1451 miles, 132 different birds, 4 days to treasure for a lifetime

You may wonder where I’ve been for a week; all that new blog activity and then silence. I’ve been out with my kids (2 of them anyway), and I’ll share a little bit about these adventures.

I’ve mentioned my son Ryan and his interest in birding. For the past several years we’ve made some kind of short camping trek to southeastern Arizona, one of the nation’s hot spots for rare birds, especially at certain times of the summer. We left last Friday before 6 am, and headed off into the blazing summer heat to see what we could find. While the temperature was rarely below 100, and sometimes broke 120, we stayed on Ryan’s carefully planned schedule and hit every spot planned, seeing all but three of the “target” birds on his list.

The most important bird on this trip was the rare and elusive Slate Throated Redstart. We made a trip last summer to see it too, but missed out my just a day on the regular sightings. This year we had phenomenal success though, being among the first to see the mother bringing bugs into the nest every few minutes, indicating new babies were being fed! We watched for a few hours before moving on to our next stop.

Mentioning “next stop”, Ryan studies both the region and the recent bird sitings in great detail before we leave on these trips, and has a printed binder with complete plans for each day, broken into 15 minute intervals. We have directions, what we’ll probably see, any fees or costs to enter certain areas… it’s really amazing. I’m working on him to start a new family business around planning these trips; birders come from all over the WORLD to SE Arizona, and most are just driving around asking questions.

“Life birds” are the number of different species you’ve seen in your life, generally counted as “in the USA”. Ryan added 11 to his list on this trip, and I added 9 (I was a little too far behind him on the trail a couple of times!).

We walked dozens of miles in high heat, ate horribly, and only slept a few hours per night… and I’d do it over and over again if I could. An amazing experience. Thank you Ryan!


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