Green Valley Morning Flight Project

When I moved to Green Valley, Arizona from southeastern Pennsylvania in late May 2019, I was excited at the opportunity to revisit tried-and-true birding hotspots and the possibilities in new unexplored areas. One thing was certain with this change in location, I would miss the visible migration experience of living in the mid-Atlantic region. From early July through at least mid-December there is active migration on an almost daily basis, be it shorebirds and warblers, a steady stream of accipiters, nighthawks, more songbirds or the seemingly never ending passage of scoters and other waterfowl. On those few truly special days the ground could be covered with thousands of American Robins or White-throated Sparrows.

I had started doing research on visible migration in southeast Arizona while planning my move but there was little anecdotal information for me to sink my teeth into. There was at least one birder, Brian Gibbons, who had been monitoring visible migration from his property on the east side of Tucson with some success and that provided me with some inspiration to give it a go in Green Valley. 

So I set up shop in my north-facing yard and started watching. My routine was to begin as soon after daylight as possible and to observe the north-northwest facing sky for at least two hours. My personal criteria for discriminating between migrant and non-migrant was fairly simple. If the bird was seemingly purposely flying in a southerly direction and at tree top level or higher, I considered it a migrant. Even though I had hoped to do this on a daily basis, this was not always feasible and on some days I was only able to devote 45-50 minutes to monitoring the flight. For two weeks in mid-September there was some construction going on in my viewing area which disrupted my observation time. Nevertheless, it was a fun and interesting project and helped me to get a slight grasp on the Status and Distribution of some southeast Arizona migrants. 

County View

I monitored the skies from July 17 – October 13 but from September 8-28 viewing time was somewhat limited by backyard construction. I logged in 32.5 hrs. and 27 species.

Local ViewSpecies Totals
White-winged Dove 246
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 2
American Kestrel 3
Say’s Phoebe 10
Vermilion Flycatcher 1
Cassin’s Kingbird 16
Western Kingbird 18
“Yellow-bellied Kingbird” 14
N. Rough-winged Swallow 11
Tree Swallow 33
Barn Swallow 61
Cliff Swallow 15
Northern Mockingbird 2
Phainopepla 16
Lark Bunting 1
Lark Sparrow 27
Yellow-headed Blackbird 14
Bullock’s Oriole 1
Hooded Oriole 11
Bronzed Cowbird 4
Brown-headed Cowbird 42
Bronzed/Brown-headed Cowbird 13
Yellow Warbler 5
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
warbler species 3
Western Tanager 7
Black-headed Grosbeak 3
Lazuli Bunting 9
Dickcissel 2

Morning Flight Images

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow
Lark Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Phainopepla
Phainopepla
Phainopepla
Phainopepla
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove

Cliff Swallow

Black-headed Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak
Bronzed and Brown-headed Cowbird
Bronzed Cowbird and Brown-headed Cowbird
Western Tanager
Western Tanager
American Kestrel
American Kestrel
Bullock's Oriole
Bullock’s Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Bullock’s Oriole
Hooded Oriole
Hooded Oriole
Hooded Oriole
Hooded Oriole
Vermilion Flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatcher
Cassin's Kingbird
Cassin’s Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Western kingbird
Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove