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Birding Field Trips

 

General Information

  • Tucson Audubon field trips are free, unless stated otherwise.
  • It is customary for carpool passengers to help pay for fuel and other vehicle-related costs at the end of each trip. 10 cents/mile is a good place to start; use Google Maps for mileage.
  • Contact the trip leader with questions. For general questions or help registering, contact the Field Trip Coordinator, Luke Safford , 520-209-1811.
  • Trip leaders: Learn more about them! Leaders are in charge of all aspects of the day’s birding.
  • Trip birding ethics: Tucson Audubon adheres to the American Birding Association’s position on birding ethics: http://listing.aba.org/ethics
  • To register for a trip: Click on the registration link at the end of that trip’s description and you will receive a confirmation email. If the trip is full you will be put on the waiting list but will not receive an email.
  • Waiting list: If a place becomes available, you will be contacted by the field trip coordinator.
  • Cancellations: Contact the leader or coordinator ASAP to free your space.

Current Field Trips

October

October 24–Wednesday 7:00 a.m.
Sabino Canyon
Trip Rating: Moderate. Walking Distance: 4 miles. Ground Conditions: Rocky trails and uneven pavement.
We’ll bird Sabino Canyon Recreation Area walking a loop that includes both Sonoran desert upland and Sabino Creek riparian areas. Meet at the ramada by the Visitor’s Center at 5700 N Sabino Canyon Road. $5 parking fee. Return around 10 am. Sunhat, water and walking shoes recommended. Leader is a Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalist. Limited to 12 participants. Field Trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leader: Julie Michael, jbirdsaz123@gmail.com

October 28–Sunday 7:00 a.m.
Pena Blanca Lake
Join Clifford for late season migrants at one of our better migrant traps. The trail areas are mostly paved and level and expect about 1-2 miles of walking. Meet at the Green Valley McDonalds on Continental Road at 7:00 AM. Please do not show up at the meeting spot without successful registration. Trip is limited to 20 registrants. Field Trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leader: Clifford Cathers, 520.982.3272

November

November 2 – Friday 8:00 a.m.
Sabino Canyon

Trip Rating: Easy. Walking Distance: 3 miles. Elevation Gain: 25 feet. Ground Conditions: Rocky Trails.
We’ll bird Sabino Canyon Recreation Area walking a loop that includes both Sonoran desert upland and Sabino Creek riparian area. Meet at the ramada by the Visitor’s Center at 5700 N Sabino Canyon Road. $5 parking fee. Return by 11 am. Sunhat, water and walking shoes always recommended. Leaders are Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists. Limit 15 participants. Field Trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leaders: Jean & Mark Hengesbaugh (jhhenge@gmail.com)

November 2 — Friday 7:00 a.m.
Birding with Noah, Tucson Audubon’s “Fly” Gala opportunity
Cost: $450/person includes ticket to the Gala
Join Global Adventurer Noah Strycker, along with John Yerger and Jake Mohlmann of Adventure Birding Company, on a tour of the species rich Patagonia area and the Las Cienegas grasslands. Patagonia and surroundings are one of southeast Arizona’s best-known destinations for riparian birds. The Paton Center for Hummingbirds will provide a great spot to have our lunch, not to mention the possibility of spotting Violet-crowned Hummingbirds! Nearby, the grasslands adjacent to Sonoita hold an entirely different set of species, including specialized sparrows, Lilian’s Eastern Meadowlark, Loggerhead Shrikes, and maybe a White-tailed Kite. Please register for this special trip here.
Questions? Please contact Gala Coordinator, Katie Brown, kbrown@tucsonaudubon.org

November 3–Saturday 8:00 a.m.
Mason Center/Arthur Pack Park
Trip Rating: Easy; Walking Distance: 2.5 miles; Trip Duration: 2 hr 45 min; Elevation Gain: none; Ground Condition: groomed trail. Restrooms at 2 locations along the walk. Drinking water not available on trail.
Join Tucson Audubon for an introduction to birdwatching basics and our Mason Center. After feeder watching at the Center, stroll across Hardy Rd to Arthur Pack Park for some 20 to 30 more species along the trails in Arthur Pack Park and golf course pond. Great for families. Loaner binoculars available. See map for directions to the Mason Center (3835 W. Hardy Rd.) on the corner of Hardy and Thornydale in NW Tucson. No online registration necessary.
Leader: Mary Ellen Flynn. Call 520-209-1811 with any questions.

November 8–Thursday 8:00 a.m.
Mission Garden
Trip Rating: Easy. Distance 0.25 to 0.50 mile. Elevation gain: none. Ground conditions: Smooth, ADA-accessible dirt trails.
Explore this reconstruction of the four-acre 18th-century garden at the base of “A” Mountain that was associated with the Mission San Agustin (the northern-most mission in Arizona). See a variety of birds among gardens, crops and orchards depicting all the eras and ethnic groups associate with Tucson’s past. This site has been farmed over 4,000 years and is considered Tucson’s birthplace. This walk is good for beginning bird watchers, gardeners and those interested in attracting birds to their yards. Along the way you’ll see the wide variety of food-plants that can grow in Tucson and we’ll point out some of the many bird-friendly plants at the garden. Suggested $5 donation at the gate. No online registration necessary. Meet at Mission Garden, 946 W Mission Lane (just east of Grande Road on Mission Lane).
Leader: Kendall Kroesen, kkroesen@cox.net, 520-971-2385

November 8 – Thursday 5:00 a.m.
San Rafael Grasslands, Early Winter Scouting
Trip Rating: Easy, with short strolls from vehicles through flat grasslands
Dawn in the San Rafael Valley is a winter highlight, not to be missed. We’re planning to get down there as the sun comes up, look for the perennial Short-eared Owl hunting at the valley entrance and then hopefully catch some sparrows trying to dry off and warm up on near-by fences. We’ll also scout some waterholes in the area for early-arriving flocks of longspurs and other winter visitors. Return early afternoon, bring water, snacks, and optics, warm clothes for the cool morning. Limited to 12 participants total; final meeting instructions by email. Field Trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leader: Tim Helentjaris, tnhelentjaris@msn.com

November 10 – Saturday 7:00 a.m.
Rancho Santa Cruz
Trip Rating: Moderate. Walking Distance: 2 miles. Ground Conditions: uneven trails and possibly sandy conditions
Rancho Santa Cruz (www.ranchosantacruz.us) is a B&B created from a beautifully renovated historic ranch. This field trip has been granted special permission to access their 130 acre private parcel on the Santa Cruz River in Tumacacori. The property is just south of the Santa Gertrudis Lane section of the Santa Cruz River that has yielded many rarities, including last winter’s Sinaloa Wren and Rufous-backed Robin flock. We will bird the ranch property and the river habitat, and then enjoy any snacks or lunches we brought back at the ranch house. Return early afternoon. Bring water, snacks, packed lunch (optional), and optics. The B&B currently has vacancies the nights before and after the trip. Meet at the Green Valley McDonald’s on Continental Rd at 7:00 a.m. or at Rancho Santa Cruz at 7:30 a.m. Field Trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leaders: Richard Fray and Jennie MacFarland

November 13–Tuesday 9:00 a.m.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Trip Rating: Easy. Distance 0.25 to 0.50 mile. Elevation gain: none. Ground conditions: paved and smooth dirt trails.
Tucson Audubon partners with the Tucson Botanical Gardens for a garden bird walk. The walk is especially good for beginning bird watchers and those interested in attracting birds to their own yards. Along the way we’ll point out some of the many bird-friendly plants at the gardens and give you ideas for how to bring birds into your own yard. There will be a limited number of loaner binoculars for guests to borrow. The birding is free but there is an entrance fee to enter the gardens. Meet at the gardens–2150 N Alvernon Way. No online registration necessary.
Leader: Vivian MacKinnon, v_mackinnon@yahoo.com

November 17 – Saturday 7:00 a.m.
Buenos Aires NWR
Trip Rating: Medium effort. Possibly includes short walks (1 mile or less) on dirt trails, not much incline.
Located about an hour southwest of Tucson, the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge was created for the reintroduction of Masked Bobwhite and has nice areas of desert grassland and a few seasonal wetland areas that are surrounded by cottonwoods and willows. We’ll explore the refuge birding areas including possible areas like Aguirre Lake, the headquarters area, and Arivaca Cienega. Wintering raptors and sparrows should be around and maybe some shorebirds/ducks depending on water levels. Return early afternoon, bring water, snacks, and optics. Limited to 12 participants total; final meeting instructions by email. Field Trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leader: Scott Crabtree, the.crabtrees51@gmail.com, 505-699-9959

November 17–Saturday 8:00 a.m.
Mason Center/Arthur Pack Park
Trip Rating: Easy; Walking Distance: 2.5 miles; Trip Duration: 2 hr 45 min; Elevation Gain: none; Ground Condition: groomed trail. Restrooms at 2 locations along the walk. Drinking water not available on trail.
Join Tucson Audubon for an introduction to birdwatching basics and our Mason Center. After feeder watching at the Center, stroll across Hardy Rd to Arthur Pack Park for some 20 to 30 more species along the trails in Arthur Pack Park and golf course pond. Great for families. Loaner binoculars available. See map for directions to the Mason Center (3835 W. Hardy Rd.) on the corner of Hardy and Thornydale in NW Tucson. No online registration necessary.
Leader: Ray Deeney. Call 520-209-1811 with any questions.

November 19–Monday 7:30 a.m.
Florence Farmlands
Trip Rating: Easy. Mostly car birding, plus some walking on varied surfaces.
First we’ll drive Arizona Farms Road for possible Burrowing Owls and Ferruginous Hawks, with a stop at a cattle pen for blackbirds. Then we’ll head east into the farmlands behind the prisons. This seems an unlikely area, but can be quite productive, including sparrows, raptors, cardinals, meadowlarks, common desert birds and more. Limited to 7 participants. Reservations required. We will wrap up about 10:30 a.m. Difficulty 1 (mostly car birding, plus some walking on varied surfaces). Meeting place and carpooling logistics will be determined a few days before the trip. Field Trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leader: Kathe Anderson, kathe.coot@cox.net

November 23–Friday 7:00 a.m.
Black Friday Birding, Northeast Tucson
All birds 1/2 off with door buster surprises as always. Some slogging in sand in Tanque Verde Wash, but mostly 2-3 miles on easy flat ground. Meet behind the Pima County Sheriff’s Office at North Bear Canyon Road and Tanque Verde Road at 7:00 AM. Please do not show up at the meeting spot without successful registration. Trip is limited to 20 registrants. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, October 29.
Leader: Clifford Cathers, at 520.982.3272 for questions.

November 28–Wednesday 8:00 a.m.
Sabino Canyon
Trip Rating: Moderate. Walking Distance: 4 miles. Ground Conditions: Rocky trails and uneven pavement.
We’ll bird Sabino Canyon Recreation Area walking a loop that includes both Sonoran desert upland and Sabino Creek riparian areas. Meet at the ramada by the Visitor’s Center at 5700 N Sabino Canyon Road. $5 parking fee. Return around 11 am. Sunhat, water and walking shoes recommended. Leader is a Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalist. Limited to 12 participants. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, October 29.
Leader: Julie Michael, jbirdsaz123@gmail.com

December

December 1–Saturday 8:00 a.m.
Mason Center/Arthur Pack Park
Trip Rating: Easy; Walking Distance: 2.5 miles; Trip Duration: 2 hr 45 min; Elevation Gain: none; Ground Condition: groomed trail. Restrooms at 2 locations along the walk. Drinking water not available on trail.
Join Tucson Audubon for an introduction to birdwatching basics and our Mason Center. After feeder watching at the Center, stroll across Hardy Rd to Arthur Pack Park for some 20 to 30 more species along the trails in Arthur Pack Park and golf course pond. Great for families. Loaner binoculars available. See map for directions to the Mason Center (3835 W. Hardy Rd.) on the corner of Hardy and Thornydale in NW Tucson. No online registration necessary.
Leader: 
Jim Gessaman. Call 520-209-1811 with any questions.

December 7 – Friday 8:00 a.m.
Sabino Canyon

Trip Rating: Easy. Walking Distance: 3 miles. Elevation Gain: 25 feet. Ground Conditions: Rocky Trails.
We’ll bird Sabino Canyon Recreation Area walking a loop that includes both Sonoran desert upland and Sabino Creek riparian area. Meet at the ramada by the Visitor’s Center at 5700 N Sabino Canyon Road. $5 parking fee. Return by 11 am. Sunhat, water and walking shoes always recommended. Leaders are Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists. Limit 15 participants. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, November 5.
Leaders: Jean & Mark Hengesbaugh (jhhenge@gmail.com)

December 10 – Monday 7:30 a.m.
Santa Cruz Flats
Meeting Information: (start at Love’s Travel Stop off I-10 at the Sunland Gin exit at 7:30am, wrap up there about 11am. Further logistics to be sent out via email week of the trip.)
First we’ll head to Arizona City and check out the ponds there, which usually host a small variety of wintering waterfowl and common desert birds, before heading into the agricultural areas of the flats. This trip usually provides a variety of raptors, including Crested Caracara if we’re lucky, plus sparrows, meadowlarks, horned larks and possible burrowing owls and unexpected birds (such as Rufous-backed Robins) out of place or out of season. Limited to 7 participants. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, November 12.
Leader: Kathe Anderson, kathe.coot@cox.net

December 11–Tuesday 9:00 a.m.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Trip Rating: Easy. Distance 0.25 to 0.50 mile. Elevation gain: none. Ground conditions: paved and smooth dirt trails.
Tucson Audubon partners with the Tucson Botanical Gardens for a garden bird walk. The walk is especially good for beginning bird watchers and those interested in attracting birds to their own yards. Along the way we’ll point out some of the many bird-friendly plants at the gardens and give you ideas for how to bring birds into your own yard. There will be a limited number of loaner binoculars for guests to borrow. The birding is free but there is an entrance fee to enter the gardens. Meet at the gardens–2150 N Alvernon Way. No online registration necessary.
Leader: Vivian MacKinnon, v_mackinnon@yahoo.com

December 13–Thursday 8:00 a.m.
Mission Garden
Trip Rating: Easy. Distance 0.25 to 0.50 mile. Elevation gain: none. Ground conditions: Smooth, ADA-accessible dirt trails.
Explore this reconstruction of the four-acre 18th-century garden at the base of “A” Mountain that was associated with the Mission San Agustin (the northern-most mission in Arizona). See a variety of birds among gardens, crops and orchards depicting all the eras and ethnic groups associate with Tucson’s past. This site has been farmed over 4,000 years and is considered Tucson’s birthplace. This walk is good for beginning bird watchers, gardeners and those interested in attracting birds to their yards. Along the way you’ll see the wide variety of food-plants that can grow in Tucson and we’ll point out some of the many bird-friendly plants at the garden. Suggested $5 donation at the gate. No online registration necessary. Meet at Mission Garden, 946 W Mission Lane (just east of Grande Road on Mission Lane).
Leader: Kendall Kroesen, kkroesen@cox.net, 520-971-2385

December 15–Saturday 8:00 a.m.
Mason Center/Arthur Pack Park
Trip Rating: Easy; Walking Distance: 2.5 miles; Trip Duration: 2 hr 45 min; Elevation Gain: none; Ground Condition: groomed trail. Restrooms at 2 locations along the walk. Drinking water not available on trail.
Join Tucson Audubon for an introduction to birdwatching basics and our Mason Center. After feeder watching at the Center, stroll across Hardy Rd to Arthur Pack Park for some 20 to 30 more species along the trails in Arthur Pack Park and golf course pond. Great for families. Loaner binoculars available. See map for directions to the Mason Center (3835 W. Hardy Rd.) on the corner of Hardy and Thornydale in NW Tucson. No online registration necessary.
Leader: Mary Ellen Flynn. Call 520-209-1811 with any questions.

December 26–Wednesday 8:00 a.m.
Sabino Canyon
Trip Rating: Moderate. Walking Distance: 4 miles. Ground Conditions: Rocky trails and uneven pavement.
We’ll bird Sabino Canyon Recreation Area walking a loop that includes both Sonoran desert upland and Sabino Creek riparian areas. Meet at the ramada by the Visitor’s Center at 5700 N Sabino Canyon Road. $5 parking fee. Return around 11 am. Sunhat, water and walking shoes recommended. Leader is a Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalist. Limited to 12 participants. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, November 26.
Leader: Julie Michael, jbirdsaz123@gmail.com

December 28 – Friday 7:00 a.m.
Slaughter Ranch, Douglas (All Day Birding)
Join Clifford Cathers for a long drive but a satisfying birding experience to one of our best winter hot spots. Always good stuff here. This will be an all day trip and a packed lunch is required. We will likely not return until late in the afternoon to early evening. Think about 5 or so hours total driving and 2 or so miles of wandering around and birding. Meet at the northwest corner of I-10 and Houghton Road at 7:00 AM. Please do not show up at the meeting spot without successful registration. Trip is limited to 20 registrants. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, December 3.
Leader: Clifford Cathers, azbirding@zoho.com, or 520.982.3272 for questions.


				
Wednesday Mornings at Sweetwater Wetlands

No registration needed!
September – October starts at 7 a.m.

Trip rating: easy; Walking distance: 1 mile; Trip duration: 2 hr; Elevation gain: none; Ground condition: concrete and dirt trails. Restrooms at the trailhead.
Join Luke Safford for an easy walk through the Sweetwater Wetlands to see waterfowl, regular and visiting warblers, and several exciting species hiding in the reeds. Birders of all experience levels welcome! The Wetlands are located at 2511 W Sweetwater Drive.
Contact Luke with questions, 520-209-1811, lsafford@tucsonaudubon.org.
Every Wednesday. Start times: November – Feb: 8 a.m.; March – April: 7 a.m.; May – August: 6 a.m.; September – Oct: 7 a.m.

Learn about Sweetwater Wetlands

Thursday Mornings at Birds at Agua Caliente Park – NOW $5 FEE

Pima County leads this walk–please register below on Pima County’s website
Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation offers this guided birding walk in the desert oasis of Agua Caliente Park to spot wetland birds, hummingbirds, songbirds, and raptors. Binoculars are available for use. Online registration required at Pima County’s website at www.pima.gov/nrpr. Location: Roy P. Drachman Agua Caliente Park, 12325 E. Roger Road. Meet at the Visitor’s Center. Visit the Tucson Audubon Nature Shop at Agua Caliente Park after the walk.
Meeting times: Sept – Oct: 8:00 am,  Nov – Feb: 8:30 am, Mar – Apr: 8:00 am, May – Aug: 7:30 am.
Online registration now required, $5 fee. Online registration: www.pima.gov/nrpr. For more information, email  eeducation@pima.gov , or call 520-615-7855. Further PCNRPR bird trips can be found here.

Birding Canoa Ranch with Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation

Join birding expert Brian Nicholas to see a wide variety of sparrows, raptors, and the possibility of waterfowl on the newly restored pond at Historic Canoa Ranch. All ages welcome.
Where: Historic Canoa Ranch, 5375 S. I-19 Frontage Road, Green Valley 85622
Cost: Free with PCNRPR Membership, Non-PCNRPR Member $5 fee. Online registration required for dates and times: www.pima.gov/nrpr
For more information: www.pima.gov/canoaranch; email: CanoaRanch@pima.gov or call 520-724-5220

Share your eBird checklists from our trips with our account: “tasfieldtrips

Meet our fantastic field trip leaders!

Liability Waiver: All participants on Tucson Audubon field trips are required to sign a standard waiver. If you would like to read the waiver before the trip, view it here.

Departure Times: Please arrive before the departure time listed in the trip description. Trips will leave promptly at the time given.

Please dress appropriately for your field trip. Always wear sturdy shoes, a hat, and use sun protection. Bring plenty of snacks and water for yourself. Always bring your binoculars, your field guide, and for most trips a scope can be useful. Bring money to cover your share of the carpooling expenses and any required entry fees (i.e. state parks).

Tucson Audubon strongly encourages carpooling and the sharing of the driver’s fuel expenses. Drivers and trip leaders are not expected to contribute.

Basha’s Grocery Store: Catalina, AZ. parking lot at the northeast corner of the intersection of Oracle Rd. and Golder Ranch Rd.
Commuter lot at Oracle and Ina:  One block west of the intersection of Oracle and Ina, on the south side of the street.  Actual location is Via Ponte and W. Ina Rd.
Empty Grocery Store Lot at Irvington and I-19: On the north side of Irvington just east of I-19.
Houghton and I-10: Exit 275 off of I-10 on the north side of I-10 there is a large dirt parking lot used by commuters
McDonald’s (Tucson) on the northeast corner of Tanque Verde Rd. and Catalina Highway.   We meet on the east side a bit away from where patrons would park.
McDonald’s (Green Valley) Use the Continental Rd. exit off of I-19 and turn right to the McDonald’s.  We meet in the right most portion of the parking lot as one is facing the restaurant.

Sweetwater Wetlands

Sweetwater Wetlands is a gem of urban bird and wildlife activity right in urban Tucson. 306 bird species have been documented here. Join our weekly bird walks on Wednesdays and see what you can find!

Learn more

Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona

Revised 8th Edition, 2015
Tucson Audubon’s updated edition brings together all the latest information on finding birds in southeast Arizona. This is your best source of detailed information that will help in planning bird watching adventures in the region.

Learn more and purchase a copy from our online Shop

Birding Southeast Arizona App

A great interactive companion to our Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona, our new app covers over 130 birding sites in six subregions in and around Tucson, all vetted by local experts. Search by nearest site, by bird, or by city and get exact directions! Keep track of your sightings and share with friends on Facebook.

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Tucson Audubon Society
300 E University Blvd. #120 Tucson, AZ 85705

Mason Center
3835 W Hardy Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85742

Paton Center for Hummingbirds
477 Pennsylvania Ave.
Patagonia, AZ 85624
520 415-6447

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Tucson Audubon Society
300 E University Blvd. #120
Tucson, AZ 85705

Mason Center
3835 W Hardy Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85742

Paton Center for Hummingbirds
477 Pennsylvania Ave.
Patagonia, AZ 85624
520 415-6447