Super Rarities at the Paton Center

Written by Tom Brown and reprinted by permission of the Tucson Audubon Society

The word of the week at Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds has been RARITY! The first part of this week, our amazing volunteer Malcolm was recounting his recent adventure helping with a Green Kingfisher survey on the Santa Cruz River—they found 14! Malcolm had just returned to his hummingbird feeder duties when an unusual bird flew in right above a visitor’s head. The guest took several pictures, and then tracked me down to confirm the identity. 

Green Kingfisher, photo by Tom Brown

The bird in question was indeed the very bird that he and Malcolm were just discussing—a Green Kingfisher had landed near the pond! To highlight the level of rarity for this bird at this location, the last time one was seen here was August 11, 1994!

Back in 2020, and the era of our Covid closure, the Center had a visit from a Plain-capped Starthroat. All the feeders were moved out to along the road so people could view the bird but not encounter large groups in close confines. This week, another Plain-capped Starthroat came for a visit and was seen on multiple days!

Plain-capped Starthroat, photo by Tom Brown

The first day the starthroat was seen, it turned out to be an incredible eight-hummingbird day at the Paton Center! In addition to the Plain-capped Starthroat, we had Berylline, Black-chinned, Costa’s, Anna’s, Rivoli’s, Violet-crowned, and of course, lots of Broad-billed Hummingbirds.

We look forward to your next visit, who knows maybe you will be the one to find our next super rarity!