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Date Creek Ranch Report 2020 - AZGFD

Micah Riegner with Troy Corman

I spent May and June 2020 surveying riparian breeding bird for AZGF and visited Date Creek for a total of 10 surveys within that time period. Eight of those visits were at a plot about a mile upstream from the ranch, while the remaining two were adjacent to the ranch. Here I include a list of all the species (including migrants) that I saw on those surveys.

It was interesting to see the seasonal changes throughout that time period. When I started the surveys in early May, the water extended all the way down to the ranch, but by mid-June the water dried up by almost a mile. Meanwhile, the beavers were busy building a dam. In early May there were no dams to speak of—all of which had been washed out in the floods from February; by the end of May they had constructed a dam roughly 3 ft high.

There were numerous noteworthy birds I came across while doing the surveys. It was incredible to see 4 pairs of Zone-tailed Hawks nesting along the creek. I’ve never seen such high concentrations of this species in Arizona. Mid-May through early June there were plenty of avian migrants passing through the riparian corridor, the “coolest” of which were Olive-sided Flycatchers, which breed up in high elevation conifer forests, and a Swainson’s Thrush, which also breeds up in high elevation forests. Wilson’s Warblers were probably the most abundant migrants; some were even singing quite a bit. A pair of Yellow-billed Cuckoos arrived at the end of June. These are typically some of the latest migrants to reach Arizona, arriving from their wintering grounds in the Chaco of Bolivia and Argentina. I also had a single Willow Flycatcher vocalizing up at the beaver pond—perhaps still a migrant working its way north.

I received Troy Corman’s notes from the surveys he conducted in 2012. In summary, here’s how they compared to this year. Troy had many of the same birds including “Wild” Turkeys, Zone-tailed Hawks, and the common breeders. Birds that I had on my survey that weren’t seen in 2012 include Gray Hawks, which arrived at Date Creek around 2013 or 2014, Green Heron, Anna’s Hummingbird, Cooper’s Hawk, Say’s Phoebe and Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Troy had numerous migrants including Gray, Hammond’s, Dusky and Pacific-slope Flycatchers, Townsend’s and Hermit Warblers, Brewer’s and Lincoln’s Sparrows, Lazuli Bunting, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Green-tailed Towhee and a Golden Eagle! In adding my list to his, together Troy and I had over 100 species for the ranch—not bad.

I’d like to thank the Wolf/Knight family--Stefan, Kimberley, Ryan and Savannah--for giving me access to Date Creek to conduct these surveys. I look forward to coming by again, maybe once the monsoons get going. Let’s hope for some good rain this year!


Micah Riegner

Field Guides, Inc.



Gambel’s Quail

Wild Turkey—I saw a mother with a chick on my last visit on 6/17

Great Blue Heron—I’m not sure where they’d be nesting, perhaps well upstream from where I was surveying. I saw the pair on a few occasions flying through and landing on the boulder outcroppings.

Green Heron—Seen twice along the creek near the old dam.

Turkey Vulture

Gray Hawk—What a cool raptor to have nesting along the creek. Two pairs seemed to be present; one downstream from the ranch and one just upstream.

Zone-tailed Hawk—There were a total of 4 nesting pairs spaced out along the creek. By the end of my survey period, they had fluffy white chicks.

Harris’s Hawk—I suspect these breed not far upstream from the ranch. By the end of the survey period I saw a fairly well-grown fledgling.

Common Black Hawk—It’s somewhat surprising there are not more of these along the creek. I saw only one individual, a second-year bird, flying over.

Cooper’s Hawk—Seen a couple times along the creek.

Eurasian Collared-Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove

Inca Dove

More Birds

Even More Birds




Slide through photos below!

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