Birding along the Catalina Highway part 2.

Blogpost written by PCMN Kathy McLin

Just before turning onto the Catalina Highway from Mt. Bigelow we pulled the car to a halt to observe and photograph a gorgeous Red-tailed Hawk…….An unexpected surprise.

Our plan was to find a lunch spot and as we traveled down the Highway a picnic and camp ground across from Middle Bear proved to be a treasure of forest life. In this pine/ oak woodland we encountered:

Mexican Jays

Cliff Chipmunks

Hepatic Tanagers

Arizona Woodpeckers

Acorn Woodpeckers

House Wrens

Spotted Towhees

Black-throated Grey Warbler


Lesser Goldfinches

This area was criss crossed by a sandy wash, oaks and alligator pines, and low shrubs. A cacophony of noise from Mexican Jays and Acorn Woodpeckers greeted us and provided excellent photographic opportunities. A cliff chipmunk took a dust bath in the wash while a Hepatic Tanager hopped from one shrub to another. His yellow feathered mate flew past but stayed hidden.

After lunching a House Wren scurried past and landed on the picnic bench along with a Spotted Towhee. And, in a shrub packed area by where we parked a Black-throated Grey Warbler was dining on bugs.

A big surprise was the Female Arizona Woodpecker. A true one of a kind browb-backed, speckled- breasted bird with a white eye patch. She effortlessly climbed the bare pine much like a nuthatch.

Fall is the perfect time to catch sight of birds as they prepare for colder weather. Consider a trip up the Catalina Highway, and maybe I’ll see you there!

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