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Sep
23
2013

Bendire’s Thrasher Survey at Chicken Springs Report

Thrasher nest in cholla by J. MacFarland

Thrasher nest in cholla by J. MacFarland

This past April the Arizona IBA crew and Arizona Field Ornithologists co-led an expedition to an area west of Wikieup near Lake Havasu called the Chicken Springs Allotment, an area managed by BLM. We were there to inventory all birds with transects and nocturnal surveys but our main target was Bendier’s Thrasher. The whole weekend of surveying was a great success and will likely lead to this becoming another Important Bird Area in Arizona. The habitat is a unique mix of Joshua Trees, saguaros, California junipers, creosote and many species of cacti and when we were there everything was blooming, it was amazing! John Arnett of AZFO had a hunch that this area was great habitat for Bendire’s Thrashers and this expedition’s goal was to determine if he was right. He was! We found over 30 individual Bendire’s Thrashers on the site and 10 confirmed pairs, this should qualify this site as a Global IBA in the future!

Here are some highlights of what else we encountered:

 

For the Nocturnals, we found 56 Elf Owls, 17 Western Screech-Owls, 5 Great-horned Owls, 31 Lesser Nighthawks and 19 Common Poorwills.

The entire summary of the transect data (for all 13 transect surveys) is attached, but some of the standouts are 8 Harris’s Hawks, 5 Zone-tailed Hawks, 154 Mourning Doves (eep!), 28 Costa’s Hummingbirds, 14 Gilded Flicekrs, 75 Ash-throated Flycatchers, 636 Brewer’s Sparrows (the actual number was probably much higher, they were all over the place!) and 197 Black-throated Sparrows.

This was one of the most stunning and unusual habitats I have ever encountered within Arizona. Truly worth a visit!

Bendire's or Bust! by Matt Griffiths

Bendire’s or Bust! by Matt Griffiths

 

Complete Summary of birds and other animals recorded.

Gambel’s Quail     32

Stunning Scenery on Chicken Springs by Jennie MacFarland

Stunning Scenery on Chicken Springs by Jennie MacFarland

Turkey Vulture     29

Cooper’s Hawk    1

Harris’s Hawk       8

Zone-tailed Hawk               5

Red-tailed Hawk    3

American Kestrel    9

White-winged Dove             8

Mourning Dove    154

Lesser Nighthawk                3

Common Poorwill               1

Sunrise over the Joshua Trees by J. MacFarland

Sunrise over the Joshua Trees by J. MacFarland

Black-chinned Hummingbird           1

Anna’s Hummingbird         1

Costa’s Hummingbird         28

Gila Woodpecker    4

Ladder-backed Woodpecker            20

Northern Flicker   1

Gilded Flicker       14

Unidentified Flicker sp.       5

Unidentified Woodpecker  1

Western Wood-Pewee         1

Matt Griffiths conducting Bendire's  Thrasher call back survey by J. MacFarland

Matt Griffiths conducting Bendire’s Thrasher call back survey by J. MacFarland

Hammond’s Flycatcher      1

Gray Flycatcher   13

Unidentified Empidonax   5

Ash-throated Flycatcher    75

Brown-crested Flycatcher  1

Cassin’s Kingbird     9

Western Kingbird      21

Loggerhead Shrike              4

Plumbeous Vireo           1

Unidentified Vireo               2

Western Scrub-Jay              10

Common Raven  15

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     2

Bridled Titmouse       1

Juniper Titmouse        25

Unidentified Titmouse        1

Verdin    38

Huge Joshua Tree by Matt Griffiths

Huge Joshua Tree by Matt Griffiths

Bushtit   3

Cactus Wren         78

Bewick’s Wren      19

Unidentified Wren               1

Ruby-crowned Kinglet       2

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher       2

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher   27

Unidentified Gnatcatcher   2

Northern Mockingbird        58

Bendire’s Thrasher               10

Curve-billed Thrasher         16

Bendire's Thrasher Survey Base Camp by Matt Griffiths

Bendire’s Thrasher Survey Base Camp by Matt Griffiths

Crissal Thrasher   7

Phainopepla         76

Virginia’s Warbler                1

Lucy’s Warbler     53

Yellow-rumped Warbler     2

Wilson’s Warbler  6

Summer Tanager        1

Western Tanager         2

Green-tailed Towhee           9

Spotted Towhee   1

Canyon Towhee  5

Rufous-crowned Sparrow  2

Chipping Sparrow                54

Brewer’s Sparrow    636

Black-chinned Sparrow      3

Beaver Tail Prickly Pear Cactus by Matt Griffiths

Beaver Tail Prickly Pear Cactus by Matt Griffiths

Lark Sparrow       8

Black-throated Sparrow     197

White-crowned Sparrow     17

Lazuli Bunting     3

Unidentified Bunting          1

Brown-headed Cowbird     12

Hooded Oriole      7

Bullock’s Oriole    3

Scott’s Oriole         17

House Finch         79

Lesser Goldfinch     10

House Sparrow    1

Black-tailed Jack Rabbit     2

Cottontail Species               3

Mule Deer             1


About the author

Jennie

Jennie is the Coordinating Biologist for the Arizona Important Bird Area program and an employee of the Tucson Audubon Society. She likes birding and other cool nerdy activities.