This monsoon season was Tucson's 10th wettest on record. From June 15th to September 30th we received 8.62 inches of rain! That's a lot for the desert. The official measurement is taken at the airport only 2 miles from my home. Why is this significant, you ask? Well, all that rain turned my neighborhood birding patch into prime sparrow habitat. Different grasses started growing all over, reaching four feet high in some places. Red, orange, yellow, and purple flowers even popped up.
Farther away from the houses the grasses thin out and give way to cholla cactus and creosote bush.
This is my second fall in this neighborhood. But before this September I had only birded this patch a few times. The only two types of sparrows I had seen were White-crowned Sparrows in winter and Rufous-crowned Sparrows in May. So I was thrilled at the beginning of September to find Rufous-winged Sparrows, a Southeast Arizona specialty. Their accelerated trill seemed to be coming from everywhere!
One evening during the second week of October I found a mixed flock of Chipping and Brewer's Sparrows. I knew I had a chance for a Clay-colored Sparrow since they're usually found with these other Spizella sparrows. I found a cooperative Chipping Sparrow and quickly snapped a photo:
But I didn't give up. And last Sunday morning I was rewarded:
Here are some other cool birds from my patch this fall:
|subadult male Anna's Hummingbird|