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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 January 19, 2018. The next update will be made on January 26. 

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
#Green Kingfisher
#Red-breasted Sapsucker
#Eastern Phoebe
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Rufous-backed Robin
#Palm Warbler
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#”Red” Fox Sparrow
#McCown’s Longspur
#Lapland Longspur

Red-breasted Nuthatches and Red Crossbills continue to invade southeast Arizona – a recording is critical in separating the different types of crossbills: see

TUBAC area (annotated map:
A *SINALOA WREN continued this week (m.ob.) along the De Anza Trail south of Santa Gertrudis Lane. This week it has been seen in the vicinity of the old cars about 1/4 miles south of the crossing. Multiple #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBINS continued along Santa Gertrudis Lane on this week (m.ob.) across from #12 and also along the river near the cars. Remember to park along the frontage road and walk in.
In Montosa Canyon (annotated map: a #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER continued this week on 1/13 (Joe Gebler) near the culvert, upstream of the concrete stream crossing.
Two pairs of #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS were reported in Rock Corral Canyon on 1/17 (Tim Helentjaris) west of Santa Gertrudis Lane. A high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended; the birds were between the corral and the unofficial campground.

A *STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE was reported from San Bernardino NWR on 1/18 (Richard Webster). It was first seen where the main refuge entrance road crosses Black Draw, the main N-S drainage line. Later it was at Minckley Ponds about 250 yards north, where a male #GREEN KINGFISHER was as well. San Bernardino NWR annotated map:

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.
In Madera Canyon (map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd this week (m.ob.).
In Montosa Canyon (annotated map: a #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER continued this week on 1/7 (Katey Buster) near the culvert, upstream of the concrete stream crossing.
A #PALM WARBLER was photographed at Quail Creek Veterans Municipal Park on 1/15 (Katey Buster) and continued on 1/18 (Susan Voelker). One wintered here last year.

At the San Pedro House, a #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued this week (m.ob.), one had been seen near marker #7 south of the bridge but recent reports have been of the one north of the bridge. A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued off and on just north of the bridge (m.ob.).
An #EASTERN PHOEBE continued along the San Pedro north of the Hereford Bridge on 1/13 (David Wood).

A #EURASIAN WIGEON continued at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course in Willcox on 1/19 (m.ob.).

A #EURASIAN WIGEON continued at the Avra Valley WWTP on 1/16 (Nate Gowan); however, a likely Eurasian x American Wigeon hybrid has also been present, so caution is warranted. The second bird has paler cheeks and a bit of black at the base of the bill. If the gate is locked, try the call box; gate is locked for the day at 2pm.
A #GREATER SCAUP was reported at Kennedy Lake this week (m.ob.). Several Lesser Scaup are present as well.
At Sweetwater Wetlands a #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was reported on 1/17 (Luke Safford et al).
A Northern Waterthrush (very rare in winter) continued at Sam Lena Park/KERP this week (m.ob.). One was present here last winter.

At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, a #GREATER SCAUP continued this week (m.ob.). #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) at the east end along the Birding Trail.
A #RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER continued along Blue Haven Rd this week (m.ob.) between the Paton Center for Hummingbirds and the Patagonia- Sonoita Creek Preserve. However, a hybrid Red-naped Sapsucker x Red-breasted Sapsucker has also been seen within a half-mile so caution is warranted. Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve annotated map:

A #”HARLAN’S” RED-TAILED HAWK continued near the intersection of Green Reservoir Rd and Curry Rd this week (m.ob.).
Two #RUDDY GROUND-DOVES were photographed at the Red Rock feedlot on Sasco Rd on 1/14 (Loyal Johnson).

A #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued in Sycamore Canyon on 1/13 (Steven Bonta).

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
A #”RED” FOX SPARROW continued in Whitetail Canyon on 1/14 (Rick Taylor).

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):

A Brown Pelican continued at the Amado STP this week (m.ob.), although it (or another) ranged widely and was seen from Tucson to Nogales along the I-19 corridor.

 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.

The SAN PEDRO HOUSE and trails are closed for maintenance until October 28 (at least).

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).
  • 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:

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.

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