Birding Field Trips
- Tucson Audubon field trips are free, unless stated otherwise.
- 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!
- Trip birding ethics: Approach birding with the health and safety of birds as your first priority. Tucson Audubon uses the ABA’s position on birding ethics at www.aba.org/about/ethics.html.
- Field trip leaders are in charge of all aspects of the day’s birding.
- To register for a trip: Click on the registration link at the end of that trip’s description and you will receive a confimation 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
August 17–Thursday 6:00 a.m.
Honey Bee Canyon Park
Join Michael Welch for a trip to this under-birded and hidden park in Oro Valley. Fall migrants will begin coming through and we will be looking for usual desert inhabitants as well. We will also check out a large rock with Indian petroglyphs. Most of the walking will be in soft sand, but it could be wet in places this time of year so please be prepared. Because the park is hard to find we will be meeting at a to-be-determined place. Limit to 12 participants. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Michael Welch, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 19–Saturday 6 a.m. (Time Change)
Looking for Becards on the De Anza Trail
Rose-throated Becards have been extremely rare the past few years but an active nest was recently found along the De Anza Trail near Tumacacori. We’ll see if we can get lucky! Even if we don’t see the becard, we’ll have plenty of other exciting birds to find especially with fall migration heating up. This happens to be a hotspot for vagrants as we’ll look for a recent Yellow-green Vireo too. Plan on around 2 miles of flat walking on trails. Meet at the Green Valley McDonald’s on Continental Road at 7:00 a.m. Limit of 15 participants. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Robert Mesta, email@example.com
August 26-Saturday 6:30 a.m.
El Rio Open Space Preserve (Coachline Gravel Pit)
We’ll bird the Coachline Gravel Pit area searching for migrating and resident birds. Fall migration will be in full swing and hopefully we’ll see a nice variety of interesting species like shorebirds and warblers, among others, and if lucky perhaps find a rarity or two. Meet at 6:30am at the parking lot along the southwest corner of the preserve on Coachline Blvd in Marana. This location is just east of the intersection with Turquoise Moon Way and Opal Moon Ct. and is marked with a Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail sign. Finish by around 10am. Water, walking shoes, sun protection and bug spray recommended. No on-site restroom facilities. Limit 15 participants. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Ken Murphy, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 29–Tuesday 6:00 a.m.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is one of the jewels of the Arizona State Parks system. Opening at 6am in the summer allows visitors to enjoy relatively cool temperatures for a couple of hours, particularly in the shade of the towering eucalyptus and other trees. The birding usually presents a rainbow of summer residents, including some orioles, tanagers and grosbeaks, along with familiar desert species and an occasional surprise on Ayer Lake or flying by. Staffers know where to find nests and are happy to point them out. You can check out recent sightings on the Arboretum website. We’ll start at 6am at the Arboretum, and wrap up between 9:30-10am. Some may want to bring a picnic lunch and extend their stay. Limit: 9 participants. Entrance fee: $12.50. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: Kathe Anderson, email@example.com
September 2–Saturday 6:30 a.m.
This fine late summer day, we will check Cochise Lakes in Willcox for migrants and then head into the upper reaches of the Chiricahuas for warblers and especially for Mexican Chickadee. A rarity might entice us down the backside of the range, but we should be done in the range by noon or 1 PM with additional time for the travel back. Plan for most of the day and bring food, sunscreen and lots of beverage. Meet at the Houghton Road meeting site (northwest corner of I-10 and Houghton Road) at 6:30 AM. Please do not show up at the meeting place without successful registration. Limit of 20 participants. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: Cliff Cathers, 520.982.3272 or AZCliffy@Q.com.
September 12–Tuesday 7:30 a.m.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Difficulty: 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: Kendall Kroesen, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 13-Wednesday 8 a.m. or 8:30 a.m.
Benson and Willcox Ponds
Trip rating: Easy. Walking distance: none Elevation gain: none Ground Condition: dirt road.
Come look for shorebirds and Swainson’s Hawks headed south. Bird ID charts and scope will be available. Meet at 8 a.m at the Mission Library parking lot on the NW corner of Ajo Way and Mission Road. Or meet at 8:30 a.m. on west side of Houghton Road just north of I-10. Back to Tucson by 2 p.m. Bring water, snack and car-pool money. Be ready for sun and wind. Restrooms at I-10 Texas Canyon Rest Stop and the Willcox train station visitor center. Round trip mileage of 200 miles. Car pooling encouraged. Those new to birding or SE Arizona are especially invited. No limit. Contact leader if any questions. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: John Higgins, 520-578-1830 or email@example.com
September 16–Saturday 7 a.m.
Tanque Verde Ranch
Trip rating: moderate walking. Walking distance: About 2 miles. Elevation gain: none. Ground conditions: dirt trails, occasional deep sand.
We have permission to bird this private guest ranch located at the very end of East Speedway. Done before noon. We will bird along Tanque Verde Wash with 2 ponds, mesquites and cottonwoods. Bathrooms and snack break midway at the cars. A good trip for beginning birders and those who have errands later in the day. MEET AT McDONALD’s located on the northeast corner of Catalina Hwy and Tanque Verde Rd (9075 east). Please do not come to the ranch first. Wear good walking shoes as conditions at times are sandy. No limit but please register for this trip here starting on Monday, August 21.
Leader: Bill Wieboldt 520.885.1227 Williamwieb@aol.com
September 24–Sunday 7 a.m.
Birding, Biking and Brunch
Trip Rating: moderate Walking Distance: 1-2 miles Biking Distance: 14 miles Elevation Gain: minimal Ground Condition: biking on Rillito Path and city streets with shoulders, walking on level dirt paths
Meet at Bashas’ Grocery parking lot at Swan and Camp Lowell. We’ll likely visit Fort Lowell Park, McCormick Park and Rio Vista Park. Let’s see how many Vermillion Flycatchers we can find. Geared to beginning birders but veterans are welcome to share their knowledge. You don’t have to be a strong bicyclist to do this, but you must be able to start and stop your bike safely in a group. Optional stop after for coffee, food and conversation. Bring your bike, helmet, bike lock, and money for food or drink. Limit 10 participants. Please register for this trip here starting on Monday, August 28.
Leader: Linda Matson, 520-488-3730, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Weekly walk - Sweetwater Wetlands
- Weekly walk - Agua Caliente Park
- Weekly walk - Arivaca Cienega
- Trip Details
- Additional bird walks & locations
- Carpool Locations
Wednesday Mornings at Sweetwater Wetlands
No registration needed!
May-August starts at 6 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, 520-576-6044, email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org , or call 520-615-7855. Further PCNRPR bird trips can be found here.
Saturday Mornings at Arivaca Cienega
No registration needed!
Resumes in November.
Trip rating: Easy. Walking distance: About 2 miles. Trip duration: 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours. Elevation gain: minimal. Ground condition: good dirt trails and sometimes boardwalks. Restrooms at the parking lot only.
Join Bob and one of several expert birder leaders for a walk through this great birding site consisting up upland desert, grassland and wetlands. You will likely see 30-55 species depending on the season, including potentially some southeast Arizona specialties. RSVP not required. From Tucson, go south on I-19 to Amado exit 42, exit right, the Arivaca road is across from the Longhorn Bar. It is not a high speed road. The Arivaca Cienega trailhead (plenty of parking) is located 1/4 mile before the town of Arivaca and is well-marked.
Contact Bob at 520-399-2873, email@example.com
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).
- The Tucson Birding Trail Map, on paper and at tucsonaudubon.org/tucsonbirdtrail, shows forty-five birding locations in and around Tucson. Pick up the FREE printed version at our Nature Shops or at any Tucson Parks and Rec center.
- Accessible Birding Locations in Tucson
- Additional southeast Arizona bird walks
- Local bird guides for hire
Tucson Audubon strongly encourages carpooling and the sharing of the driver’s fuel expenses. Drivers and trip leaders are not expected to contribute.
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!
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.
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.