An Assortment of Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Mammals
Arizona's Sycamore Canyons

Water in the arid and semiarid regions of Arizona is often concentrated along narrow canyons draining from the high mountains. With a great variety of trees, shrubs, perennial herbs and annuals these riparian corridors support a great diversity of animal life. This is a new guide and new species will be added as photos become available and descriptive text pages are written. If an animal is already covered in detail in another guide on Arizona Naturalists an icon will so indicate. The user should use the 'back button' on the browser to return to this guide page.

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Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Loud-calling woodpecker that can also bang tree trunks loudly. Large size. Jet black bib. Belly spotted. Frequent. More ...

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Back is mostly black with a bold white stripe along spine. Patch of red back of head on males. Harsh call distinctive. More common at higher elevations. More ...

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

The bold black and white clown-face easily distinguishes this woodpecker. Gathers and stores acorns in granaries build into dead trunks. Common in oak zones. More ...

Arizona Woodpecker

Arizona Woodpecker

In wooded canyons near Mexican border. Back brown, belly with distinct dark spotting. Small woodpecker. More ...

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Very common dove across many Arizona habitats including sycamore woodlands. Year round. More ...

White-winged Dove

White-winged Dove

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Larger than other doves and with conspicuous white bands in wings visible in-flight. Spring and summer only. More ...

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Common Ground Dove

Uncommon Arizona bird. Very small dove usually on open ground away from dense vegetation. Scaly head feathers. More ...

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Large bird with heavy bill hunts along ground. Prefers open areas but roosts often in trees at night. More ...

Yellow Warbler

Scrub Jay

Often noisy, blue-gray birds moving in small groups seeking berries, insects, or plundering opportunities. More ...

Mexican Jay

Mexican Jay

Forms noisy flocks of blue-gray birds that forage as a group. Throat without distinct white patch or darker necklace. More frequent in southeast Arizona. More ...

Bridled Titmouse

Bridled Titmouse

Small bird with boldly-marked black and white head, and a distinct creast. Often forages in small, mixed-species flocks. Common, especially above 1200m. More ...

Painted Redstart

Painted Redstart

Bold black, red and white bird active on trunks and branches. Migrates south for winter. Common, especially above 1200m. More ...

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Common bright yellow and small active birds in canopy present mostly spring and summer only. More ...

Mexican Jay

Yellow-breasted Chat

This brightly colored and noisy bird of riparian habitats can be surprisingly hard to see! More ...

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Fall, winter and spring bird attracted to trees with ripe fruit. Backward facing crest. Tan, yellow and grayish plumage. Black eye mask. More ...

American Robin

American Robin

Familiar bird common through much of North America. White eye ring, rufous breast, orange-yellow bill and streaky chin. More ...

Western Bluebird photo © Walter Siegmund

Western Bluebird

Brilliant blue and rusty-orange male. Female is duller blue-gray. Medium bill. Feeds on berries and insects. Juveniles have speckled chest. More ...

Phainopepla

Phainopepla

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Males are black with red eyes and distinct crest on head. Female is similar but gray in color. Moves to lower elevation in winter. More ...

Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird

Shiny black and irridescent. Males have distinct red eyes. Moist canyons in southern Arizona. No head crest. More ...

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

Males are nearly pure red. Females yellowish. Young males may have yellow also. Spring and summer only. More ...

Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanager

The females of this and the summer tanager are drab yellow and brown. The bill of both male and femate Hepatic is dark. More ...

House Finch

House Finch

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Very common birds in canyons and around habitations. Conical beak. Females are brown w/o red at all. More ...

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Inhabitants of thickly vegetated areas usually not far from water. Notice spot at center of breast. More ...

Lincoln's Sparrow in Sycamore Canyons

Lincoln's Sparrow

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Stays near ground often hidden among thickets and shade offered by sycamore and cottonwood trees. Buffy color on lower belly. More ...

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Very common in winter months. Concentrated in riparian areas with drought. More ...

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Habitat is sparsely vegetated rocky slopes above canyons. Black whisker stripe and reddish crown. More ...

Abert's Towhees common in Sycamore Canyons below 1300m

Abert's Towhee

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Prefers to forage on ground near thickets and shade offered by sycamore and cottonwood gallery woodlands. More ...

Canyon Towhees

Canyon Towhee

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Nearly uniform brown bird with a conical bill. Faint necklace and rusty under tail. More ...

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting

Males are light blue and golden tawny. Migration thru Az in spring and fall. More ...

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

This male is brilliant blue with rusty wing bars. The female is brown, but shares the heavy silvery beak. More ...

Black-headed Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeak

Medium sized spring and summer bird with dark head, thick bill and rich, tawny chest. The female lacks tawny color and head is streaked. More ...

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Males unmistakeable red. small black mask, and sharp crest atop head. Females gray and reddish. Both have orange-red bill. More ...

Violet-green Swallow photo © Wolfgang Wander

Violet-green Swallow

Irridescent green on head and back. Belly and chest white. White extends onto dorsum of rump. More ...

Barn Swallow photo © 2006 Walter Siegmund

Barn Swallow

Head and back irridescent blue-black, throat and chest rusty, long tail feathers. Rarely perches. More ...

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Broad-billed Hummingbird

The red bill against the irridescent blue-green plumage is distinctive. Female has white bar behind the eye. More ...

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Much of head and throat appear black in males. Occas. a dark purple patch visible on throat. Spring and summer. More ...

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Most common and widespread montane humming bird through much of Arizona. Male has irridescent red throat. More ...

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Pass-through Migrant. By mid summer these feisty male birds are heading south from their breeding ground in the nw USA and w Canada. More ...

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Violer-crowned Hummingbird

Pure white chest and belly, red bill, and in males, a violet crown. Uncommon in far s.e. Arizona canyons. More ...

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Streaky breast; long, black-and-white banded tail and relatively long wings. Strong talons and raptor beak. More ...

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Nearly solid black plumage. Undersides of wings appear two-toned. Bare skin of head is reddish. Absent in winter. More ...

Wild Turkey photo © Walter Siegmund

Wild Turkey

Grand and beautiful birds reintroduced and now common in many wooded canyons and Arizona forest lands. More ...

Least Grebe

Least Grebe

Rare Bird. Small drab birds floats on surface of water and repeatedly dives for extended minutes. More ...

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

Upright and alert posture. Head, back and chest black contrasting sharply with white belly. Spring, summer and fall. More ...

Brown-crested Flycatcher

Brown-crested Flycatcher

Spring and summer bird with pale yellow belly, gray chest and rusty tail feathers. Uses heavy bill to glean insects from foliage and ground. More ...

Western Wood-Pewee

Western Wood-Pewee

Small flycatcher with upright posture, grayish color and no distinct eyering and only faint wingbars. Spring and summer. More ...

Cassin's Kingbird

Cassin's Kingbird

Vocal flycatchers that stay close to tops of riverine trees. White of chin contrasts with darker chest. More ...

Tropical Kingbird

Tropical Kingbird

The belly is yellow and the black tail has 'V' notch. Upright posture. More ...

Canyon Wren

Canyon Wren

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Small birds with a long rusty-topped tail that make distinct descending calls in desert canyons. No eye stripe. More ...

Bewick's Wren

Bewick's Wren

Small wren with long tail and gray-brown back. White stripe through eye. More ...

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Desert birds often moves into riparian zones during drought. Largest wren in Az. All year. More ...

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Small bluish bird with a long tail and active foraging style in trees and shrubs. Fine, slender beak. More ...

Verdin

Verdin

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Tiny grayish bird with pale yellow head and small patch of maroon on shoulder. More ...

White-tail Deer

White-tail Deer

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Smaller than the mule deer and with shorter ears. Tail markings mostly white. More ...

Arizona Gray Squirrel

Arizona Gray Squirrel

Gray tree squirrel with long, bushy gray and white tail. Frequent in wooded canyon thru e. and s. Arizona. More ...

Ornate Tree Lizard

Ornate Tree Lizard

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Small scaly lizard often climbing trees, boulders and fences. More ...

Yarrow's Spiny Lizard

Yarrow's Spiny Lizard

Black collar is complete and bordered by white behind. More extensive blue on males. Large spiny scales. 10cm w/o tail. More ...

Phrynosoma hernandesi

Greater Short-horned Lizard

Also called the Mountain Horned Lizard. Often colored precisely like the substrate, in this case red sandstone. More ...

Slevin's Bunchgrass Lizard

Elegant Earless Lizard

Small, colorful lizard found near riparian zones in Southeast Arizona. Two pairs of black bars on the sides of the venter. More ...

Plateau Lizard

Plateau Lizard

Sharply pointed scales on gray-brown, small to medium sized lizard. Some specimens lack longitudinal stripes. More ...

Slevin's Bunchgrass Lizard

Slevin's Bunchgrass Lizard

Small scaly lizard found grassland slopes of Southeast Arizona mountains. Gray line down back. Some populations pale. More ...

Crotalus willardi

Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake

Another small snake (< 60cm) found in s.e. Arizona canyons. Upturned scales forming lines on either side of the nose are diagnostic. More ...

Sonoran Spotted Whiptail

Sonoran Spotted Whiptail

Neat yellow stripes the length of body, faint spot between the stripes and a very long slender tail. More ...

Crotalus molossus

Black-tailed Rattlesnake

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert End of tail below rattle is all black. Dark blotches on golden to gray background. More ...

Crotalus lepidus

Rock Rattlesnake

The beautiful contrasting black and light gray pattern are distinctive. This is a small snake (< 80cm) found in s.e. Arizona canyons. More ...


Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
Sycamore Trees, Shrubs and Wildflowers


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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2017