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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 November 17, 2017. The next update will be made on November 24. 

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
#White-winged Scoter
#Ruddy Ground-Dove
#Green Kingfisher
#Red-breasted Sapsucker
#Eastern Phoebe
#Winter Wren
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Rufous-backed Robin
#Gray Catbird
#Tennessee Warbler
#Palm Warbler
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#Clay-colored Sparrow
#Golden-crowned Sparrow
#Orchard Oriole
#Baltimore Oriole

Red-breasted Nuthatches, Cassin’s Finches, Clark’s Nutcrackers and Red Crossbills continue to invade southeast Arizona – a recording is critical in separating the different types of crossbills: see

A *COUCH’S KINGBIRD was photographed on 11/11 (Melissa Williams) at Fort Lowell Park and continued through 11/17 (m.ob.). It prefers the area around the pond early in the morning but then wanders to the pecan grove to the east and across the wash later in the day before returning to the pond in the late afternoon. There are two previously accepted state records.
A #WHITE-WINGED SCOTER was photographed at Kennedy Lake on 11/11 (Janine McCabe) A #GREATER SCAUP continued on 11/12 (Ed Dunn); two were reported on 11/15 (Laurens Halsey) and continued through 11/16 (John Higgins).
A #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE was photographed in a yard in north Tucson on 11/11 (Michael Rossetti).
A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN and a #GRAY CATBIRD were reported from a neighborhood in northeast Tucson on 11/17 (Keith Kamper).
At Sweetwater Wetlands, the #BALTIMORE ORIOLE continued on 11/15 (Stephen Krohn).
A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was photographed at Jesse Owens Park southeast of Broadway and Pantano (map: A Williamson’s Sapsucker and crossbills were present as well.
An #ORCHARD ORIOLE was photographed in the Tanque Verde Wash at Wentworth Rd. on 11/14 (Paul Suchanek).

In Huachuca Canyon, two *SINALOA WRENS were reported about 1.5 miles up the canyon on 11/10 (Stuart Healy). The wrens were in one the brush piles on the east side of the canyon; a road comes in from the west side of the canyon here. This is about 0.2 mile short of the campground; approximate map:
In Hunter Canyon (, *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued this week (m.ob.) 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.
At the San Pedro House, a #GREEN KINGFISHER continued along the San Pedro River north of the bridge on 11/17 (John Broz). Two #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSHES were reported on 11/15 (John Broz) – one was about 200 yards south of the bridge between posts #7 and #8 and one was an equal distance north of the bridge. The one south of the bridge was photographed on 11/17 (Peggy Rudman).

In Florida Canyon (annotated map:, *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 11/17 (Richard Fray) 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, and at the old corral at FR488 & 62A.
A #GREATER SCAUP was photographed at the Green Valley WWTP on 11/12 and 11/16 (Ed Dunn).
In Montosa Canyon (annotated map: a #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER continued this week on 11/2 (Laurens Halsey) near the culvert, upstream of the concrete stream crossing.

A *YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER was photographed in Patagonia Town Park on 11/15 (Guy David); one has wintered in town the last two years.
At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, a #WINTER WREN and a #TENNESSEE WARBLER were reported on 11/14 (Caleb Strand, Dara Vazquez) at the east end along the Birding Trail. #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week.
A #RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER continued along Blue Haven Rd on 11/15 (m.ob.) between the Paton Center for Hummingbirds and the Patagonia- Sonoita Creek Preserve. A pair of #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS was photographed along Blue Haven Rd at Temporal Gulch on 11/11 (Alan Schmierer) and two pairs were reported 0.5 miles past the Patons’ on 11/17 (Alan Schmierer). Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve annotated map:
A #PALM WARBLER was reported on Harshaw Creek Rd a short distance from town on 11/11 (Brian Wulker).

A #EURASIAN WIGEON was reported at the Benson STP on 11/16 (Morton Massey).

A male #GREEN KINGFISHER continued on 11/15 (Richard Webster) at North Pond on San Bernardino NWR; #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN was along Black Draw and a #WINTER WREN was at Mesquite Pond. Another male #GREEN KINGFISHER was seen later at House Pond at Slaughter Ranch, where it was joined by a continuing #EASTERN PHOEBE.

TUBAC area (annotated map:
A #GREEN KINGFISHER was reported from the De Anza Trail at Clark Crossing Rd on 11/9 (Ron Batie) and photographed on 11/11 (Dick Bierman).
Up to three #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBINS continued at Santa Gertrudis Lane on 11/17 (m.ob.) across from #12. Remember to park along the frontage road and walk in.

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN was reported again on 11/12 (Bob & Bettina Arrigoni); one was along the Vista Point trail in Portal on 11/6 (Lori Conrad).
A #GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW was photographed near the Pinery Canyon Campground on 11/13 (Brian Wulker).

A #TENNESSEE WARBLER was photographed in Empire Gulch on 11/11 (Brian Nicholas, Paul Suchanek).

Two Brown Pelicans continued at the Amado STP this week (m.ob.).



 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: Closed though September 1 for construction.
  • 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 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!

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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