Sunday, May 25, 2014

Terrible with Tanagers, and Where's that Chimneysweep from Mary Poppins?

Couple of days ago local birder Danny Lee posted several images of Mississippi Kite from Sunflower, AZ, a charming, sycamore-infested clearing and riparian area off the Old Hwy 87 about 30 miles northeast of Phoenix. This spot it best known for its annually nesting Common Black and Zone-tailed Hawks, and sycamore creeks are not the usual haunts of Mississippi Kites, but photos is photos after all, at least most of the time. Plus, there is some cleared cattle land on one side of the road, and plenty of high perches, so an MI Kite stopover, though rare, wasn't unbelievable.
The bird was found first on Thursday and I couldn't make it out until Sunday, so I was not very optimistic for the Kite, but Sunflower is just great birding anyway. Bell's and Warbling Vireos are all over, as are Yellow and Lucy's Warblers. Cassin's Kingbirds are already getting their nest on, and there are numerous other species of flycatchers, plus the afore mentioned raptors.

Predictably enough the Kite was long gone, although spooking a Prairie Falcon just near the turn off at mile marker 218 was a nice surprise. Otherwise the best birds of the day were the Tanagers. At one point I had counter-calling Summer Tanagers in a sycamore and 5 different Westerns all in another. The only thing more impressive was how, yet again, I managed not to get satisfactory crushes of these birds.

It's becoming a bit of an annoyance now, though I dare not give this some sort of quasi-nemesis status. Especially with the Westerns, considering how common and conspicuous they are right now, there's really no excuse not to have crushing photos of them. So, I offer no excuses, only apologies and hopes that I'll come up with better stuff later this week. 
In the mean time, everyone keep your eyes open for an errant Kite stuck somewhere in a tree!


  1. Those Summer and Western Tanagers still have to be a sight to behold even if you don't get satisfactory pictures - nothing wrong with that Summer pic, by the way. We've had many of both of these tanagers pop up this spring around the state (not that I've seen), conforming to an overall trend of more western vagrants than normal this year. Your kite isn't stuck in a tree; it was spotted blowing free about 100 miles from me.

    1. That peregrinating bastard!

      We've had lots of eastern vagrants this spring too.
      Is there increasing vagrancy with global weirding and whatever else, or are there just more people looking/knowing what they're seeing now?
      Both I guess.

  2. I have to admit I was a bit disheartened to come back without any usable shouts of Western Tanager.

    1. What's the deal with that bird?
      There's something very mysterious about it. Even when people hang out at the blinds and feeder stations in southeast AZ and get up-close shots, it still seldom seems properly crushed, relative to its commonness.

      This needs to be remedied.

  3. So sad to be crushed by birds; they're such lightweights.