March Madness

                                                             Abert's Squirrel on Mt. Lemmon
It has been a wild weird start to the month of March.  I've been trying to get up to Mt. Lemmon since January, but the non-stop storms from CA kept bringing the mountain snow and road closures with them. Plus with work, it made it impossible to trek up into the montane habitats!

There was a group of mountain birds I needed to add to my year list in Pima County. The snow was so crazy that it actually came down and covered the Tucson valley floor!  We had several inches of snow in the morning!  Alas, we didn't have a snow day at school but it was a beautiful drive to work! By 10 AM, the snow all melted. 

Before that snow storm hit, I was determined to get to the mountain and count birds.  I parked the car and actually lucked out on the crowds!  Usually it's packed with people on Saturday and Sunday, but for some reason, I had most of my Saturday morning free of people. There I birded in the snow. 

I knew things would get crazy again in the evening so I headed back down the mountain by early afternoon.  The next day, the road was closed.

This year birder's are keeping their eyes on Steller's Jays in several parts of the country as this species may be split into 3 separate species!

Pygmy Nuthatches and Yellow-eyed Juncos are very easy to find on Mt. Lemmon. 

Waterbirds begin their migration north.  March and April are still good times to see an excellent variety of ducks as thousands of waterbirds move through our state around our water areas. 

 It's also the month to keep your eyes up to our amazing Arizona skies. 

You never know who will pass over your head.  Right now Common Black Hawks are moving through the area in good numbers. 

If you like raptors, like these people below, head over to Peter Collin's hawk watch in Tubac. Grab a chair with some hot coffee or tea and enjoy the show.  So many great raptors pass over your head. On this particular day, we had many Common Black Hawks and an incredible flyover by a rare Crested Caracara. Peter can be found at Ron Morriss's County Park each day for the month of March. Birds typically launch off from the 9-11 AM.  However, there are always a couple birds that take flight earlier.   

Generally, the hawk watch ends the winter season and kicks off the spring migration as cottonwoods begin to bud.  However, this year weather predictions show more moisture on the way.  This is also a good place to start your hike to see the Rose-throated Becards along the DeAnza trail.  Or maybe you'll spot the rare breeding Green Kingfishers in the area?

While sitting in our chairs, this beautiful native Collared Peccary came to visit.  We kept an eye on the animal because they can get somewhat feisty with people.  But how can you not love that face?

Last night, I went out to the grasslands at Empire Ranch with my buddies Celeste and Cheroot.  Celeste makes wonderful earl grey tea.  I love it without the milk and sugar.  We set up our chairs and watched the sunset in the cold.  The sunset was stunning as you can see above and below.  There were plenty of owls that were active which included 2 lovely Short-eared Owls with a lone single Burrowing Owl waiting for a mate. The month of March is always an exciting one, but it's also a reminder that summer is just around the corner. 

We explore strange new lands in search of life birds over the next several posts. If we're lucky, they'll be the first lifers for the year. If we're lucky. Until next time.....good birding everyone!!!


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