FOS (First of Season) warblers have arrived

I for one am a big fan of the changing of the seasons.   The winter in the mid-desert of Sedona is wonderful. Cooler temperatures and moisture licking the Red Rocks creating beautifully varnished sheens. Juniper berries abound, Pinyon Pine nuts are easily extracted, seed laden grasslands are havens for sparrows, and fallen scrub-oak acorns are easy pickins. The winter of 2018-19 has been one of the wettest in recent memory, including  large fluctuations in temperature. Honestly, birding was a bit disappointing. In general, numbers were down. In 2018, Western Bluebirds were EVERYWHERE, robins abounded, Cassin’s Finch and Evening Grosbeaks were easy pickens. By January, 2019, it was obvious that they weren’t wintering in Sedona. Waterfowl numbers have been steady, male Vermilion Flycatchers were at Bubbling Ponds until November, and I spent January and February recovering from a broken Fibula.

As spring arrives, I am excited! The sleet storm on Wednesday night dropped some migrant warblers into Sedona, including Painted Redstarts and Olive Warblers. 380 Common Blackhawks have been documented by the hawk watch in Tubac, and a majority are headed this way. I busted the Page Springs Fish Hatchery pair copulating and eating fish. There is an excitement to spring: the lighting changes, the desert bloom brought on by winter rains and warming temperatures commences, smells emerge, both bitter and sweet, and birds perched on high points singing everywhere. And so the cycle continues, as many of our summer breeders are returning from winter adventures in the warmer climes of Mexico, Central and South America. And many, many more are on their way. 

 

Beautiful male Painted Redstart in Oak Creek Canyon