The Southwest: Arizona, Mexico, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado

Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend near Paige, Arizona

I was able to go out to the Southwest (and Northern Mexico) for 17 days during the latter half of July to do some birding and landscape photography. I began the trip spending six days with Gordon Karre seeing a lot of Southwestern Arizona and at Rancho el Aribabi in Northern Mexico. We spent two days in Madera Canyon, during which we also saw Miller Canyon, Ash Canyon and spent time on Mt. Lemmon with Chris Rohrer. During the trip from Madera Canyon to Miller Canyon we saw a Bobcat (my first ever) cross the road in front of the car. Then, while walking up Miller Canyon in pursuit of a Mexican Spotted Owl, I saw a Mountain Lion walking parallel to us just above us in the canyon and about 70 feet away! When it realized I had spotted it, it nonchalantly loped away. I was definitely very excited to see my first Mountain Lion but would be lying if I did not say I did look behind myself much more frequently during the remainder of the hike.

Gordon and I then sent over to the Chiricahua Mountains to look for some specialty birds, including the Mexican Chickadee which, in the United States, can only be found at high altitude in the Chiracahua Mountains in Arizona and the Animas Mountains in New Mexico. After a very difficult ascension to the very top of the Chiracahua’s, we were able to briefly spot two of these birds, which, becasue of the difficulty of accessing their territory, made them one of the absolute highlights of this trip for me.


Chris, myself, and Gordon at the top of Mt. Lemmon after seeing Olive Warblers


Days 1-6:  The Phoenix Valley area and Southwestern Arizona

Yellow-eyed Junco

Juvenile Yellow-eyed Junco (note the dark iris)

Sonora Mountain Kingsnae
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake
Painted Redstart
Curve-billed Thrasher

Yarrow's Spiny Lizard-2

Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard

Yarrow's Spiny Lizard
Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard

Western Kingbird-2

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Juvenile Verdin
Woodhouse’s TodToad
Stellar's Jay
Stellar’s Jay… bird that I have never been able to photograph adequately until this trip!
Southwestern Fence Lizard
Southwestern Fence Lizard
A Saguaro Cactus with Four Peaks in the background
Rosy-faced Lovebirds-2
Rosy-faced Lovebirds at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Arizona. This bird can only be counted per the American Birding Association in the Phoenix area where they have established a thriving community of approximately 6,000 birds in a hot, dry, arid  environment that resembles their native African habitat
Rosy-faced Lovebirds
More Rosy-faced Lovebirds
Red-faced Warbler
Red-faced Warbler…my new favorite!
Olive Warbler
A juvenile Olive Warbler. Another bird we had to get above 9,000 feet to see.
Mourning Dove
A Mourning warbler nesting in a Saguaro Cactus
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Juvenile Western Red-tailed Hawk
Juvenile Western Red-tailed Hawk. These are so different then those found in the Midwest that it really seemed I was seeing a whole different species. One of my favorite captures of the trip
Great-tailed Grackle-2
Great-tailed Grackle in 110 degree heat
House Finch
House Finch
Great-tailed Grackle
Northern Mockingbird trying to cool off
Horseshoe Bend 16x20-7
Elf Owlet. These are the worlds smallest owl and are only sparrow sized.
Horseshoe Bend 16x20-6
Female Hepatic Tanager
Horseshoe Bend 16x20-5
Red-faced Warbler
Golden Eagle
Second-year Golden Eagle. We had stopped the car to get a better look at what turned out to be Swainson’s Hawk and this eagle flew right by. Sometimes it’s all about the timing.
Horseshoe Bend 16x20-4
Adult Yellow-eyed Junco (note the yellow iris)


Gint Mesquite Bug
Giant Mesquite Bug. Man, was this thin huge, almost two inches long  and needing to file a flight plan when it flew!
Horseshoe Bend 16x20-3
Wild Horse
Gilded Flicker-2
Gilded Flicker
Horseshoe Bend 16x20-2
Mexican Amberwing
Gilded Flicker
Gilded Flicker
Male Widow Skimmer
Male Widow Skimmer
Dusky Roadside Skipper
Dusky Roadside Skipper
Pronghorn. The second fastest land animal in the world after the Cheetah, the Pronghorn is able to run 55 miles per hour for short bursts or half that speed for miles.


Greater Roadrunner drying in the 110 degree weather after a bath
Greater Roadrunner


Cordilleran Flycatcher
Cordilleran Flycatcher
Clark's Spiny Lizard-3
Clark’s Spiny Lizard
Clark's Spiny Lizard-2
Clark’s Spiny Lizard
Clark's Spiny Lizard
Clark’s Spiny Lizard
Checkered White
Checkered White
Burrowing Owl-2
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl
Cactus Wren
Cactus Wren
Broad-billed Hummingbird 2
Broad-billed Hummingbird
Botteri's Sparrow
Botteri’s Sparrow
Cassin's Sparrow.jpg
The elusive Cassin’s Sparrow
Black-throated Gray Warbler-2
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Black-headed Grosbeak-2
Black-headed Grosbeak
Canyon Towhee-2
Cactus Wren
Arizona Woodpecker
Arizona Woodpecker
Black-headed Grosbeak
Female Black-headed Grosbeak feeding her fledgling
Black-chinned Hummingbird_
Magnificent Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird-2
Female Anna’s Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird
American Avocet
American Avocet
Beyer's Scarab
Beyer’s Scarab

Rancho el Aribabi, Mexico

Violet-crowned Hummingbird
Violet-crowned Hummingbird. The plainness of its white breast serves to make it a very striking hummingbird indeed.
Vermilion Flycatcher
The striking Vermillion Flycatcher
Sonoran Desert Toad
Sonoran Desert Toad
Scarab Beetle
Unidentified large scarab beetle of some sort
Robber fly
Rufous-winged Sparrow
Rufous-winged Sparrow
Monsoon at El Aribabi
Monsoon storm
Monsoon at El Aribabi-2
Monsoon Storm
Indigo Bunting
Blue Grosbeak
Five-striped Sparrow
Five-striped Sparrow
Female Vermilion Flycatcher
First-year female Vermillion Flycatcher
Empress Leilia
Empress Leilia
Canyon Wren
Canyon Wren
Broad-billed Hummingbird-2
Broad-billed Hummingbird
Black-capped Gnatcatcher
Black-capped Gnatcatcher
Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Unidentified bat species
American Snout
American Snout

Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley

I have always dreamed of seeing Anasazi ruins and thought it would be at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico if I ever did get the chance.  I was fortunate enough to get the chance to see and visit several ruins at Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley (pronounced Canyon Day Shay). The only way to get into any of the ruins at mesa Verde is via ranger led tours so I did two of them. The following are some of the images of the these fascinating pueblo dwellers.

Mesa Verde Anasazi-8

Mesa Verde Anasazi-7

Mesa Verde Anasazi-6

Mesa Verde Anasazi-4

Mesa Verde Anasazi-3

Mesa Verde Anasazi-2

Mesa Verde Anasazi

Canyon de Chelley-10

Canyon de Chelley-8





Canyon de Chelley-5
Massacre Cave in Del  Muert0 Canyon where over 115 women, children and elderly Navajo were killed by Spanish infantry in 1805 after taking shelter in this cave high up the 1,000 foot canyon wall and were easily picked off from the canyon rim.


One of the things I really tried to prepare myself for (both knowledge and equipment-wise) was landscape photography. I really wanted to learn how to create panoramic photos and how to do quality sunrise and sunset photos. I was pretty much up and somewhere every morning for the sunrise and in place for sunsets as well, providing there were no monsoon storms going on. In some of the following images, I have captured some sunrises and sunsets. For being completely self-taught and new at this type of photography, I was pretty pleased with the results and feel iI did a good job of filtering some of the light while enhancing the land features. The picture of Horseshoe Bend at the top of this blog was also shot at dawn while using ND filters.

Other images of Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley.


Mesa Verde

Canyon de Chelley-11

Spider Rock

Canyon de Chelley-2

Canyon de Chelley

Canyon De Chelley PS Edit

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley

Monument Valley and 4 corners-4

Monument Valley and 4 corners-3

Monument Valley and 4 corners-2

Monument Valley and 4 corners-6
That is me at the four corners monument; standing in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado simultaneously.

The Grand Canyon

California Condor
California Condor, my number one North American bird! his was actually seen at Marble Canyon, between the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon.
Woodhouse Jay
Woodhouse Jay. This bird was split from the California Scrub Jay this year
G C-5
Cow Rocky Mountain Elk
Elk Family
Two Rocky Mountain Elk calves and a cow
G C-26
Desert Cottontail
Bison bull

G C-3

Grand Canyon-4

Yavapai Point PS Edit

Grand Canyon-3

Grand Canyon-2

G C-29

G C-25

G C-28

G C-27

G C-21

G C-20

G C-19

G C-18

G C-12

G C-11

G C-10

G C-9

G C-8

G C-7

G C-6

G C-4


Sedona, Arizona

Another unidentified but very large beetle.
Pygmy Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch with a spider snack
Mountain Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Mexican Blonde Tarantula
Female Mexican Blonde Tarantula
Mexican Blonde
Male Mexican Blonde Tarantula. This was a very large spider!
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Golden-mantled Squirrel
Cathedral Rock
The famous Cathedral Rock of Sedona
Cathedral Rock





I am adding some more pictures out of two sets I accidentally misplaced. They are both from  my time in Southeastern Arizona; Miller and Ash Canyon and the Chiricahuas.

Female Montezuma Quail as she runs away from us near Portal
Coues Whitetail Deer, an exceptionally small subspecies that primarily inhabit the southeastern Arizona Mountains .Bucks average 100 pounds and does rarely get over 90 pounds.
Mexican Tarantula Hawk. Yes, this very large wasp prays on tarantulas, paralyzing them with a sting, dragging the still living spider back in its burrow or burying it and then laying an egg on the spider which, when it hatches, will provide the larvae with plenty to eat. While the Tarantula Hawk is a rather docile and peaceful wasp, its sting is rated as one of the most painful in the world.
Flame Skimmer
New Scott's Oriole
Female Hooded Oriole
New Red Satyr
Red Satyr
New Gambel's_-2
Male Gambel’s Quail
New Gambel's_
Female Gambel’s Quail
New Curve
Curve-billed Thrasher
New Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
New Canyon
Canyon Towhee
New blue-throated Hummingbird-2
Blue-throated Hummingbird
New blue-throated Hummingbird
Blue-throated Hummingbird
new Black-throated Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow
New Black Throated Sparrow_
Black-throated Sparrow
New Acorn
Acorn Woodpecker
Berryline Hummingbird. This was definitely  a case of being in the right place at the right time. We went to Miller Canyon to find a Spotted Owl family (which we dipped on) and found this rare Mexican visitor which had people pretty excited. Another highlight of Miller Canyon was finding that an adult Mountain Lion was walking parallel to me  up the canyon around 70 feet away!


3 thoughts on “The Southwest: Arizona, Mexico, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado

  1. What a fantastic adventure Jeff. Don’t know how you managed the heat but guess it was worth it with all the incredible sightings!


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