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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 18, 2019. The next update will be made on January 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
#”Harlan’s” Red-tailed Hawk
#Green Kingfisher
#Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#Rufous-capped Warbler
#Clay-colored Sparrow
#”Red” Fox Sparrow
#Golden-crowned Sparrow

In Madera Canyon (map:, the *WHITE-THROATED THRUSH continued throughout the week, though most reports seemed to come in the morning (m.ob.). It has been seen along the trail between the Whitehouse Picnic Area and the Proctor Rd trails. The spot most people have seen it is about 100 yards downstream from the big bridge, on the steep bank on the east side of the creek. #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd this week (m.ob.).
A #”HARLAN’S” RED-TAILED HAWK continued in Green Valley at Quail Creek Veterans Municipal Park and in the vicinity this week (m.ob.) east of the park east of the railroad tracks and north of Quail Creek Blvd.
In Florida Canyon (annotated map:, #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued (m.ob.) in the West Fork above 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. A #WINTER WREN and a #GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW continued near the dam this week (m.ob.). #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.
ACCESS NOTE: the Green Valley Water Reclamation Facility is closed Jan 19-20 but will be open as usual next weekend.

The *RINGED KINGFISHER was seen again in the Safford area on 1/15 (Norman Woodley) at Dankworth Pond. The kingfisher has been seen in 3-4 different locations in the area, including Roper Lake State Park, Dankworth Pond, a few small private ponds between the two spots and in a private pond north of Roper Lake. This last pond is on private property but the kingfisher can be heard and occasionally seen from Roper Lake Road. PLEASE do not trespass – there were some unfortunate events in December that were quite preventable, if people would just remember to stay on the road. Map:
An *ICELAND GULL continued on 1/18 (m.ob.) at Roper Lake SP. A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER continued on the island this week (m.ob.).

TUBAC area (annotated map:
A female *ROSE-THROATED BECARD was photographed about 1/4 mile north of the Tubac bridge on 1/14 (Bill Lisowsky) and continued on 1/17 (Michael Gray). A male *ROSE-THROATED BECARD was photographed in the same area on 1/15 (Judith Ellyson, Jim Karp).
A #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER and a #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW were reported from Puerto Canyon northwest of Tubac on 1/14 (Keith Kamper). From I-19, take the Chaves Siding exit (#40) and turn right/west and then immediately right/north onto the frontage road. In about 0.2 miles, turn left/west onto the good dirt road. This takes you along Puerto Canyon and in 5.2 miles to Puerto Spring. There are no signs along the way to Puerto Spring, but staying on the main road should get you there. Map:

A #EURASIAN WIGEON continued at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course in Willcox this week (m.ob.).

A #”HARLAN’S” RED-TAILED HAWK continued this week (m.ob.) near the intersection of Green Reservoir Rd and Curry Rd.

At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, a #GREEN KINGFISHER continued this week (m.ob.) at the east end along the Birding Trail.
A #”RED” FOX SPARROW continued at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds this week (m.ob.).

At the San Pedro House, a #GREEN KINGFISHER and a #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued this week (m.ob.) along the San Pedro River.

#BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS were photographed on 1/16 (Richard Fray) at the south end of California Gulch at the confluence with Warsaw Canyon. Annotated map:

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


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.

The gravel pit at the south end of Renaissance Ave may be viewed from outside the fence, but do not enter the pit. Similarly, the fields at the intersection of nearby Indian Agency Rd/Los Reales Rd. may be viewed from the road, but the pit is posted “No Trespassing”.

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 – Under construction, access on weekends only for now. Protocol for visiting when open: 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:


Madera Canyon 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:

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!

Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona

Revised 8th Edition, 2015: SOLD OUT
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

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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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