Southeast Arizona’s Birding Hotspots Express - Spring Migration Edition

April 26-30, 2023

Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

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.

Join us as we explore Southeast Arizona’s birding hotspots during spring migration.  This is Arizona birding at its best!

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 habitat in this trip to Arizona, one of his favorite states for birding.


Day 1 (Wed, Apr 26) ~ Morning arrival to Tucson International Airport (TUS). We’ll hit one or two Tucson area hotspots to start. We’ll then continue at the Willcox Playa/ Cochise Lakes IBA (Important Bird Area) hotspots before ending in Portal where we’ll spend the next two nights.

Accommodations: Portal Peak Lodge

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Willcox Playa/ Cochise Lakes ~ The heart of this IBA is the massive Willcox Playa, a broad alkaline lakebed fringed with semi-desert grassland (primarily saltgrass and sacaton) and mesquite.  The playa is seasonally flooded to a shallow depth. Outlying this playa are the satellite lakes and wetlands of Cochise Lakes (aka Lake Cochise) and the Twin Lakes Golf Course.

Day 2 (Thu, Apr 27): Full day of birding Stateline Road (NM/AZ), the Portal area, and Chiricahua National Forest in the afternoon with our local guide. Our day culminates with a nocturnal outing in search of owls and other nocturnal specialties in the region.

Accommodations: Portal Peak Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Chiricahua Mountains ~ one of several “sky islands” in southeastern Arizona. Sky Islands are isolated mountain ranges surrounded by lowland desert or grassland. They rank on every Top 10 list of birding destinations in the United States and are one of the few places to find Mexican Chickadee in the country.

Day 3 (Fri, Apr 28): There’s still time this morning for more Chiricahua birding with our local guide before heading to the Sierra Vista/Hereford area where we’ll spend the next two nights. Birding en route.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express Sierra Vista

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4 (Sat, Apr 29): Full day at San Pedro River and Huachuca Mountain and Canyon hotspots.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express Sierra Vista

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Huachuca Mountains ~ home to some of the best birding in Arizona. The quantity and diversity of hummingbirds are probably unmatched anywhere else in the US. Other possible highlights today include Arizona Woodpecker, Montezuma Quail, Spotted Owl, and Elegant Trogon.

Day 5 (Sun, Apr 30): We’ll make our way back to Tucson in time for an afternoon flight home. Birding en route with stops dependent on recent sightings, time, and group’s interests.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch


Price: $1750* per person based on two people sharing double occupancy accommodations. Add $245* if you prefer a private, single occupancy room. 

Inclusions: accommodations in a standard room, all meals starting with lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 5, private ground transportation, driver/guide (Chip Clouse from Reefs to Rockies), daily birding with spotting scope available, additional local guide on Day 2 & half of Day 3, entrance fees and sugar funds.

Exclusions: flights, travel insurance, alcohol, optional activities, gratuities, and items of a personal nature.

*Price is based on payment by check. Credit card fees, if applicable will be assessed at time of payment based on card used.

Group size: 6-9 participants + driver/guide (Chip Clouse from Reefs to Rockies)

Level of Difficulty: Easy to Moderate. When seeking out birds on foot, there will be primarily short to moderate walks on a variety of terrain. In some of the mountain canyons, we will walk on established trails of varying steepness with some uneven, rocky 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.

Plan to arrive to Tucson International Airport (TUS) by 11 am on April 26 and depart from TUS after 4:30 pm on April 30, 2023.