Sunday, October 7, 2012

An Historic Birding Adventure

1.Empire Ranch_0089-kab Discovery Trail at Empire Ranch on Las Cienegas NCA September 16-2012

After spending almost an hour birding on the Greaterville Road on a pleasant Sunday morning in September, my new friend, Chris and I drove back out onto the Sonoita highway and crossed the road to Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. Though I have been birding here in the past, I have never driven up to the ranch house. I did not know it was open to the public. Today we drove the short distance off the main road and parked the car. Even as we got out of the car, there were birds everywhere. We quickly grabbed our gear and walked through the gate and started down the path.

2. old roof_0091-kab There was still a bit of coolness to this bright sunny day. Dark shadows fell across the rusted tin roof of an old adobe building.

3. adobe building-kab We walked by slowly, listening for birds and ghosts from the past.

4. trail-kab The dirt trail led us down through a mesquite bosque…


5. frog pens-kab and through a meadow dotted with flowers…


6. tall trees-kab Where tall trees rose above us,


7. butterfly-kab and butterflies sipped nectar below.


8. path-kab By now the shade of the tall trees was a welcome relief from the sun,


9. ranch house-kab so we followed the path around the old ranch house and emerged onto the former lawn…

10. say's phoesbe-kab where we found a Say’s Phoebe catching insects in the corner of the eaves.


11. western kingbird-kab There were kingbirds everywhere, both western and Cassin’s.


12. nest-kab While beneath the porch roof on the visitor’s center we found this.


13. who's there-kab Who’s this peeking out of the red mud nest?


14. peeking-kab Look closely now…

15. mama-kab MAMA!


16. dinner-kab The mother Barn Swallow flies in….


17. eating-kab feeds the chick…


18. done-kab and then…


19. fly away-kab flies off again!


20. canyon towhee-kab The Canyon towhee in the grass below is unphased!


21. historic ranch house-kab While pigeons cling to the old ranch chimney as they did over 100 years ago.

These are the birds Chris and I saw at Empire Ranch on September 16th:

  1. Turkey Vulture
  2. Gray Hawk (heard)
  3. Rock Pigeon
  4. White-winged Dove
  5. Mourning Dove
  6. Gila woodpecker
  7. Red-naped Sapsucker
  8. Northern (red-shafted) Flicker
  9. Prairie Falcon
  10. American Kestrel
  11. Says Phoebe
  12. Vermillion Flycatcher
  13. Western Kingbird
  14. Cassin’s Kingbird
  15. Common Raven
  16. Barn Swallow
  17. Verdin
  18. Phainopepla
  19. Green-tailed Towhee
  20. Canyon Towhee
  21. Black-headed Grosbeak
  22. House Finch
  23. Lesser Goldfinch

(Plus an empid, a couple of hummingbirds and a few sparrows!)

And we’re not done yet! Come back to see the rest of our adventure Birding the Empire Gulch! Thanks for stopping by and thank you for all your comments!


  1. You and Chris are really having fun exploring and birding.

    1. Gaelyn, yes we are! He is fun to be with, very relaxed, yet very passionate about the birds!

  2. What a fun post! I felt like I was right there with you (and believe me, the feel of the hot sun was most welcome!)
    I LOVE that sign in your first photo! The metal scroll work is pretty enough, but I love that it's bright red to boot.
    Your first few photos (I could really feel the peace and quiet in them) reminded me of Fort Phantom Lake near Abilene, TX where BW and I used to love to go exploring with our dogs when we lived down there in the late '80s. I haven't seen a mesquite tree since then!
    My favorite photos of the batch are the butterfly (gorgeous!), "MAMA!" (hysterical!) and the next photo of Mama's response to junior's demands! They're fantastic!

    1. Laloofah, well, thanks for the comment! You can come see mesquite trees here any time! I actually really like them and so do the birds!

  3. I like that sort of idea Kathie.Mixing in some birding and visiting historical areas.Love the swallow with the mouth wide open and mama coming in with the main course.

    1. Larry, thanks! It was a fun place to visit and to bird. We walked around inside the historic farm house but I did not take any photos. I should have. Maybe next time. Sometimes I am better at stuff like that when I am alone. Chris took tons of photos and he may do a blogpost about it soon.

  4. Love the barn swallows. That is some nest. Most interesting post, Kathie!

  5. A really interesting area to walk and observe Kathie. Great shots of the swallows. All our swallows are departing South now to Africa.

  6. i LOVE the rusty tin roof and the old brick chimney!!
    the baby barn swallow pictures...with his mouth WIDE open are GREAT!!!!!!!!!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.