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Jake Mohlman reports from a wet, green Sonoran Desert

August 17: Jake Mohlman reports from a wet, green Sonoran Desert

Our second departure of our Arizona Second Spring tour recently wrapped up. The turbocharged van had no trouble covering 1143 miles of mountain roads, smooth highways, and water crossings as we tallied 185 species for the trip. Highlights were countless and included 13 species of hummingbirds, 14 sparrow species, and a quail sweep.

We worked hard to find some things including a 2 mile hike up Miller Canyon, gaining over 2,000 feet of elevation, in order to secure our viewing pleasure of a male White-eared Hummingbird defending a nest and territory. Other hummers encountered were a female Lucifer coming into a blooming agave in Box Canyon, and a true stunner when a male Berylline Hummingbird came into a perfectly placed feeder on a remote mountain trail. 

Non-avian highlights were aplenty including a sow Black Bear with 3 cubs in tow, a nocturnal Ringtail, and several range-restricted snake species including the rare Banded Rock Rattlesnake in Huachuca Canyon.

Other regional specialties couldn’t hide from our curious eyes and included a singing Five-striped Sparrow that came within 10 feet of our group in Box Canyon, close views of Mexican Chickadees as they came into and out of their nest cavity, and several Red-faced Warblers at eye level gleaning for insects on Mt. Lemmon.

Perhaps saving the best for last we had an amazing encounter with a pair of Montezuma Quail as they exploded at our feet and ran into and around our group undoubtedly trying to distract us from some nearby concealed young.

All photos by Jake Mohlmann except the Montezuma Quail (Jim Livaudais). 

Our excited group overlooking Cave Creek Canyon

A rigorous hike yielded this male White-eared Hummingbird.

We worked hard for Berylline Hummingbird, here the stunning male. 

This Rock Rattlesnake crossed our path in the Huachucas.


Red-faced Warbler was seen several days, sometimes quite close.


This adult Mexican Chickadee finally revealed its nest in the Chiricahuas.

The closest views I’ve ever had of Five-striped Sparrow.

A male Montezuma Quail almost walked on our feet in Sawmill Canyon. Photo by James Livaudais.

Posted: August 17, 2021