Saturday, October 27, 2012


In September, we completed the fall bird surveys down at Warm Springs Natural Area, in Moapa, northeast of Las Vegas.  Our surveys had a bit of a delayed start because of a flash flood ripping through the valley - most of the waters had subsided by the next day, though the muddy soils resulted in a beautiful morning fog settling over the valley.

"Desert" Black Swallowtail
We found 65 species on the site during the surveys – most were Gambel’s Quail, Red-winged Blackbirds, White-crowned Sparrows, House Finches, and Abert’s Towhees, of course.  There were a lot of fun migrants moving through, as well: scattered MacGillivray’s and Nashville Warblers, and lots of Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warblers.  

Butterflies were everywhere within the fields – Monarchs galore, along with the occasional Desert Black Swallowtail.  Between my time here and my visit to Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge on my way north, I saw more monarchs than I’ve ever seen before in Nevada!

Red-naped x Red-breasted Sapsucker hybrid

Three of my most interesting finds were: 

(1) Red-breasted Nuthatches!  Birders throughout Nevada have been reporting larger than normal numbers of nuthatches -- perhaps a result of widespread cone failures to the north.

(2) Phainopeplas -- We had more than 10 times the number of Phainopeplas that we usually find.

(3) A hatch-year Red-naped Sapsucker x Red-breasted Sapsucker hybrid.  At first glance, it appeared to be a Red-naped - except that there are red feathers in the white portion of the cheek.

We’ll be returning in January/February to look at the wintering bird community – so stay tuned!