Late Fall Birding in Embudo Canyon

The tittering of Bushtits caught our attention as the 17 Thursday Birders headed up the trail in Embudo Canyon. The morning was cold and the birds were actively refueling in a large Chamisa bush.

As we turned, a Northern Flicker flew adjacent to the trail towards the mountains. The red feathers under its wings caught the morning light as it glided past.

The bushes seemed alive with the metallic plink of White-crowned Sparrows and the clicking calls of Dark-eyed Juncos. The birds were busying themselves in the midst of the bushes, only occasionally showing their faces. We were hoping to spot a Black-throated Sparrow.

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

Soon we were rewarded. “There’s one straight-ahead,” someone exclaimed. It didn’t stay out long. We kept watching until everyone had gotten looks. Even when it was hiding in the bushes, its black throat and mask and white eye and whisker stripes were striking.

“I’ve got a Rufous-crowned Sparrow,” Sarah and Marge beckoned us. Again patience paid off and the sparrow made several appearances.

“I hear a Cactus Wren,” Rebecca signaled. “Oh, there it is. Does anyone want to look at it in the scope?” It was sitting in a Cholla. It obliged by staying there for awhile, and then flew off, this time landing uncharacteristically in the top of a juniper bush.

Just before we entered the wilderness area, one of the Larry’s spotted a Townsend’s Solitaire in the top of a juniper along the fence line. In the scope we could see the white eye-ring and wing bars.

Once in the wilderness area, Scrub Jays were active on either side of the trail.

“There’s a Red-tailed Hawk circling over the crest,” Roger pointed.

“Good sighting,” replied trip leader Mary Lou.

Crissal Thrasher

Crissal Thrasher

Further along Sandra and Richard spotted a Crissal Thrasher sitting in the dead branches of a Cholla. It was darker and its breast was less streaked than the Curve-billed Thrasher. Several of us were able to see the chestnut undertail coverts.

There was no bird activity in the water that seeps from the springs as the trail enters the canyon, so we headed back.

Just as we reached the parking lot, a Canyon Towhee posed for us on the top of the trailhead sign.

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

We were delighted to have seen 18 species.


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