20-22 October 2017
By Chrissy Kondrat-Smith
The 11th annual AZFO state meeting is heading to Cottonwood for 2017! This year’s meeting will be held at the Quality Inn, minutes from historic downtown Cottonwood, on 20-22 October 2017. Cottonwood and the surrounding area have significant birding hotspots such as Dead Horse Ranch State Park and Tavasci Marsh—and let’s not forget the under-explored areas! The meeting will feature mini-expeditions to a handful of hotspots and under-birded locations; presentations about ongoing research on the status, behavior, and distribution of Arizona birds; a chance to put your skills to the test with an audio and visual bird identification contest; and opportunities to learn about how you can become more involved with AZFO. Details about the meeting can be found here:
Call for Papers and Posters: If you are interested in presenting a paper or displaying a poster on the identification, status or distribution of Arizona birds, please check out our Call for Papers and Posters at Papers and posters may range from general surveys and studies to technical reports of original research. Abstracts of papers and posters from past AZFO meetings are available at
By Doug Jenness
Arizona Birds is pleased to announce that it is located on a new website. Beginning in 2017, Arizona Birds incorporated Arizona Birds Online, the AZFO journal, which has been published since 2005. When the journal first appeared, the plan was to publish two to four times a year as discrete issues in PDF form online. This schedule could not be sustained, and articles appeared when they were available. We have now changed the journal's name and established it on its own website with its own design. We have extracted all the previous articles and organized them by year, with an index in an attractive and accessible format. Steps have been taken to standardize the journal's style to conform to the specifications of Scientific Style and Format, the Council of Science Editors Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (8th edition), which is the guideline for most other peer-reviewed scientific journals. More rigorous proofreading by experienced volunteers is also improving the magazine's professional appearance.

Since the new website has been up and running, a new article on Canyon Towhee/Abert's Towhee hybridization has been posted. Other articles in the works for this year are on hummingbird territorial behavior in Arizona, expansion of Bald Eagle nesting, status of Golden Eagles, and current distribution of Bendire's Thrasher. You may want to check out some of the back articles on Neotropic Cormorant expansion, status of Black Vulture, increase of Crested Caracaras, wintering Botteri's Sparrows, Rosy-faced Lovebird colonization, and many others.

If you are interested in contributing an article on some work you've been doing on the distribution, status, identification, geographic variation, migration, population dynamics, or ecological needs of birds in Arizona, send the manuscript to Doug Jenness 
AZFO will once again award grants of up to $1,000 for projects aimed at enhancing our knowledge of the seasonal status, distribution, identification, and other aspects of Arizona birdlife. A total of $2,000 is available annually for the grants. Since 2011, when the Gale Monson Research Grants program was launched, 10 grants totaling $13,980 have been awarded. The program is named for Gale W. Monson (1912-2012), a stellar wildlife biologist specializing in desert bighorn sheep and the birds of Arizona and Sonora.
Grants are awarded for projects based on their scientific merit, level of preparation, and financial need. Anyone can apply to help fund projects ranging from basic surveys that document seasonal status and distribution of birds of a little-known location to support for a university research project. Grant recipients are required to present their findings at our annual AZFO state meeting and are encouraged to prepare a manuscript for AZFO's journal, Arizona Birds. Information about past grant recipients and the application process is available at The application deadline is 1 September 2017. Send applications to Troy Corman (

March-April 2017

By Tyler Loomis

March and April are two of the best months for birding in Arizona, with many migrant birds returning from their warm winter getaways. This time of the year is great for finding vagrant species, as some get lost during their migration back to their breeding grounds. Things to look for during these months are interesting waterbirds, early arrival dates for our migrant species, and neotropical migrants gone astray.

The northern portion of the state has had a fairly nice spring in terms of vagrants. Mormon Lake in Coconino County hosted 21 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS and two SNOWY PLOVERS; both species have very few records in this county. Also in Coconino County, a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was discovered in downtown Flagstaff, representing the second county record in the eBird database. In Navajo County, a VERMILION FLYCATCHER appeared at White Mountain Lake. Yavapai County hosted its first recorded BARROW’S GOLDENEYE at Willow Lake in Prescott. Another interesting record to come from Yavapai County was the discovery of four CASSIN’S SPARROWS singing along Sycamore Canyon Road, representing the second spring record for this species in the northern half of Arizona.

Barrow's Goldeneye
6 March 2017 – Willow Lake, Yavapai Co.
Photo/Bryan Patrick

The central region of the state had some interesting sightings. Some of the more notable observations were a rare SCALED QUAIL found northwest of Oracle in Pinal County, a new species for the county according to eBird. Three male RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS at an agricultural pond south of Gilbert represented one of few records in Pinal County. Maricopa County hosted a number of rare water-related birds, such as WHIMBREL and ROSEATE SPOONBILL in the Palo Verde area west of Phoenix, as well as a LEAST TERN and up to six SANDERLINGS at the Glendale Recharge Ponds.

In southern Arizona, the vagrant of the year in Arizona may have already been found—the state’s second WHITE WAGTAIL at the Ajo Sewage Ponds in Pima County. In Yuma County, a few eBird county firsts were discovered during the period, including BLACK VULTURE along the international border and an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER in the farmlands outside of Yuma. If the plover is accepted by the Arizona Bird Committee, this would be the first record for Yuma County. In Cochise County, an AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER was discovered at Barfoot Park in the Chiricahua Mountains, possibly the first confirmed report of this species anywhere south of the Mogollon Rim.

White Wagtail
31 March 2017 – Ajo Sewage Ponds, Pima Co.
Photo/Chris McCreedy
American Golden-Plover
10 April 2017 – Yuma, Yuma Co.
Photo/Henry Detwiler

21 January 2017
By Troy Corman

The 12th annual Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Survey was conducted this past January by a near record 87 surveyors. Over 70,000 individual waterbirds of 61 species were counted at urban lakes, ponds, and canals in the 26 cities and towns which comprise the greater Phoenix area. While these results were below those of last year, the individual bird total was the third highest on record. Although the findings of the past two years were lower than the peak in 2015, there still has been a steady increase in the number of birds counted over time (see graph 1).
Graph 1.  Annual Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Survey results, 2007 through 2017.
As is typical, the most abundant species were the over 24,000 American Wigeon, the highest total ever. Interestingly, the second consistently most abundant species, American Coot, continues its overall decline and was at its lowest level since 2011 (see graph 2). Exceptional winter rarities included a continuing LONG-TAILED DUCK and SOLITARY SANDPIPER in Glendale, both first count records. A record high of 10 Cackling Geese were picked out of the masses of over 5,800 Canada Geese (also a new high). The Neotropic Cormorant population continues to increase, with 3,534 individuals compared to only 585 Double-crested Cormorants. So the former outnumbered the latter at a six to one ratio. A record high of 153 Eared Grebe was apparently due to a fallout of 80 at a lake in Goodyear (related to wind/rainstorm the night before?). For the first time in several years, we missed Brown Pelican, as the “resident” individuals that have been at Tempe Town Lake for the past three or more years departed a week or so before the count!
Graph 2. Comparison of American Wigeon and American Coot individuals observed during annual Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Surveys, 2007 through 2017.
I want to thank the dedicated veteran and new surveyors for another successful count. With its cold temperatures and strong winds, count day had the worst survey conditions we ever endured, but everyone braved it like champs!  I look forward to what next January’s count reveals.
For more information about this annual winter survey and past results, please visit:

 13 May 2017
Global Big Day in Arizona
Coordinator: Doug Jenness
27-28 May 2017
Elegant Trogon Surveys,
Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains
Contact: Jennie MacFarland
3-4 June 2017
Elegant Trogon Surveys,
Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains
Contact: Jennie MacFarland
10-11 June 2017
Sycamore Creek Expedition
Santa Maria Mountains
Leader: Felipe Guerrero
17 June 2017
Agua Fria River – Humboldt Expedition
Leaders: Troy Corman and Chrissy Kondrat-Smith


14-16 July 2017
Mazatzal Mountains Expedition
Leader: Felipe Guerrero
20-22 October 2017
AZFO Annual Meeting, Cottonwood
(see website for details)
     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
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Copyright © 2017 Arizona Field Ornithologists. All rights reserved.

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