Jasper’s Feeders

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.–Henry David Thoreau

Calling Male Gambel's Quail, Jasper's Feeders, near Portal, Arizona
Calling Male Gambel’s Quail, Jasper’s Feeders, near Portal, Arizona. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light.

Less than two miles from downtown Portal, Arizona lies Jasper’s Feeders, a well-known birding attraction in the Cave Creek area–my understanding is that the name derives from a previous owner, the current owner continuing to allow public access. Here, a small clearing is equipped with several seed feeders and a water supply. Out in the flats of the blistering Chihuahuan Desert, food and water are a godsend for a variety of birds.

In the three or so hours I spent there (once in the evening and once in the morning), I saw White-winged Dove, Band-tailed Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Blue Grosbeak, Northern Cardinal, Gambel’s Quail, Curve-billed and Crissal(?) Thrasher, Yellow-breasted Chat, House Finch, Ash-throated Flycatcher, a small Empidonax Flycatcher, Black-throated Sparrow, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Canyon Towhee, Pyrrhuloxia, and Bell’s Vireo. I question the Crissal Thrasher because, although I saw the black mustache, the bird was in shadow, and I didn’t get that good a look. In any case, signs of renewal of life were everywhere: Flocks of quail chicks scooted across the dust, and young thrashers, fledgling Pyrrhuloxia, and baby House Finches battled a tough crowd for limited resources.

Bell's Vireo, Jasper's Feeders, near Portal, Arizona
Bell’s Vireo, Jasper’s Feeders, near Portal, Arizona. This bird was singing up a storm! Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4xTC). Natural light.

Unless it’s obvious from geography, I visit new locales in the morning and evening to see when the light is best for photography. At this time of year, the feeders are hopeless in the morning: The best photography is to be had along the trail leading to the feeders, where the photographer can keep the sun to his/her back and image birds in the trees and brush. It is possible to get some nice shots at the feeders in the evening at this time of year. I look forward to visiting throughout the year to see how the light changes and who else shows up! Jasper’s Feeders are well worth a visit if you are in the area. And don’t forget to drop a few bucks in the donation box!

Juvenile Thrasher, Jasper's Feeders, near Portal, Arizona
Fledgling Curve-billed Thrasher, Jasper’s Feeders, near Portal, Arizona. Young birds of several species were everywhere! Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light.

©2019 Christopher R. Cunningham and Elisa D. Lewis. All rights reserved. No text or images may be duplicated or distributed without permission.