By: Steve Huggins
There are so many areas of Arizona that are considered birding hotspots. In the southeast, these areas include the Tucson area (Mount Lemmon and Saguaro National Park), Santa Rita Mountain Range (Madera Canyon, Box Canyon, Tubac, Green Valley), Sonoita Creek Valley (Patagonia State Park, Patagonia Roadside Rest Stop, Paton’s Hummingbird Garden), Huachuca Mountains (Sierra Vista, Carr Canyon, Ash Canyon, Miller Canyon, Beatty’s Hummingbird Feeders, Wilcox), Chiricahua Mountain (Portal, Cave Creek Canyon, Pinery Canyon) and the San Pedro River lowlands.
Mount Lemmon looms over the northern edge of Tucson, and rises to over 9000ft elevation therefore many different habitats can be found on the drive up and the weather can be extremely comfortable, highlights here can include Red-faced Warbler, Olive Warbler, and Pygmy Nuthatch. Tucson Audubon Society leads birding trips in Tucson, which is an area filled with desert scrub. Saguaro National Park has both lowland deserts and pine forest, and has several species of birds that can be seen in very few other places in the United States such as Gilded Flicker, Elf Owl and local races of Purple Martin.
Madera Canyon has four life zones that create beautiful wildlife habitats, and offers a resting place for migrating birds. It is home to over 250 bird species, including 15 species of hummingbirds.
Box Canyon is often a place people rush past to get to Madera Canyon, but Box Canyon is filled with open grasslands for great bird viewing, it is also one of the best places to see the rare Five-striped Sparrow in the US. Tubac is known for its greenery and trees, making it a great habitat for birds to thrive including Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Lucy’s Warbler. The Patagonia area is famous for its breeding Rose-throated Becards as well as the Paton’s Hummingbird Garden where the rare Violet-crowned Hummingbird can often be found.
The Huachuca Mountains (where Ramsey Canyon and Miller Canyon are located) have a great reputation for birders, where many birds native to Arizona and the Southwest can be seen. Ash Canyon has a bird sanctuary with a photo blind available to reserve. The bird feeders at Beatty’s Guest Ranch in Miller Canyon are known for being one of the best spots in the USA to see rare hummingbirds. Carr Canyon is a great location to find the rare Buff-breasted Flycatcher and Greater Pewee. The San Pedro River lowlands are lined up with trees, giving greenery in an otherwise dry area. These trees make a great home for both breeding and migrant birds. Sedona is near the Verde River, which is a major birding hotspot for the area.
Owen and I have photographed the Elegant Trogon, Botteri’s Sparrow, Inca Dove, Eastern Bluebird, Mexican Jay, various hummingbird species, and many more birds in Arizona.
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