Birding

Welcome to one of the world's birding destinations. Whether you'd like to know the local resident birds or find rare species for your life list, southern Arizona has them! The following sights are great for bird watching and located generally around Nogales and the Santa Cruz County area. The location information is courteousy of the Southeastern Arizona Birding Trail guide.

 

Birding

Las Lagunas de Anza
A major stop on the Anza Trail, this lush wetlands area was restored in 2012 and received the prestigious 2012 National Wetlands Award. Sycamores and reeds are great habitats for the common and rare birds found throughout SE Arizona, including birds like Grebe, Heron, Mexican Duck, Rail, hummingbirds, vulture, and many others.
Habitat: Wetland/Riparian Woodland
Season: All year
Location: Take the Grand Avenue exit (Exit 8, I-19) then west on Country Club Drive. Across from St. Andrews Church
Access: 24 hours. Mostly private owned, pull compeltely off the road.

 

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
At one time, the Santa Cruz was lined with cottonwoods and flowed throughout the year. Thanks to innovative water treatment lants, it flows again in a few places, and the vegetation and birds are returning. Two developments have set aside an easement corridor along the river in their plans. Great birding can be found along the trail with orioles, warblers, tanagers, and hummingbirds in migration and summer. The water also attracts ducks, ibis, herons, and kingfishers and is becoming known for speciality birds like Rose-throated Becard, Black Vulture, and Tropical Kingbird. The National Historic Trail commemorates de Anza's trek to California, founding the City of San Francisco. Facilities are located at the State Park and Tubac. Be sure to stop by historic Tubac, which is gaining a reputation for its art shops and restaurants.
Habitat: Cottonwood-Willow Riparian Woodland
Season: All year
Location: From Tubac, take Tubac Road to Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, continue to picnic area and trailhead. From Rio Rico (exit 17, I-19) continue east on Rio Rico Drive to River.
Access: 24 hours. Mostly privately owned so stay on the trail. Donations accepted.

 

HawkTumacacori National Historic Park
The mission, first established in 1691, is located adjacent to the migratory bird corridor along the Santa Cruz River. The grounds are good for southwestern birds. Access to the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and the river are nearby.
Habitat: Mesquite Bosque/Riparian Woodland
Seasons: All year, spring best
Location: Exit 29, I-19, 15 minutes north of Nogales
Access: 8 am to 5 pm daily (no restrictions to the trail and river)

 

Kino Springs
The Kino Springs ponds and surrounding mesquite thicket have been a well-known birding area for years. In addition to waterfowl and wetland birds such as rails, you will find many of the area regulars: Bronzed Cowbird, several flycatchers, Abett's Towhee, orioles, and Lesser Goldfinch. The site is also becoming known for Green Kingfisher which is more likely in winter, but can show up anytime.
Habitat: Aquatic/Riparian Woodland
Seasons: All year
Location: East of Nogales, take Highway 82 east 6 miles to Kino Springs Drive, south 2 miles.
Access: 6 am to 7 pm. Complimentary entry for birders, so please be courteous. Pull of the road completely and stay off the golf course.

 

Patagonia Lake State Park
Bodies of open water are not common in SE Arizona, so when they occur you find birds unusual for a desert. Neotropic, Cormorant, Common Loon, Eared Grebe, common Goldenye, and Osprey are some of the winter birds found in open water, while the reeds will shelter rails, Common Snipe, and Swamp Sparrow. Choose to walk the 2-mile shore trail, or take a pontoon boat birding trip.
Habitat: Lake/Wetland/Riparian Woodland
Season: Winter
Location: 15 miles northeast of Nogales off Highway 82, then west 4 miles on lake Patagonia Road.
Access: 4 am to 10 pm daily, paved

 

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek PreserveYellow Trees
The lush vegetation along Sonoita Creek attracts birds and birders all year and is one of the best areas for finding rare and exotic species. Name a southeast Arizona bird, and it has probably been seen here. Entry fees vary, and donations are appreciated.
Habitat: Riparian Woodland
Seasons: All year, best March through September
Location: 150 Blue Heaven Road, Patagonia, AZ 85624

In Patagonia, take 4th Ave northwest, then southwest on Pennsylvania Ave, to the Preserve
Access: Wed-Sun 7:30 am to 4:00 pm October through March; 6:30 am to 4 pm April through September

 

Bog Hole Wildlife Area
The picturesque San Rafael Valley forms a backdrop for this site that features grasslands and a small pond. The grasslands are a little more difficult to work, but you may find Baird's Sparrow, Sprague's Pipit, or longspurs. Mexican Duck use the pond in summer. Bald eagles occassionaly observed in winter. Pronghorn antelope near the site are a regular bonus.
Habitat: Grassland/Wetland
Seasons: All  year
Location: Southeast of Patagonia, FS Rd. 58 10 miles, turn north on on FS Rd 765, go 2 miles, take dirt road on right, go 1/2 mile.
Access: 24 hours daily. High clearance vehicle recommended. Avoid after rains.

 

Madera Canyon
Maderia is just one of several sycamore canyons in SE Arizona where you're likely to find Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Flamulated Owl, Red-faced Warbler, Grace's Warbler, and a great selection of sourgh-after hummingbirds. A paved road takes you to good birding along the lower canyon, but there are miles of hiking trails for more strenuous birding.
Seasons: Spring to fall best.
Location: Exit 63 off I-19 near Green Valley, take Continential Ranch Road to Whitehouse Canyon Road to Madera Canyon.
Access: 24 hours daily. Paved. Parking limited at times. Picnic areas closed 10 pm to 6 am.

 

RoadrunnerSanta Rita Lodge
Located in Madera Canyon north of Tubac and Nogales, the public is welcome to join in on lawnchair hummer watching in the front area, which can fascinate you for hours. Madera Canyon is at the upper end of the range for desert species and the lower end for mountains pecies. July or August is about the peak season to view Arizona's 16 species of hummingbirds.
Habitat: Oak/Sycamore/Juniper in lower canyon; Pine/Aspen in upper canyon.
Seasons: All year, spring to fall best.
Location: Exit 63 off I-19 near Green Valley, take Continential Ranch Road to Whitehouse Canyon Road to Madera Canyon.
Access: 24 hours daily. Paved.

 

Arivaca Lake
The 80-acre lake has been known to turn up some interesting waterbirds. Grebes, occasional Brown Pelican in summer, and even a frigatebird have been spotted on or over the lake. Limited access to overgrown trail that follows the shoreline. Camping is primitive. Consult Arizona hunting regulations for dates of fall hunts if you have concerns about crowding.
Habitat: Aquatic
Season: Winter
Location: 7 miles south of Arivaca off Ruby Road
Access: Last 2 miles not paved, avoid after rain.

 

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge/Arivaca Cienega and Creek
The wetlands and cottonwood-willow riparian sites on the east side of the Wildlife Refuge are one fo the best palces to find Gray Hawks in season. Wermilion Flycatchers are present all year and are joined by tanagers, orioles, and Yellow-breasted Chat in summer. Most of the speciality birds of SE Arizona have been seen here, as well as rarities like Ruddy Ground-Dove and Neotropic Cormorant. The wetlands at the Cienega feature a boardwalk and viewing decks. Facilities are available in the town of Arivaca.
Habitat: Wetlands/Riparian Woodland
Season: All year, especially good in Spring
Location: Cienega: 1/4 mile east of the town of Arivaca; Arivaca Creek: 2 miles west of town
Access: Sunrise to sunset

 

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge/Grasslands
The grasslands of this extensive wildlife refuge are one ofthe best places to try your skills at winter sparrows, hawks, and other birds that relish ungrazed grasslands, so rare int he West. Loggerhead Shrike, Baird's Sparrow, fourt types of quail including the endangered Masked Bobwhite, and White-tailed Kite are just a few birds to look for. Keep an eye out for pronghorn antelope, which have been reintroduced. Primitive campsites.
Habitat: Grassland
Season: All year, but winter for sparrow diversity
Location: 30 miles northwest of Nogales at milepost 7 off Highway 286
Access: 24 hours daily. Visit Center not always staffed