The Arizona Trip is conducted at the best time for the unique birds of the Desert Southwest, and in a way that avoids birding in hot weather. We bird the desert in the early morning and are in the mountains during the afternoon. We bird four main areas: the Chiricahuas, the Huachucas, the Nogales area and the Tucson region. Each has unique bird species in beautiful mountain ranges.
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1) We often start in the Chiricahuas, housed in the tiny town of Portal. Two feeders (plus one in Paradise) offer great photography and rare birds such as Arizona Woodpecker, Juniper and Bridled Titmice, and several hummer species. Trips up to the mountain top (Rustler’s Park) yield other excellent birds like Greater Pewee, empids, migrating western warblers, Pigmy Nuthatch, Red Crossbill, Yellow-eyed Junco and much more. Walks in lower elevations also produce neat species like Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and of course, the Elegant Trogon. After leaving the Chiricahuas, we spend a quick night in Douglas to take a morning hike in Guadeloupe Canyon for Varied Bunting, Thick-billed Kingbird and a few others specialties.
2) The second prolonged destination is Sierra Vista, gateway to the Huachucas. We first visit Miller Canyon, with wonderful hummingbird feeders with rarities, plus giving anyone a chance to walk up the mountain trail for Spotted Owl. Another morning we visit Mary Jo’s “double yard” for hummers (including Lucifer’s) and the backyard seed feeder with many different species. There is also the drive up Carr Canyon, where we recently found the Tufted Flycatchers nesting in the picnic area. Many high altitude specialties are found in this location. There is also Ramsey Canyon, perhaps the most luscious forest we visit. For desert species we visit the San Pedro Riparian Sanctuary, where we see Cassin’s and Botteri’s Sparrows, Abert’s Towhee, desert buntings, kingbirds and all sorts of good stuff.
3) On the way to Nogales we spend a wonderful morning walking the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve road (to avoid chiggers), where the Sinaloa Wren was found in the United States. Late morning we relax at the old Paton’s house, with loads of birds including Violet-crowned (and other) hummers. Overnight in Nogales; again we take the wonderful road past Pena Blanca to Sycamore Canyon, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Arivaca, and all the way to Buenos Aires NWR for Tropical Kingbirds and other rarities. When we are finished, we make a 90-minute drive to Tucson for the final step of our trip. We may/may not go to California Gulch to search for the Five-striped Sparrow.
4) The first morning we will drive to Mt. Lemmon where we will bird much of the day. Different species will be found at different altitudes, but we will cover each life zone during the day. Neat species like Red-faced Warbler nest on the mountain, with birds representing the Hudsonian Zone being found here. Midafternoon, we will leave and head for the eastern unit of the Saguaro National Park, where we will drive the loop for species like Rufous-winged Sparrow. The next morning will be very busy for a travel day! We will first drive to the western unit of the same Park and walk through the mighty Saguaro Cactus looking for Gilded Flicker and other desert species. Then we go a coupla miles down the road to the fabulous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, where we will enjoy outdoor exhibits and birds like Phainopepla flying around and two aviaries for the camera people. Finally, when it starts to get hot, we drive to a nearby indoor museum that will absolutely blow you away! Afterwards we eat lunch and take folks to the airport for their afternoon flight.
1- Arrive and drive to Portal.
2- Walk park road for trogons and other species. Lunch. Go up to Paradise.
3- Head up to Rustler’s Park. Lunch. Shoot down on the desert.
4- Work more roads early and then visit third feeder. Lunch. Bird a little more and head for Douglas.
5- Drive into Guadeloupe Canyon and bird the morning there. Lunch. Drive to THE HOT PLACE and check into hotel.
6- Bird Miller Canyon all morning. Lunch. Carr Canyon after lunch.
7- Walk below Ramsey Canyon, then head to Mary Jo’s for hummers and granivores. Lunch. Go into Ramsey Canyon and walk up.
8- Work the San Pedro Riparian Sanctuary all morning, stopping for the sewage treatment plant. Lunch. Drive toward Nogales, stopping for Lillian’s Meadowlark.
9- Walk the road in front of the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve and then visit the Paton’s feeders. Lunch. Drive to Nogales, making stops for birds.
10- Drive the road to Sycamore Canyon, then possibly California Gulch, and finally Buenos Aires NWR.
11- Drive up Mt. Lemmon, birding along the way. Lunch. Bird some more and drive to East Saguaro National Park.
12- Work West SNP, A-SDM and the museum. Lunch. Fly out.