Arizona/California 2008 with Dave & Marilyn travel blog

Driving out of Box Canyon headed for Madera Canyon

A snowy uphill hike hunting for life birds

A Yellow-eyed Junco glares back at the camera

No Eared Quetzel, but a great view

Crescent-chested Warbler photo by Olive Niehius

Today was a life-bird quest, and we’ll spare everyone the suspense and admit to a success rate of one out of three. We drove the back roads (and I mean really BACK roads) to Madeira Canyon and the possibility of extreme luck bagging us two lifers on one hike. We started up the Old Baldy Trail about 9:30 in search of the rare (to the US) Crescent-chested Warbler. This one was our success, as after 45 minutes of pressing uphill, we came upon a group of birders who had already located the bird. Sorry that I could not get a picture of this striking little bird, but he was quite busy with being a typical warbler—meaning that we got very short glimpses of this small, hyperactive visitor as he continually changed feeding locations from branch-to-branch and tree-to-tree.

After the warbler and his fellow feeding frenzy species left the trail area, we pressed on uphill to the Josephine Saddle area. There we ate lunch listening for the reported Eared Quetzel. No luck at lunch or afterwards when we hiked on to join the experienced birder who had been reporting the calls over a few weeks time. In addition to around 5 ½ miles of hiking, we did pick up a few new trip birds on our hike including lots of Yellow-eyed Juncos and a couple new woodpeckers.

The third attempted life bird was the Baird’s Sparrow which was reported to be just off the route back to our RV park by birders met on the Warbler/Quetzel quest. While this grassland location did produce a shrike and some meadowlarks in addition to some rather dark sparrows, we had no sighting of anything light enough to be a possible Baird’s.

While one of three may not seem great odds, we were quite pleased with our quick look at the Crescent-chested Warbler. You birders out there look it up in your field guide and then add to the striking markings the fact that we were able to spot a rare visitor in a huge forested tract and then you understand why we are quite satisfied tonight.

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