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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.

Highlight Trips–Sign-up Soon

April 29–May 6
Migration in Southwest Ohio–Registration Deadline: MARCH 31
Trip Rating: Easy, relaxed tour pace. Distance:  most walks over flat ground, ability to climb steps and moderate hills and withstand high humidity, hot or cold temps, wind and rain, as well as walking in mud or loose gravel are general requirements.
This field trip is designed to take advantage of the eastern migration in southwestern Ohio where the peak movement of birds and returning breeders occurs during the first week of May. This tour is geared toward western birders who want to experience something new and take in the volume and variety of bird song on an early morning in Ohio. We will have a goal to see 125 or more species ranging from common to rare, many of which are scarcely seen here in Southeast Arizona. See a prospective bird list here. A per participant registration fee of $100 is the share of the leader’s expenses and will be sent to Clifford Cathers for confirmation of participation. Along with registering online please fill out this form and send to Clifford with the registration fee. Transportation to Dayton, lodging, rental car, food, etc., are the sole responsibility of each participant. Further details, along with the draft trip itinerary, can be found here. Minimum of 6 participants needed; 16 participants max. To begin the registration process sign-up here with Tucson Audubon.
Leader: Clifford A. Cathers 520-982-3272

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

Current Trips

MARCH

March 29–Wednesday 8 a.m.
Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood Picnic Area : Spring Desert Birds for Beginners
Trip rating: Easy. Walking distance: 1 mile. Elevation gain: 50 feet. Ground conditions: paved road.
We will look for the birds that thrive among the palo verdes, chollas and sagauro cactus, such Gilded Flicker and Costa’s Hummingbird. Spring arrivals could include Lucy’s Warbler, White-Winged Doves, flycatchers and orioles. There will be a scope. Pit toilets but no water. Be read for wind and sun. Meet at the first ramada in the picnic area on Hal Gras Road. 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 Road 4.8 miles to Hal Gras road and turn left.  Call or email leader if any questions. No limit but please register here.
Leader: John Higgins. 520-578-1830, jghiggins@comcast.net

March 31—Friday 5:45 a.m.
Aravaipa Road
Trip Rating: Easy. Mostly car birding, plus some walking on varied surfaces.
We will meet at the Bashas’ on Oracle/Golder Ranch Rd. and leave promptly at 5:45 a.m. to arrive at Aravaipa Road at 6:30am. We will wrap up about 11 a.m. and arrive back at our cars around 11:45 a.m. This scenic drive towards the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness travels through rural residential areas, stunning Sonoran Desert and riparian sites, hosting a variety of resident desert species, as well as neo-tropic migrants and summer residents.  Past trips have showcased Gray and Common Black Hawks, roadrunners, desert-nesting Purple Martins, a blue heron rookery, orioles, flycatchers and tanagers. An Aravaipa Road resident is planning to join the group for possible behind-the-scenes visits to neighbors’ yards with feeders. Field trip is FULL. Click here to be added to the waitlist.
Leader: Kathe Anderson, kathe.coot@cox.net

APRIL

April 1–Saturday 8 a.m.
Sabino Canyon
Trip rating: easy hiking. Walking distance: 3.5 miles. Elevation gain: 25 ft. 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 .

April 1–Saturday 8 a.m.
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.
Leaders: Jim Gessaman, Mary Ellen Flynn or Ray Deeney

April 7–Friday 7 a.m.
Spring Kickoff in Oracle State Park
Trip Rating: Easy/Moderate  Walking Distance:  Less than 1 mile  Elevation Change:  50 feet  Ground Conditions: Surfaced patios, dirt trails.
Oracle State Park is now open every day of the week, and we’re anxious to bird the park on a crowd-free weekday.  At 4,335 feet elevation, the temperature should be ideal as spring replaces winter, and we’re hoping to see migrants as well as the usual suspects. We’ll be looking for Scott’s and Hooded Orioles, as well as other surprises, and the park’s many hummingbird feeders should be hot. This is an easy, mostly level 2-hour ramble over less than a mile of trails around the Kannally Ranch House, where we will also bird the gardens and patios. Optional ranch house tour available after the walk. Ideal for seniors and beginners as well as anyone else interested in birding this rich area. You will meet at the SaddleBrooke Minit-Mart parking area at 7:00 AM, with an option to join the group at the park. We will have access before the park’s scheduled opening at 9 AM. Complete details will be emailed to registered participants. Limited to 14 participants. Please register for this trip here.
Leaders: Bob and Prudy Bowers, bobandpru@aol.com

April 15–Saturday 8 a.m.
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. Loaner binoculars available. Call 520-209-1811 with questions. See map (3835 W. Hardy Rd.) No online registration necessary.
Leaders: Jim Gessaman, Mary Ellen Flynn or Ray Deeney

April 15–Saturday 8 a.m.
Mission Garden and Sentinel Peak 
Trip rating: Easy. Walking distance: 1 mile or less. Elevation gain: 50 feet or less. Ground conditions: manicured paths and paved roads.
Watch for spring migrants and garden-loving birds as we tour Tucson’s Mission Garden. The garden, at the foot of “A” Mountain (Sentinel Peak) can rightly be called Tucson’s birthplace and is now a living re-enactment of Tucson’s 4,100-year agricultural history. We’ll learn about historical bird sightings in the verdant Santa Cruz Valley and how human agriculture and birds have coexisted for millennia. Then we will carpool a short distance up to the top of Sentinel Peak for desert birds and raptors catching updrafts around the mountain. There is also a stunning view of Tucson! Toilets and water are available at the garden. Trip will last 2 – 3 hours. Be ready for a sunny, warm day. Meet at 946 W Mission Lane. From Congress Street, west of I-10, go south on Grande and after the last house on the right where Grande draws close to “A” Mountain, turn left on Mission Lane and park on the right after the adobe garden wall. From Starr Pass Road, west of I-10, go north on Mission Road (becomes Grande). Turn right on Mission Lane just after passing the garden wall on your right. Call or email leader if any questions. Please register for this trip here starting Thursday, March 30th.
Leader:
 Kendall Kroesen, 520-971-2385kkroesen@cox.net

April 18–Tuesday 5:30 a.m.
Puerto Canyon and Spring – Priority for Tucson Audubon Members

Trip Rating: Easy with short walk along old roads
We’ll bird primarily around the spring located in this canyon just west of I19, looking for spring migrants which collect in this grove in the middle of rocky desert habitat.  Return by noon.  Bring water, snacks, sunhat, sunscreen, good walking shoes. Limit 11 participants. Field Trip is FULL.  Members, click here to be added to the waiting list.
Leader: Tim Helentjaris ( tnhelentjaris@msn.com )

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. No limit but please register for this trip here.
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. Please register for this trip here.
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 starting Monday, April 3.
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 starting Monday, April 3.
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 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 Thursday, April 6.
Leader:
Karen Krebbs ( hummergal@wifi4you.us )

MAY

May 6–Saturday 8 a.m.
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.
Leaders: Jim Gessaman, Mary Ellen Flynn or Ray Deeney

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. 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 Thursday, April 13.
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. Members, please register here starting Monday, April 17.
Leader: Tim Helentjaris ( tnhelentjaris@msn.com )

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 )

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

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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!

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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