Southeast Arizona’s Birding Hotspots Express - Summer Edition 2020

August 12 - 16, 2020

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. Join us as we explore Southeast Arizona’s birding hotspots near Tucson, Nogales and Sierra Vista.


Day 1 (Wed, Aug 12) ~ Morning arrival to Tucson International Airport (TUS). We’ll spend some time birding in Tucson before heading to Santa Rita Lodge for late afternoon and evening birding.  

Accommodations: Santa Rita Lodge – Madera Canyon

Meals: Lunch

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

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 2 (Thurs, Aug 13): Full day of birding in Madera Canyon near the lodge and surrounding areas.

Accommodations: Best Western Sonora Inn & Suites or similar

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 3 (Fri, Aug 14): This morning, we’ll check out of our hotel and head east to Patagonia area hotspots.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express – Sierra Vista or similar

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

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.

Day 4 (Sat, Aug 15): Full day at Huachuca Mountain and Canyon hotspots.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express – Sierra Vista or similar

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

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.

Day 5 (Sun, Aug 16): We’ll make our way back to Tucson in time for an afternoon flight home. Birding en route.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch


Price: $1375* per person sharing double occupancy accommodations. Supplement for private accommodations on single occupancy basis: $285*.

Inclusions: accommodations, four breakfasts and five lunches (meal gratuities included), ground transportation in a 12-passenger Ford Transit or similar, full-time driver/guide, and entrance fees.

Exclusions: airfare, travel insurance, alcohol, dinners, optional gratuities, and items of a personal nature.

Group size: Minimum 6; max 9 participants

Plan to arrive to Tucson International Airport (TUS) by 9:30 am on August 12 and depart from TUS after 4 pm on August 16.  If you prefer to drive to the meeting point in Tucson instead of fly, we are happy to suggest wildlife and birding stops along the way during your drive.

*A 3% discount will be applied to payments by check.