Monday, May 30, 2011

A Fan-tailed Warbler in Arizona, 2011-05-24

Living in a border state like Arizona, it's not too surprising that one's birding fantasies often include chance encounters with rare wanderers from further south in Mexico.  Over the years, I have been fortunate to have seen a number of such birds.  I remember the thrill of finding a Rufous-capped Warbler in Sycamore Canyon, and then being amazing a couple of years later in seeing two territorial Rufous-capped Warblers in the same morning.  I also remember being stunned to see seven Aztec Thrushes in one tree, a spectacle that was repeated a few years later.  There was the amazing mini-invasion of Eared Quetzals in 1992.  Other gems over the years have included Crescent-chested Warbler, Tropical Parula, Tufted Flycatcher, Nutting's Flycatcher, Blue Mockingbird, Flame-colored Tanager, and Brown-backed Solitaire.  While Yellow Grosbeak and Slate-throated Redstart continue to elude me, one of the rarest and coveted strays, the Fan-tailed Warbler, recently performed beautifully for me in Madera Canyon, having been found by Gary Rosenberg on the previous morning.  After attending my son's promotion from grade school to middle school, I headed off to Madera Canyon for an afternoon try for the warbler.  With the help of other searchers, I was able to see the bird within twenty minutes of arriving.  I had looked unsuccessfully for one in Guadalupe Canyon back in 1990, and was out of town during the brief visit by one near Patagonia in 1997. This was a most welcome addition to my Arizona bird list.

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