Birding along Mt. Bigelow

Written by PCMN Kathy McLin, Cohort 3

Fall is definitely in the air and birds are beginning their migrations to warmer climes. If you have even a passing interest in birds, then a trip along the Catalina Highway is a must.

My destination with birder friends took us first up Mt. Bigelow at an elevation of 8,552 ft. Tall pines and carpets of ferns tinted with fall color dressed the landscape. About a quarter mile up we parked and listened for the sounds of birds. Within a few feet we spotted three species of nuthatches, Pygmy, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, and the Mountain Chickadee.

Walking further along the road Stellar Jays were flying about and in a well wooded pull off, a bird I’d never seen before flew into the tree next to me, a female Hermit Warbler. Her mate appeared a short distance away with a yellow head so striking in appearance I was dumbfounded! What Luck!

There were Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a mass of wildflowers, paintbrush, parish goldeneye, hairy seed bahia, and more.

On the summit, painted lady butterflies danced atop the parish goldeneyes. And, sitting on a huge rock was a juvenile Turkey Vulture, feathers resplendent in the morning light.

Part 2 to follow as I share our exploration of a lower elevation and it’s delights.

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