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 ABA’s position on birding ethics at www.aba.org/about/ethics.html.
  • Field trip leaders are in charge of all aspects of the day’s birding.
  • 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.

Southeast Arizona Birding Festival Trips

Pre and Post Festival trips with Borderland Tours and Solipaso are now up for registration to these outstanding destinations, the price for each tour includes a donation to Tucson Audubon:

  • Chiricahua Mountains, August 7-9 with Borderland Tours
  • Madera in Sonora/Chihuahua Mexico for Thick-billed Parrots, August 6-9 with Solipaso
  • Alpine Arizona, Grand Canyon, & Condors, August 14-20 with Borderland Tours

For more information on pre and post festival trips you can go here or click on the tour company name. The Southeast Arizona Birding Festival is August 10-13 and includes over 35 field trips. For more information and to register for Southeast Arizona Birding Festival field trips click here!

Current Field Trips

JUNE

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.
Leader: John Higgins. 520-578-1830   jghiggins@comcast.net

JULY

July 1–Saturday 2:00 p.m.
California Gulch
Trip rating: Moderate.  Walking Distance: cumulative walking of about one mile.  Elevation gain: up to 100 ft. Ground conditions: dirt roads and trails, river bed with rolling rocks–walking conditions may be strenuous for some. Weather conditions: it will be HOT–bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat.  Bring a chair and your dinner.
Meet at 2 p.m. for late afternoon and evening birding. We will look for a variety of birds in the afternoon including Five-striped Sparrows and Black-capped Gnatcatchers. Other species possible here include Montezuma Quail, Gray Hawk, Varied Bunting and Common Ground-Dove. In the evening we will look, and listen, for Elf Owl, Western Screech Owl, Common Poorwill and  Buff-collared Nightjars.  We will not visit California Gulch proper, but will head south about 3/4 of a miles further south and do our birding there. No participant limit but the number of participants is reliant on the number of high-clearance vehicles we have. Please indicate if you have a high-clearance vehicle and are willing to drive. Remember we return after dark. You will receive instructions about where to meet before the trip. Please register for this trip here.
Leader: Melody Kehl ( melodysbirding@cox.net )

July 15—Saturday 6:00 a.m.
Birding with a Purpose: Sweetwater Wetlands Monarch Waystation Planting
We’ll begin this special restoration field trip with an easy, early morning walk around the wetlands followed by planting special native plants for a Monarch Waystation. All of the plants will be donated by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and we will work with Tucson Water as we partner together to enhance the opportunities at Sweetwater for butterflies and hummingbirds. You can take this opportunity to learn how to bring this habitat to your own home! Be prepared to get dirty and it could be hot. Bring gardening gloves, lots of water, and your binoculars! Planting will begin about 7:30 a.m. Limit to 15 participants. Please register for this trip here.
Leaders: Jonathan Horst and Luke Safford (lsafford@tucsonaudubon.org)

July 23–Sunday 6:00 a.m.
Scotia Canyon
Time to explore this underbirded canyon on the west side of the Huachuca Mountains for Elegant 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. Limit of 20 people. Register for this trip here starting Monday, July 3.
Leader:  Cliff Cathers 520.982.3272 or AZCliffy@Q.com.

July 25–Tuesday 6:00 a.m.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
The 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 6am at the Arboretum, and wrap up between 9:30-10am. Some may want to bring a picnic lunch and extend their stay. Limit: 9 participants. Entrance fee: $12.50. Register for this trip here starting Monday, July 3.
Leader:
 Kathe Anderson, kathe.coot@cox.net

August

August 5–Saturday 7:00 a.m.
Santa Catalinas
Lets find the high mountains warbler flocks on a glorious monsoon Saturday.  It’s the time of year for roaming packs of warblers and we hope to find all of them on an adventure up the home range.  Meet behind the Sheriff’s office at Tanque Verde and Bear Canyon at 7:00 AM.  Mostly driving, some walking on flat ground.  We should be back by 1:00 PM or so.  Please do not show up at the meeting place without successful registration. Limit of 20 people. Please register for this trip here starting Monday, July 10.
Leader:  Cliff Cathers 520.982.3272 or AZCliffy@Q.com.

August 17–Thursday 6:00 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. Register for this trip here starting Monday, July 24.
Leader:
 Michael Welch, manddwelch@comcast.net

August 29–Tuesday 6:00 a.m.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
The 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 6am at the Arboretum, and wrap up between 9:30-10am. Some may want to bring a picnic lunch and extend their stay. Limit: 9 participants. Entrance fee: $12.50. Register for this trip here starting Monday, August 7.
Leader:
  Kathe Anderson, kathe.coot@cox.net

Wednesday Mornings at Sweetwater Wetlands

No registration needed!
May-August starts at 6 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, 520-576-6044, 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!
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

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
520 415-6447