November-December 2016
By Troy Corman
The last two months of the year in Arizona can be an exciting time. November and early December is when you have the best chance to encounter rarer migrant waterbirds such as loons, grebes, swans, sea ducks, and gulls. Then during the last half of December, even more birders head to the field as they participate in Christmas Bird Counts, providing a new surge of unexpected discoveries.
Most of the rarer waterfowl were noted in December which included a BLACK SCOTER in the Bill Williams River arm of Lake Havasu, La Paz & Mohave Cos., and a push of LONG-TAILED DUCKS noted in three counties, including Navajo Co. where there are precious few records. Maricopa Co. gained a few great records, including its fourth and fifth BARROW’S GOLDENEYES at Lake Pleasant and two juvenile TRUMPETER SWANS in southwest Phoenix—and later near Buckeye. The only RED-NECKED GREBE noted during the period was also at Lake Pleasant, Maricopa Co., and Yavapai Co. added one of few records for RED-THROATED LOON near Sedona. Of the eight species of gull reported, the most exceptional ones were found in December—a BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE at Lake Havasu, Mohave Co., a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL in Glendale, Maricopa Co., and a HEERMANN’S GULL in Ajo, Pima Co.  
Black-legged Kittiwake
24 December 2016 – Lake Havasu, Mohave Co.
Photo/David Vander Pluym
Some rare species regularly push northward from Mexico in small numbers during this period. Two of the most well-known are RUDDY GROUND-DOVE and RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN. It was a good season for the robin. Nine individuals were discovered in six counties, with the most northern near Meteor Crater, Coconino Co. Less frequently occurring species in this category included a STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE in Portal, Cochise Co., a GROOVE-BILLED ANI in Chandler, Maricopa Co., and two GREEN KINGFISHERS at Patagonia Lake, Santa Cruz Co.—with another on the San Pedro River near Hereford, Cochise Co. Possibly related to this group was the surprising discovery of a THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD in Flagstaff in November, a first Coconino Co. record.
Groove-billed Ani
18 November 2016 – Veterans Oasis Park, Chandler, Maricopa Co.
Photo/Bernie Howe
Of course, late lingering and vagrant warblers are always prized finds. The impressive 25 species of warblers reported during these two months were highlighted by a BAY-BREASTED near Yuma, Yuma Co., a MAGNOLIA in Flagstaff, Coconino Co., and a BLACK-THROATED GREEN near Wickenburg, Maricopa Co. It was an exceptional season for LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH with an astonishing six reported, including only the second in Maricopa Co. The most unusual vireo was a WHITE-EYED north of Rio Rico, Santa Cruz Co. With few documented records in Arizona, another highlight was a probable ̎SOOTY ̎FOX SPARROW in Glendale, Maricopa Co. 
Louisiana Waterthrush
13 December 2016 – San Pedro Riparian NCA, Cochise Co.
Photo/Dennis Widman
For more details about these and other noteworthy photo-documented observations, please visit:
18-19 February 2017
En route from the high country of southwest Utah to the edge of Lake Mead in Nevada, the Virgin River cuts a brief but prominent course through the far northwestern corner of Arizona. Here, in northernmost Mohave County, few field ornithologists visit and those that do rarely venture far from the arterial roads and small towns dotting I-15, and seldom in winter. Unsurprisingly, the Virgin River Valley and nearby Virgin Mountains present many exciting opportunities for exploration and discovery. Our expedition will seek to increase our knowledge of the wintering birds of this region.
The Virgin River runs some 25 miles in Arizona and ranges from over 2300 ft. near the Utah border to about 1600 ft. near the town of Mesquite, Nevada. The vast majority of the Virgin Valley is Mohave Desertscrub and small-scale agriculture, with the exception of the river corridor which contains native and non-native riparian vegetation. Climbing out of the valley into the Virgin Mountains, the vegetation transitions to chaparral, woodland, and in the highest reaches, isolated islands of conifer forest.
The high-elevation conifer forests of the Virgin Mountains, particularly Black Rock Mountain, have only recently been found to host Steller’s Jay and Pygmy Nuthatch, with records coming primarily from spring and summer observations. More observation is needed in this area during the winter months to further document the winter birds of these forests. In the Valley below, riparian vegetation in places such as Beaver Dam Wash and Mormon Well present opportunities for many interesting birds, including vagrants (old record of Snow Bunting) and irregular/rare winter residents. Please contact the expedition leaders to register. Leaders: David Vander Pluym and Felipe Guerrero at
By Donnie Dann
According to The State of North America’s Birds report by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (2016), “one-third of all North American bird species are in urgent need of conservation action.” The same report estimates that some species have lost 70% of their continental populations since 1970. Aside from habitat loss, collisions with windows are the second greatest source of human-caused bird mortality; feral and free-roaming cats are the worst offenders.

The American Bird Conservancy is the first organization to promote glass collision awareness on a nationwide scale. After six years of research and testing, their Glass Collisions Program has identified products for existing and new windows that will significantly reduce bird collisions at residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

Here are some products suitable for homes and recognized to be effective. Costs range from $3-36 per 24 in. by 32 in. window. Products that have been tested by the American Bird Conservancy are marked with a (T):
By Walter Thurber
The American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) and the Cooper Ornithological Society (COS), two of the oldest and most influential professional ornithological societies in the world, have merged to form the American Ornithological Society (AOS). The AOU, founded in 1883, grew to be the largest ornithological society in the Western Hemisphere. The COS was established just 10 years later. The merger was effective on 11 October 2016 and announced in a news release last month.
The mission of the new AOS is “to advance the scientific understanding of birds and disseminate ornithological knowledge, 
enrich ornithology as a profession and mentor young professionals, and promote a rigorous scientific basis for the conservation of birds.” AOS publishes two international journals—The Auk: Ornithological Advances and The Condor: Ornithological Applications—as well as the book series Studies in Avian Biology. AOS also sponsors Birds of North America in partnership with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
Under the leadership of executive director Melinda Pruett-Jones, the AOS is based at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The first meeting of the AOS will be held 31 July – 5 August 2017 at Michigan State University. For more information, visit:
By Kurt Licence
Thank you, former members, for all your contributions to Arizona Field Ornithologists, whether it was through attending the annual meeting or joining us on one of our expeditions. Without the efforts and support of members like you, AZFO would not be able to continue and expand our increasingly popular website and many activities.
Please take this opportunity to renew your AZFO membership and continue supporting our mission to increase the knowledge of the identification, status, and distribution of Arizona’s birdlife. Membership dues will remain at $15/Student, $25/Regular, $35/Family or Organization and $500/Lifetime. The renewal form can be easily completed online, or by printing and filling out the membership form. Send the form with a check to our treasurer, Matt VanWallene; his address is on the membership form. We are a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, which means that all payments to AZFO are tax-deductible.
We continue to provide members with AZFO News, field expeditions, techniques workshops, and networking opportunities. Additionally, your valuable contributions have helped fund 10 Gale Monson Research Grants over the past four years. These grants range up to $1,000 each and fund important research on the status, distribution, identification, or other aspects of Arizona birdlife. Contributions also support AZFO Youth Scholarships, providing talented young ornithologists more opportunities to learn about Arizona’s birds.
If you are a lifetime member or have already renewed for 2017, thank you for your important contribution to Arizona Field Ornithologists. Your support has made AZFO the organization it is today.
21 Jan 2017
Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Survey
Contact: Troy Corman
21 Jan 2017
Santa Cruz Flats Raptor Count
Contact: Doug Jenness
18-19 Feb 2017
Virgin Valley and Mountains Expedition
Contact: Felipe Guerrero
     Kurt Radamaker
     Cave Creek AZ
Vice President
     Jennifer MacFarland
     Tucson AZ
Membership Secretary
     Kurt Licence
     Phoenix AZ
Recording Secretary
     Carol Beardmore
     Phoenix AZ
     Matt VanWallene
     Chandler AZ
Board Members
     Walt Anderson    
     Prescott AZ
     Andy Bridges
     Petrified Forest Natl Park AZ
     Walter Thurber
     Scottsdale AZ
Arizona Birds
     Doug Jenness, Interim Editor
     Catalina AZ
     Sabine Deviche, Design
     Liège BE
     Walter Thurber, Editor
     Scottsdale AZ
     Andy Bridges, Design
     Petrified Forest Natl Park AZ
Field Expeditions
     Felipe Guerrero, Chair
     Prescott AZ
Photo Documentation
     Lauren Harter, Co-Editor
     Lake Havasu City AZ
     David Vander Pluym, Co-Editor
     Lake Havasu City AZ
     Kurt Radamaker, Developer
     Cave Creek AZ
     Edwin Juarez, Support
     Phoenix AZ
Copyright © 2017 Arizona Field Ornithologists. All rights reserved.

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