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Southeast Arizona Rare Bird Alert

This update of Tucson Audubon Society’s Rare Bird Alert for Southeast Arizona was made on May 17, 2019. The next update will be made on May 24.

SEVERAL IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS follow the sightings, including information on temporary closures and rules for access to other important birding areas. Abbreviation “m.ob.” = multiple observers. An asterisk (*) preceding a species name in the list indicates that it merits careful, full documentation. A pound sign (#) indicates that brief corroborating details are warranted.



#Short-tailed Hawk
#Lucifer Hummingbird
#White-eyed Vireo
#Yellow-throated Vireo
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Brown Thrasher
#Chestnut-sided Warbler
#Hooded Warbler
#Rufous-capped Warbler

A *TUFTED FLYCATCHER was reported in Huachuca Canyon on 5/17 (Allen and Ann Millet) and photographed (m.ob.). It was in the open clearing on the right just before the upper parking area, which is 1.7-miles from the mouth of the canyon – there is a “No Feeding” sign beside this open area. See Announcement section below for access requirements.
#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued in a several yards and canyons on the east flank of the Huachucas this week (m.ob.).
In Hunter Canyon (, #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued this week in the upper canyon about 0.7 miles up the trail from the end of Hunter Canyon Road just as the trail enters the grove of trees.

A #WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER and a #BROWN THRASHER were reported on 5/17 (Stuart Healy, et al) at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course in Willcox.

*BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJARS continued this week (m.ob.) at the south end of California Gulch at the confluence with Warsaw Canyon. Annotated map:
A Black-bellied Plover was photographed at the Pesqueira Pit ( on 5/12 (Ricard Fray) – perhaps a first county record.

*BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJARS were reported in the Brown Canyon section of Buenos Aires NWR on 5/13 (Jim Krakowski). Last year there are several birds present, both in the restricted area of the canyon west of the gate and on the publicly accessible side. There are three cattle guards on Brown Canyon Rd (#102) leading up to the security gate, which is 3.5 miles from Hwy 286. The best location for hearing a nightjar is between the third cattle guard and the gate but they have been heard at all three cattle guards.
Photo opportunities will be limited as the better habitat is not adjacent to public access along Rd 102 (see map here
Another area is along BANWR Rd 148 (high clearance recommended) – the turnoff is just before the first cattle guard.
DO NOT ACCESS BY FOOT OR BY VEHICLE- the private land holding north of Rd 102 as shown on the map (between cattle guards #1 and #2). DO NOT ENTER the roads leading to the coral and watering facility. Faded signs indicating “Stay Out” are posted but could be easily missed. Access to State Trust Land must be done with proper state permits.
For details regarding access to the restricted area (west of the gate) contact the refuge headquarters (520.823.4251 ext 101).

TUBAC area (annotated map:
A pair of *ROSE-THROATED BECARDS continued on the east bank of the river about 1/4 mile north of the Tubac bridge this week (m.ob.). There is a footbridge to the east side just north of the main bridge – follow the trail north and look for the bright orange plastic lid about 150 yards past the old nests from last year.

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
A *PRAIRIE WARBLER was reported from Rucker Canyon on 5/16 (Richard Webster). It was singing about 200 yards west of Cypress Campground.
A *KENTUCKY WARBLER was reported from Cave Creek Canyon at Stewart Campground on 5/11 (Ed Conrad).
A #HOODED WARBLER was reported from a yard in Portal on 5/17 (Narca Moore-Craig).

In Florida Canyon (annotated map:, #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued (m.ob.) in the West Fork above the dam. Directions: About 400 yards from parking lot is a metal gate, and just past the gate the canyon forks. The main trail follows the East Fork, but most sightings have been in the West Fork to the right. About 125 yards up the rough trail in the West Fork is a large water tank and a low dam. The oak grove is about 1/3 mile past the dam. Note: The trail for the West Fork can be difficult to find, and is steep and rough in places. If you see the sign with distances to Florida Saddle, Madera Canyon, etc you’ve missed the turn. #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued in Florida Canyon this week (m.ob.); they’ve been seen near the Florida Canyon parking area and a short distance up the trail, and at the old corral at FR488 & 62A. It is not necessary, recommended or permissible to enter the research station to see these birds.
A #SHORT-TAILED HAWK was photographed at the Whipple Observatory on the west side of the Santa Rita Mountains on 5/10 (anonymous).
A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD continued in Box Canyon (31.799163, -110.783382) this week (m.ob.). Five-striped Sparrows also continued in Box Canyon this week (m.ob.) about 6.7 miles east of Madera Canyon Rd. This is the same spot they’ve been seen the last two years – about 0.9 miles east of the bridge.

A #SHORT-TAILED HAWK was photographed in the Gila Box RNCA at the Old Safford Bridge ( on 5/8 (Carol Comeau).

A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD continued on the Guindani Loop Trail at Kartchner Caverns State Park this week (m.ob.).
A #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER was reported at the upper spring in French Joe Canyon on 5/12 (Ethan Beasley). High clearance/4WD is recommended for the famously rough road in.

At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) at the east end along the Birding Trail.
A #CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER was reported from the Patagonia Roadside Rest Area on 5/16 (Deirdre Asbjorn) and was seen by many throughout the day.
A #WHITE-EYED VIREO was reported on 5/15 (Matt Brown) along Blue Haven Rd about 0.4 miles west of the cattle guard by the Paton Center. It continued in the same spot on 5/16 (m.ob.).


Good birding!

-Andrew Core, Rare Bird Alert Compiler


Directions to Birding Sites
Where directions are not given, they can be found in the newest edition of Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona, published by and available from Tucson Audubon Nature Shop.

Methodology of this Report
The sequence of sightings in this report is not random. Species are listed by order of overall rarity within locality. The first locality mentioned contains the rarest species seen during the reporting period. Within that locality, species are mentioned in relative-rarity order or in taxonomic order, if relative rarity is the same, within sub-locality. When the sightings for a locality are complete, the rarest remaining species dictates which locality is mentioned next, and so forth. At any point when 2 or more species are of the same relative rarity, taxonomic order then determines the sequence in which the localities are covered. Consequently, the order in which localities are mentioned will vary from one report to the next.

Contributors are listed in the text. The spelling of names given over the phone is not guaranteed to be accurate. Any errors or omissions are unintentional.


The revised 8th edition of Finding Birds in SE Arizona (2015) is the current edition. Addendum to the revised 8th edition is available at:

TUCSON – Mosquito control operations are scheduled at Sweetwater Wetlands from 6:30-9:00 am on Mondays.  The gate will open when operations are finished. Roger Road WRF was closed as of 1/10/2014 and it is uncertain when access will be allowed again.

The gravel pit at the south end of Renaissance Ave may be viewed from outside the fence, but do not enter the pit. Similarly, the fields at the intersection of nearby Indian Agency Rd/Los Reales Rd. may be viewed from the road, but the pit is posted “No Trespassing”.

EL RIO OPEN SPACE PRESERVE/COACHLINE GRAVEL PIT – park in the dirt lot along the south edge near the berm, not in the neighborhood to the west. Annotated map:

GREEN VALLEY WRF – Under construction, access on weekends only for now. Protocol for visiting when open: use the call box at the gate, sign in at the office on the west side of the complex before birding, and stay away from buildings and construction equipment. If gate is open, proceed to office to sign in. Sign out when finished. If you’d like to call ahead, you can try at 520-625-0025. Map:

ASH CANYON – Ash Canyon B&B is open dawn to dusk EXCEPT Wednesday, when open noon to dusk; parking is limited to six spots.

PATAGONIA – Patagonia Ranch Estates has posted signs that say “No Hunting – No Camping – No Parking” but birders may continue to look along Circulo Montana for grassland sparrows according to Alan Schmierer (July 2017). This is the neighborhood on the west side of the Patagonia Lake State Park entrance road.

FORT HUACHUCA – is an active military installation and will suspend your driving privileges on Post for 30 days on your first offense for talking or using a cell pne while driving. You MUST use a hands free device. Current entry requirements (subject to change without notice): US citizens should be prepared to show photo ID for everyone in the vehicle at the entrance, and possibly your vehicle registration and insurance as well. Foreign nationals must be accompanied by an approved military escort; contact the base (520.533.7111), or possibly the Sierra Vista Visitor’s Bureau (520.417.6960) well in advance.

IMPORTANT: Ft. Huachuca has posted information on access requirements on its official webpage at – look for the “Gate Information” tab on the left side of the homepage. Read the information at the “Visitors Access” button. If you click the “Installation Access Forms” button, you can see the information you’ll have to provide to get access. The Visitor Control Center is located at the Van Deman Gate on Hwy 90.

ACCESS NOTE: apparently some states driver’s licenses do not meet federal requirements for base entry (IL, MN, MO, NM, and WA); see for details.

ACCESS NOTE: Despite the signage, as of March 2016 Garden Canyon was indeed now open to vehicles up to the upper picnic area and foot traffic beyond this. As of late July 2016, it was reported that it was open all the way to the top.

SANTA CRUZ FLATS – Management at the Evergreen Turf Sod Farm has asked birders not to drive into the property (i.e., the 2750 road); birding from perimeter roads (i.e., Tweedy or Pretzer) is still fine.

BAIRD’S SPARROW HILL AND THE VACA RANCH CORRAL in the San Rafael Valley is off limits to birders due to the thoughtless actions of a few birders. DO NOT ENTER THE PROPERTY.  A sign has been posted previously stating that “stopping within 0.25 mile of the corral is prohibited.”

The Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department’s  security procedures and rules are subject to change any time. Please see this link for important information regarding access: Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

  • AVRA VALLEY WRF: Gates open at 6AM and close PROMPTLY at 2PM (do not linger, you will be locked inside). UPDATE: under construction; if the gate is locked, use the call box to request access (not guaranteed). Due to ongoing construction, birders are advised to call ahead at 520-577-7341 to check on access.
  • ROGER ROAD WRF: closed
  • NOGALES STP: closed



California Gulch annotated map:


Ramsey Canyon:
Hunter Canyon


Portal annotated map:


Madera Canyon annotated map:
Florida Canyon annotated map:
Green Valley WRF:


Patagonia Lake annotated map:
Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve annotated map:

TUBAC area

Tubac annotated map:
Puerto Canyon map:


Slaughter Ranch and San Bernardino NWR annotated map:

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
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.

Learn more

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!

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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


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


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