Southeast Arizona’s Birding Hotspots Express - Summer Edition 2022

August 13-17, 2022

Southeast Arizona offers some of the best birding in the world. The region’s diversity of landscapes, elevational range, and plant communities provide habitat for more than 400 species throughout the year. Montane vegetation extending from the Rockies meets southern flora from the Sierra Madre Occidental. On the east, the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts meet. Cool coniferous forests, oak and pine woodlands, deserts, and grasslands separate the mountain ranges. Birds associated with all of these habitats are easily accessible within a half-day drive from Tucson.

In August, summer monsoon rains continue, migration picks up, and bird diversity rises to its maximum. Numbers for most of the breeding specialties and hummingbirds peak. Shorebirds and swallows congregate at ponds and migrant warblers are common as the month ends.

We’ll start our days birding at lower elevations and then head to cooler canyons and feeders as temps rise. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the region’s natural history and animal diversity. Our accommodations are birding hotspots, too so you can start birding as soon as you wake up without even leaving the properties.

Join us as we explore Southeast Arizona’s birding hotspots near Tucson, Sierra Vista, Patagonia, Tubac and Green Valley.

ABOUT YOUR GUIDE: Chip Clouse is a long-time bird tour leader and Reefs to Rockies’ Lead Naturalist Guide. He’s also ProStaff for Opticron Optics and Former Manager of Front Range Birding Company.

Originally enamored with tooth and claw predators, his fascination with birds started by volunteering with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to monitor Peregrine Falcon nest sites. His fascination and love for birds was cemented once he saw his first Western Tanager while working for the Peregrine Fund in Oregon. Chip’s experience includes 20 years of bird research and project management experience in nine states and the Caribbean nation of Grenada, a Masters in Conservation Biology from Colorado State University, five years with the American Birding Association, two years as a rep with Novagrade Digiscoping adapters and stints guiding at 15+ different US birding festivals. Chip is excited to share his love of birds and Arizona in this trip.

ITINERARY

Day 1 (Sat, Aug 13) ~ Morning arrival to Tucson International Airport (TUS). We’ll spend some time birding in Tucson before heading to the Sierra Vista/Hereford area for late afternoon birding.  

Accommodations: Casa de San Pedro B&B in Hereford

Meals: Lunch and Welcome Dinner

Agua Caliente Regional Park ~ Agua Caliente, literally meaning hot water, is a unique 101-acre park with a perennial warm spring. An artificial stream links together three ponds within the park. The ponds are fed by the spring water and support diverse wildlife and fish populations. The spring flow fluctuates during the year—at various times, due to drought, visitors may see the lower ponds dry. Human habitation has been found to date back about 5,500 years. The site makes for a perfect place for our introduction to Southeast Arizona birding.

Day 2 (Sun, Aug 14): Full day of birding in Huachuca Mountains and surrounding areas including iconic spots like Ramsey Canyon, Miller Canyon and Ash Canyon.  We’ll start our morning birding the fabulous grounds of Casa de San Pedro and the nearby San Pedro River Trail before breakfast!

Accommodations: Casa de San Pedro B&B

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3 (Mon, Aug 15): This morning, we’ll check out of the B&B after breakfast and head west to Patagonia area hotspots, then north to the Tubac area before ending in Madera Canyon.

Accommodations: Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Patagonia ~ a little town in Sonoita Creek valley. Offers great birding and is close to additional famous hotspots nearby including Patagonia Lake State Park and the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Stops today will be determined by recent sightings and the group’s interest.

Tubac ~ Nestled between the Tumacacori and Santa Rita mountain ranges, Tubac is a small community known as the place where art and history (Presidio State Park and the nearby Tumacacori National Historical Park) meet. For birders, it’s the lush greenery and tall trees of the Santa Cruz River riparian area and the De Anza Trail that are the draw. While we will only spend a couple hours here, the chance for unique raptors, flycatchers, and maybe a Rose-throated Becard makes this worth a stop.

Day 4 (Tues, Aug 16): Full day at Madera Canyon area hotspots. The best part about this day is that we wake up in one of the most iconic birding spots in SE Arizona if not the whole US and can bird from the porch!

Accommodations: Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Farewell Dinner

Santa Rita Mountains ~ an Important Bird Area (IBA) that includes Madera Canyon, one of the most famous birding sites in Southeast Arizona. This canyon’s habitat consists of riparian woodland along an intermittent stream, bordered by oak woodland and mountain forests. Highlight birds include four species of tanagers, hummingbirds, owls, flycatchers, and warblers.   

Day 5 (Wed, Aug 17): We’ll check-out of Santa Rita Lodge and make our way toward Tucson Mountain Park and Sweetwater Wetlands in time for a mid-afternoon flight home.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch 

Sweetwater Wetlands ~ open-water ponds, cattail and bulrush marsh, cottonwoods, willows, dead snags, a flowing stream, and gravel-lined basins amidst disturbed desert scrub. This is one of the most reliable places in the Tucson area to see Harris’s Hawks.

DETAILS

Price: $1750* per person based on two people sharing double occupancy accommodations. Add $410* for private, single occupancy accommodations. 

Inclusions: accommodations in prime birding locations, guide (Chip Clouse), driver, daily guided birding with spotting scope available, entrance fees, and all meals starting with lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 5.

Exclusions: airfare, optional gratuities, and activities not listed in the itinerary.

Group Size: Min 6 and Max 8 participants + Chip Clouse + Driver. We are known for having smaller group sizes with a better birder to guide ratio than most companies offering similar itineraries. 

Level of Difficulty: Easy to Moderate. This trip involves many opportunities to sit and watch hummingbirds and other feeder birds at incredible feeding stations. When seeking out birds on foot, there will be primarily short to moderate walks on a variety of terrain. Many birding stops will involve mostly-level roadside pulloffs and paths. In some of the mountain canyons, we will walk on established trails of varying steepness with some uneven terrain. Some locations have benches available for resting and there may be the option to stay at feeding stations rather than hike. Most walks will be under a mile with a total distance of up to three to five miles on a given day.