Select Page

Birding Field Trips

General Information

  • 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 American Birding Association’s position on birding ethics, including the use of playback, at www.aba.org/about/ethics.html.
  • Field trip leaders are in charge of all aspects of the day’s birding. Please follow their instructions at all times.

THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT REGISTERING

  1. To register for a trip, please click on the registration link at the end of that trip’s description
  2. You will receive a confirmation email if the trip is not full (or has no limit)
  3. If the trip is full you will be put on the waiting list (but you will receive no email)
  4. If you are on the waiting list and a place becomes available, you will be contacted by the field trip leader and/or coordinator
  5. If you are registered and must cancel, contact the leader or coordinator ASAP to free your space
  6. If you have trouble signing up, contact the field trip coordinator , 520-209-1811.

Birdathon Field Trips

For more information on Birdathon click here.

April 22–Saturday
Birdathon Trip: Scott’s Orioles–Minimum of $200 in pledges is requested
Trip Rating: Fast-paced, all day birding.
Join Scott Olmstead of Tropical Birding and the Scott’s Orioles team for a Big Day on Saturday, April 22nd. We’ll bird the Santa Catalina Mountains from bottom to top over the course of one long day, and aim to see a selection of the representative bird species found in each life zone as we go. We’ll start at dawn with riparian habitat in the Tanque Verde vicinity and then bird the Sonoran Desert at the foot of the mountains before continuing upward through the oak, pine, and fir forests toward the top of the mountains. Our target is to see and/or hear 90-115 species. If we are lucky we may even see our namesake bird! Fundraising of $200+ is recommended to join this team in the field for the Big Day. Ask your friends and family to donate to your Birdathon effort on this trip! Group size limited to 8 people. You can join Scott’s Orioles here. Donations of all amounts are appreciated from birders and supporters.
Leader: Scott Olmstead, sparverius81@hotmail.com

April 28–Friday 7 a.m.
Birdathon Trip: Agua Caliente Birdbrains–Minimum of $50 in pledges is requested
The Agua Caliente Birdbrains run the Nature Shop at Agua Caliente Park and help out with the Thursday morning “Wake Up with the Birds” bird walk at the park. This Birdathon team will start the morning at 7 a.m. with a guided walk around Agua Caliente Park and end with a Big Sit onsite. The trip will wrap up at 11:30 a.m. Fundraising of $50+ is recommended to join this team in the field for the Big Day. Ask your friends and family to donate to your Birdathon effort on this trip! You can join the Agua Caliente Birdbrains team here. Donations of all amounts are appreciated from birders and supporters.
Leader: Liz Harrison, lizandrickedwards@yahoo.com 

May 9–Tuesday 5:30 p.m.
Birdathon Trip: Owlympians–Minimum of $50 in pledges is requested
Join us for a fun half-day Birdathon! The Owlympians will be on an owl prowl, starting in the afternoon and working their way up Mount Lemmon as it gets darker. This Birdathon team is suitable for all birding skill levels and our emphasis will be on having a good time and making sure we get good looks at the birds. You can join the Owlympians Birdathon team here. Donations of all amounts are appreciated from birders and supporters.
Leader: Jennie Macfarland, jmacfarland@tucsonaudubon.org

Current Field Trips

APRIL

April 22–Saturday 6:30 a.m.
De Anza Trail from Guy Tobin Park Trail Head, Rio Rico

Trip Rating: Moderate.

We will hike 4 miles, round trip, along the Santa Cruz River looking for spring migrants and raptors. The trail is fairly flat and easy hiking. Wear comfortable foot wear, bring sunscreen, water, snack and lunch, return mid-afternoon. Meet at the Fry’s- Irvington and I-19, south end of parking lot near the gas station. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Michael Bissontz ( seetrogon@comcast.net )

April 23–Sunday 6:30 a.m.
Santa Catalina Mountains
Trip Rating:  Easy.  Distance:  1- 2 miles over semi-level ground.
The summer birds will be returning to the mountains and it’s about time to meet them again.  We’ll head up the Santa Catalina Mountains in search of the warblers and anything else that’s arrived.  Meet at the parking lot behind the Sheriff’s Department at Tanque Verde and Bear Canyon Roads at 6:30 AM.  There is a limit of 20 birders.  If you do not sign up and do not receive confirmation, please do not show up at the meeting site. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Clifford A. Cathers, 520-982-3272

April 26–Wednesday 7:30 a.m.
Avra Valley Wastewater Treatment Ponds: Spring Shorebird Migration for Beginners

Trip rating: Easy. Walking distance: 1 mile. Elevation gain: none. Ground conditions: graded dirt road.
After a quick check of Kennedy Park Lake, we will drive out to the Avra Valley ponds on Snyder Hill Road. Walking out to the shallow ponds, we will see which sandpipers, plovers and other wading birds are headed north. Good chances for swallows and raptors There will be a scope and ID guides. Be ready for heat and sun. Restrooms at the park and nearby restaurants but not at the ponds. Meet at the Mission Library parking lot on the NW corner of Ajo Way and Mission Road. Mileage of 30 miles round trip. Car-pooling encouraged. Back by 10:30 a.m. Call or email leader if any questions. No limit but please register for this trip here.
Leader:
John Higgins. 520-578-1830 jghiggins@comcast.net

April 26–Wednesday 6:15 a.m.
Salt River Recreation Sites

Trip Rating: Moderate. Early start and driving offset by short walking distances, relaxed pace.
Start at 6:15am at meeting place (Starbucks on the NW corner of Power and McDowell in Mesa; 344 S. Power Rd. Mesa, AZ) to explore 4 sites along the Salt River that should be attracting summer residents (nesting Lucy’s Warblers and Bullock’s Orioles, for example) as well as migrants on their journey north including a possible variety of vireos, warblers, flycatchers and tanagers, and common desert species, along with a few lingering waterfowl and shorebirds. Wrap up by 10am. Senior National Parks pass or Tonto National Forest day pass required—those logistics to be determined. Other sites to explore will be discussed and open to participants for the balance of the day. Limited to 7 participants. Please register for this trip here.
Leader:
Kathe Anderson ( kathe.coot@cox.net )

April 29–Saturday 7 a.m.
Hummingbird Safari
Trip Rating: Easy, with some mild slopes but on excellent surfaces.
This Year of the Hummingbird excursion is a “can’t miss” for birders interested in getting to know some of the area’s most dazzling birds. Led by hummingbird expert, Karen Krebbs, you will visit popular hummingbird sites around the area and grow in your hummingbird knowledge. Sites visited will be at the discretion of the leader. Group will meet at 7 a.m. with location given ahead of time to those registered. Limited to 11 participants. Bring $15 dollars in cash for various possible hummingbird sites that require small fees, along with lunch and water. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader:
Karen Krebbs ( hummergal@wifi4you.us )

MAY

May 6–Saturday 7 a.m. (Time change!)
Mason Center/Arthur Pack Park–Every First and Third Saturday (Nov.-May)

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. Great for families. Loaner binoculars available. Call 520-209-1811 with questions. See map (3835 W. Hardy Rd.). No online registration necessary.
Leader: Mary Ellen Flynn

May 6–Saturday 7:30 a.m.
Birding With a Purpose: Experience the San Pedro River at Holy Trinity Monastery in Saint David
Trip Rating: Easy; Walking Distance: 1.5 miles; Trip Duration: 4 hours ; Elevation Gain: none; Ground Condition: groomed trail. Restrooms and water are available at the Monastery. Drinking water is not available on trail.
We’re trying something a little different! This is the first in a series of birding field trips to natural areas in southeast Arizona. Some of these areas are protected; others are especially imperiled. All are of vital importance to our avian treasures and have significant ecological value. In addition to great birding, during these trips we will discuss why these locations are important, the threats they face and ways we can make a positive impact. On this trip we will explore the San Pedro River, learn about it’s value—especially to birds, and the local issues concerning it. We will be walking around the monastery and along the birding trail to experience different parts of the river’s ecosystem. Meet at the carpool lot at the northwest side of Houghton Road and I-10 in Tucson at 7:30am, or at the birding trail parking area at 8:15am (1605 S St Marys Way, St David, AZ 85630). No entrance fee required, donation at the bookstore is optional *Important to note 5 MPH speed limit on monastery roads. Optional lunch afterward at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant, 723 E 4th St, Benson, AZ 85602. Limit to 12 participants. Please register for this trip here.
Leaders: 
Catie Armstrong (csarmstrongspr@gmail.com) and Keith Kamper (keithkamper@gmail.com)

May 9–Tuesday 9 a.m.
Birding at the 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 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, 520-971-2385kkroesen@cox.net

May 10–Wednesday 8 a.m.
Kitt Peak
Difficulty: Easy. Walking distance 1 mile. Elevation gain: 50 feet. Ground condition: paved road.
Experience the changing birds and scenery as we go up from the cactus to the oak and juniper surrounding the unique telescopes on top of Kitt Peak, which is located in the desert west of Tucson. It is 15 degrees cooler up there (6,800 feet.) Besides the resident Acorn Woodpeckers, Mexican Jays and Spotted Towhees, we will look for raptors and migrating warblers.  No tours of the telescopes but we will go into the visitor center. Narrow winding paved road. Limited parking at pull-offs and at the top so car-pooling is encouraged. Round trip mileage is 110 miles. Bring gas money and lunch.  Meet at Mission Library at the NW corner of Ajo Way and Mission Road. Back by  2 p.m. Limited to 8 participants. Call or email leader if any questions. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: John Higgins. 520-578-1830jghiggins@comcast.net

May 13–Saturday 7 a.m
Hummingbird Safari
Trip Rating: Easy, with some mild slopes but on excellent surfaces.
This Year of the Hummingbird excursion is a “can’t miss” for birders interested in getting to know some of the area’s most dazzling birds. Led by hummingbird expert, Karen Krebbs, you will visit popular hummingbird sites around the area and grow in your hummingbird knowledge. Sites visited will be at the discretion of the leader. Group will meet at 7 a.m. with location given ahead of time to those registered. Bring $15 dollars in cash for various possible hummingbird sites that require small fees, along with lunch and water. Limited to 12 participants. FIeld Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Karen Krebbs ( hummergal@wifi4you.us )

May 16–Tuesday 5:30 a.m.
Rock Corral Canyon – Priority for Tucson Audubon Members
Trip Rating: Moderate with hiking along old road
We’ll hike approximately two miles up this canyon located just west of Tumacacori in the so-named mountains.  We’ll be looking for early arriving breeders and residents in this area known for its luxuriant vegetation due to its protection from grazing.  Great solitude and scenery. Return early afternoon.  Bring good walking shoes, sunhat, sunscreen, water, snacks and/or lunch. Limit 11 participants.  The road in is extremely rough for the first mile or so, so we’ll need another two drivers with high clearance and 4WD vehicles to accommodate everyone, preference given to these drivers. Field Trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Tim Helentjaris ( tnhelentjaris@msn.com )

May 20–Saturday 7 a.m. (Time change!)
Mason Center/Arthur Pack Park–Every First and Third Saturday (Nov.-May)

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. Great for families. Loaner binoculars available. Call 520-209-1811 with questions. See map (3835 W. Hardy Rd.). No online registration necessary.
Leader: Mary Ellen Flynn

May 30–Tuesday 5:45 a.m.
Pinal Mountain

Trip Rating: Moderate. Some walking/hiking in higher elevations.
Start at 5:45am outside of Globe for a journey up through a variety of habitats to top out about 7,800 feet for possible Olive Warblers and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Desert species may include a rainbow of birds with Yellow Warblers, Vermilion Flycatchers and Blue Grosbeaks. Transition zones could get us sparrows, raptors, towhees and Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay. Ponderosa pine offers woodpeckers, warblers, vireos and possible Western Tanagers. A hummingbird stop near the top usually has Broad-tailed and possible Magnificent Hummingbirds. Wrap up back in Globe about 2:30pm. Limited to 7 participants. Please register for this trip here starting Monday, May 1.
Leader:
Kathe Anderson ( kathe.coot@cox.net )


JUNE

June 10–Saturday 7 a.m.
Hummingbird Safari – Priority for Tucson Audubon Members

Trip Rating: Easy, with some mild slopes but on excellent surfaces.
This Year of the Hummingbird excursion is a “can’t miss” for birders interested in getting to know some of the area’s most dazzling birds. Led by hummingbird expert, Karen Krebbs, you will visit popular hummingbird sites around the area and grow in your hummingbird knowledge. Sites visited will be at the discretion of the leader. Group will meet at 7 a.m. with location given ahead of time to those registered. Limited to 12 participants. Bring $15 dollars in cash for various possible hummingbird sites that require small fees, along with lunch and water. Please register for this trip here starting Monday, May 15.
Leader:
Karen Krebbs ( hummergal@wifi4you.us )

Saturday June 17–Saturday 6 a.m.
Carr Canyon
Join Tucson Audubon Society for a high elevation field trip to the upper reaches of the Huachuca Mountains. Volunteer SUV drivers will be needed for carpooling up the exciting dirt path.  Meet at the Houghton Road meeting site (northwest corner of I-10 and Houghton Road) at 6:00 AM.  Walking is mostly flat around the campground at the top, 1 or so miles of wandering.  Bring water and sunscreen.  We should be back by 1:00 PM or so.  Please do not show up at the meeting place without successful registration. Please register for this trip here starting Monday, May 22.
Leader:
 Cliff Cathers 520.982.3272 or
AZCliffy@Q.com.

June 23–25
El Aribabi Conservation Ranch in Northern Sonora Mexico
Trip Rating: Moderate. All the walks are on flat ground, and excursions are within about 2 km of the lodge. Participants must be prepared to wade across sections of the river (not deep, but you will get your feet/boots wet) and be able to cross downed logs in the river corridor to get to a specific viewing spot (like to see a Rose-throated Becard or Sinaloa Wren nest). Water shoes are beneficial.
Looking for a low-cost Mexican birding adventure? Join Jim Rorabaugh, Chris Rohrer, and Kathy Cooper for a two night stay at El Aribabi Conservation Ranch along the Rio Cocospera, 35 miles south of the border in Sonora, Mexico where many of the tough to find specialty birds of SE Arizona are easier to find. Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Five-striped Sparrow, Sinaloa Wren, and Buff-collared Nightjar are expected, with Green Kingfisher, Rose-throated Becard, and White-tipped Dove as area specialties as well. As Jim says, “Yellow-billed Cuckoos are thick as fleas”! Birding and naturalist walks will be conducted along the R?o Cocospera and adjoining areas. Cost is $60/night per person to stay in the lodge or $30/night per person for camping; $35/person for food, which includes beer and wine. Transportation will occur in personal vehicles and carpooling will be encouraged. You can find recommendations for border crossing here and find out more about El Aribabi here. Maximum of 15 participants; there are limited beds in the lodge of varied quality. You will need to have check/cash prepared for the lodge upon arrival and payment for food ready for Kathy Cooper. To begin the registration process sign-up here.
Leaders: 
Kathy Cooper & Jim Rorabaugh,  jrorabaugh@hotmail.com

June 28–Wednesday 6:30 a.m.
Tucson Mountain Park–Ironwood Picnic Area: Summer Desert Birds for Beginners
Trip rating: Easy. Walking distance: 1 mile. Elevation gain: 50 feet. Ground conditions: paved road.
Those of us who are stuck here in the hot desert in the summer will go look for the birds that are also stuck here. Birds that thrive here in the summer eating insects and saguaro fruit include White-Winged Doves, Purple Martins and Brown-Crested Flycatchers.  We will walk only on the paved road so we will see any snakes before we get too close.  There will be a scope. Pit toilets but no water. Be ready for heat and sun. Meet at the first ramada in the picnic area on Hal Gras Road. Done by 8:30 a.m. DIRECTIONS: From Old Tucson (Gates Pass road and Kinney), drive 1.5 miles southeast on Kinney to Hal Gras road and turn right. From Ajo way and Kinney Road, drive northwest on Kinney Rod 4.8 miles to Hal Gras road and turn left.  Call or email leader if any questions. No limit but please register for this trip here starting Monday, June 5.
Leader:
John Higgins. 520-578-1830   jghiggins@comcast.net

JULY

July 23–Sunday 6:00 a.m.
Scotia Canyon
Time to explore this underbirded canyon on the west side of the Huachuca Mountains for Trogons, warblers and an occasional rarity.  Lush and warm, perhaps buggy and muggy, dress accordingly.  Some travel on a rocky dirt road past Parker Canyon Lake but the walk is easy on mostly flat ground 1-2 miles.  Meet at the Houghton Road meeting site (northwest corner of I-10 and Houghton Road) at 6:00 AM. Bring water and sunscreen.  We should be back by 1:00 PM or so.  Please do not show up at the meeting place without successful registration. Please register for this trip here starting Monday, June 12.
Leader:  Cliff Cathers 520.982.3272 or AZCliffy@Q.com.

Wednesday Mornings at Sweetwater Wetlands

No registration needed!
March/April 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 2617 W Sweetwater Drive.
Contact Luke with questions, 520-576-6044, saffordluke@gmail.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  eeducation@pima.gov , or call 520-615-7855. Further PCNRPR bird trips can be found here.

Saturday Mornings at Arivaca Cienega

No registration needed!
November–April, Starts Nov. 5th at 8 a.m.
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

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

fbi_rev8thsmall

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 throughout southeast Arizona. New for the Revised Eighth Edition:

  • New birding sites across Southeast Arizona
  • New maps and updated older maps
  • Updated contact information and web addresses
  • Updated information on existing site locations
  • Updated information on entering Mexico
  • Updated IBA (Important Bird Areas) information, including sites
  • Updated bar graphs and species accounts for all species

Learn more and purchase your copy today!

email-iconSign up for email updates. Stay Informed!

Choose from weekly updates, volunteer news, conservation alerts, Paton Center news, Habitat at Home news and more.

Sign up here

color_square_face_right



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