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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: TAS adheres to the ABA’s position on birding ethics: www.aba.org/about/ethics.htm
  • 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

Special Overnight Field Trip–March 2018

March 8-9–Thursday & Friday
Boyce Thompson Arboretum and Pinal Mountain, with an overnight in Globe at Noftsger Hill Inn B&B
Noftsger Hill B&B is written up as one of the top 10 B&B’s in an old schoolhouse in the country (Rooms $90 and $150 single/double occupancy (plus tax), but some rooms easily accommodate additional guests at $20pp). Please make your reservations with Rosalie as soon as you can after you register for this trip here. Call Rosalie at: 928-425-2260 or email: info@noftsgerhillinn.com, and no later than Dec 31, 2017. If carpooling, suggested donation to your driver: $12-15. Donations in Kathe’s car will go to Tucson Audubon.
Thursday March 8:
· Meet at Boyce Thompson Arboretum for birding about 1pm.
· Arrive about 4pm at Noftsger Hill Inn B&B, have a light Happy Hour and go out to dinner locally ($10-20).
· 7:30ish, if requested by participants, have a one-hour birding class on any one of a variety of topics to be decided by participant vote.
Friday March 9:
· 7am, leave after a light snack for birding the lower level of Ice House Canyon, Pinal Mountain.
· 10ish, return to the B&B for a full sumptuous breakfast and review the bird list so far.
· 11:30am, check out and bird another area of Pinal Mountain.
· 2ish, leave Pinal Mountain and return to the Tucson area about 4:30pm.
This trip should get us a varied collection of songbirds and others that are winter residents in the desert, chaparral, and oasis at the Arboretum, including woodpeckers, thrushes, wrens, titmice and sparrows. Reservations required. Limited to 9 participants. Reservations: room – see info above re: contacting Rosalie, and please register for this trip here.
Leader: Kathe Anderson, kathe.coot@cox.net

September

September 23–Saturday 6am-12:30pm
Birding Florida Canyon (Flo-Ree-da)
Trip Rating: Moderate over sometimes rocky and uneven trail that can be overgrown.
We will be birding Florida Canyon from the cement creek crossing up to the oak grove and back. There is a small elevational gain, not bad, however, there are many sections where the trial is rocky and care must be taken not to trip . There is some shade along the trail, but come prepared with a hat, sunscreen and water. The trail is green and lush and very birdy. Last week some of the birds I saw included a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Lazuli and Varied buntings, Rufous-winged and Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Black-throated Sparrow, Black-headed and Blue grosbeaks, Warbling, Plumbeous, and Bell’s vireos, Painted Redstart, Summer Tanagers, Nashville, Yellow, Audubon, McGillivray’s, Black-throated Gray Warblers. Rufous-capped Warblers have been seen in the dam area this year. 
We will be meeting at the McDonalds Green Valley parking lot at 6am and carpooling to Florida Canyon. Any questions, contact trip leader. Limit 15 participants. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Robert Mesta, at 520-240-7406 or robertmesta@cox.net

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.
Leader: Linda Matson, 520-488-3730, heyltd@cox.net

September 30–Saturday 6am-12:30pm
Birding Florida Canyon (Flo-Ree-da)
Trip Rating: Moderate over sometimes rocky and uneven trail that can be overgrown.
We will be birding Florida Canyon from the cement creek crossing up to the oak grove and back. There is a small elevational gain, not bad, however, there are many sections where the trial is rocky and care must be taken not to trip . There is some shade along the trail, but come prepared with a hat, sunscreen and water. The trail is green and lush and very birdy. Last week some of the birds I saw included a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Lazuli and Varied buntings, Rufous-winged and Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Black-throated Sparrow, Black-headed and Blue grosbeaks, Warbling, Plumbeous, and Bell’s vireos, Painted Redstart, Summer Tanagers, Nashville, Yellow, Audubon, McGillivray’s, Black-throated Gray Warblers. Rufous-capped Warblers have been seen in the dam area this year. We will be meeting at the McDonalds Green Valley parking lot at 6am and carpooling to Florida Canyon. Any questions, contact trip leader. Limit 15 participants. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Robert Mesta, at 520-240-7406 or robertmesta@cox.net

October

October 7–Saturday 8 a.m.
Sabino Canyon
Trip Rating: Easy. Walking Distance: 4 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 areas. 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 recommended. Leaders are Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists. Limit 15 participants. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leaders: Jean & Mark Hengesbaugh (jhhenge@yahoo.com)

October 10–Tuesday 8:30 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,  kkroesen@cox.net

October 19–Thursday 7:00 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. Please register for this trip here starting on Monday, September 25.
Leader: Michael Welch, manddwelch@comcast.net

October 29–Sunday 7:30 a.m.
Pena Blanca Lake
Hopefully fall has sprung and we will find lots of migrants in this trap near the border. Be aware that bugs may exist even at this late date and bring lots of water. We will try to be done and back to Green Valley by noon or 1:00 PM. We will be walking 1-2 miles on mostly flat ground, some steps and grades. Meet at the old McDonalds in Green Valley on Continental Road at 7:30 AM. Please do not show up at the meeting place without successful registration. Limit of 20 participants. Please register for this trip here starting on Monday, October 2.
Leader: Cliff Cathers 520.982.3272 or AZCliffy@Q.com.

November

November 4–Saturday 8 a.m.
Sabino Canyon
Trip Rating: Easy. Walking Distance: 4 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 areas. 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 recommended. Leaders are Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists. Limit 15 participants. Please register for this trip here starting on Monday, October 9.
Leaders: Jean & Mark Hengesbaugh (jhhenge@yahoo.com)

November 14–Tuesday 8:30 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,  kkroesen@cox.net

November 21–Tuesday 8 a.m.
Gilbert Water Ranch
Trip Rating: Easy. Walking distance: 1-2 miles over well-grade, mostly wheelchair accessible, paths. Carpooling available from Tucson.
The Water Ranch is one of the top birding destinations in the Phoenix metro area, usually yielding 45-50 species in a typical 2 hour cool season walk, including wintering waterfowl, waders, shorebirds, common desert species and often some surprises. Last year on the same date we saw 62 species–check out the eBird list here. Limited to 12 participants. Carpooling will leave Tucson about 6:15 a.m. Registration required and will begin here starting Monday, October 23.
Leader: Kathe Anderson, kathe.coot@cox.net

November 24—Friday 7:30 a.m.
Northeast Tucson
It’s Black Friday birding at its best with the first dozen species 50% off their regular price! We will check some northeast Tucson favorites for those super late migrants. and Vermilion Flycatchers are always guaranteed or double your money back. Meet behind the Sheriff’s office at Tanque Verde and Bear Canyon at 7:30 AM. Expect 1-2 miles of walking on uneven ground or in a sandy wash. We should be done by noon so you can shop the rest of the day. Please do not show up at the meeting place without successful registration. Limit of 20 participants. Please register for this trip here starting on Monday, October 30.
Leader: Cliff Cathers 520.982.3272 or AZCliffy@Q.com.

November 28–Tuesday 10:30 a.m.
Reid Park Ramble
Trip rating: Easy. Walking distance: 1 mile. Elevation gain: none. Ground conditions: paved paths, grass.
We will walk around the park for two hours looking for wintering waterfowl, raptors and woodpeckers. Easy pace. Meet at the bus stop in front of the Adaptive Rec Center Pool (looks like a big white circus tent) north of the zoo entrance. Turn off 22nd St. on to Randolph Way and left onto Zoo Ct. Call or email leader if any questions. No limit but please register for this trip here starting on Monday, November 6.
Leader: John Higgins. 520-578-1830, jghiggins@comcast.net

December

December 2–Saturday 8 a.m.
Sabino Canyon
Trip Rating: Easy. Walking Distance: 4 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 areas. 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 recommended. Leaders are Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists. Limit 15 participants. Please register for this trip here starting on Monday, November 6.
Leaders: Jean & Mark Hengesbaugh (jhhenge@yahoo.com)

December 12–Tuesday 9:00 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,  kkroesen@cox.net

December 16–Saturday 6:30 a.m.
Nogales CBC; Sonoita Creek
Difficulty: Moderate, portions of hike will be wet and muddy.
If you would like to participate in a Christmas Bird Count, join me for a hike along and or in Sonoita Creek as part of the Nogales Count. This stretch of Sonoita Creek, in the Rio Rico area, is active with bird life as well as beautiful country. Dress for the weather, bring water, snack and lunch. This hike may entail some rock hopping across the creek depending on water level, so wear footwear you won’t mind getting wet and muddy. Meet at 6:30am at the Fry’s parking lot Irvington and 1-19. We can make a stop at the McDonald’s in Green Valley if you live in the area. Back by 3pm. Please register for this trip here starting on Monday, November 20.
Leader: Michael Bissontz, seetrogon@comcast.net or 520-577-8778.

December 23—Saturday 7:30 a.m.
Patagonia Lake State Park
Time for a holiday pre-check of a classic winter birding spot where lots of rarities have been found over the decades. Note the offsite meeting location in the parking area in the town of Patagonia at 7:30 AM near the Patagonia Town Hall just off Route 82 on McKeown Avenue. The group will carpool to the lake from there. We will be birding along the lake shore, marsh and nearby forest so expect the potential for cold weather and a cold breeze. We may hike 2-3 miles over uneven ground and there is a park entry fee per vehicle. We should be done by noon or so. Please do not show up at the meeting place without successful registration. Limit of 20 participants. Please register for this trip here starting on Monday, November 27.
Leader: Cliff Cathers 520.982.3272 or AZCliffy@Q.com.

Wednesday Mornings at Sweetwater Wetlands

No registration needed!
Sept. – 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.

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,  rolfsonbob@gmail.com

November 16–Thursday 7:30am–5:00pm
Birding at Boyce . . .
Tohono Chul/Tucson Audubon Joint Field Trip
. . . Thompson that is. We’ve visited Boyce Thompson Arboretum in the past to marvel at its diverse collections of flora, so this time we thought we’d partner up with our resident bird expert Lynn Hassler and head back north to spend some time observing the migrating birds that stop by on their travels along the North American flyways. While many species are just passing through, many others will be settling in for the winter in this oasis in the desert. We should spot warblers, vireos, thrushes, flickers, finches and up to four species of towhee. And, of course, surprises are our specialty! Cost of the trip includes transportation, guide services, admission fees and boxed lunch.
Leader: Lynn Hassler. You must register at https://tohonochulpark.org/event/birding-at-boyce
Tohono Chul & Tucson Audubon Society Members: $115.00
General Public: $135.00

January 16–Tuesday 7:30am–5:00pm
Sandhill Snowbirds #1
Tohono Chul/Tucson Audubon Joint Field Trip
No one ever forgets their first sight, nor sound, of quite literally thousands of Sandhill Cranes filling the wide-open skies above Sulphur Springs Valley. These majestic birds fly with their long necks and legs fully extended, chorusing a wild-sounding guttural bugle in flight. The Cranes are winter visitors to the area, “snowbirds” if you will, and gather to feed on corn stubble and other grain waste. On this daylong birding trip with guide Lynn Hassler, we visit Whitewater Draw to meet Cranes coming back from early morning feeding forays, and to check out the local waterfowl. Sulphur Springs is also a good spot for wintering raptors. Cost of the trip includes transportation, guide services and boxed lunch. Please note participants have their choice of dates — January 16 OR January 18.
Leader: Lynn Hassler. You must register at https://tohonochulpark.org/event/sandhill-snowbirds/
Tohono Chul & Tucson Audubon Society Members: $99.00
General Public: $120.00

January 18–Thursday 7:30am–5:00pm
Sandhill Snowbirds #2
Tohono Chul/Tucson Audubon Joint Field Trip
No one ever forgets their first sight, nor sound, of quite literally thousands of Sandhill Cranes filling the wide-open skies above Sulphur Springs Valley. These majestic birds fly with their long necks and legs fully extended, chorusing a wild-sounding guttural bugle in flight. The Cranes are winter visitors to the area, “snowbirds” if you will, and gather to feed on corn stubble and other grain waste. On this daylong birding trip with guide Lynn Hassler, we visit Whitewater Draw to meet Cranes coming back from early morning feeding forays, and to check out the local waterfowl. Sulphur Springs is also a good spot for wintering raptors. Cost of the trip includes transportation, guide services and boxed lunch. Please note participants have their choice of dates — January 16 OR January 18.
Leader: Lynn Hassler. You must register at https://tohonochulpark.org/event/sandhill-snowbirds-2/
Tohono Chul & Tucson Audubon Society Members: $99.00
General Public: $120.00

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.
Fry’s Grocery Store at Irvington and I-19: On the north side of Irvington just east of I-19.  Park in front of the store but well away from the area most used by shoppers.
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