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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 March 18, 2017. The next update will be made on March 25.

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.


#Eurasian Wigeon

#Greater Scaup

#”Harlan’s” Red-tailed Hawk

#Ruddy Ground-Dove

#Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

#”Yellow-shafted” Northern Flicker


#Eastern Phoebe

#Winter Wren

#Black-capped Gnatcatcher

#Gray Catbird

#Brown Thrasher


#Clay-colored Sparrow


#Baltimore Oriole


In upper Ramsey Canyon, a *TUFTED FLYCATCHER continued on 3/17 (Jim Lawrence) in the same general area they have been reported the last two summers. The birds have been seen about 2 miles up the Hamburg Trail from the Ramsey Canyon Preserve Visitor Center, about 1/3 mile past the junction with the Brown Canyon Trail. This is an occasionally steep 4 mile round trip hike at 6,000 ft elevation to reach this location; take plenty of water (several quarts) and be prepared for very hot dry days or sudden monsoon storm activity. The map here shows the location:

In the Ramsey Canyon Preserve, a *TUFTED FLYCATCHER was photographed on 3/12 (Chris McCreedy) just east of the Bledsoe Loop Trail. Ramsey Canyon Preserve is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

A *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER was reported from Miller Canyon at Split Rock (about a mile from the parking area) on 3/17 (Erika Wilson, Ron Beck).

In Hunter Canyon (, *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 3/14 (Bob Anderson) 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.

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:

A *STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE continued to be seen daily (though sporadically) at the Foothills Road (aka Rodrigues yard) feeders as of 3/17 (Sam Johnson).

A #GRAY CATBIRD continued in Portal on 3/17 (m.ob.) at Cave Creek Ranch.


In Florida Canyon (annotated map:, *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 3/15 (Ginger Spinelli) in the West Fork past 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. It is not necessary, recommended or permissible to enter the research station to see these birds. #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.

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


A male #EURASIAN WIGEON continued at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course on 3/13 (m.ob.).


At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, #GREATER SCAUP continued this week (m.ob.). An #EASTERN PHOEBE, #WINTER WREN, #”YELLOW-SHAFTED” NORTHERN FLICKER (an intergrade bird was also reported) and #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS all continued along the Birding Trail at the east end of the lake this week (m.ob.). Observers are encouraged to note or record the calls of the wren to help separate the Winter Wren from the very similar Pacific Wren. A #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE was reported on 3/13 (Jim Karp).


A #”HARLAN’S” RED-TAILED HAWK was reported again near the intersection of Green Reservoir Rd and Curry Rd on 3/15 (Doug Jenness).


A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was photographed in the Tanque Verde Wash at Wentworth Rd on 3/11 (Brian Nicholas).

The male #BALTIMORE ORIOLE continued at Sweetwater Wetlands this week on 3/15 (m.ob.); one wintered in the area the last two years but ranged widely.

TUBAC area (annotated map:

The #BROWN THRASHER continued at Santa Gertrudis Lane on 3/17 (m.ob.) across from #12. Remember to park along the frontage road and walk in.

Four #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS were photographed in Rock Corral Canyon on 3/16 (Richard Fray) west of Santa Gertrudis Lane. A high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended; the birds were all within the first mile up canyon from the corral.


A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was reported in Pena Blanca Canyon ( south of Pena Blanca Lake on 3/16 (Bill Lisowsky, Milton Collins).


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. ACCESS UPDATE: Closed due to construction until August 2016.

RAMSEY CANYON – Ramsey Canyon Preserve is open; it is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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

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

PATAGONIA – The Paton Center for Hummingbirds remains open to birders.

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 phone 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 new 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 is currently revising security procedures and the following 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).
  • ROGER ROAD WRF: closed
  • NOGALES STP: closed

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.

Sweetwater Wetlands

Sweetwater Wetlands is a gem of urban bird and wildlife activity right in urban Tucson. So far 306 bird species have been documented here. Join our weekly bird walks on Wednesdays and see what you can find!

Learn more


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!

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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