Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Yellow-eyed Junco on Mt. Lemmon

Although we live less than fifteen miles from the road going up into the Santa Catalina Mountains, it's been a very long time since I've been to Mt. Lemmon. Yesterday morning, M. drove me up there. Before going on a relatively easy hike (the only level I'm capable of these days), we had lunch at the Iron Door Restaurant at the Ski Basin at an elevation of about 8000 feet. While we were eating on the terrace, this beautiful bird came begging. I've identified it as a Yellow-eyed Junco*. This was a first sighting for me. (The photos were taken with a point-and-shoot camera that I had in my pocket. Click on each photo to enlarge. )

A little later, he was joined by a second one.

*The Yellow-eyed Junco can be distinguished from the gray-headed form of the Dark-eyed Junco by its bright yellow-orange eye and black lores and the colour of its bill (dark upper mandible and pale lower mandible). According to the field guides and web sites I've looked at, the Yellow-eyed Junco is resident in southeast Arizona, the extreme southwest of New Mexico, and down through Mexico to Guatemala. Mt. Lemmon is much farther west. Any local birders know whether this junco is common to the Santa Catalinas? 

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Rain said...

I didn't make it up to Mt. Lemmon my last trip and am enjoying your photos as well as the memories it brings back to me. Have you ever taken the back road off the top that takes you down the north slope to eventually Oracle? We did that a couple of years ago. It seemed to take forever to get down but pretty drive.

robin andrea said...

Love that yellow-eyed junco. What a beautiful bird. How wonderful that you got to see such a beauty.

chiefbiscuit said...

Your point and click did very well - they look like house sparrows have gone a little rusty!

Pam in Tucson said...

rain - We've never done the back road down Mt. Lemmon. I imagine it takes a pretty rugged vehicle, and we no longer have one. We did some exploring around the Oracle area when our kids were young - they went to camp in Peppersauce Canyon.

ra - I was very excited when they came hopping onto the terrace. They must habituate the place - they were definitely begging.

cb - Nice description!

Texas Travelers said...

We have birded in SE Arizona several times and, Yes the Yellow-eyed Junco is common in the Santa Catalina mountains. Usually seen in open conifer areas. They are very striking birds with that yellow eye.

Nice photo. I came over from IATB 76.

Come visit,
Troy and Martha