Saturday, October 9, 2010

McDowell Mountain Park Bird Walk

Phainopepla and Northern Mockingbird sharing the mistletoe berries.
I finally made it out to McDowell Mountain Park for one of their Bird Walks led by Ranger Amy Ford (a long time birder with a great ear for identifying bird calls).   To my surprise, no one else showed up for the walk, so it was just the two of us on the ADA accessible Nursery Tank Trail.  It was a great opportunity for me to really listen to the bird calls, with Amy there telling me who was talking to who. 

Park Ranger Amy Ford
I was amazed that someone could differentiate between so many similar calls!  (Don't tell anyone, but I think she might be part-bird, I think I saw what looked like a flight feather poking out of one sleeve.)  The highlight of the walk was when a Cooper's Hawk swooped down in front of us when we reached the tank, which was quite full from all the recent storms.  Birds seen included: Phainopepla, Northern mockingbird, Black-throated sparrow, Canyon towhee, Cooper’s hawk, Gambel’s quail, Common Raven, Mourning Dove, House finch, Turkey vulture, and Curve-billed thrasher.  Birds heard included:  Verdin, White-throated sparrow, Northern Flicker, Gila Woodpecker, Cardinal, Black-tailed gnatcatcher, and Ladder-backed woodpecker.  Critters seen:  Lesser Earless lizard, Spiny lizard, Whiptail lizard, and Harris’ antelope ground squirrel.

Scarlett chowing down on a strawberry.
If you go to McDowell Mountain Park, be sure to check out the Nature Center, and the great new Desert Tortoise Habitat out back and meet the three dames of the desert - Lady, Scarlett, and Lily.  The Phoenix Herpetological Society has over 300 Arizona Desert Tortoises that need homes and are up for adoption.  If you're interested, carefully read their Arizona Desert Tortoise Adoption Packet and see what the requirements are.

Yours truly on the ADA accessible Nursery Tank Trail

The next ADA accessible walk at McDowell Mountain Park is Friday, October 29th, 9 AM to 10 AM, and will meet at Nursery Tank Trailhead.  Ranger Amy will be showing us which desert plants are edible, and I'm sure you'll see a few birds along the way!

Northern Cardinal checking out
the new Desert Tortoise Habitat

Lady, the habitat's Grand Dame, is rumored to be over 50 years
old, but shhhhh!  A Lady never tells her true age!

For more photos and details about Nursery Tank Trail's wheelchair accessibility, see my July 16th. 2010 post .


  1. I agree - Amy is probably part bird. She is such a great naturalist. I hope to go on one of her walks again sometime. It sounds like you had a great day. I hope we see you at the DBG again soon!

  2. Hi Jackie! Yes, Amy is great, and she's one of the few park rangers that point out which guided hikes are wheelchair accessible! I'll be back at DBG soon, I'm starting their "More Birding" class w/ Cynthia Donald next week.


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