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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 16, 2018. The next update will be made on March 23. 

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
#Horned Grebe
#Ruddy Ground-Dove
#Green Kingfisher
#Eastern Phoebe
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Rufous-backed Robin
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#Golden-crowned Sparrow
#McCown’s Longspur
#Baltimore Oriole
#Golden-crowned Sparrow

At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, a *CAROLINA WREN continued on 3/16 (m.ob.) near the visitor center and has been found at both ends of the pedestrian bridge and around the marina inlet. #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS and a #GREEN KINGFISHER continued this week (m.ob.) at the east end along the Birding Trail.
A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve on 2/28 (m.ob.); annotated map:
A # RUDDY GROUND-DOVE was reported at the Paton Center on 3/4 (fide Thor Manson) and continued through 3/9 (m.ob.).
A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN continued this week (m.ob.) in the town of Patagonia, on Pennsylvania Ave. just west of Fourth Ave.

In Carr Canyon, one and occasionally two *TUFTED FLYCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) at the Reef Townsite CG on the north side of the campground between the restrooms and the group ramada. This is along the drainage behind campsite #9.
In upper Ramsey Canyon, a *TUFTED FLYCATCHER was reported on 3/9 (Theresa Lawson). The birds are being seen about 2 miles up the Hamburg Trail from the Ramsey Canyon Preserve Visitor Center, about 1/3 mile past the Brown Canyon trail junction. It 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: Ramsey Canyon Preserve is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
At the San Pedro House, at least one #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued this week (m.ob.), they’ve been seen near markers #6 and #7 south of the bridge but recent reports have also come from north of the bridge. The #GREEN KINGFISHER was not reported this week, but there was a second-hand report of one near the Charleston Bridge, three miles to the north (fide John Broz).
An #EASTERN PHOEBE continued just north of the Hereford Bridge over the San Pedro on 3/13 (Diane Touret).
A #GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW was reported in a yard in Hereford on 3/15 (Norm Woodley).

TUBAC area (annotated map:
A *SINALOA WREN continued this week through 3/16 (m.ob.) along the De Anza Trail south of Santa Gertrudis Lane. It has been seen in the vicinity of the old cars and a child’s tricycle about 1/4 miles south of the crossing. Multiple #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBINS continued this week (m.ob.). Remember to park along the frontage road and walk in.
A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued this week between Tubac and Clark Crossing Rd (m.ob.)
A male and a female *ROSE-THROATED BECARD continued north of the Tubac bridge on 3/13 (m.ob.). A #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was reported south of the bridge on 3/16 (William Flack).

In Florida Canyon (annotated map:, *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued this week (m.ob.) in the West Fork near 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, and at the old corral at FR488 & 62A.
In Madera Canyon (map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd this week (m.ob.).

A *STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE reappeared in a Tucson yard this week (m.ob.) after a long absence. It was seen for a few minutes on 3/10, but where it spends the rest of its time is unclear. The yard is on the southeast corner of E 2nd St. and N Anderson Blvd. (near Speedway & Country Club); standing on the west side of Anderson Blvd gives the best chance to see the bird come in without disturbing it. The feeder is in the orange tree on the side of the house.
A #HORNED GREBE was reported at Arthur Pack Regional Park on 3/16 (John Williams).
At Sweetwater Wetlands, a #BALTIMORE ORIOLE was reported again in the area on 3/14 (Brian Nicholas); one has wintered here the last two years but ranges widely. This week it was across Sweetwater Drive in the trees of the now-closed Roger Road WRF.

A *STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE continued at San Bernardino NWR on 3/16 (Richard Webster). It was seen in the Twin Ponds area (near the cemetery) south of where the main refuge entrance road crosses Black Draw, the main N-S drainage line. San Bernardino NWR annotated map:

A #EURASIAN WIGEON continued at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course in Willcox on 3/12 (Lindsay Story).

A #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE continued at the Red Rock feedlot on Sasco Rd this week (m.ob.). It tends to hang out with the Inca Doves on the northwest side.

A #LAPLAND LONGSPUR and #MCCOWN’S LONGSPURS continued from the Davis Pasture section of Las Cienegas NCA this week (m.ob.). Map (courtesy of Richard Fray):

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.

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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.

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:



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