Saturday, June 18, 2016

Reaching The Triple Three In Maricopa!

About a month ago Ms. Melanie Herring and Ms. Barb Meding were birding at Hassayampa River Preserve when they found a Thick-billed Kingbird! Thick-billed Kingbirds are very rare for Maricopa County with only a hand full of records (the only other record I know of was from this same spot but eight or so years ago). When I saw their listerve report I was shocked! I wanted to chase that bird right away but due to the preserve's hours and days they were open I wasn't able to chase this magnificent find. As a matter of fact, nearly a whole month went by and the bird was still being seen and I couldn't get out to see it! However, a quick call to my birding mentor, Mr. Joe Ford, changed my luck and before I knew it we had a whole group of people who wanted to see this bird. Now Mr. Ford is a good birder and an amazing teacher! As a matter of fact, Mr. Ford played (and still plays) a big part in my birding career and I have him to thank for where I now stand as a birder.On June 18th I woke up early in the morning to meet up with Mr. Ford, Mr. Paul Doucett, Ms. Mitra Samadani, and Mr. Jerry and Ms. Linda Molinelli to bird hard at the Hass! There were two possible Maricopers that I could get at the Hass, Thick-billed Kingbird (of course) and Purple Martin (usually just seen as a flyover by lucky birders). Arriving at the Hassayampa River Preserve, we observed a beautiful male Broad-billed Hummingbird flying back in forth from the trees to the feeders.

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Moving on with the hummingbirds we quickly hit the Mesquite Meander Trail (where there have been Thick-billed and Tropical Kingbirds) in hopes of Maricopering it hard! Yellow Warblers and Yellow-breated Chats were singing like crazy, out in the distance I heard the distinctive squeaky call of the Thick-billed Kingbird! We hiked down the trail further to where it was calling from and then, bam, Thick-billed Kingbird!

Thick-billed Kingbird--Maricoper #333!!!

It didn't hit me until now that the Thick-billed Kingbird was my 333rd species I had seen in Maricopa, what a cool milestone!

Thick-billed Kingbird

This photo almost shows how loud TBKIs are!

Thick-billed Kingbird

The Thick-billed Kingbird is a Mexican bird which reaches its furthest northern range in southeastern Arizona. Up until last month (when I was in SEAZ with Walker and Dalton) I had never seen a TBKI and it almost became a nemesis bird for me, however, Walker saved the day with his keen eyes! Seeing this bird in my home county was even better though! While we watched the TBKI a pair of Tropical Kingbirds flew in. The Tropical Kingbird is another Mexican bird who reaches its furthest northern range in southeastern Arizona, however, this species has started to move north and is now a regular breeder at Hassayampa (with at least 3-6 pairs along the Hassayampa River)!

Tropical Kingbird

Throughout the rest of our Hassayampa exploration we encountered cool birds such as a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a couple of Willow Flycatchers, more Tropical Kingbirds, and this distant female Bronzed Cowbird.

Bronzed Cowbird

It was nice getting back into birding Maricopa County and this outing kinda resparked my passion for birding Maricopa County! Getting my 333rd bird for MC was awesome as well! Haha, now I'm only 67 species away from my goal of getting 400 species in Maricopa County, a task which no one has yet to conquer! However, reaching this goal would mean I pretty much have to live in MC for the rest of my life and life is practically impossible to predict, so I have no idea if I will end up reaching this goal!

In the mean time, have a great week everyone!!!

God Bless and BIRD HARD!!!



  1. Great post, Caleb! I have no doubt that you will achieve your goal of 400 for MC. There are a lot of rarities to be found, my friend!

    1. Thanks Josh! I sure hope to reach 400! And yes, lets find some more rarities! ;)

  2. Boy, you've got a long ways to go! And so do I! But 400 is do-able with time and dedication, as we know ;)

    1. Yeah we sure does pops! We otta be trippin but we ain't a given up!