BIRDING IN GLOBE AND THE PINAL MOUNTAINS

Globe’s scenic Pinal Mountains form the most northern ‘sky island’ range in Arizona – and also the closest, for bird-loving visitors arriving from Mesa and East Valley cities. Watch for Chihuahuan Ravens during winter in the foothills and circling above Russell Gulch; then Fox Sparrow and Crissal Thrasher on the slopes above the paved road - and Yellow-eyed Juncos once you ascend from chaparral to Ponderosa Pine forests. Wintertime notables can include Olive Warbler and Red Crossbill.


Drivers from Mesa and East Valley cities can reach the mountaintop in less than 2.5 hours; enjoying a scenic 12 miles of well-graded dirt roads maintained by the US Forest Service, once you turn from pavement onto Forest Road 651 -- passing several different campsites (yes, with Forest Service primitive toilets) enroute; hiking trails -- and ending at prominent radio towers at Pinal Peak. Located within the Tonto National Forest, the Pinal Recreation Area includes 45,760 acres.

DIRECTIONS:

To get to the Pinal Recreation Area, you must first get to Globe, Arizona along US 60/70 in Gila County east of Phoenix. Just west of the old downtown the highway is heading to the south-southeast (SSE) and bends sharply to east-northeast to cross over Pinal Creek; turn right (SSE) at Hill St. immediately on the east side of the bridge. If coming from the east, this will be a left turn just before crossing the bridge. At the stop sign in 0.2 mile turn right, then almost immediately left again to cross over the railroad tracks and to the south side of Pinal Creek; there should be signs directing you to the recreation area. In another 0.9 mile turn right on Sixshooter Road, just past a small bridge. In another 1.8 miles, turn right at a stop sign to head up Kellner Canyon. Once on Tonto National Forest, you can pull over at any wide spot and begin birding almost anywhere. One productive spot is Kellner Campground.  Below are some of the more common birds that are regularly seen in this area.

Accipiter cooperii

Length: 14-19"
Wing-span: 27-36"
Diet: Lizards, Rodents or other small animals


The Cooper's Hawk  is a medium-sized raptor closely related to sharp-shinned hawks and northern goshawks.  Adult birds have short, broad wings and long tails for navigating through woodlands and thickets.  The back is bluish-gray on adult males and more brownish-gray on adult females.  The large, square-shaped head has a dark cap and lighter nape (back of the head).  

Cooper's Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis

Length: 22"
Wing-span: 56"
Diet: Small Rodents, Snakes


The red-tail is one of the the largest hawks, usually weighing between two and four pounds. As with most raptors, the female is nearly a third larger than the male and may have a wing span of 56 inches. This species shows a great deal of individual variation in plumage.

Red Tailed Hawk

Callipepla gambelii


Length: 10"
Wing-span: 14"
Diet: Seeds, leaves, insects

 

This quail is plump, short-tailed, and has grayish plumage. Both adult males and females have the prominenet tear-drop shaped head plume or double plume. Males give a repeated nasal pup waay pop with a short clipped final note call.

Gamble's Quail

Amphizspiza bilineata

Length: 19"
Wing-span: 49"
Diet:  Insects, Fish, Earthworms, Grain, Rodents, and Refuse
 

The head, neck and underparts are white; the relatively short bill is yellow with a dark ring; the back and wings are silver gray; and the legs are yellow. The eyes are yellow with red rims. This gull takes three years to reach its breeding plumage; its appearance changes with each fall moult.

Ring-Billed Gull

Streptopelia decaocto

Length: 12"
Wing-span: 14"
Diet: Seeds and Cereal Grains

 

Their color ranges from a light brown to a gray-buff. There are white patches on the tail, and there is a thin band of black crescent on the back of the neck, which looks like a collar, giving it its name.

Eurasian Collard Dove

Zenaida asiatica

Length: 12"
Wing-span: 19"
Diet: Seeds, Fruit, Insects

White-winged doves are grayish-brown with a white wing-patch visible as a narrow stripe along the lower edge of a folded wing. In flight, the white appears as a stripe on the upper side of the wing. The underside of the tail is white-tipped below a black stripe.

White-Winged Dove

Zenaida macroura

Length: 10-13"
Wing-span: 14"
Diet: Insects and spiders

Mourning doves are light grey and brown and generally muted in color. Males and females are similar in appearance. The species is generally monogamous, with two squabs (young) per brood. Both parents incubate and care for the young. Mourning doves eat almost exclusively seeds, but the young are fed crop milk by their parents.

Morning Dove

Calypte anna

 


Length: 3.9"
Wing-span: 4.7"
Diet: Seeds, Nectar from various flowers


Anna's hummingbirds are now the most commonly seen hummingbird in gardens and at backyard feeders in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Prior to the 1960's they were mostly a temporary resident during the winter months - the remainder of the year their permanent home was coastal Southern California. The popularity of feeders no doubt has played a role in this population shift.  Tiny among birds, Anna’s are medium-sized and stocky for a hummingbird. They have a straight, shortish bill and a fairly broad tail. When perched, the tail extends beyond the wingtips.

Anna's Hummingbird

Selasphorus platycercus

Length: 4"
Wing-span: 5.2"
Diet: Mostly Nectar and Insects

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, though tiny, are medium-sized for a North American hummingbird. They have a slender body, a big head, and a long straight bill. Its tail is relatively long for a hummingbird, extending beyond the wingtips when perched.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Melanerpes formicivorusz
 

Length: 7.5"
Wing-span: 13.8"
Diet: Acorns and other Nuts and Seeds


Acorn Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers with straight, spike-like bills and stiff, wedge-shaped tails used for support as the birds cling to tree trunks.  These striking birds are mostly black above with a red cap, creamy white face, and black patch around the bill. In flight, they show three patches of white: one in each wing and one on the rump. Females have less red on the crown than males.

Acorn Woodpecker

Dryobates villosus

Length: 7.1"
Wing-span: 14.2"
Diet: Beetles, Spiders, Moth Larvae, and Ants, as well as Fruits, Seeds, and Nut

The hairy woodpecker is named for the long, hair-like white feathers on its back. The hairy looks like a super-sized version of a downy woodpecker, but the best way to tell these two similar species apart is to compare the length of the bill to the length (front-to-back) of the head. The hairy’s bill is always longer than the width of its head, and the downy’s bill is always shorter than the length of its head. 

Hairy Woodpecker

Colaptes auratus

Length: 11-14"
Wing-span: 17-21"
Diet: Insects, Seeds, Nuts 

 

Flickers are substantial woodpeckers with strong chisel-beaks which they use to excavate nest cavities and to extract insect prey. Among their most important prey are ants, especially carpenter ants. Carpenter Ants (Camponotas sp.) are large and frequently form large colonies in rotting tree trunks/logs.

Northern Flicker

Colaptes chrysoides

Length: 11"
Wing-span: 18.9"
Diet: Insects, fruits, seeds

 

The gilded flicker most frequently builds its nest hole in a majestic saguaro cactus, excavating a nest hole nearer the top than the ground. The cactus defends itself against water loss into the cavity of the nesting hole by secreting sap that hardens into a waterproof structure that is known as a saguaro boot.

Gilded Flicker

Contopus sordidulus

Length: 5.5"
Wing-span: 10.2"
Diet: Mostly Flying Insects


Some characteristics to notice: There is no eye ring. Wing bars are present, but faint. The lower mandible of the bill is light/orange color. The head, chest and belly are almost uniform pale gray. The bird is small, about the size of a house finch. But notice the slender bill adapted for eating soft-bodied insects.

Western Wood Pewee

Contopus pertinax

Length: 8"
Wing-span: 13"
Diet: Flying Insects

In mountain forests of Arizona (and locally in western New Mexico), this chunky flycatcher is fairly common in summer. It is often seen perched on a dead twig high in a pine, watching for flying insects. In color and markings, the Greater Pewee is as plain as a bird can be; but it has a beautifully clear, whistled song, ho-say, ma-re-ah, giving rise to its Mexican nickname of "Jose Maria."1

Greater Pewee

Empidonax occidentalis

Length: 5.75"
Wing-span: 11" 
Diet: Insects, Seeds and Berries

 

Small flycatcher with olive-brown upper-parts, yellow throat and belly separated by olive-gray breast, elongated white eye-ring, and pale wing-bars. Black bill is long and wide, and lower mandible is bright yellow. Weak fluttering flight with shallow wing beats.

Cordilleran Flycatcher

Sayornis saya

Length: 7.5"
Wing-span: 13"
Diet: Insects

This slender, long-tailed flycatcher appears to have a large head for a bird of its size. They are a pale brownish color on their back with a cinnamon belly, a blackish tail and a gray breast. Their call is a low, plaintive, whistled pdeer or tueee. Their song is a series of relatively low, whistled phrases pidiweew and pidireep.

Say's Phoebe

Pyrocephalus rubinus

Length: 6"
Wing-span: 9.5"

Diet: Insects

 

One of the most striking birds inhabiting riparian zones in the Sonoran Desert is the Vermillion Flycatcher. They perch usually on a branch that is a few meters off the ground that gives a good view of the area. From this vantage point the bird sallies out to capture flying insects on the wing then abruptly returns to the perch.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Myiarchus tuberculifer

Length: 5.75"
Wing-span: 9.5"
Diet: Insects

 

The dusky-capped flycatcher is best separated from other confusingly similar Myiarchus species by its smaller size, blackish head, and its call, a sorrowful, descending, whistled peeur or wheeeeeu.  This bird reaches its northern limits in Arizona and New Mexico, where it is common in summer in canyons and pine-oak forest. There are places in the lower canyons of Arizona where it can be found side by side with two close relatives in the crested flycatcher group, the Ash-throated and Brown-crested flycatchers.

Dusky-Capped Flycatcher

Myiarchus cinerascens

 

Length: 8.5"
Wing-span: 11.8"
Diet: Insects

 

Males and females are similar in plumage.  Overall a dull grayish/brown color, with a slight yellow wash on the lower belly.  Wings and tail have a hint of Rufous, particularly noticeable in flight.  At times appears to have a slight crest, but not always visible.  Usually seen in Scrub-oak, pinyon-juniper, into transition zone where Ponderosa Pines and oaks come together.

Ash-Throated Flycatcher

Tyrannus verticalis

Length: 8"
Wing-span: 15.5"
Diet:  Insects and Berries

 

Adults are grey-olive on the upper-parts with a grey head and a dark line through the eyes; the underparts are light becoming light orange-yellow on the lower breast and belly. They have a long black tail with white outer feathers. Western kingbirds also have a reddish crown that they only display during courtship and confrontations with other species.

Western Kingbird

Aeronautes saxatalis

Length: 4.75"
Wing-span: 7.5"
Diet: Insects

The Bell's Vireo has short, rounded wings, which makes the tail look long. The bill is short, straight, and slightly compressed at the base. Male and female Bell’s vireos are the same in plumage color throughout the year. This plumage color varies from generally drab gray to green above, white to yellow below, with an unstreaked breast.  The Bell’s vireo has a faint white eye ring. There are two pale wing bars, with the lower bar more prominent. The plumage of juveniles resembles that of adults in worn summer plumage—essentially white and gray, but whiter below with more distinct wing bars.

Bells' Vireo