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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 21, 2018. The next update will be made on September 28.

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.



#Tricolored Heron
#Semipalmated Sandpiper
#Sabine’s Gull
#Heermann’s Gull
#Lucifer Hummingbird
#Green Kingfisher
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#Rufous-capped Warbler
#Clay-colored Sparrow
#Painted Bunting


In Huachuca Canyon, a *SINALOA WREN was reported again on 9/21 (Ken Blankenship). Previous sightings were about 100 yards past the upper parking area; the upper parking area is 1.7-miles from the mouth of the canyon.
#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued at Ash Canyon B&B this week (m.ob.).
At the San Pedro House, at least one #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued this week (m.ob.) between markers #6 and #7 south of the bridge.
In Hunter Canyon (, #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS were reported again this week on 9/20 (Michelle Long) 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.
Three #DICKCISSELS were reported at the Sierra Vista EOP on 9/16 (Erika Wilson et al). The Sunday walk grants access to a larger area than is normally available, and is every Sunday at 8am Oct-Mar, 7am Apr-Sep.

TUBAC area (annotated map:
A pair of *ROSE-THROATED BECARDS continued along the De Anza Trail at Tumacacori this week (m.ob.); from the trailhead just north of the mission and opposite the post office, head east to the kiosk. There is a short spur to the river just east of here, and they have been seen in this area and just to the north.
A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued along the De Anza Trail at Santa Gertrudis Lane 9/17 (m.ob.). A #PAINTED BUNTING was reported on 9/20 (Cathy Beck). Remember to park along the frontage road and walk in.
A #DICKCISSEL was reported along the Anza Tail at Tubac on 9/19 (Bill Lisowsky).

A #TRICOLORED HERON continued at the Amado STP on 9/21 (m.ob.), though it occasionally departed and retuned.

A #SABINE’S GULL and three #SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS were reported on 9/20 (Stuart Healy) at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course in Willcox. Two Sanderling were photographed on 9/18 (Marty Herde) and three continued on 9/20.

A #HEERMANN’S GULL was reported from Lakeside Park on 9/18 (Susan Atkisson).
Flyover #DICKCISSELS were reported in a southeast Tucson yard on 9/16 and 9/20 (Brian Gibbons).
A #DICKCISSEL was reported along the Rillito River at the Columbus Weed Patch on 9/19 (Mark Stevenson, Molly Pollock).

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued this week in a yard near Horseshoe Canyon (Dawn Zappone) and in a yard in Whitetail Canyon (Rick Taylor).

ACCESS NOTE: Green Valley WWTP is closed on weekdays until further notice due to construction; it remains open on weekends. Visitors MUST check in before birding. Protocol for visiting: The facility is open from 8am-2pm; use the call box at the gate, sign in and out at the office on the west side of the complex, and stay away from buildings and construction equipment. If gate is open, proceed to office to sign in. Access depends on being able to get a worker to answer the call button; they aren’t always in the office, and sometimes a wait is necessary. When done, sign out at the office.
In Madera Canyon (map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd this week (m.ob.).
In Montosa Canyon (annotated map: #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) near the culvert, upstream of the concrete stream crossing.
A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was photographed at Canoa Ranch Conservation Park on 9/15 (Joan Powell).

At Pena Blanca Lake (annotated map:, a # LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was photographed about 1/4 mile below the dam on 9/15 (Richard Fray, Jennie MacFarland). Two #DICKCISSELS were photographed at the Upper Thumb Rock picnic parking area on 9/18 (Cathy Beck).

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 6:30-8:30am 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 WRF – Protocol for visiting: 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. 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:



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:

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.

Learn more and download now!

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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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