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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

September

September 22–Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Bird the San Pedro at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David
Join Tucson Audubon and many other local organizations to celebrate the beautiful San Pedro River. We will be hosting a daylong event along the San Pedro with family activities, local booths specializing in everything from native plants to regional history to local agriculture, and hourly walks to explore the birds and nature of the San Pedro. Hourly walks at the Holy Trinity Monastery begin at 7 a.m., but some are filling up already. Please register for this trip here.
Questions? Please contact field trip coordinator, Luke Safford, lsafford@tucsonaudubon.org

September 23–Sunday 7:00 a.m.
El Rio Open Space Preserve (Coachline Gravel Pit)
Difficulty: easy/moderate. Distance: 1 mile. Elevation gain: none. Ground conditions: paved and dirt trails, somewhat uneven in places with occasional rocky and sandy surfaces.
We’ll bird the Coachline Gravel Pit area searching for fall migrants and resident birds. Meet at 7am 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 and sun protection recommended. No on-site restroom facilities. Limit 10 participants. Field Trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leader: Ken Murphy, kaibab.az@netzero.com

September 26–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. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: Julie Michael, jbirdsaz123@gmail.com

October

October 6–Saturday 7:00 a.m.
Blue Haven Road and the Paton Center for Hummingbirds
One of Clifford’s favorite strolls of the year, please join him in a search for late migrants along the road from the Paton’s to the preserve. This is a hike of 2-3 miles on mostly flat ground. Meet at the Paton Center Parking Area 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

October 7–Sunday 7:30 a.m.
Fort Lowell Park – Birding for Beginners
Trip rating: Easy.
Join Maureen and Linda to stroll Fort Lowell Park and search for woodpeckers, hummingbirds, sparrows, towhees, flycatchers, ducks and more. You never know what might drop in to the pond there. Though this walk is geared towards beginners, experienced birders are invited to come and share their knowledge. We may walk 1 to 1.5 miles, including down into the sandy Pantano Wash. Meet at the parking lot at the main entrance off Craycroft, in front of the pool. Trip is limited to 16 participants. Please register for this trip here.
Leaders: Maureen Daney (mdaney6@gmail.com) and Linda Matson (heyltd@cox.net)

October 9–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

October 11–Thursday 7:00 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

October 11 & 13–Thursday (classroom 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.), Saturday (field trip 7 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
Advanced Nature Photography
Cost: Members $75; Non-members $110, includes 12-month Tucson Audubon membership
Are you ready to take your photography to the next level? This is the class for you. We will discuss proper exposure techniques and how and when to use exposure compensation. Learn how to use histograms and how they relate to exposure. We will discuss how and when to use different exposure mode and auto focus modes. Other topics include depth of field, flash exposure and ISO. This is a two-part workshop with the classroom session on Thursday and a field session on Saturday. Both will take place at Tucson Audubon’s Mason Center 3835 W Hardy Rd, Tucson. Bring your camera with a lens to the lecture, but bring any additional equipment you might have such as tripods, electronic releases, flashes and additional lenses to the field trip. Please register for this class/field trip here.
Leader: Steve at StephenHVaughan@Gmail.com or 719-649-8741 for questions.

October 20–Saturday 7:00 a.m.
Las Cienegas/Sonoita “Birds and Brews”
Let’s combine a few of our favorite things in one fun field trip! We’ll start with exploring the Las Cienegas area in the morning with a walk at Empire Gulch and various spots around the grasslands looking for returning winter residents. Around 11am we will head over to a new restaurant in Sonoita, the Copper Brothel Brewery for lunch–co-leader Hollie Mansfield highly recommends it! We’ll meet at a pre-determined place at 7am to carpool and head out to Las Cienegas; we’ll return to the meeting place around 1pm. Be sure to bring shoes you can hike in for around Empire Gulch and some money for lunch. Trip is limited to 12 participants. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, September 24.
Leaders: Luke Safford, lsafford@tucsonaudubon.org and Hollie Mansfield, matt.hollie.mansfield@gmail.com

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. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, September 24.
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. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, October 1.
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. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, October 15.
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 8–Thursday 7:00 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 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. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, October 15.
Leader: Tim Helentjaris, tnhelentjaris@msn.com

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 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. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, October 22.
Leader: Scott Crabtree, the.crabtrees51@gmail.com, 505-699-9959

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. Please register for this trip here, starting Monday, October 22.
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


				
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.
Upcoming dates:
Saturday, September 15, Saturday, September 29
Time: 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
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: 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.

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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