Monday, May 16, 2011

Madera Canyon Bird Walk With Tucson Audubon

Western Tanager at Madera Kubo
On May 10th I made my first venture into the famous Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.  Tucson Audubon Society had organized a bird walk for handicapped birders and/or those birders who like a more leisurely pace.  Nina Hansen led the birdwalk and did a great job establishing the birding etiquette and protocol - soft voices only, describe where the bird you're seeing is, don't point, stay on the trail, and don't go ahead of the leader.  This gal doesn't mess around!  It was a challenge for most of us not to point. 

Fellow birders on accessible trail at Proctor Road.
Our first stop was the wheelchair accessible paved trail in Lower Madera Canyon at Proctor Road.  Its a 0.8 mile long loop, partly shady with benches along the way.  (There is one other accessible trail just up the road at the Whitehouse Picnic Area, a half mile loop.)  Birds seen at Proctor included  a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a Cassin's Kingbird, a Hermit Thrush, Wilson's Warbler, several very vocal Bell's Vireo, Townsend's and Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Western Tanager and some Brown-headed Cowbirds. (We didn't go beyond the crossing.)

We stopped briefly at Santa Rita Lodge, there we could kick back and just watch all the action at the many feeders below us.It seemed as if the Black-headed Grosbeaks and Mexican Jays were everywhere!  We also saw several White-throated Swifts flying about, two Lazuli Buntings and some Lesser Goldfinches. 

Madera Kubo Gift Shop
Our final stop as a group was at Madera Kubo where I was so agog at all the beautiful birds and the cute lodge that I committed the cardinal sin of parking right where you're not supposed to!  Eee-gaaaddds!  Somehow the kind lodge owner managed to just look at me and smile, likely hoping I'd realize my mistake. But I was way too busy looking every which-way at all the amazing Tanagers.  So it was Nina who broke the news to me - I immediately moved my van across the street where signs clearly pointed out where to park.  Duhhhh! 

The best viewing area at Madera Kubo is on the porch looking out at the many feeders, but its not wheelchair accessible.  Even so, I still saw a lot of great birds here - a Magnificent, several Black-chinned and several Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Summer, Hepatic and Western Tanagers, more Black-headed Grosbeaks and Mexican Jays, Pine Siskins, Bridled Titmice, and White-breasted Nuthatches.

For more information about Madera Canyon see The Friends of Madera Canyon website.

Click on the image below for a slideshow of Madera Canyon.

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