Sycamore Canyon/Pajarito Mountains IBA

 Sycamore Canyon cliffs 1, Kendall KroesenLocation: 31.4130°N  111.1900°W 

County: Santa Cruz 

Site Status: Identified 04/2003

Ownership: Coronado National Forest

Area: 3.5 square miles, 2,213 acres

Criteria: B1 (Potential): Continental: Species of Conservation Concern (Arizona Woodpecker, Five-striped Sparrow)

D1: State: State Species of Conservation Concern

D3: State: Species in rare/unique habitat: RiparianSycamore canyon - bird on map

D4vii: Landbird Concentration- Breeding Diversity

Sycamore Canyon creek 1, Kendall KroesenSite Description:

Sycamore Canyon is owned and managed by the Coronado National Forest, United States Forest Service.  It is located near the town of Ruby, at the lower edge of Madrean evergreen oak woodlands while Sycamore Creek flows down to the Mexico border where it enters Sonoran desert-dominated habitat.  The canyon is relatively shallow and narrow with intermittent drainage, and is very convoluted with scattered permanent pools. Vegetation is primarily high-elevation riparian, including Fremont cottonwood, willow, and velvet mesquite, with scattered Arizona sycamore. 

Fan-tailed Warbler by Jorge Montejo

Fan-tailed Warbler by Jorge Montejo

Ornithological Summary:

Rose-throated Becard by Mark Watson

Rose-throated Becard by Mark Watson

This very small canyon has a very high concentration of nesting IBA priority bird species. According to the Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas (ABBA), 95 species of birds were either confirmed nesting or designated as probable or possible nesting species in or adjacent to Sycamore Canyon. This is one of the highest breeding bird diversity concentrations in Arizona. Arizona BBA surveys also discovered this unique area was found to have the lowest elevation breeding populations of many avian species in Arizona, these include: Spotted Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Whip-poor-will, Acorn Woodpecker, Arizona Woodpecker, Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-Bellied Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard, Eastern Bluebird, Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, and Black-Headed Grosbeak. During ABBA surveys in 1993 and 1994, 3-4 pairs of Rose-throated Becards were found nesting in Sycamore Canyon. This is one of the highest concentrations ever found for this species in Arizona and in the United States. Through the years, this rugged canyon has attracted many resident and visiting birders in hopes of viewing the rare Mexican species that have occasionally been reported. These include such birds as the Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Rufous-capped Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler, and Yellow Grosbeak.

 

 

 

Criteria

Key Criteria Bird Data

Year

Source

SCS

Mexican Spotted Owl (3 pairs)

1993

U.S. Forest Service 2002

SCS

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (6 pairs)

1999

Corman and Magill 2000.

SCS

Elegant Trogon (6 pairs)

1994

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Rose-throated Becard (3 pairs)

1993

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Purple Martin (5 pairs)

1993

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Eastern Bluebird (5 pairs)

1994

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Arizona Woodpecker (6 pairs)

1993

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Five-striped Sparrow (6 pairs)

1993

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Montezuma Quail (present)

1997

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Elf Owl (present)

1993

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Bell’s Vireo (present)

1993

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Lucy’s Warbler (present)

1993

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

SCS

Peregrine Falcon (1 pair)

1993

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

HAB-Riparian

6 SCS Species (Breeding Period):  Elf Owl, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Elegant Trogon, Rose-throated Becard, Bell’s Vireo, and Lucy’s Warbler.

 

1993, 1994

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

Landbird Seasonal Concentration

(Diversity) 95 potentially breeding species.

1993, 1994

ABBA 1993 and 1994.

Yellow Grosbeak by Arjan Haverkamp

Yellow Grosbeak by Arjan Haverkamp

Other Flora and Fauna:  Special status species listed below (ESA or Wildlife of Special Concern in Arizona)

Reptiles:  Mexican vine snake (Oxybelis aeneus) and Giant Spotted Whiptail (Cnemidophorus burti stictogrammus). 

Fish:  Sonora Chub (Gila Ditaenia). 

Amphibian:  Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Rana chiricahuensis) and Lowland Leopard Frog (Rana yavaipaiensis)

Mammal:  Mexican Long-Tongued Bat (Choeronycteris mexicana)

Plants: 7 species.

Species of Special Conservation Status present within the Sycamore Canyon IBA.

Scientific name

Common name

Resident

Breeding

Falco peregrinus

Peregrine Falcon

no

yes

Cyrtonyx montezumae

Montezuma Quail

yes

yes

Coccyzus americanus

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

no

yes

Strix occidentalis

Spotted Owl

yes

yes

Micrathene whitneyi

Elf Owl

no

yes

Trogon elegans

Elegant Trogon

no

yes

Picoides stricklandi

Arizona Woodpecker

yes

yes

Camptostoma imberbe

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

no

yes

Pachyramphus aglaiae

Rose-throated Becard

no

yes

Progne subis

Purple Martin

no

yes

Sialia sialis

Eastern Bluebird

no

yes

Aimophila quinquestriata

Five-striped Sparrow

no

yes

Passerina versicolor

Varied Bunting

no

yes

Vermivora luciae

Lucy’s Warbler

no

yes

Vireo bellii

Bell’s Vireo

no

yes

Icterus cucullatus

Hooded Oriole

no

yes

Whip-poor-will by Jerry Oldnettel

Whip-poor-will by Jerry Oldnettel

Conservation Issues:

Illegal immigrant traffic can be very high at times in the canyon, which leads to trampling of vegetation. Accompanying litter and discarded materials contribute to trash build up in the canyon. Campfires have potential for burning sections of the canyon if they are not properly put out, but due to the remoteness of this area there is little patrol. There is also a border fence that requires occasional maintenance to keep out Mexican cattle. There is potential for road construction, due to the close proximity of the border, and the desire for greater border patrol access.

Sycamore Canyon-Pajarito Mountains IBA - zoomed out

Sycamore Canyon-Pajarito Mountains IBA – zoomed out

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