Birds of Tres Rios Wetlands (AZ) (199 species)
  Click here to see a list of species. Click on species name to see image
 

    All species observed and photographed are in the Tres Rios wetlands or in the immediately surrounding areas from Baseline Rd (southern boundary) to Lower Buckeye Rd (Northern boundary); from 77th  Avenue  (Eastern boundary) to 115th Avenue (Western boundary).  I have currently photographed 190 species and observed (by sight or sound) another 9 species.  The linked photographs come only from the Tres Rios area and therefore many photographs are at least documentation photos.  A photograph is only attached if an identification can be reasonably confirmed, but see notes on some species.  A PDF spreadsheet is attached at the end of the species list that gives a seasonal record.  My survey took place between December 2010 and present.   Any suggestions on taxonomic assignment are welcomed and appreciated. I may be contacted at:  robert.bowker@gcmail.maricopa.edu
    There were 3 reasons for doing this survey of the Tres Rios Wetlands.  1) I wanted to improve my knowledge of local birds and Tres Rios is a convenient site from where I live.  2) I wanted to do not just a one-time seasonal bird count, but a weekly (at least closer to a week between counts) survey of the birds that will give a more complete picture of their seasonal activity.  3) At some point in the future, this survey may be of some use to determine year to year changes in the Tres Rios avifauna.  It is for sure that the number of birds in my survey is a gross underestimate of the birds that come through Tres Rios (eBIRD has 224 which is also low), but it is at least a starting/reference point for other birders, past, present and future.
    A survey of this sort has significant limitations:  1) It does not give densities, only presence or absence; 2) it is unlikely to detect many of the night avian fauna; and 3) my inability to search the heavily vegetated areas along the Salt River misses several species.
    The survey does also have benefits:  1) It does verify photographically that these birds are present at Tres Rios; 2) The attached PDF file of bird activity for 2011-2013 will tell a visitor how likely they are to encounter the species of bird and in what season; and 3) eventually I will put together a probability map allowing visitors to look in certain areas to increase their success.

                            Species richness by month
            JAN    FEB    MAR    APR    MAY    JUN    JUL    AUG    SEP    OCT    NOV    DEC   YEAR   OUTINGS   FIELD HRS  AVGSp/Outing  AVGSp/Mo
  2011    13         3         28         20        66        42       49         38        37       74       87       100       135            54               118                  40.9                    46
  2012    95        88        94         99        89        68       67         72        74       78       95       107       160            82               265                  54.8                    86
  2013   104      101     100       109        96        76       72         83        92       85       95       102       169            62               256                  63                       93
  2014     94       96        94       104       104       80       69                                                                   152            30               117                  61.3                    91.9

Bird Activity for 2011-2013* 
* This data set is clearly incomplete for many species, especially those species that are either rare or just hard to detect.  Another year added to this data should resolve many of those issues as well as add species I have not detected yet.  The very low species numbers in 2011 (Jan-Apr) are obviously not because only those few bird species were seen, but because those were the only bird species I photographed and kept records on.  My yearly activity data placed into eBird can be found at this LINK.

SLIDE SHOW FOR TRES RIOS BIRDS-click on

Personal Goals for 2014.  I am going to change my approach to Tres Rios some for this year.  I want to add more total species, approximate numbers for those species, add at least as many species for the month as in 2013, but not average more species per outing.  While I think averaging more species per outing is possible, it is often not a productive way to detect new or rare species.  At least one outing each month will be an all-out effort to tally species, but most of the others will just focus on areas.  My goals are also to make it to 200 species, have at least 170 species for the year (to exceed last year), and have species that have been missed with a photo image captured in an image.  There are still at least 50 species to be detected out there and I hope to cut into that missing number significantly.

What's new for May 2014?  Shawn Miller joined me again and we had a pretty good outing for a mildly windy day.  The highlights for me were the 3 (probably 4) Townsend's Warblers in the last two Cottonwood stands, although all 4 were foraging in Mesquites. I usually see 1 or 2 a year at Tres Rios, but today we had 3+! Shawn spotted (I saw the back side flying away) a very early, but easily recognized Blue Grossbeak, and on the way out there were 5 perched Chipping Sparrows that would have been challenging to diagnose without Shawn's spotting scope.  We also saw parts of 3 flycatchers, likely empids, but not enough to guess species.  It was a solid first of May outing and only to get more productive with each visit. My second outing seemed at the start to be unproductive; it was windy and partly overcast with a front passing to the north.  However, it turned into an 8 (Yellow-rumped, Townsend's, Wilson's, Lucy's, Orange-Crowned, Yellow, Common Yellow-Throat, and Yellow-breasted Chats) warbler day!  It could easily have been 10 species.  I also had another calling Blue Grossbeak, Black-headed Grossbeak, Warbling Vireos, Lesser Goldfinch, Phainopeplas, Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, Green-tailed Towhee, and Bullock's Oriole.  Throw in a FOY Western Wood Pewee, then Dusky and Western Flycatchers, it was a solid day for the small birds.  Ducks were almost absent with a tally of only 4 species.  The last 3 outings were also very productive.  I picked up Western Tanagers, a first for Tres Rios Vaux Swift, MacGillivray's Warbler, and a female American Redstart.  The last outing was very reminiscent of summer birding where the conditions were good, but there just was not much active.

What's new for June 2014?  June is going to be a slow month, but not without some interesting finds.  My first Curved-billed Thrasher showed up this year, a surprisingly unusual bird for Tres Rios, but the biggest surprise was an Indigo Bunting, a realization I made after the fact because of how strikingly blue it was with any brown or bars on its wings.  I had no chance for a photo and this is the second Indigo I have seen here. Other more mundane birds were Yellow Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats (I actually saw one instead of just hearing it), and a female Lazuli Bunting. The second outing was more diverse than the first.  My key sightings were: 3 Lucy's Warblers, 3 Yellow-breasted Chats, 1 Western Wood Pewee, 1 Western Flycatcher (Pacific Slope), 1 Summer Tanager, 3 Lesser Nighthawks, 2 Great Horned Owls, 1 Sora, 4 Redheads in two pairs (really quite out of season for these guys), 1 Inca Dove, and 2 Ground Doves. My third outing was quite good even for my lowest species count for the month.  I never thought I would get a second chance at the Yellow-billed Cuckoo I saw, heard, but did not photograph last year.  However, this time he called, flew to a cottonwood 100 feet away and gave me brief glimpses, enough to get a documentation photo.  After this, nothing else was as exciting. I did see a Juvenile Great Horned Owl, 1 male Redhead, a pair of Blue Grossbeaks (They seem rarer this year than in previous years.), almost 2 dozen Lesser Goldfinches, and a half dozen Lucy's Warblers. Outing 4 had no surprises, but it did push me above my best June species total by 4 species.  I finally saw the White Pelicans this month surprisingly difficult for a bird that has been here now for almost two years.  Great Horned Owls seem to be everywhere showing up this month in multiple locations-during the day.  I also had 29 Cattle Egrets in the field SW of Baseline and 91st Ave.
     My half year assessment of Tres Rios is that I am doing reasonably well.  I have observed 149 species, added 5 new photos, and 4 new species to my 198 species total.  I am doing all of this in less time effort than in previous years..  Only the next 6 months will tell if I exceed my 169 species year total for 2013; that is 20 species, most of which will be hard to come by so this will be a challenge.


What's new for July 2014?  My first two outings, while not high on species richness, had good sightings.  I finally added a Bell's Vireo both by sight and call.  Why this species has been so elusive in Tres Rios is anyone's guess, but there is a family breeding in the next to last Cottonwood stand before the last overflow?  I also heard the Yellow-billed Cuckoo again at the PIR bridge.  Lucy's warblers are now abundant and Yellow-breasted Chats seem localized to the last overflow area along the Salt River.  I had a calling Summer Tanager at the East end of the preserve.  The Barn Owl is still hanging out at the bridge, but has moved about two pillars north from its last sighting.  It is highly probable that a Merlin darted from the large Cottonwood near basin 8.  My initial sighting told me it was a falcon and a really poor image suggested it could only be a Merlin, pretty much out of season for Tres Rios. Finally, I observed both a male and female Broad-tailed Hummingbird at the Salt Cedars-Cottonwood stands near the last overflow.  This was my first male for this species.

NonPasserines-105 species
Podicipediformes (Grebes)-3 species

    Pied billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)                                            Earred Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
    Western Grebe (Aechmorphorus occidentalis)
Pelicaniformes (Pelicans, Cormorants, Gannets, and Boobies)-4 species
    Neotropical Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)                          Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
    White Pelican (Pelicanus erythrorhynchus)                                        Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Ciconiiformes (Herons, Egrets, Ibises, Bitterns)-9 species
    Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)                                                     Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
    Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)                                                                 Great Egret (Anaka alba)
    Green Heron (Butorides virescens)                                                      Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
    White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)                                                        American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
    Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis)
Anseriformes (Ducks, Geese, and Swans)-23 species
    Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)                 Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
    Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)                                                             American Widgeon (Anas americana)
    Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)                                                       Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)
    Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)                                                        Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
    Gadwall (Anas strepera)                                                                      Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
    Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)-NO IMAGE                    Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
    Redhead (Aythya americana)                                                               Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
)
    Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)                                                         Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)
    Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)                                          Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
    Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)-NO IMAGE                                               Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
    Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)                                                    Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens)
    Domestic Graylag Geese (Chen sp)
Falconiformes (Hawks, Eagles, Vultures, Falcons, etc)-16 species
    Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)                                                          Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
    Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)                                                      Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
    American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)                                                   Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
    Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperi)                                                     Peregrin Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
    Merlin (Falco columbarius)                                                                 Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus)
    Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)                                                 Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
    Ferruginous HAwk (Buteo regalis)                                                     Harris Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
    Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)                                               Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Strigiformes (Owls)-4 species
    Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)                                                 Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
    Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)                                                Western Screech Owl (Otus kennicottii)-NO IMAGE
Galliformes (Quail, Turkeys, Bobwhite)-3 species
    Gambel's Quail (Callipepla gambelii)                                                 Pea Fowl (Pavo cristatus)
*
    Helmeted Guinea Fowl (Numida meleagris)*
Gruiformes (Coots, Rails, Sora, etc)-4 species

    American Coot (Fulica americana)                                                     Common Gallinule (Gallinula chlorpus)
    Sora (Porzana carolina)                                                                       Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)
Charadriiformes (Shorebirds: Sandpipers, Plovers, Gulls, Terns etc)-17 species
    Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)                                                           American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
    Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)                                       Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)
    Dunlin (Calidris alpina)                                                                       Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularis)
    Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)                          Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)
    Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)                                                  Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)
    Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)                                            Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
    Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)                                                    Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
    Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)                                                   
Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)
    Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 
Columbiformes (Doves and Pigeons)-6 species

    Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)                                                    White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
    Inca Dove (Columbina inca)                                                                 Common Ground Dove (Columbina passerina)
   
Feral Pigeon (Columbina livia)                                                             Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Cuculiformes (Cuckoos and Roadrunners)-2 species
    Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californicus)                                     Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)
Apodiformes (Hummingbirds)-5 species
    Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)
                         Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)                      
    Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna)                                                     Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)-NO IMAGE
    Vaux Swift (Chaetura vauxi)    
Coraciiformes (Kingfishers)-1 species
    Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
Piciformes (Woodpeckers, Sapsuckers, and Flickers)-7 species
    Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis)                                          Ladderbacked Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris)
    Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)                                                      Gilded Flicker (Colaptes chrysoides)
    Red Naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)                                      Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)-NO IMAGE                                
    Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

Caprimulgiformes (Nighthawks, Whip-poor-wills, etc)-1 species
    Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis)
Passeriformes: Divided into Alphabetized Families-94 species
    Alaudidae-Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)-1 species
    Bombycillidae-Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilia cedrorum)-1 species
    Cardinalidae (Cardinals, Buntings, Grosbeaks, etc)-5 species
       Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)                                         Black-headed Grosbreak (Pheuticus melanocephalus)
       Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)-NO IMAGE                                Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena)                                                  
       Blue Grosbeak (Guiraca caerulea)
    Certhiidae (Creepers)-1 species
      Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)
    Corvidae (Crows, Jays, Ravens)-1 species

       Common Raven (Corvus corax)
    Emberizidae (Sparrows, Juncos, and Towhees)-15 species
       Abert's Towhee (Pipilo aberti)                                                           Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus)
       White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)                            Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
       Lincoln Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)                                               Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)
       Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)                                Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)
       Brewer's Sparrow (Spizella breweri)                                                  Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)
       Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
                               Vesper Sparrow (Pooectes gramineus)
      
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)                                             Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
       Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)-NO IMAGE

    Fringillidae (Finches)-3 species
       House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)                                               Lawrence's Goldfinch (Carduelis lawrencei)
       Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria)
    Hirundinidae (Swallows)-6 species
       Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidoteryx serripennis)          Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonata)
       Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)                                 Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
       Cave Swallow (Hirundo fulva)-NO IMAGE                                      Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
    Icteridae (Blackbirds, Grackles, Orioles, Cowbirds, Meadowlarks, etc)-8 species
       Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)            Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
       Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)                                   Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
       Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)                                      Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullocki)
       Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus)                                                     Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
    Laniidae-Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)-1 species
    Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)-3 species
       Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyclottos)                                       Crissal Thrasher (Toxostoma crissale)
       Curved-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)
    Motacillidae-American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)-1 species
    Parulidae (Warblers)-14 species
       Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia)                                                 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)
      
Townsend's Warbler (Dendroica townsendii)                                      Black-throated Gray Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens)
       Chestnut-sided Warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica)                             Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)
       Lucy's Warbler (Vermivora luciae)                                                      Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
       Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)                                                  Wilson's Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla)
       Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)                                              MacGillivray's Warbler (Oporonis tolmiei)
       Hermit Warbler (Dendroica occidentalis)-NO IMAGE                      American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)
    Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)-House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)-1 species
    Ptilogonatidae-Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)-1 species
    Regulidae-Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)-1 species
    Remizidae-Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)-1 species
    Sturnidae-European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)-1 species
    Sylviidae (Gnatcatchers)-2 species
       Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura)                                 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)
    Cardinalidae (old family Thraupidae (Tanagers)-2 species
       Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)                                             Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)
    Troglodytidae (Wrens)-5 species
       Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)                             Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)
       Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)                                                      House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
       Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)-NO IMAGE
    Turdidae (Robins, Bluebirds, Thrushes)-2 species
       American Robin (Turdus migratorius)                                                Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)
    Tyrannidae (Flycatchers, Kingbirds, Phoebes, Pewees)-14 species
       Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricanus)                                                   Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya)
       Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melanocholicus)                                    Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticallis)
       Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)                              Brown-crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus tyrannulus)
       Western Wood Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)                                      Western Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis) **
       Dusky Flycatcher (Empidonax oberholseri)                                        Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii)
       Vermillion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)                                    Gray Flycatcher (Empidonax wrighttii)                                 
        Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi)                                        Cassin's Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans)
    Vireonidae (Vireos)-4 species
       Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)                                                               Hutton's Vireo (Vireo huttoni)                                                            
        Plumbeous Vireo (Vireo plumbeus)                                                     Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii)

         
Habitat views (2011) from west side with currently restricted access to general public
       Habitat 1-Parking lot at 91st Avenue looking W
       Habitat 2-
Parking lot at 91st Avenue looking NW
      
Habitat 3-View of wetlands from outside fenced area at 91st Avenue looking N
      
Habitat 4-First drainage area outside fenced wetlands near 91st Avenue looking W
      
Habitat 5-Salt River drainage about 0.4 mi from 91st Avenue parking area looking SW
      
Habitat 6-Dam area about 0.5 mi from 91st Avenue looking W
      
Habitat 7-Road crossing dam about 0.5 mi from 91st Avenue looking W
      
Habitat 8-Spillway from dam area looking SW
      
Habitat 9-Open field area just W of dam looking W; to the S is the Salt River; to the N are a series of basins
      
Habitat 10-1st Basin past dam looking NW
      
Habitat 11-2nd basin past dam looking W
      
Habitat 12-3rd basin past dam looking W
      
Habitat 13-4th basin past dam looking W
      
Habitat 14-5th basin past dam looking W
      
Habitat 15-6th basin past dam looking NW
      
Habitat 16-7th basin past dam looking NW
       Habitat 17-8th basin past dam looking NW
      
Habitat 18-9th basin past dam looking NW
      
Habitat 19-10th basin past dam looking NW
       Habitat 20-11th basin past dam looking NW
       Habitat 21-12th basin past dam looking NW
      
Habitat 22-Field area near 11th and 12th basins looking SW
       Habitat 23-13th basin past dam looking SW


      *  Yes! These are cheap birds for the list, but they are both in the field guides.
    ** The Western Flycatcher is currently divided into the Cordillean and Pacific-Slope Flycatchers based on calls.  However, these may be two species that will eventually be lumped back together.
   
Acknowledgments.  I have a long list of people to thank for either pointing me to new bird species, helping with identifications, or allowing me access to restricted areas.  These are: Debbie R., Dolores H., Mike D., Jeff R., Les, Tommy D., John S., Mark O., S. Miller, and Mike M.  Thanks go to Google Maps and access to their images.  I apologize for any of you I have forgotten to list.
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