Thursday, March 3, 2011


At the end of February, Wally, Jo Ann, Jim and Kris joined me for a day afield to Whitewater Draw, a state wildlife area north of Douglas, Arizona. Weather couldn't have sparkled more! And the birds were feeling both the warmth of the day (after rain and snow the day before!) and the tug of migratory impulses.

Several wintering species are still lingering, waiting till their northern breeding grounds thaw out. Chestnut-collared Longspurs touched down at Willow Tank for a very quick drink, then rushed off in typical mad hatter fashion, the flock eddying in a sort of constant Brownian motion. Several of the males were in full breeding regalia.

Lark Buntings by the hundreds lined the roadsides, the males starting to develop their striking black-and-white breeding plumage.

Resident species, like this pair of Great Horned Owls, are gearing up for breeding.

Great Horned Owls at Whitewater Draw
(All photos by Narca)

Waterfowl and Sandhill Cranes are still a spectacle at Whitewater. Today the cranes numbered in the thousands, far more than I had seen here just two days previously. A gray sea stretched north toward the horizon.

Sandhill Cranes with sleeping pintail at Whitewater Draw

A drake Green-winged Teal at Whitewater Draw

Other species are just arriving from the south. The year's first Cliff Swallow winged past: a surprise, since they usually trail all the other regular migrant swallows in our corner of Arizona. This one must have wintered somewhere well north of Brazil! The first Bendire's Thrasher of the year also perched, calmly regarding us, near the entrance to Whitewater Draw.

And I'm off, too, for a quick trip to Anza Borrego to chase butterflies. Sonoran Blue is very high on my wish list, and they are flying in Plum Canyon!

American Bullfrog at Willow Tank (here an invasive species)


  1. One of my all-time favorite places in southeast AZ.
    Have a great time at Anza Borrego!

  2. Great post Narca. We visited Whitewater Draw last year about this time and there was one Great-horned Owl in those same rafters.

    I can still recall sitting on our tail gate having lunch and listening to the cranes fly in. That's a great sound.