Birder's Guide

MAR 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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30 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2014 #2 • Baseline–Salome Thrasher Site Many a lifer Le Conte's Thrasher has been ticked at the "Thrasher Site", a nondescript piece of state trust land about 45 miles west of Phoenix. Five species of thrash- er—Sage, Le Conte's, Bendire's, Curve-billed, and Crissal—can be found here in the winter. The saltbrush fats also harbor the re- cently-split Sagebrush Sparrow, common in the winter months, with the occasional wintering canescens, or "Mojave", Bell's Sparrow. Brewer's Sparrow (win- ter), Loggerhead Shrike, Verdin, and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher are also common. Le Conte's, Cris- sal, Bendire's, and Curve-billed thrashers are resident here, but are easiest to fnd from January to March, when they sing from the tops of mesquites. Arriving well before sunrise and waiting near your car along the road for the birds to start singing is the tried-and-true method for fnding Le Conte's. Note that the use of re- cordings is discouraged at this site. Dress warmly in the winter; this area is much colder than Phoenix. From Phoenix, head west on I-10 to AZ- 85 (Exit 112). Take AZ-85 south for 4.1 miles to Baseline Road. Turn right, head- ing west on Baseline Road for 8.4 miles to Salome Highway. Take a sharp left on Salome Highway. Immediately pull off and park along the right side of the road (west side of Salome Highway). Cross an old wire fence, and start looking for thrashers on the west (actually more southwest) side of Salome Highway near the intersection. Almost all thrasher sightings are less than 500 meters from the road. #3 • Sunfower If you fnd yourself in the aptly named "Valley of the Sun" during the scorching hot summer months, a trip to Sunfower is in order. Sunfower is located about 45 miles to the northeast of Phoenix in the Tonto National Forest. Along the scenic drive, the elevation climbs several thou- sand feet as you pass through Sonoran desert, chaparral, and then rocky, juniper- studded hillsides. Sunfower is worth birding any time of year, but is most visited in late spring and early summer, when multiple pairs of nest- ing Common Black and Zone-tailed hawks draw photographers. Sunfower is also one of the most reliable local spots for breeding Gray Vireo. Sunfower refers generally to a small residential neighborhood along Sycamore Creek and several more miles along a Birding at the Baseline–Shalome "Thrasher Site". Photo © Magill Weber Map © Cindy Lippincott 6-Arizona2.indd 30 3/4/14 1:07 PM

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