20-22 October 2017
By Chrissy Kondrat-Smith and Lauren Harter
The AZFO state meeting for 2017 is heading over to Cottonwood! Our 11th annual meeting will be held on 20-22 October and based at the Quality Inn, minutes from historic downtown Cottonwood and Clarkdale. The Cottonwood area features a good number of birding hotspots such as Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Tavasci Marsh and Mingus Mountain, not to mention the underexplored areas! The meeting will feature mini-field expeditions to various places on Friday and Sunday. Species plentiful in this area include Bald Eagle, Common Black Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Bell's Vireo and Yellow-breasted Chat.
A special feature of this annual meeting will be a kayak birding expedition led by Doug Von Gausig. This four-hour trip down the Verde River will follow a stretch from the Lower Tapco River Access Point (TapcoRAP) above Clarkdale to the Tuzigoot River Access Point (TuziRAP), a distance of about 3.5 miles through one of the most diverse, pristine stretches of the river. This stretch is home to several pairs of breeding Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Willow Flycatchers. Doug will cover a range of topics including birds, archeology, riparian ecology, water law, and biodiversity.
The Saturday program will include presentations about ongoing research on the status, behavior, and distribution of Arizona birds; a chance to put your skills to the test with audio and visual identification contests; and opportunities to learn about how you can become more involved with AZFO. Thanks to the generous support of the Maricopa Audubon Society, we are also able to offer an advanced eBird workshop given by Ian Davies, eBird Project Coordinator for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Our keynote speaker at the Saturday evening banquet will be Doug Von Gausig, Clarkdale’s advocate for the bird population in Arizona and Mayor of Clarkdale. Join us as he shares his insights on the avifauna of the Verde Valley, especially threatened and endangered species, and how the huge conservation efforts centered on the Verde River have affected avifauna.
The annual meeting will be here before you know it! Don’t hesitate to register for the weekend meeting, the eBird workshop and/or the kayak expedition. A group rate is available at the Quality Inn through the end of August. Further information about the Saturday program, workshop and trips can be found here: More details to come soon!
Presentations – 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 technical reports of original research to general surveys and studies.  Please submit an abstract by 1 September 2017 to Jennie MacFarland at Abstracts of papers and posters from past AZFO meetings are available at
Elections – Board elections will be held at the annual meeting. Two positions are open: Membership Secretary and Board Member. If you or someone you know is interested in serving as an AZFO Officer, Board Member or Committee member in the upcoming year, please contact Chrissy Kondrat-Smith at Our current officers, other board members and committee heads are listed in the left column. To all the past and present board and committee members, THANK YOU for your dedication and service to the Arizona Field Ornithologists!
Youth Scholarships – AZFO is proud to encourage and support young people with an interest in Arizona birds. As part of our goal to involve a younger generation in AZFO’s activities, starting in 2014 we began offering scholarships to students (middle school through college undergraduate) to attend the annual meeting. Since then, the scholarship program has helped and encouraged nine students to attend the meetings, where they have enjoyed opportunities to meet new friends and mentors, see new birds, learn from the science sessions, and get involved with AZFO and other organizations.
Each scholarship includes $150 for transportation, a two-night hotel stay, admission to the banquet, and a one-year membership in AZFO. Following the meeting, recipients will be expected to submit an essay describing their experiences at the meeting, to be posted on the AZFO website. Prior years’ essays can be read at Application materials can be found at h
; students should apply by 20 September 2017. The AZFO scholarship program is generously supported by the Maricopa Audubon Society.
14-16 July 2017
By Felipe Guerrero
The Mazatzal Mountains, located in the Tonto National Forest, rise some 5800 feet from the banks of the Verde River to their highest point on Mazatzal Peak (elev. 7903 ft.). The ridgeline serves as the Yavapai County-Gila County boundary line. Surrounded on three sides by Sonoran desertscrub, the mountains also host considerable stretches of semidesert grassland, vast expanses of chaparral, and various riparian and woodland communities. North-facing slopes and canyon systems contain pockets of montane conifer forest and Madrean evergreen woodland. This rich botanical diversity makes for a correspondingly diverse suite of birds. Although the area is fairly accessible by trail, few birders visit these high elevation communities.
This area holds great promise for discovery in light of shifting and expanding ranges of Madrean species. Birds of interest for this expedition, scheduled for 14-16 July 2017, include many Ponderosa Pine-Gambel Oak/Mixed Conifer Forest dwellers as well as Madrean species. Some examples include Mexican Whip-poor-will, Magnificent Hummingbird, Flammulated Owl, Spotted Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Greater Pewee, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Hutton's Vireo, Mexican Jay, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Western Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, Olive Warbler, Red Crossbill, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Red-faced Warbler.
The expedition will be based at the Peeley Trailhead (elev. 5600 ft.), located at the end of the Slate Creek Divide road (Forest Road 201). The Arizona Trail passes nearby, and the Mazatzal Wilderness lies just to the north and west. A high-clearance vehicle is required for the trip, along with car camping gear. Details are posted on the AZFO website. Please contact the expedition leader to register: Felipe Guerrero,
May-June 2017
By Tyler Loomis
The months of May and June represent the end of spring and the beginning of summer for Arizona’s birds. In terms of birding, May is one of the most birded months of the year, while June has the fewest checklists submitted to the eBird database. One reason for May being one of the most popular months to bird is the Global Big Day (formerly the North American Migration Count), in which birders around the world get out on this one day to try and see as many species as possible. Many AZFO members help coordinate or participate in this important activity to canvass Arizona and collect data from infrequently birded areas, resulting in vagrant birds being found. Vagrant bird species to look for during these months are eastern warblers along with Mexican species that overshot into our fine state.
Many eastern warblers were found all around the state during the period. It has been an incredible year for HOODED WARBLER, with at least seven individuals reported from Cochise, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai and Yuma counties. In Pima County, a very rare CANADA WARBLER was discovered in Finger Rock Canyon just outside of Tucson, representing one of about 10 records for the state. A GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER was discovered at The Shores Recreation Area along the Gila River near Winkelman; the bird was first seen in Gila County but then flew across the river into Pinal County. Warbler species that are more often found in the fall months but were detected this spring were MAGNOLIA WARBLER at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and BLACKPOLL WARBLER at Sweetwater Wetlands—both in Tucson, Pima County.
A few vagrant Mexican species were reported. One interesting sighting was that of a SHORT-TAILED HAWK in the Sierra Anchas, Gila County, representing the northernmost sighting of this species in Arizona. In Santa Cruz County, a GREEN KINGFISHER was spotted at Patagonia, and a STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE at Rio Rico. A sighting of FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW at Arivaca Lake, Pima County, represented one of few in the county in recent years.
The most incredible finds during the period involved species from Asia. A COMMON CRANE was discovered at Mormon Lake in Coconino County; if accepted by the Arizona Bird Committee, this will be the first record for the state. Another potential first record involves a LITTLE BUNTING, found less than a quarter mile from the international border at Slaughter Ranch in Cochise County.
Common Crane
5 May 2017 – Mormon Lake, Coconino Co.
Photo/Dale Clark
Little Bunting
27 May 2017 – Slaughter Ranch, Cochise Co.
Photo/Chris Benesh


By Doug Jenness
Nearly 600 birders were in the field throughout the state on 13 May 2017 for the annual Global Big Day in Arizona. Many of them were volunteers in teams coordinated on a countywide basis by the Arizona Field Ornithologists.  For the second year, the AZFO merged more than a dozen years of experience coordinating volunteers for the North American Migration Count into eBird's Global Big Day. The 291 species reported was 10 short of last year's total. The 14-year high for the count is 303 species reached in 2013 and 2014. Of this year's total, Common Crane (Coconino County) was the only new species for the spring migration count. Orchard Oriole (Apache County) was only the second reported for the state count. Seventeen species were reported in all 15 counties, compared to six species in 2016. They were: Mallard, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, American Kestrel, Western Wood-Pewee, Western Kingbird, Common Raven, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird and Bullock's Oriole. Of the species reported, 50 were observed in only one county. Eleven counties reported at least one of these 50, with Cochise having the most (10) and Yavapai a close second (8).
Species totals for counties were: Cochise (196), Maricopa (179), Yavapai (176), Pima (175), Pinal (167), Santa Cruz (161), Gila (150), Coconino (136), Graham (121), Greenlee (113), Mohave (99), Yuma (96), Apache (84), Navajo (68), and La Paz (67). Several counties added new species to their cumulative lists: Yavapai added Northern Harrier, Downy Woodpecker, and Hooded Warbler; Greenlee added Elf Owl, Hammond's Flycatcher, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak; Pinal added Calliope Hummingbird, Broad-winged Hawk, and Northern Pygmy-Owl; Gila added Long-billed Curlew and Short-tailed Hawk; La Paz added Swainson's Hawk; Apache added Orchard Oriole, and Coconino added Common Crane. La Paz County reported its highest number of Cattle Egrets, an astounding 2,450! Pinal County registered its highest 14-year totals for 19 species. Notable state misses were Dusky Grouse, White-tailed Kite, Gray Jay, and Clark's Nutcracker which, with a small organizational effort, could have been found. Many volunteers reported that the number of birds moving through their areas seemed lower than usual and that numbers may have been higher if the push of birds a few days earlier had continued. To see previous year reports,  see table 1, below, or go to:
This spring migration count helps provide a "snapshot" of the progress and character of spring migration and is also a lot of fun for birders to find as many migrants as they can. Making this survey part of the Global Big Day has offered an opportunity to build on what we had accomplished and make our statewide count part of a broader national, even international, effort. We'll be looking forward to your participation in the Global Big Day in Arizona on 12 May 2018. Let's see if we can break our previous high of 303 species!
Table 1.  Number of species seen by county during Global Big Day events 2004 - 2017.
By Troy Corman
Our latest expedition took us to the Agua Fria River at Humboldt, Yavapai County on 17 June 2017. The trip was unique in several ways, in that it covered only a single morning, it was all on private land, and it was combined with official call-back surveys for Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Willow Flycatcher. At an elevation of approximately 4500 ft., this perennial section of drainage is dominated by towering Fremont cottonwoods, with an understory of arroyo willow and other riparian trees. Soon after sunrise, one team conducted surveys for the flycatchers—finding three territories and a single nest with young, while the second team heard a single cuckoo. In Arizona, very few Willow Flycatchers have been documented nesting at this mid-elevation range.
Willow Flycatcher Feeding Nestlings
17 June 2017 – Agua Fria River at Humboldt, Yavapai Co.
Photo/Troy Corman
A few more participants arrived a little later in the morning, and we all joined forces to inventory a one mile section of the riparian area for all bird species, numbers of each, and any breeding evidence. As a group we identified 47 species, most of which were breeding here. Highlights beyond those previously noted include five species of raptors, with nesting Common Black Hawk and a heard-only Gray Hawk the best finds. Gila and Hairy Woodpeckers both nest here, an odd combination. These two woodpeckers seldom share the same breeding habitat! We detected two singing Indigo Buntings, and late lingering migrants included a Wilson's Warbler and a Western Tanager. The full eBird checklists with some photos can be viewed at
Agua Fria Expedition Participants
17 June 2017 – Agua Fria River at Humboldt, Yavapai Co.
Photo/Felipe Guerrero
One of the property owners, Garry Rogers, joined us for the expedition and he graciously opened his home to us upon completing our survey later in the morning as the temperatures climbed. I want to thank Garry for his wonderful hospitality and conservation efforts on his property, plus the seven other participants from Flagstaff (Anne Pellegrini), Prescott (Susan Drown, Felipe Guerrero, Carl Tomoff), Wittmann (Chrissy Kondrat-Smith), and the Greater Phoenix Area (Carol Beardmore, Jennifer Johnston). 
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 (

 11 July - 17 August 2017

Yellow-billed Cuckoo surveys,
Coronado National Forest
Contact: Jennie MacFarland

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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