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Birding Field Trips

General Information

  • Tucson Audubon proudly offers a variety of free field trips requiring no pre-registration. For those field trips with online registration, a $6.00 service fee will be required, beginning in April 2019. The new fee will help to cover some of the expense associated with organizing and promoting these special programs. We hope you’ll consider this an investment in the future of these long-running Tucson Audubon programs!
  • 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.
  • For general questions or help registering, contact the Education Programs Manager, Eric Scheuering, 520-209-1808.
  • 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. Also useful, Audubon’s Guide to Ethical Bird Photography
  • 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 us.
  • Cancellations: To cancel your reservation, please email Eric Scheuering or call 520-209-1808. Please contact Eric and the trip leader as soon as possible to free your space.

NEW multi-day trips! See new birds and travel to interesting destinations on one of our Birding Excursions! Your travel dollars support our education programs, including youth programs that get kids outdoors, and allow us to offer programs to a broader and more diverse audience. Click here for more details.

April

April 20–Saturday 6:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Birds of the Borderlands  //  BIRDATHON TRIP, $50 fee plus additional fundraising
Join Jennie MacFarland and the Owlympians for a Big Day covering the Tubac area and south. Some of the most iconic birding spots of southeast Arizona are along the I-19 corridor and we’ll visit areas such as Amado Pond, Montosa Canyon, the Anza Trail along the Santa Cruz River, and Kino Springs. We’ll also bird some lesser known gems such as Walker Canyon in the Atascosa Mountains and Pesquiera Pit.
Limited to 10 participants. Transportation provided. Meet at the Green Valley McDonald’s at the Continental Rd exit off of I-19. Trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leader:
Jennie MacFarland, jmacfarland@tucsonaudubon.org, 520-629-0510 x7004

April 20–Saturdays 7:00 a.m.
Mason Center/Arthur Pack Park
Trip difficulty: 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 Regional Park for some 20 to 30 more species along the trails in Arthur Pack Park and golf course pond. Great for families. Loaner binoculars available. See map for directions to the Mason Center (3835 W. Hardy Rd.) on the corner of Hardy and Thornydale in NW Tucson. No online registration necessary.
Leader: Jim Gessaman. Call 520-209-1808 with any questions.

April 24–Wednesday 6:00 a.m.
Sabino Canyon
Trip difficulty: 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 9am. Sunhat, water and walking shoes recommended. Leader is a Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalist. Limited to 12 participants. Field trip is FULL. Please click here to be added to the wait list.
Leader: Julie Michael, jbirdsaz123@gmail.com

April 26–Friday 6:30 a.m.
Agua Caliente Birdbrains  //  BIRDATHON TRIP, $50 fee plus additional fundraising
Join Liz Harrison and Tucson Audubon board member, Dick Carlson, on a Big Day to Agua Caliente Park and beyond. The morning will start with a guided walk around Agua Caliente Park, then head to the Tanque Verde Wash at Wentworth to bird the wash, go on to Molino Basin and possibly higher up Catalina Highway, and return to Agua Caliente Park. Please register for this trip here.
Leader:
Liz Harrison. Contact Diana Rosenblum or Eric Scheuering for more information.

April 26–Friday 8:15 a.m.
Oracle State Park
Trip difficulty: Easy 2 hour walk, about 1 mile on dirt trails and pavement, some uneven terrain on trails.
Bird beautiful Oracle State Park about 35 miles north of Tucson. Elevation is 4500 feet so be prepared for cooler temperatures. Chance to see some higher elevation species. Picnic tables and restrooms available. You can also visit historic Kannally Ranch house after the bird walk. Free entry with AZ State Park pass or $7 per vehicle. Meet at Ranch house parking lot at 8:15 am (park gate does not open until 8 am). These walks will occur the first two Fridays of every month thru April. No online registration necessary.
Leader: Mary Ellen Flynn, me.flynn@comcast.net

April 27–Saturday
Mt. Lemmon  //  BIRDATHON TRIP, $50 fee plus additional fundraising
Join Scott Olmstead of Tropical Birding and the Scott’s Orioles team for a Big Day. 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 100-120 species. If we’re lucky we may even see our namesake bird! An optional pre-dawn owling excursion will be added this year. Limited to 8 participants. Trip is FULL.
Leader:
 Scott Olmstead. Contact Eric Scheuering or Diana Rosenblum for more information.

May

May 2–Thursday 6:00 a.m.
Box Canyon Road – An Exploration through the Santa Rita Mountains
Trip difficulty: Easy. While there will be only minimal walking on roads, expect the usual weather and come prepared for lots of sun and possibly hot temperatures.

The dirt road from the Santa Cruz Valley up and over the Santa Ritas has a rich and varied habitat yielding many different assemblages of birds: from desert grasslands up through the pine-oak woodlands and on to the rangelands along Greaterville Road. Golden Eagle, Loggerhead Shrike, Scott’s Oriole, and a variety of interesting sparrows and hummingbirds are all possibilities. Of course, a stop for the Five-striped Sparrow will be on the agenda! Parking along Box Canyon is at an absolute premium so carpooling is required – maximum three vehicles. Once we head up Box Canyon there are no restroom facilities until we come to the end of Greaterville Road where a detour to Las Cienegas is possible. Meet at 6:00 AM at the Fry’s / Starbucks parking lot just east of I-19 at W. Sahuarita Rd / exit 75. Once over the Santa Ritas, we’ll return up AZ 83 to Sahuarita Rd, and back to the vehicles by around noon. Limited to 11 participants. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: Scott Crabtree, the.crabtrees51@gmail.com

May 4 and 25–Saturdays 6:30 a.m.
Mason Center/Arthur Pack Park
Trip difficulty: 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 Regional Park for some 20 to 30 more species along the trails in Arthur Pack Park and golf course pond. Great for families. Loaner binoculars available. See map for directions to the Mason Center (3835 W. Hardy Rd.) on the corner of Hardy and Thornydale in NW Tucson. No online registration necessary.
Leaders: Mary Ellen Flynn (5/4) and Jim Gessaman (5/25). Call 520-209-1808 with any questions.

May 7–Tuesday 8:00 a.m.
Willcox Ponds – Shorebird Migration for Beginners
Trip difficulty: Easy. Walking distance: little, we will bird from or next to your car. Ground conditions: Pavement or graded dirt road.
Come see the shorebirds and waders headed north. A chance of gulls, terns, and hawks. There will be a scope and bird charts. Be ready for sunny, hot and windy weather. Bring a snack and water. Restrooms at Texas Canyon Rest Stop and the historic Train Station Building in Willcox. We will meet at Houghton and I-10, but NOT at the usual spot north of the highway (it is torn up due to construction.) We will meet at a smaller dirt lot SOUTH of I-10 on west side of Houghton. Due to limited space, if you are going to carpool with friends, you might want to do that before you arrive at the meeting place. We will leave at 8 a.m. and be back before 2 p.m. Round-trip of 200 miles. Carpooling is encouraged. No online registration necessary.
Leader:
John Higgins, jghiggins@cox.net, 520-609-2361

May 9–Thursday 7:00 a.m.
Mission Garden
Trip difficulty: 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 for 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

May 12–Sunday 6:00 a.m.
Looking for Becards on the De Anza Trail

The Rose-throated Becards are back, early observations indicate that at least one maybe two pairs will be attempting to nest this year. Good chance to see one. Other great birds that can be seen along the trail include: Gray, Common Black, and Zone-tailed hawks, Tropical Kingbirds, Brown-crested Flycatchers, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets, Summer Tanagers, Varied Buntings, and Blue Grosbeaks. Lots of Yellow-breasted Chats and more. Meet at the Green Valley McDonald’s parking lot on Continental Road at 6:00 a.m. Limit of 12 participants. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: Robert Mesta, robertmesta@cox.net

May 16–Thursday, 6:30 a.m.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is one of the jewels of the Arizona State Parks system. Opening at 6am in the summer allows visitors to enjoy relatively cool temperatures for a couple of hours, particularly in the shade of the towering eucalyptus and other trees. The birding usually presents a rainbow of summer residents, including some orioles, tanagers and grosbeaks, along with familiar desert species and an occasional surprise on Ayer Lake or flying by. Staffers know where to find nests and are happy to point them out. You can check out recent sightings on the Arboretum website. We’ll start at 6:30am at the Arboretum, and wrap up about 10am. Some may want to bring a picnic lunch and extend their stay. Limited to 9 participants. Entrance fee: $15. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: Kathe Anderson, kathe.coot@cox.net

June

June 3–Monday, 6:00 a.m.
Pinal Mountain

Start at 6am outside of Globe for a journey up through a variety of habitats to top out at 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. Limit: 7 participants. Please register here for this trip.
Leader:
Kathe Anderson, kathe.coot@cox.net

June 9–Sunday 6:00 a.m.
Looking for Becards on the De Anza Trail

The Rose-throated Becards are back, early observations indicate that at least one maybe two pairs will be attempting to nest this year. Good chance to see one. Other great birds that can be seen along the trail include: Gray, Common Black, and Zone-tailed hawks, Tropical Kingbirds, Brown-crested Flycatchers, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets, Summer Tanagers, Varied Buntings, and Blue Grosbeaks. Lots of Yellow-breasted Chats and more. Meet at the Green Valley McDonald’s parking lot on Continental Road at 6:00 a.m. Limit of 12 participants. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: Robert Mesta, robertmesta@cox.net


				
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 2511 W Sweetwater Drive.
Contact Luke with questions, 520-209-1811, lsafford@tucsonaudubon.org.
Every Wednesday. Start times: Mar - Apr: 7 am, May - Aug: 6 am, Sep - Oct: 7 am, Nov - Feb: 8 am.

Learn about Sweetwater Wetlands

Thursday Mornings - Birding Agua Caliente Park

Pima County leads this walk -- online registration required at Pima County's website at www.pima.gov/nrpr.
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. 

When: Mar – Apr: 8:00 am, May – Aug: 7:30 am., Sept – Oct: 8:00 am, Nov – Feb: 8:30 am.
Where: 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.
Cost: Free with PCNRPR Membership, Non-PCNRPR Member $5 fee. Online registration required: www.pima.gov/nrpr 

For more information:
email eeducation@pima.gov , or call 520-615-7855. Further Pima County bird trips can be found here.

Birding Canoa Ranch

Pima County leads this walk -- online registration required at Pima County's website at www.pima.gov/nrpr.
Join longtime local birder 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.

When:  Every Saturday, March: 7:30-9:30am, April 7:00-9:00am
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 520-724-5375

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

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.

Learn more and download now!

Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona

Revised 8th Edition, 2015: SOLD OUT
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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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

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
520 415-6447