Peak the highest peak in Arizona at 3,850m, had snow on the summit. We then drove further south on the highway towards Phoenix before turning off, through the Mazatzal Mountains of the Sierra Anchas ranges, to reach Payson for lunch.

Grand Canyon

In the late afternoon I went to the Green Valley Park and adjacent golf course. Had good views of a Sora at the lake and also saw Hammond’s Flycatcher and Chipping Sparrow.
We stayed at Majestic Mountain Inn in Payson, which was a lovely hotel with excellent accommodation.

Wednesday: 16th October
We continued our drive through the Sierra Anchas ranges stopping off at Roosevelt Lake, which being a national park was closed. We also tried to visit Tonto National Monument, which has well-preserved cliff dwellings occupied by the Salado culture during the 13th, 14th and early 15th centuries. This park was also closed with a national parks vehicle turning back any visitors attempting to stop and walk into the park.

We did manage to stop at the parking area near the Roosevelt Lake dam wall and had close-up views of the attractive Canyon Wren. The area had quite a few Rock Wren which were not shy, coming very close to us and one flew into Yvonne. Also had a couple of Peregrine Falcon hunting from the cliffs above. Saw our first Gambel’s Quail crossing the road a bit further on.
Canyon Wren
We drove down to Safford, which I had visited many years ago on a trip to the Morenci copper operation, and then down to Willcox for lunch and to buy supplies for the next three days. Drove through to New Mexico and then south to Portal, to arrive at Cave Creek Lodge later in the afternoon. We had been warned to keep to the speed limit whilst in New Mexico and we saw lots of police for the short while we were there. The areas we drove through in California and Arizona seemed to be quite relaxed about the speed limit, with most vehicles travelling at 10 to 20% above the speed limit.
Cave Creek Canyon, on the east side of the Chirichaua Mountains, is quite spectacular and quite an improvement on the flat areas around Willcox through to New Mexico.  The self-catering accommodation at Cave Creek Lodge was excellent, with well wooded areas and a small creek close to the accommodation. The lodge had many seed and hummingbird feeders, which attracted the birds and other wildlife, and we had Collared Peccary and White-tailed Deer wandering through the gardens. It’s a place one could quite easily spend a week and it was the best place we stayed at in terms of overall experience.

Cave Creek Canyon
Barbara and Neville had flown down from Canada and driven from Tucson to Cave Creek Lodge, where we met them in the afternoon. It was good to have them join us for the five days and we had some great barbeques in the evenings, although probably ate a bit too much food. 

Cave Creek Canyon with Barbara, Neville and Yvonne
Thursday: 17th October
Did some walks around the lodge area and up towards the Cave Creek Canyon, then took a drive up the canyon to its highest point. The camping and picnic area in the Coronado National Forest was closed in the morning, however on the way back it had opened, signalling the end of the Federal Government funding crisis. The local rangers we spoke to seemed quite relieved that they could now get back to work. We took a walk from the camping site down the creek which was very pleasant.

Saw many interesting birds including Mexican Jay, White-winged Dove, Inca Dove, Mexican Chickadee, Blue-throated Mountaingem, Magnificent Hummingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Northern Cardinal, Green-tailed Towhee, Townsend’s Solitaire and Red-breasted Sapsucker, which is rare for the area.

Mexican Jay
The Red-breasted Sapsucker is reported as frequently hybridising with Red-naped Sapsucker in the southerly deserts east to Arizona. Based on my observations this was a pure Red-breasted Sapsucker, with its red head and breast, no black bib, plus the yellow belly and large white wing patch.  
Friday: 18th October
In the morning we took a walk along Cave Creek and then visited Willow Tank south of Portal in the late afternoon. On the drive back at sunset we were lucky to see a Kit Fox crossing the road. The Kit Fox is the smallest species of the Canidae family found in North America, having large ears which looks similar to the Bat-eared Fox found in Southern Africa. The Kit Fox is mostly a nocturnal and usually goes out to hunt shortly after sunset.  

Other mammals seen included the Cliff Chipmunk and Chiricahua Squirrel.
Interesting birds included Arizona Woodpecker, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Cedar Waxwing, Painted Whitestart, Hooded Oriole, Yellow-eyed Junco, Virginia Rail (posed for photos), Yellow-headed Blackbird, Bendire’s Thrasher and Western Kingbird.

A10 Thunderbolt coming to have a look for birders or Mexicans?
Saturday: 19th October
Today we drove south down to Douglas on the border with Mexico, then stopped at the wetlands of Whitewater Draw.  We then drove through Tombstone which was an interesting town, and onto to Patagonia Lake for lunch. Drove to Nogales on the Mexican border, then headed north to the Green Valley arriving in the late afternoon. There were a few roadblocks on the way but we were never stopped or questioned. It was evident that the border protection is a huge effort and we saw probably about 200 border vehicles, alongside the road, at roadblocks and in security compounds.

Saw our first Greater Roadrunner just south of Portal, then another one close to Tombstone. This was a bird we all wanted to see.
Whitewater Draw was quite spectacular with hundreds of Sandhill Crane flying in to land at the lake, must have been well over 1,000 birds by the time we left. Had a single Snow Goose arrive with the cranes and had masses of Tree Swallow hawking over the wetlands. There were also plenty of ducks, grebes, egrets, waders and sparrows.  

Patagonia Lake was very busy being the weekend and we had a few interesting birds including White-winged Dove, Hooded Oriole, Northern Cardinal and Verdin.
Stayed at the Best Western Green Valley Inn which had very comfortable and spacious accommodation. Had dinner at Mac’s Pub which had excellent meals and had some good karaoke singers.

Sunday: 20th October
We met up with Laurens Halsey ( at 7am for our only guided birding of the trip.

The first stop was the Amado Waste Treatment Plant which only had four settling ponds, so quite small and can be viewed from outside of the fence. It was however quite a productive bit of water and we had our first Mexican Duck, Bronzed Cowbird and the attractive Black-bellied Whistling Duck. Also had Northern Rough-winged Swallow flying over the ponds. 
The male and female Mexican Duck looks like a female Mallard, although has a slightly darker body.  Once considered a separate species by the AOU, the Mexican Duck was lumped with Mallard in 1983 after studies indicated a high degree of hybridisation. However a recent genetic study (McCracken 2001) suggests that Mexican Duck are most closely related to Mottled Ducks and these two are most closely related to American Black Ducks, thus suggesting that the Mexican Duck deserves full species status. Whilst the debate continues ( the IOC currently lists the Mexican Duck as a separate species whilst Clements doesn’t.

Our next stop was Continental Wash in Green Valley where we saw a couple of Phainopepla, a Rufous-winged Sparrow and about 45 Chihuahuan Raven flying over. Otherwise the area was dry and very quiet for birding.
We then drove up to the Madera Canyon, which again was very dry, but still productive for birding. We saw about 30 birds starting off with two Golden Eagles being harassed by two Red-tailed Hawks, then Lesser Goldfinch, Myrtle Warbler, Black-throated Grey Warbler, Pacific Wren (which is poorly known in this area), Hepatic Tanager, Yellow-eyed Junco, Hutton’s Vireo, a late Dusky-capped Flycatcher and good views of the Williamson’s Sapsucker. The male Williamson’s Sapsucker which is rare for the area was seen at Madera Kubo, together with about six Cedar Waxwing feeding on pyracantha berries.

In the early afternoon we went to a suburban area of Green Valley and saw plenty of Gambel’s Quail plus Harris’s Hawk, Inca Dove, Gila Woodpecker (pronounced hila) and an attractive Black-throated Sparrow.
After some successful birding with Laurens we returned to the hotel at 3pm. Later that afternoon, just on sunset, we went back to the area we had seen Gila Woodpecker and had close-up views of the attractive Cactus Wren plus Curve-billed Thrasher and Gambel’s Quail.  

Monday: 21st October
We had an early breakfast as Barbara and Neville had an early morning flight to catch in Tucson. We drove north of Tucson to Red Rocks and then headed west into an area called the Santa Cruz Flats. After driving along ever worsening dirt roads and across a dodgy stream, we backtracked and tried again a bit further north. It’s a huge area and we didn’t explore it fully, however we did see the attractive Prairie Falcon plus Phainopepla, Horned Lark, White-winged Dove and Greater Roadrunner. The main target birds we missed out on were the Crested Caracara, which is seen frequently in the area, the Ferruginous Hawk and Black Vulture  

We stopped at the Red Lobster in Yuma for an excellent lunch and then drove through to Calipatria, close to the Salton Sea.  
Stayed at the Calipatria Inn which was quite spacious and comfortable.

Tuesday: 22nd October
In the morning we visited various sites along the south east of the Salton Sea, using the excellent guide available from Southwest Birders (

In the area close to and at Sonny Bono Salton NWR Headquarters we saw loads of bird with interesting sightings of Clapper Rail (Yuma subspecies), Albert’s Towhee, Western Burrowing Owl, four Greater Roadrunner, Forster’s Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Ring-billed Gull, Franklin’s Gull and about 60 Gambel’s Quail. Also saw four Blue-footed Booby on the rocks at Obsidian Butte.

Blue-footed Booby on the rocks at Obsidian Butte

The Sonny Bono HQ has many Gambel’s Quail around the office and picnic area.

Gambel's Quail
In farming areas close to the lake, after the farmer flooded a field, this would attract 100’s of Cattle Egret followed 100’s of White-faced Ibis, quite an impressive site as the flocks of birds swirled around.  
Cattle Egret in foreground with White-faced Ibis flying in
Went to Earthrise Spirulina Algae Farm, the road south of Calipatria State Prison and Ramer Lake in the afternoon and had interesting sightings of Red-necked Phalarope, Prairie Falcon, three Greater Roadrunner, three Western Burrowing Owl, close-up views of Gila Woodpecker, Albert’s Towhee and three attractive Vermilion Flycatcher.

Western Burrowing Owl
Wednesday: 23rd October
In the morning we visited the Salton Sea NWR (Unit 1) which had two observation platforms overlooking some wetlands and extensive reed beds. Unfortunately most of the roads in the area were closed to the public, including the road down to the shore of the Salton Sea, which had many pelicans, gulls and waders. We also had hunters using the observation platforms to find out where the birds were, seems that the hunters have better access to the wetlands than the birders?

Interesting sightings included about 200 Snow Goose, Ross’s Goose, Clapper Rail, Sora, Sandhill Crane, Common Yellowthroat, Siberian Pipit (subspecies of the American Pipit) and Crissal Thrasher. Probably the best bird at this site was an American Bittern seen flying slowly over the reed beds, which looks identical to the Australian Bittern.
Had four Common Raccoon emerging from the reed beds then posing for photographs.

Common Raccoon

After that we drove up to Salton City, through another border check point with loads of cameras and other devices, then up through the arid hills to the nice area of Borrego Springs for lunch. Then we drove to the touristy town of Julian and then Ramona.
Stayed at the San Diego Country Estates in Ramona, which was the best accommodation of the trip and well situated in a quiet valley with large hills surrounding the area.

Thursday: 24th October
Drove down to Lindo Lake in Lakeside in the morning for a stroll around the lake. Some good birding at the lake with 36 species seen and our first parrots for the trip, the introduced and now well established Red-crowned Amazon. This native of north eastern Mexico is declining in its natural range and is considered endangered by BirdLife International. Also saw the beautiful Wood Duck and a splendid male Cinnamon Teal.   

Later in the morning we drove down to Tijuana River Estuary Reserve, navigating the maze of freeways around San Diego. This estuary reserve is on the coast just north of the Mexican border and adjacent to the Nolf (Naval Outlying Landing Field) Imperial Beach airport. Whilst the estuary reserve is good for birding one can see the border protection vehicles on the beach and along the border, and helicopters are continually landing, taking off and flying overhead.
Interesting birds included Reddish Egret, Little Blue Heron, Western Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Forster’s Tern, Whimbrel and Belding’s Sparrow (subspecies of Savannah Sparrow).

Friday: 25th October
Today was a shopping day and we made good use of the excellent discounts on offer, typically 50% off, with a further 30% if you signed up for a store card, and I even got a 10% discount for older shoppers, not that I qualified for this?

In the late afternoon I took a walk up the dry creek where we were staying and saw some nice birds including a California Towhee and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet which flashed its dark red crest when I played its call.
Saturday: 26th October
In the morning I took a walk up the dry creek and into the surrounding hills, before the day warmed up. Saw some nice birds including Cooper’s Hawk flushed from trees in a deep gulley, Russet-backed Thrush (subspecies of Swainson’s Thrush) and my first Bell’s Sparrow. Initially heard, then saw a California Thrasher moving fairly quickly working its way through the leaf litter in a gulley. I was pleased to see this thrasher as I had only glimpsed it previously whilst driving up the road in Sequoia National Park.

After checking out at midday, we drove to Escondido then up to Lake Elsinore for lunch. Drove up the winding Ortega Highway to the Santa Anna Mountains which is part of the Cleveland National Forest and has impressive views of the surrounding areas. The Ortega Highway however, which runs from San Juan Capistrano to Lake Elsinore, is a bit of a raceway for the locals.
Drove along the many freeways around Los Angeles on the way to the airport. Had a very good dinner at George Petrelli’s Steakhouse, which has a reputation for its steaks and was conveniently located in Culver City, close to the airport rental car drop-off.

Checked in at the Qantas counters and got through security fairly quickly, then flew out of Los Angeles airport just before midnight. Skipped out on the airline dinner and managed to get some sleep on the long flight back home.
Monday: 28th October
Arrived back into Melbourne at 09:20 on direct Qantas flight from Los Angeles.

Birding Resources
Sibley Birds of North America, iPhone App
Field Guide to the Birds of North America, National Geographic, 6th Edition by Jon Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer
Guide to Birding Hot Spots of the United States, National Geographic, Mel White and Paul Lehman
A Birder’s Guide to Planning North American Trips, ABA Birdfinding Guide, Jerry A Cooper
A Birder’s Guide to Southern California, ABA Birdfinding Guide, Brad Schram
eBird, used extensively to find the best birding areas along our trip and for daily updates of rarities
Various Listservers for California, San Diego, Ventura, Arizona and New Mexico

The birder’s guide for North America was very useful for initial trip planning but not used during the trip, as more up to date information was available through eBird. The birder’s guide for Southern California is very detailed, however it wasn’t used much as we were too busy. This guide would probably be more useful for someone who is chasing a limited number of target birds or trying to find some of the more difficult birds.

For the trip we saw a good number of mammals however often these were only seen once during the trip, such as the Coyote. We were very pleased to see the Black Bear up close at Sequoia National Park.

Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)
Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani)

Dogs (Canidae)
Coyote (Canis latrans)
Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis)
Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis)

Bears (Ursidae)
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
Eared Seals (Otariidae)
Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus)
California Sea Lion (Zalaopus californianus)

Earless Seals (Phocidae)
Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustrirostris)
Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina)

Mustelids (Mustelidae)
Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)
North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis)
Raccoons (Procyonidae)
Common Raccoon [sp] (Procyon lotor)

Pigs (Suidae)
Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)
Peccaries (Tayassuidae)
Collared Peccary (Tayassu tajacu)

Deer (Cervidae)
Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
White-tailed Deer [sp] (Odocoileus virginianus)
Maral [sp] (Cervus elaphus)

Rorqual Whales (Balaenopteridae)
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Ocean Dolphins (Delphinidae)
Short-beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
Risso's Dolphin (Grampus griseus)
Bottlenose Dolphin [sp] (Tursiops truncatus)

Squirrels & Marmots (Sciuridae)
Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Western Grey Squirrel (Sciurus griseus)
Mexican Fox Squirrel [sp] (Sciurus nayaritensis)
Douglas's Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii)
California Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi)
Spotted Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus spilosoma)
Alpine Chipmunk (Tamias alpinus)
Cliff Chipmunk (Tamias dorsalis)
Merriam's Chipmunk (Tamias merriami)
Palmer's Chipmunk (Tamias palmeri)
Lodgepole Chipmunk (Tamias speciosus)
Uinta Chipmunk (Tamias umbrinus)


For the trip we saw a total of 258 birds of which 119 were lifers, this included 213 species in California and 128 species in Arizona.

The list of birds according to the IOC taxonomy, with subspecies identified where possible, was as follows:


New World Quail (Odontophoridae)

California Quail [sp] (Callipepla californica)

Gambel's Quail [sp] (Callipepla gambelii)

Pheasants, Fowl & Allies (Phasianidae)

Wild Turkey [sp] (Meleagris gallopavo)

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)


Ducks, Geese & swans (Anatidae)

Black-bellied Whistling Duck [sp] (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

Greater White-fronted Goose [sp] (Anser albifrons)

Snow Goose [sp] (Chen caerulescens)

Ross's Goose (Chen rossii)

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)

Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)

Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans)

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Gadwall [sp] (Anas strepera)

American Wigeon (Anas americana)

Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)

Mexican Duck (Anas diazi)

Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)

Cinnamon Teal [sp] (Anas cyanoptera)

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Common Merganser [sp] (Mergus merganser)

Ruddy Duck [sp] (Oxyura jamaicensis)


Loons (Gaviidae)

Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)

Great Northern Loon (Gavia immer)


Albatrosses (Diomedeidae)

Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes)

Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Pacific Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis rodgersii)

Buller's Shearwater (Puffinus bulleri)

Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus)

Pink-footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus)

Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus)

Black-vented Shearwater (Puffinus opisthomelas)

Storm Petrels (Hydrobatidae)

Black Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma melania)


Grebes (Podicipedidae)

Pied-billed Grebe [sp] (Podilymbus podiceps)

Horned Grebe [sp] (Podiceps auritus)

Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)

Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis californicus)

Western Grebe [sp] (Aechmophorus occidentalis)

Clark's Grebe [sp] (Aechmophorus clarkii)


Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)

White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)

Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)

Black-crowned Night Heron [sp] (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Green Heron [sp] (Butorides virescens)

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Great Blue Heron [sp] (Ardea herodias)

Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)

American Great Egret (Ardea alba egretta)

Reddish Egret [sp] (Egretta rufescens)

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

Snowy Egret [sp] (Egretta thula)

Pelicans (Pelecanidae)

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Brown Pelican [sp] (Pelecanus occidentalis)

California Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus)


Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)

Blue-footed Booby [sp] (Sula nebouxii)

Brown Booby [sp] (Sula leucogaster)

Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)

Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus)

Pelagic Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)

Double-crested Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax auritus)


New World Vultures (Cathartidae)

Turkey Vulture [sp] (Cathartes aura)

California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus)

Ospreys (Pandionidae)

Western Osprey [sp] (Pandion haliaetus)

Kites, Hawks & Eagles (Accipitridae)

White-tailed Kite [sp] (Elanus leucurus)

Golden Eagle [sp] (Aquila chrysaetos)

Sharp-shinned Hawk [sp] (Accipiter striatus)

Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)

Bald Eagle [sp] (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Harris's Hawk [sp] (Parabuteo unicinctus)

Red-shouldered Hawk [sp] (Buteo lineatus)

California Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus elegans)

Red-tailed Hawk [sp] (Buteo jamaicensis)


Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)

American Kestrel [sp] (Falco sparverius)

Merlin [sp] (Falco columbarius)

Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)

Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)


Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)

Clapper Rail (Yuma) (Rallus longirostris yumanensis)

Virginia Rail [sp] (Rallus limicola)

Sora (Porzana carolina)

Common Gallinule [sp] (Gallinula galeata)

American Coot [sp] (Fulica americana)

Cranes (Gruidae)

Sandhill Crane [sp] (Grus canadensis)


Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)

Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)

American Oystercatcher [palliatus] (Haematopus palliatus palliatus)

Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)

Black-necked Stilt [sp] (Himantopus mexicanus)

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)

Plovers (Charadriidae)

Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)

Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)

Killdeer [sp] (Charadrius vociferus)

Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)

Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)

Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)

Marbled Godwit [sp] (Limosa fedoa)

Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)

Long-billed Curlew [sp] (Numenius americanus)

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)

Willet [sp] (Tringa semipalmata)

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)

Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala)

Surfbird (Aphriza virgata)

Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)

Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)

Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)

Gulls, Terns & Skimmers (Laridae)

Franklin's Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni)

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)

California Gull [sp] (Larus californicus)

Western Gull [sp] (Larus occidentalis)

American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus)

Gull-billed Tern [sp] (Gelochelidon nilotica)

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

Royal Tern [sp] (Thalasseus maximus)

Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans)

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri)

Skuas and Jaegers (Stercorariidae)

South Polar Skua (Stercorarius maccormicki)

Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus)

Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)

Long-tailed Jaeger [sp] (Stercorarius longicaudus)

Auks, Murres and Puffins (Alcidae)

Common Murre [sp] (Uria aalge)

Pigeon Guillemot [sp] (Cepphus columba)

Cassin's Auklet [aleuticus] (Ptychoramphus aleuticus aleuticus)

Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata)


Doves and Pigeons (Columbidae)

Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)

Feral Pigeon (Columba livia ''feral'')

Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)

Mourning Dove [sp] (Zenaida macroura)

White-winged Dove [sp] (Zenaida asiatica)

Inca Dove (Columbina inca)

Common Ground Dove [sp] (Columbina passerina)


Parrots and Macaws (Psittacidae)

Red-crowned Amazon (Amazona viridigenalis)


Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)


Owls (Strigidae)

Western Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea)


Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Blue-throated Mountaingem [sp] (Lampornis clemenciae)

Magnificent Hummingbird [sp] (Eugenes fulgens)

Northern Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens fulgens)

Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna)

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)

Allen's Hummingbird [sedentarius] (Selasphorus sasin sedentarius)


Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)


Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Acorn Woodpecker [sp] (Melanerpes formicivorus)

Acorn Woodpecker [formicivorus] (Melanerpes formicivorus formicivorus)

Gila Woodpecker [sp] (Melanerpes uropygialis)

Williamson's Sapsucker [sp] (Sphyrapicus thyroideus)

Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)

Red-breasted Sapsucker [sp] (Sphyrapicus ruber)

Red-breasted Sapsucker [daggetti] (Sphyrapicus ruber daggetti)

Nuttall's Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii)

Hairy Woodpecker [sp] (Picoides villosus)

Arizona Woodpecker [arizonae] (Picoides arizonae arizonae)

Northern Flicker [sp] (Colaptes auratus)


Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Black Phoebe [sp] (Sayornis nigricans)

Black Phoebe [semiater] (Sayornis nigricans semiater)

Say's Phoebe [sp] (Sayornis saya)

Western Wood Pewee [sp] (Contopus sordidulus)

Hammond's Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii)

American Dusky Flycatcher (Empidonax oberholseri)

Pacific-slope Flycatcher [sp] (Empidonax difficilis)

Pacific-slope Flycatcher [insulicola] (Empidonax difficilis insulicola)

Vermilion Flycatcher [sp] (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

Cassin's Kingbird [sp] (Tyrannus vociferans)

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)

Dusky-capped Flycatcher [sp] (Myiarchus tuberculifer)

Ash-throated Flycatcher [sp] (Myiarchus cinerascens)

Shrikes (Laniidae)

Loggerhead Shrike [sp] (Lanius ludovicianus)

Vireos (Vireonidae)

Cassin's Vireo [sp] (Vireo cassinii)

Hutton's Vireo [sp] (Vireo huttoni)

Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Steller's Jay [sp] (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Mexican Jay [sp] (Aphelocoma wollweberi)

Arizona Mexican Jay [arizonae] (Aphelocoma wollweberi arizonae)

California Scrub Jay [sp] (Aphelocoma californica)

Woodhouse's Scrub Jay [sp] (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)

Island Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma insularis)

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)

Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli)

American Crow [sp] (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Northern Raven [sp] (Corvus corax)

Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)

Waxwings (Bombycillidae)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Silky-Flycatchers (Ptilogonatidae)

Phainopepla [sp] (Phainopepla nitens)

Tits and Chickadees (Paridae)

Mountain Chickadee [sp] (Poecile gambeli)

Mexican Chickadee [eidos] (Poecile sclateri eidos)

Chestnut-backed Chickadee [sp] (Poecile rufescens)

Chestnut-backed Chickadee [barlowi] (Poecile rufescens barlowi)

Bridled Titmouse [sp] (Baeolophus wollweberi)

Oak Titmouse [sp] (Baeolophus inornatus)

Juniper Titmouse [sp] (Baeolophus ridgwayi)

Penduline Tits (Remizidae)

Verdin [sp] (Auriparus flaviceps)

Larks (Alaudidae)

Horned Lark [sp] (Eremophila alpestris)

Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Violet-green Swallow [sp] (Tachycineta thalassina)

Northern Rough-winged Swallow [sp] (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)

Bushtits (Aegithalidae)

American Bushtit [sp] (Psaltriparus minimus)

Pacific Bushtit [minimus] (Psaltriparus minimus minimus)

Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)

Wrentit [sp] (Chamaea fasciata)

Wrentit [rufula] (Chamaea fasciata rufula)

Kinglets (Regulidae)

Golden-crowned Kinglet [sp] (Regulus satrapa)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet [sp] (Regulus calendula)

Wrens (Troglodytidae)

Cactus Wren [sp] (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

Rock Wren [sp] (Salpinctes obsoletus)

Canyon Wren [sp] (Catherpes mexicanus)

Marsh Wren [sp] (Cistothorus palustris)

Bewick's Wren [sp] (Thryomanes bewickii)

Pacific Wren [sp] (Troglodytes pacificus)

House Wren [sp] (Troglodytes aedon)

Gnatcatchers (Polioptilidae)

Western Blue-grey Gnatcatcher [obscura] (Polioptila caerulea obscura)

Nuthatches (Sittidae)

Pygmy Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta pygmaea)

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)

White-breasted Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta carolinensis)

Treecreepers (Certhiidae)

Brown Creeper [sp] (Certhia americana)

Mockingbirds and Thrashers (Mimidae)

Northern Mockingbird [sp] (Mimus polyglottos)

Northern Mockingbird [polyglottos] (Mimus polyglottos polyglottos)

Bendire's Thrasher (Toxostoma bendirei)

Curve-billed Thrasher [sp] (Toxostoma curvirostre)

California Thrasher [sp] (Toxostoma redivivum)

Crissal Thrasher [sp] (Toxostoma crissale)

Starlings (Sturnidae)

Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)

Thrushes (Turdidae)

Western Bluebird [sp] (Sialia mexicana)

Townsend's Solitaire [sp] (Myadestes townsendi)

Swainson's Thrush [sp] (Catharus ustulatus)

Russet-backed Thrush [ustulatus] (Catharus ustulatus ustulatus)

Hermit Thrush [sp] (Catharus guttatus)

Hermit Thrush (Western Mountain) [group] (Catharus guttatus [auduboni-group])

American Robin [sp] (Turdus migratorius)

Old World Sparrows and Snowfinches (Passeridae)

House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)

Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Siberian Pipit (Anthus rubescens japonicus)

American Pipit (Anthus rubescens rubescens)

Western Montane American Pipit (Anthus rubescens alticola)

Finches, Siskins and Crossbills (Fringillidae)

Purple Finch [sp] (Haemorhous purpureus)

House Finch [sp] (Haemorhous mexicanus)

American Goldfinch [sp] (Spinus tristis)

Lesser Goldfinch [sp] (Spinus psaltria)

New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Common Yellowthroat [sp] (Geothlypis trichas)

American Yellow Warbler [sp] (Setophaga aestiva)

Myrtle Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Audubon's Warbler [sp] (Setophaga auduboni)

Audubon's Warbler (Setophaga auduboni auduboni)

Black-throated Grey Warbler [sp] (Setophaga nigrescens)

Townsend's Warbler (Setophaga townsendi)

Hermit Warbler (Setophaga occidentalis)

Wilson's Warbler [sp] (Cardellina pusilla)

Painted Whitestart [sp] (Myioborus pictus)

Oropendolas, Orioles and New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Hooded Oriole [sp] (Icterus cucullatus)

Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullockii)

Bronzed Cowbird [sp] (Molothrus aeneus)

Brown-headed Cowbird [sp] (Molothrus ater)

Red-winged Blackbird [sp] (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Tricolored Blackbird (Agelaius tricolor)

Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

Great-tailed Grackle [sp] (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

Buntings and New World Sparrows (Emberizidae)

Fox Sparrow [sp] (Passerella iliaca)

Song Sparrow [sp] (Melospiza melodia)

Song Sparrow [heermanni] (Melospiza melodia heermanni)

Lincoln's Sparrow [sp] (Melospiza lincolnii)

White-crowned Sparrow [sp] (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)

Dark-eyed Junco [sp] (Junco hyemalis)

Oregon Junco [group] (Junco hyemalis [oreganus-group])

Oregon Junco [thurberi] (Junco hyemalis thurberi)

Pink-sided Junco (Junco hyemalis mearnsi)

Grey-headed Junco (Junco hyemalis caniceps)

Yellow-eyed Junco [sp] (Junco phaeonotus)

Savannah Sparrow [sp] (Passerculus sandwichensis)

Belding's Sparrow [beldingi] (Passerculus sandwichensis beldingi)

Grasshopper Sparrow [sp] (Ammodramus savannarum)

Chipping Sparrow [sp] (Spizella passerina)

Black-throated Sparrow [sp] (Amphispiza bilineata)

Sage Sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis)

Bell's Sparrow [sp] (Artemisiospiza belli)

Rufous-winged Sparrow [sp] (Peucaea carpalis)

Rufous-crowned Sparrow [sp] (Aimophila ruficeps)

Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus)

Spotted Towhee [sp] (Pipilo maculatus)

California Towhee [sp] (Melozone crissalis)

Abert's Towhee [sp] (Melozone aberti)

Cardinals, Grosbeaks & Allies (Cardinalidae)

Hepatic Tanager [sp] (Piranga hepatica)

Northern Cardinal [sp] (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Cardinal [superbus] (Cardinalis cardinalis superbus)


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