Along the Natchez Trace

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bird Number 59

I added a new bird to our Gate Guard Bird List today...  and until I got back to the rig I wasn't even sure what I'd seen.

The first 3 months of 2003, Bill & I volunteered at Buenos Aires NWR, which is located at the very southernmost area of Arizona.... about 55 miles south of Tucson.  The purpose of a wildlife refuge is to protect and provide natural habitat for an endangered species.  That could be a plant, and animal or bird, or even the environment that provides that habitat.

The focus of the Buenos Aires NWR was to maintain habitat for an endangered frog.  Sounds kind of strange as the area is kind of a savannah "grasslands" type area...  throw in an arid desert and a creek with huge cottonwoods along the banks.  This area is also known because while the border crossing at Sasabe, the tiny little town at the south edge of the refuge isn't even open during the night hours, the most common vehicle you'd see belonged to Border Patrol, as we were told about a thousand illegals crossed into the USA in this area every day.

While not exactly the focus of the refuge, Buenos Aires also maintained facilities to raise the endangered "Scaled Quail".  Besides raising and releasing the quail, there were biologists doing on-going studies about their habitat, eating preferences and other such data.

In the 3 months that we were there, I know I never saw the first scaled quail out in the wild.  I was permitted to see the holding pens, but these were strictly off limits to visitors.  So if I was keeping a "life list" at that time, I could have added SCALED QUAIL to it.

Today, as I was walking around this area I heard a different noise.  I had been expecting to come across a roadrunner here, but knew the sound wasn't him, even though I didn't know what it was.  I finally located the critter...
 He was hanging out in this scrubby tree....  calling every few minutes to a bird that was across the road answering back.

I finally managed to locate him with binoculars.....  then kind of sneak around a tree to get his photo.

 I could see the "top knot" on his head...  in fact, he looked kind of "punk"...  dark brown feathers with the top very blond.  I'm from the hills of SE Ohio...  looked like a grouse to me.  But...  not quite .....

Even though he was in among the branches...  and very dense branches at that... I got about a dozen pictures of him before moving on.

I continued my walk...   leaving this guy to sing his little heart out...
Okay... he wasn't singing.  It was more a croaky call...  one I wasn't familiar with.

I got back home, downloaded my photos, got out my field guide...  looked up "grouse"...  
Hmmm...  they aren't in this part of Texas.
Not only that, it doesn't match the photos...  on to quail....
YES!  Scaled Quail!

Hey, and they're even "common" here in this part of Texas.  Not an area where they're endangered.  Good news!

Write him in on our list as Bird # 59

Maybe we'll hit 60 before we leave here....

That's All For Today!


  1. He's very cool looking. His scales look like shingles ;)

  2. That's exciting to see a new bird! I really enjoy learning and identifying new animals and birds on our travels. Never thought I'd be interested in birds but certainly have developed that interest since I retired, and especially enjoy reading other blogs like yours that share great photos. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wonderful! Love the last photo - he is singing with feeling.

  4. Good find! I've never seen a scaled quail.

  5. A handsome bird. I'm sure you're a good skulker about, but I like his confidence in croaking on while the women from southern Ohio sneaked about. One more and you'll have sixty.

  6. I love your bird list and pictures. When you do leave there, post a list of all the birds you saw, and I hope it contains an even 60.

  7. That's very cool. I was just looking in my Stoke's bird book, and saw a picture of that bird. They are neat looking, and you were fortunate to have seen it. Great shots. Thanks for sharing. What a great place you're in.

  8. Really unusual bird. I'm glad you got some pictures to show us.

  9. Congrats on the Scaled Quail! He's really different looking. Like a cross between a Cardinal and Dove. Love his "scale feather pattern" .