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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 September 22, 2017. The next update will be made on September 29.


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.



#Roseate Spoonbill
#Semipalmated Sandpiper
#Sabine’s Gull
#Lucifer Hummingbird
#Green Kingfisher
 Pinyon Jay
 Clark’s Nutcracker
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#Painted Bunting

In Carr Canyon, a *TUFTED FLYCATCHER continued at the Reef Townsite CG through 9/17 (Rebekah Doyle) on the north side of the campground along the drainage behind the bathrooms (near campsite #9).
In Hunter Canyon (, *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued this week on 9/17 (Ben Sandstrom) 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.
#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued at Ash Canyon B&B this week (m.ob.).
A #GREEN KINGFISHER was photographed at the upper picnic area in Garden Canyon on 9/16 (Chris Harbard).
At the San Pedro House, a #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was reported along the San Pedro River on 9/16 (Joyce Pritchett) between markers #6 and #7 and continued on 9/19 (Robert Woodward); last year one frequented the area between trail markers #7 and #8.

A *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER was reported along Sonoita Creek along Blue Haven Rd on 9/19 (Robin Baxter) between the Paton Center for Hummingbirds and the Patagonia- Sonoita Creek Preserve. Robin says, “The bird was foraging across the creek in some low shrubs and at one point made its way to the top of a willow with a dead broken branch which is pretty conspicuous. There are no trails within the preserve in this area so unless it just hangs out in that spot re-finding could be tough.” Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve annotated map:
A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD was photographed at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds on 9/21 (Steve Vaughn).
At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS and a #GREEN KINGFISHER continued this week (m.ob.) at the east end along the Birding Trail.

A *SHORT-TAILED HAWK continued on Mt. Lemmon, soaring over the Summerhaven area on 9/22 (Brian Johnson). It has been seen recently from the Aspen Trail ( and from Inspiration Rock. A CLARK’s NUTCRACKER was photographed at the San Pedro Vista on 9/20 (Neil Clark).

An immature *MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD was reported overhead along Moyza Ranch Road between Amado and Arivaca on 9/21 (Kathy Groschupf).
A Brown Pelican continued at the Amado STP this week (m.ob.), and a second one joined it on 9/17.

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
A *RED-EYED VIREO and two Pinyon Jays were reported on 9/22 (Rick Taylor) in a yard in Whitetail Canyon.
A #DICKCISSEL was photographed along Stateline Rd on 9/16 (Vivian Schneggenburger).

Up to four #ROSEATE SPOONBILLS continued at Aguirre Lake in Buenos Aires NWR on 9/20 (Sally Johnsen). They have been seen both on Grebe Pond (the large body of water visible from the trailhead and viewing blind) and from Aguirre Lake, which is largely dry and wraps around the north and west of Grebe Pond.

A #SABINE’S GULL continued at Whitewater Draw WA on 9/22 (m.ob.). A #SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and Snowy Plover were reported on 9/20 (m.ob.).

At Pena Blanca Lake (annotated map:, an #OVENBIRD was photographed on 9/16 (Ben Sandstrom) and continued on 9/17 (Chris McCreedy) at the south end of the lake. A #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was photographed on 9/19 (Ron Batie, Bill Lisowsky) and continued on 9/20 (m.ob.). Two #PAINTED BUNTINGS were photographed on 9/21 (Ron Friesz).
A #DICKCISSEL was reported from Sycamore Canyon on 9/20 (Laurens Halsey, Chris Benesh).

TUBAC area (annotated map:
A #PAINTED BUNTING was reported along the Santa Cruz River at Santa Gertrudis Lane on 9/16 (David Goodward). Remember to park along the frontage road and walk in.

#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.
In Madera Canyon (map: #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd this week (m.ob.).


 Good birding!

 -Andrew Core, Rare Bird Alert Compiler




 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 6:30-8:30am 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.

  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 WWTP – Protocol for visiting: use the call box at the gate, sign in and out at the office, and stay away from buildings and construction equipment. If gate is open, proceed to office to sign in.

 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.

 BENSON – the Benson Birding Trail is no longer accessible as the property is under new ownership.

 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: Closed though September 1 for construction.
  • ROGER ROAD WRF: closed
  • NOGALES STP: closed




 California Gulch annotated map:



Ramsey Canyon:

 Hunter Canyon



 Portal annotated map:



 Florida Canyon annotated map:



 Patagonia Lake annotated map:

 Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve annotated map:


TUBAC area

 Tubac annotated map:

 Puerto Canyon map:



 Slaughter Ranch annotated map:

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.

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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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 and purchase a copy from our online Shop

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.

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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