Thursday, May 4, 2023




It’s hard to know where to begin a birdathon report, but if you think birds dance then let’s call it the “beguine” because in a way that is what’s going on the bird world now. (The beguine is a waltz and it was brought to my attention by the late Artie Shaw and his big band orchestra… but I digress.)

Spring Awakening is carefully timed Dance when trees and flowers are synced with migration. It’s pretty awesome come to think. For instance, in Maryland Honey Locust Trees and native Honeysuckle Vines are opening up just in time for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds' return from its winter grounds in Mexico’s Yucatan region.

But really, the Bloomin’ Birdathon is a fun marathon, whereby we are chasing birds and counting as many species possible to raise funds for Nature Forward and support environmental education and conservation in the Capitol region. (

For the 43rd Annual Bloomin’ Birdathon, This One’s For Jane decided to take our 24-hour chase to Tucson, Arizona. 

Normally the Birdathon is 24-hours, including sleep, but if we relax the rules, then we can chase birds over multiple days as long as we don’t go over 24 hours of birding. And that’s what we did -  for 5 days, we scouted birds in the desert, valley, mountains, at the corner of Main Street and even snuck onto a community college campus where word on the bird was Burrowing Owl. Our final count was 117 birds and a number of mammals and reptiles rounded out the fun. (All photos here:

And now for the official faces and places of this year's Birdathon!

APRIL 19, 2023 (First Day: 24 birds in 3 hours)



After landing in Tuscon we headed straight to Walgreens for sunscreen and Smarties. When we walked out, the sounds from the parking lot and nearby culvert gave us pause for a moment before each of us flew off in different directions chasing a “Woot Woot” here and a “Whoooop” there. In 30 minutes we snagged our first nine species.

1.       Gambel’s Quail (Woop)

2.       White-winged Dove

3.       Greater Roadrunner (Kelly wins! for being the first to see it.)

4.       Gila Woodpecker

5.       Verdin

6.       Curved-Bill Thrasher

7.       Phainopepla (We nick-named it Pepla; it was easier that way.)

8.       House Sparrow (It still counts!)

9.       Cactus Wren

Great Horned Owl

Vermillion Flycatcher


Catalina State Park is located half way between Tucson and the Phoenix Airport; it is an E-Bird Hotspot; and it is our first official destination. Once again the parking lot was bustling with birds and full of low-hanging fruit if I can mix metaphors. First bird, a red Vermillion Flycatcher directly overhead. Then Mike pointed towards the Parking Lot Tree where a Great Horned Owl was tending two owlets while keeping a steady eye on the paparazzi. I still can’t believe I had to fly all the way to Tucson to get this Life Bird.

1.       Vermillion Flycatcher

2.       Great Horned Owl

3.       Turkey Vulture

4.       Northern Harrier

5.       Red-tailed Hawk

6.       Bell’s Vireo

7.       Woodhouse Scrub Jay

8.       Lesser Goldfinch

9.       Rufous-winged Sparrow

10.   Black-throated Sparrow

11.   Green-tailed Towhee

12.   Lucy’s Warbler

13.   Pyrrhuloxia (We never did learn how to say this one’s name.)

14.   Lazuli Bunting

15.   Black-headed Grosbeak


DAY TWO: APRIL 20, 2023 (29 birds in 4 hours)


On the road to Madera Canyon Eric saw a several people pulled over on the side of the road with huge camera lenses. That can only mean one thing – it’s a bird. Of course we pulled over too and to our delight saw a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a very large nest with three babies. It was there we met a delightful Scotsman who introduced himself as Richard Fry. It turns out Richard Fry is and someone who would be a great bird guide for hire if we pass this way again.


 We had two reasons to go to Madera. The first was that we would see many, many species of Hummingbirds; we saw four. (We will see more later.) The other was called the Elegant Trogon. The Elegant Trogon is a reclusive bird that mainly resides in Mexico and Central America but sometimes wanders to Arizona.  We got very lucky and spotted Trogon close to the trail snacking on caterpillars right away.  It also helped that several people lined up on the trail with big cameras indicated this handsome bird to us.  Note to yourself: If you see someone with a big camera pointed towards the woods, ask the person what they are looking at. You just might get a Life-time bird!

BUT wait – there’s more highlights.

When we returned to the Hummingbird feeders, someone said, “Did you see the Lewis Woodpecker just up the road?” It was too easy… Lewis practically threw himself at us.


1.       Wild Turkey

2.       Black-chinned Hummingbird

3.       Broad-billed Hummingbird

4.       Broad-tailed Hummingbird

5.       Rivoli Hummingbird

6.       Elegant Trogon

7.       Acorn Woodpecker

8.       Arizona Woodpecker

9.       Ladderback Woodpecker

10.   Lewis Woodpecker

11.   Northern Flicker

12.   Hutton’s Vireo

13.   Cassin’s Vireo

14.   Mexican Jay

15.   Bridled Titmouse

16.   Ruby-crowned Kinglet

17.   White-breasted Nuthatch

18.   Brown Creeper

19.   House Wren

20.   Grace’s Warbler

21.   Townsend’s Warbler

22.   Black-throated Gray Warbler

23.   Painted Redstart

24.   Mourning Dove

25.   Swainson’s Hawk

26.   Chipping Sparrow

27.   Northern Cardinal

28.   Western Kingbird

29.   White-throated Swift

 SWEETWATER WETLANDS (18 birds in 1.5 hours)





Sweetwater Wetlands is a nature sanctuary and not too far from Madera Canyon. We chose this location hoping to see many winter ducks that flew from our region over a month ago and we did – 6 common ducks plus 2 more ducks that don’t swim our shores. We also noticed lots of nesting going on - particularly Verdin birds who weave a kind of cave and then decorate it with flowers.

1.       Blue-winged Teal

2.       Cinnamon Teal

3.       Mallard

4.       Mexican Duck

5.       Ruddy Duck

6.       Pied-billed Grebe

7.       Common Gallinule

8.       American Coot

9.       Cliff Swallow

10.   Marsh Wren

11.   Song Sparrow

12.   Lincoln Sparrow

13.   Abert’s Towhee

14.   Red-winged Blackbird

15.   Common Yellowthroat

16.   Yellow Warbler

17.   Yellow-rumped Warbler

18.   Costa’s Hummingbird fighting


DAY THREE – APRIL 21, 2023

ASH CANYON (15 birds in 3 hours)




DAY THREE – APRIL 21, 2023

ASH CANYON (15 birds in 3 hours)

Ash Canyon is a private residence.  The folks living there set up several hummingbird and other bird feeding stations and then place chairs all about for total strangers to drop in and watch birds on one condition. One must sit. If you do stand up, don’t linger long otherwise one of the volunteers will politely offer you a seat nearby.


We spent three hours there watching hummingbirds and other birds feed close by and enjoyed chatting with like-minded people who shared their knowledge and joy of birds with us.

1.       Lucifer Hummingbird

2.       Anna’s Hummingbird (female)

3.       Calliope Hummingbird

4.       Gray Hawk (Heard and Confirmed by other Birders so we are counting it, but you don’t have to.)

5.       Plumbeous Vireo

6.       Bewick’s Wren

7.       Cassin’s Finch

8.       Pine Siskin

9.       Lark Sparrow

10.   White-crowned Sparrow

11.   White-throated Sparrow

12.   Rufous-crowned Sparrow

13.   Spotted Towhee

14.   Bullock’s Oriole

15.   Scott’s Oriole

RAMSEY CANYON PRESERVE, a Nature Conservancy sanctuary (2 birds in 1.5 hours)

There was ONE reason we went to Ramsey and we came away with two: Northern Pygmy Owl and a Violet-crowned Hummingbird.



DAY FOUR – APRIL 22, 2023

MOUNT LEMON (5 birds in an hour of hiking.)

I am afraid of heights so the drive up Mount Lemon was a little dizzying and reminiscent of State Highway 1 in California, but it was well worth the effort. Many Hermit Thrushes bounced around our feet when we disembarked our car and the Red-faced Warbler greeted us at the trailhead. So easy.

1.       Red-faced Warbler

2.       Hermit Thrush

3.       Yellow-eyed Junco

4.       Dusky-capped Flycatcher

5.       Stellar’s Jay


4 birds in hour


On our way to Phoenix, we stopped by Scottsdale the night before and chased not one but three Burrowing Owls. Truth be told, we didn’t need to chase them because they chose to pose. One perched high on a sign, while another sat amidst yellow flowers; I suspect the second one knew what he was doing because his eyes matched perfectly. And the third owl was happily minding his own business in another nearby prairie dog hole.

1.       Great Blue Heron

2.       Burrowing Owls at Community College

3.       Says Phoebe

4.       Anna’s Hummingbird





APRIL 19-25, 2023


Kelly could not have picked a better location for our stay in Arizona.  Our little Air BnB had a lovely deck shaded by a warbler-magnet mesquite tree. And when we weren’t looking at birds, one of the resident collared dragons impressed us with the number of push-ups he could do in the blazing sun.

1.       Rock Pigeon

2.       American Robin

3.       Cooper’s Hawk

4.       House Finch

5.       European Starling

6.       Boat-tailed Grackle

7.       Wilson’s Warbler

8.       Nashville Warbler

9.       Virginia’s Warbler

10.   Mississippi Kite (Seen flying on the way to Ash Canyon in Sierra Vista)

11.   Brown Crested Flycatcher

12.   Hooded Oriole

13.   Raven

14.   Wilson Warbler

15.   Northern Mockingbird

16.   Ash-throated Flycatcher

17.   Gilded Flicker

18.   LAST BIRD: Canyon Towhee


20.   Two Ring-tailed Coati Mundi

21.   Mule Deer

22.   And a flock of Ostriches by the side of the road.

The story doesn’t end here. Back in Richmond, Anna was helping THIS ONE’S FOR JANE and gave us 5 birds:

1.       Eastern Bluebird

2.       Tree Swallow

3.       Brown-headed Cowbird

4.       Canada Geese

5.       China Goose

And during my cross-country drive with Tommy between Colorado and home we snagged 7 more!

1.       Black-billed Magpie

2.       Killdeer

3.       Bald Eagle on its nest

4.       Brown Thrasher

5.       Eastern Towhee

6.       Rough-winged Swallow

7.       Ring-necked Pheasants in lieu of Sandhill Cranes at the Rowe Bird Sanctuary in Kearney, NE

That should be a wrap but our story doesn’t end here. We have decided to get out the count one more time because we missed doing the Bloomin’ Birdathon here where we live. So folks, THIS ONE’S FOR JANE WILL RIDE again on May 20th.

THANK YOU TO MY FELLOW TEAMMATES - ERIC, you do it all for me, I know. MIKE, your photos are second to none - we're gonna win this photo contest this year, I just know it! KELLY, Thank you dear sister-from-another-mister! TO Female Solidarity!!



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