May 1 – 8, 2023
Tour Length: 8 days
Birds, Photography, Southeastern Arizona scenery & culture
Double Accommodation: $3400/person
Single Supplement: + $550
Max Group Size
7 + 1 leader; 2 leaders if more, up to 12
Easy to Moderate, optional longer walks on easy trails, some late outings for owls and nightjars
This tour starts and ends in Tucson, which lies at the heart of southeast Arizona’s birding paradise. Southeast Arizona harbors a high diversity of habitats that are packed into a relatively small corner of the state. Here mountain ranges, like the famous Chiricahuas and Huachucas, rise above the Sonoran Desert, earning them the appropriate name of “sky islands”. These mountains are islands indeed, supporting lush woodlands of sycamores and oaks in red-hued canyons, stately spruce and fir forest at the highest elevations, and productive grasslands at middle elevations. The views of the rhyolite tuff and the hoodoos formed by millions of years of erosion in the Chiricahua National Monument are unforgettable. To the east, the high desert offers drier habitats and a different set of birds.
Further west we will make stops in the Sonoita Creek area to bird in the lush riparian zone and also venture into the bird-rich canyons of the nearby Huachucas. A day will be spent traveling to the Atascosa and Pajarito mountains in search of the localized Five-striped Sparrow and other specialties. A half-day in the Santa Rita Mountain’s Madera Canyon will add diversity and photographic opportunities.
It is not surprising that these varied habitats support the largest diversity of breeding birds in the United States and many species typical of northern Mexico’s mountains barely cross the border here, many having extremely small ranges in the United States. Covering all the hotspots, we will have an excellent chance of seeing all the specialties of southeast Arizona. The species we seek include Zone-tailed and Gray Hawks, the elusive Montezuma Quail, ten or more hummingbird species are possible, Arizona Woodpecker, Thick-billed and Tropical Kingbirds, Sulphur-bellied, Dusky-capped, and Buff-breasted Flycatchers, Greater Pewee, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Mexican Chickadee, Bendireʼs and Crissal Thrashers, Olive and Red-faced Warblers, Painted Redstart, Abertʼs Towhee, Rufous-winged, Five-striped, and Botteriʼs Sparrows, Yellow-eyed Junco, and the beautiful Elegant Trogon.
Throughout the tour, we will make special efforts to seek the many species of nocturnal birds resident in southeast Arizona during this time of year and we should have excellent chances to catch up with Whiskered and Western Screech-Owls, the difficult Flammulated Owl, diurnal Northern Pygmy-Owl, the world’s smallest owl the Elf Owl, and the impressive Spotted Owl. While we may see some of these species during the day we will devote considerable effort to “owling” and may see other night birds, including Common Poorwill and the recently split Mexican Whip-poor-will. Outings at night could also produce interesting sightings of mammals.
Montezuma Quail; Elegant Trogon; Arizona Woodpecker; Gilded Flicker; Crissal & Bendire’s Thrashers; Dusky-capped&Buff-breasted Flycatchers; Thick-billed Kingbird; Olive Warbler; Red-faced Warblers; Painted Redstart; Rufous-winged&Five-striped Sparrows; Lucifer, White-eared, Rivoli’s, Broad-billed, Violet-crowned Hummingbirds; Blue-throated Mountain-gem; Buff-collared Nightjar; Northern Pygmy, Whiskered Screech, Flammulated, Elf & Spotted Owls and many Arizona and southwest desert specialties
Collared Peccary; Black Bear; Ringtail; American Hog-nosed Skunk; Bobcat; Mountain Lion (very rare)
desert flats, mesquite thickets, grassland, riparian forest, and mountain coniferous forests
Along the way, we enjoy wonderful scenery, mountain views, wild west landscapes, and historical towns.
Tucson airport airport hotel (has shuttle), meeting 6 pm in the lobby for a welcome dinner
2 to 3 star and comfortable
7 nights lodging, all meals, transportation, entrance fees, guiding
Alcohol, personal calls, laundry, and other personal expenses
Temperatures will range from mild to hot, sometimes in the 90’s; it can be cool in the early mornings in the mountains and very warm in the desert lowlands
Suggested Clothing and Gear
Credit cards/cash; Binoculars; Scope and tripod (optional); Sunglasses and sunscreen; Water bottle; Small umbrella; Small day pack/fanny pack; Small flashlight; Mosquito/insect repellant (DEET 25% or greater); Itch relief cream; Lip screen/balm; Prescription drugs – carry in original packaging to avoid customs problems; OTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal); Toiletries; Small alarm clock; Field guides; Hiking Boots/Shoes; Lightweight shoes/sneakers/sandals; Light-weight long pants; Light-weight long-sleeved shirts; Hat with brim/visor; Safari (e.g., Tilly) hat; Rain jacket/windbreaker; Fleece jacket; Shorts; T-shirts; PJs or shorts for lounging/sleeping