• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Finding Wildlife in Arizona (1 Viewer)

raymie

Well-known member
United States
I'm likely going on a trip to the Tucson area this winter, any tips for good birding spots or other interesting wildlife? I'm especially interested in iconic desert birds (roadrunner, Vermillion Flycatcher, Cactus Wren, Harris's Hawk, ect) and some of the "Mexican specialties", especially Elegant Trogon and hummingbirds. I'll likely be visiting the Grand Canyon too, any tips for condors, Bighorn Sheep, Pronghorn, or other wildlife?
 

Maroon Jay

Airborne
Canada
Whitewater Draw - Vermillion FC & thousands of wintering Sandhill Cranes
West Wetlands Yuma - Roadrunner, Black Phoebe, Verdin, Long-billed Curlew
Ramsey Canyon - Acorn WP and AZ WP
Organ Pipe Cactus NM - Rock Wren
Saguaro NP - Black-chinned and Black-throated Sparrow and Canyon Towhee
Tombstone- Inca Dove, White-winged Dove, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Verdin, Lesser Goldfinch
(in the town and campground nearby. Tombstone is a great place to visit besides birding)
San Pedro House - Mexican Duck, Fox Sparrow, Aberts Towhee, Pyrrhuloxia
Fairbank - Ladder-back WP and Green-tailed Towhee.
Ajo - Harris Hawk, Gila WP, Curve-billed Thrasher, Phainopepla
 

jch10400

Member
Madera Canyon - especially if the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge are open.

 

Lisa W

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I would add add Ash Canyon B&B nice AZ species even in the winter.
And with Whitewater Draw the roads leading to it are usually teaming with hawks. It is where I saw my first Harris‘s Hawk.
Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, usually has a good variety, seen Harris’s Hawks there also.
 

Jon Turner

Well-known member
I stayed in Tucson more years ago than I care to remember, and on one trip out I took the bus up to the top of a mountain, and walked back down. Birds were good but coming face-to-face with a Gila Monster was a highlight I won't forget in a hurry. And a bit like Covid, I kept my distance. Several of the birds you mention were in and around the housing complex where I stayed. One of the birds I most (not sure why!) wanted to see was Red-faced Warbler and I found a couple high up the 'Ol beady' trail. But failed to see the Trogon.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
The Trogons are not present in the winter, are they? And some other species, especially those living around the "sky islands" may be gone as well, because the mountains are quite high and winters surprisingly harsh in them. I mean we went there in spring, in a period specifically selected for the Trogons to be there and we still haven't seen them, it's just not easy!

As you mention other wildlife, I would like to note that southern Arizona is especially known for mammals. Again, I am not sure about where winter can mean access difficulties, but there are Ringtails, Coatis, Bears and all sorts of other stuff. If you are into that, I cannot recommend Vladimir Dinets' book on where to find mammals ( https://www.amazon.com/Peterson-Finding-Mammals-America-Guides/dp/0544373278 ) enough, it's worth every cent and the Arizona part is really extensive.
 

raymie

Well-known member
United States
The Trogons are not present in the winter, are they? And some other species, especially those living around the "sky islands" may be gone as well, because the mountains are quite high and winters surprisingly harsh in them. I mean we went there in spring, in a period specifically selected for the Trogons to be there and we still haven't seen them, it's just not easy!

As you mention other wildlife, I would like to note that southern Arizona is especially known for mammals. Again, I am not sure about where winter can mean access difficulties, but there are Ringtails, Coatis, Bears and all sorts of other stuff. If you are into that, I cannot recommend Vladimir Dinets' book on where to find mammals ( https://www.amazon.com/Peterson-Finding-Mammals-America-Guides/dp/0544373278 ) enough, it's worth every cent and the Arizona part is really extensive.
I own Vlaimir Dinets' book, it is very helpful!

From what I have read and seen on eBird, most of the trogons leave in winter but small numbers stay around and migrate to lower elevations.
 

Lisa W

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
The Trogons are more easily found in winter over the last few years. They have been found wintering in Patagonia State Park, Huachuca and Garden Canyons (might be hard as these are on Ft. Huachuca military base and access is somewhat limited), and in the Chiricahuas - this area is probably a little to far from Tucson.
 

Lisa W

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I mean we went there in spring, in a period specifically selected for the Trogons to be there and we still haven't seen them, it's just not easy!
Jan, the Trogon is the bird that got me into birding. A birding friend came to visit and wanted to see them; no luck. It took me 4 years of looking in the spring to finally find it in the Huachucas. Dang bird I could hear that “dog bark” call but couldn’t find them.
9F9F4FB0-1CA5-41FE-BA2A-80D326122D52.jpeg
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
We have spent several days around the Madera Canyon, even met some people who have "just" seen a Trogon, but no luck. For such a bulky and colorful bird it's really hard to see! I would have been bummed, because back when we first planned the trip, ti was the "finally see a Trogon" trip, but in the meanwhile, we saw two species in Malaysia :)
 

Lisa W

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
We have spent several days around the Madera Canyon, even met some people who have "just" seen a Trogon, but no luck. For such a bulky and colorful bird it's really hard to see! I would have been bummed, because back when we first planned the trip, ti was the "finally see a Trogon" trip, but in the meanwhile, we saw two species in Malaysia :)
They do seem to hide better than any bird I’ve ever tried to find. I lived and worked right in the Huachuca mountains and spent so much time not finding them it was very discouraging. I would love to see the ones in the east or in Central/South America.
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Trogons have a superior technique to avoid getting detected, they mostly do not move.
For a bird that mostly stays out of the tree tops, that is a very effective strategy.

Full disclosure, am 0 for two visits to the Portal region of Arizona, Trogons only south of the border.
 

raymie

Well-known member
United States
It's now looking very likely that this trip will have to be moved to spring (probably late March/early April), how does this change things?
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
It's now looking very likely that this trip will have to be moved to spring (probably late March/early April), how does this change things?

That's when we were (basically right at the March/April bounary) there and that was really splendid - flowers in full bloom, bird migration and no snow to hinder any access. It was also a mind-blowing season in the forests, because the trees had autumn - we were told they don't go around based on typical seasons, but rainfall, which is timed differently.
 

raymie

Well-known member
United States
That's when we were (basically right at the March/April bounary) there and that was really splendid - flowers in full bloom, bird migration and no snow to hinder any access. It was also a mind-blowing season in the forests, because the trees had autumn - we were told they don't go around based on typical seasons, but rainfall, which is timed differently.
Sounds like that's the best time to go then!
 

Lisa W

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Late March and early April are a great time in Southern Arizona. You should be able to see a lot of birds that might have been harder to find in winter (depending on the weather in winter).
If I could pick only one time to be in SE AZ it would probably be mid-April to mid-May to catch the most birds.
 

mesquite

New member
"Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona" is an excellent guide. You can find it on the Tucson Audubon web site here:

 

jurek

Well-known member
This book is, unfortunately, practically unavailable abroad... And by the time you get to Arizona, it is a bit too late to plan.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
This book is, unfortunately, practically unavailable abroad... And by the time you get to Arizona, it is a bit too late to plan.
This one might work for an international link, it's not the one from Audubon Tucson, but the ABA Guides are good in their own right (I own the one for Florida and most of their hotspots listed are among the best ones I've been to and they have detailed directions on how to get to them): https://www.amazon.com/Birders-Guid...st+Arizona+Revised+8th+Edition,aps,199&sr=8-2
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top