Tebow Magic in Florida Canyon

It was pouring out. We needed a little of that Tebow magic.  At the very least we needed the rain to stop so we could actually bird.  Even that was looking pretty doubtful.  It had been raining steadily since Bill V picked me up at the Tucson airport yesterday. This was Tucson for goodness sake not Houston or Miami.  Adding to the depression from yesterday’s rain was the fact that we searched for the Rufous-capped Warbler in the wrong area for the first 1 ½ hours.  We were both cold and wet –chilled to the bone. It was as miserable as I’ve felt while birding since standing in the Texas sun and 105° F back in June.  So we decided to call it quits (actually we pretty much ran out of light anyway) and told ourselves that tomorrow would be a better day.

But when I awoke at 6:00 AM this morning, the rain was still coming down.  What a drag!  No way would we see the warbler.  But we drove down to Florida Canyon anyway, stopping in Green Valley for to-go breakfast at McDonalds.  That was a trip. The room was packed with senior citizens. I thought to myself, “Bet this place is empty at 7:00 PM. Oh well, I’ll be there myself soon enough…but not today and not this year.”  So we drove up to the parking lot at Florida Canyon and waited in the car for it to let up a slightly, which it did around 8:45 AM.  We hiked up the short distance to where the warbler was being seen regularly but again the rains came. S we sought shelter under a tin roof very close to the dam and waited.  After about ten minutes the rain stopped and the sky lightened.  Birds started flitting everywhere. Olive Warbler, Hammond’s Flycatcher, three species of towhees, Cardinal and Hermit Thrush.  I suddenly had a feeling. Bill suggested we go up to the water tank and start searching. A minute later Bill stopped. He’d heard the warbler chattering close. There it was gleening food in a yucca maybe fifteen feet in from the trail, about three feet off the ground!

I ran back to the car for my camera while Bill stayed with the warbler.  But by the time I returned, the sky had darkened and the rain resumed.  We were lucky…though we had put ourselves into position to be in the right spot at the right time…for a little fourth quarter Tebow Magic!  Number 740 and tomorrow morning I leave for Alaska.  Stay tuned. It’s going to be a bumpy ride all the way to the goal line.

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20 Responses to Tebow Magic in Florida Canyon

  1. Congrats! I was wondering if you would see it with all this crazy rain we’ve had the past two days. Good luck in Alaska! Here’s a link to a couple amazing photos of the warbler:

  2. Suzi Plooster says:

    Hey John,
    We are rooting for you from the sidelines!!!! Go get ‘em

    Suzi Plooster

  3. Kerry Provance says:

    There you go John, that Tebow magic, that’s what I was talking about. Elway had it, Tim’s got it, and now it’s time for you to make it all happen. You’ve got plenty of time left for 6 more points, and the extra point! Get that Dusky Thrush in Anchorage and head to Adak. You can hit California again on the way back down, if needed. You’re moving downfield and we’re all cheering for you. Who doesn’t love a fourth quarter comeback! Yeah Baby! KP

  4. Mike Hendrickson says:

    What do you win if you beat Sandy’s Big Year record? There should be a traveling cup. LOL

  5. Kenneth Petersen says:

    Good Luck on Adak, John. Remember to try a seawatch from the cliffs above the Loran station if you have time and the road is open.

  6. Rueben Lebeef says:

    “Ambition is the path to success, persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”
    We’re all rooting for you here in Idaho!

  7. riley wyna says:

    Man, now that is exciting!
    Hopefully we get a few more Megas for you in South Texas.
    Be great to meet you if you come back to the LRGV
    Good luck!

  8. John says:

    Bowhead Whales and Ribbon Seals follow the ice. Bearded Seal is possible. Good luck in Adak!

  9. Paul Parsons says:

    Congrats on 740 John. We met on a pelagic out of Half moon bay in September when you were on 713 ( birders from Cardiff, Wales). Good luck for the rest of December.

  10. Séamus. says:


    Have you ticked both B. b. nigricans and B. b. hrota? Future split possible, an insurance tick? Though the way things move, maybe posthumous ;-)


  11. Josh Vandermeulen says:

    I’ve been following you all year John but never commented. Good luck in Alaska! You’ve certainly made it interesting in this home stretch…

    By the way, a Hooded Crane was seen yesterday in Tennessee. Not sure what its provenance is, but its worth keeping an eye on.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Go John, go! We will be sending all of our good vibes to Alaska hoping that you find a couple more mega-rarities. Us birding people at the University of North Texas are rooting for you!

  13. Gloria Nikolai says:

    I love reading about your adventures! What number will it take to come out as #1(compared with previous years)?

  14. Robb Welch says:

    Five away! You can do it. Pulling for you all the way!

  15. Kevin Burke says:

    Hey John,

    I have been following your blog all year. We are really rooting for you in Eastern Tennessee! I just heard that they have a Hooded Crane at the Hiawassee Refuge in Birchwood Tennessee(near Chattanooga). Who knows where it came from or if it will be accepted, but just thought I would give you a heads up. Good Luck!

  16. Lamarr Eddings says:

    Oh my! Somebody moved the goalline! Sandy now says 748 ………… Go get them!


  17. John Vanderpoel says:

    Thanks, John

  18. John Vanderpoel says:

    Hi Paul,

    I remember you guys well. You correctly called a Long-tailed Jaeger that was flying over the boat while we were still at dock. One of you guys froze his butt off while wearing only shorts. You Welsh are tough.


  19. John Vanderpoel says:

    Thanks, Josh. If the Hooded Crane holds ill chase it.

  20. Dog Maggont says:

    Sheltering under the tin roof near the water tank?
    Sounds like TRESPASSING on the other side of the fence at the work center.
    Hope they didn’t see you do it as it would give birders a bad name.

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