Full house one species away

Posted June 10th, 2010 by kcorliss. Comment (0).

Of all the regularly occuring sparrow species found in the US (over 40 scattered across the continent), only one remains for me to find: the saltmarsh sparrow. That’s because I finally made the trek to locate and view the five-striped sparrow on Sunday.

The five-striped sparrow has been on my radar for many years. Mostly because it’s range is so limited in the US. You must go into inhospitable terrain near the Mexican border to see it. Cornell’s website says this, “The Five-striped Sparrow is a Mexican species whose range barely extends into the southwestern United States.” Shoot, this species wasn’t even found in this country until 1957.

The most easily accessible spot for those seeking this species has been and continues to be a remote location in the Coronado National Forest known as California Gulch. It was here my buddy and I went on Sunday. It didn’t dissapoint. Great views of a cooperative five-striped sparrow plus the added bonus of another life bird (several individuals actually), the varied bunting.

No photos of the birds, but here I am upon departing the road:

I gotta add something to this tale. The bird guide books of Arizona all shout warnings about this road saying things like, “a 4-wheel drive vehicle is a must,” or “high clearance vehicles are strongly recommended,” when driving California Gulch. I beg to differ. A reasoned, slow, and experienced driver should be able to make this route with little difficulty. We did it in a 4-door sedan. Granted it’s a rental but I’d have no reservations about taking my own car down this road. I’ve been on worse in North Dakota. That’s not to say it’s a thoughtless romp, it’s not. But don’t let those printed screaming warnings in the books dissuade you if you’ve got the rural ,dusty road, this-might-be-dicey background.

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