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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 July 13, 2018. The next update will be made on July 20.

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.



#Lucifer Hummingbird
#Green Kingfisher
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Painted Bunting

A *GROOVE-BILLED ANI was photographed in the willows near start of the trail around the berm at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area on 7/10 (Lauren Harter) and continued on 7/11 (Mike Butterfield).

*BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJARS continued this week on 7/9 (m.ob.) at the south end of California Gulch at the confluence with Warsaw Canyon. Annotated map:

*BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJARS continued in the Brown Canyon section of Buenos Aires NWR on 7/13 (Brad Singer). There are several birds present, both in the restricted area of the canyon and on the publicly accessible side. There are three cattle guards on Brown Canyon Rd (#102) leading up to the security gate, which is 3.5 miles from Hwy 286. The best location for hearing a nightjar is between the third cattle guard and the gate but they have been heard at all three cattle guards.
Photo opportunities will be limited as the better habitat is not adjacent to public access along Rd 102 (see map here).
Another area is along BANWR Rd 148 (high clearance recommended) – the turnoff is just before the first cattle guard.
DO NOT ACCESS BY FOOT OR BY VEHICLE- the private land holding north of Rd 102 as shown on the map (between cattle guards #1 and #2). DO NOT ENTER the roads leading to the coral and watering facility. Faded signs indicating “Stay Out” are posted but could be easily missed. Access to State Trust Land must be done with proper state permits.
For details regarding access to the restricted area (west of the gate) contact the refuge headquarters (520.823.4251 ext 101).

In upper Ramsey Canyon, a *TROPICAL PARULA continued through 7/12 (Michael Andersen). It has been seen and heard singing between the overlook and the first stream crossing. At least one *TUFTED FLYCATCHER continued this week through 7/13 (m.ob.). The flycatchers had been seen about 2.5 miles up the Hamburg Trail from the Ramsey Canyon Preserve Visitor Center, near the junction with the Comfort Springs Trail (about 0.8 mile past the Brown Canyon trail junction); however on 7/13 one was seen downhill near the old nest site from previous years, about 0.25 mile past the Brown Canyon junction. A *FLAME-COLORED TANAGER continued in the same area this week through 7/13 (m.ob.), the tanager being seen near the first stream crossing. This is an occasionally steep 5 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.
In Hunter Canyon (, *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued through 7/12 (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.
#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued at Ash Canyon B&B this week (m.ob.).
A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD was reported from the Battiste Bed & Breakfast on 7/12 (Tony Battiste).
A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD was reported from Lutz Canyon on 7/9 (m.ob.).

TUBAC area (annotated map:
Two pairs of *ROSE-THROATED BECARDS continued north of the Tubac bridge this week (m.ob.); one pair is 1/4 mile north and the other about 3/4 mile from the bridge. A #GREEN KINGFISHER was reported on 7/10 (Steve Schmit).

A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD continued on 7/10 (m.ob.) on the Guindani Loop Trail at Kartchner Caverns State Park.

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD was reported from the Southwestern Research Station on 7/8 (Ben Valdez).

A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD was reported again in Box Canyon on 7/11 (m.ob.) about 6.7 miles east of Madera Canyon Rd. Five-striped Sparrows continued in nearly the same spot this week (m.ob.). This is the same spot both species were seen last year.
In Madera Canyon (map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd 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.
In Montosa Canyon (annotated map: a #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER continued this week on 7/12 (Ron Friesz) near the culvert, upstream of the concrete stream crossing.

A #GREEN KINGFISHER and two male #PAINTED BUNTINGS were reported from San Bernardino NWR on 7/11 (Richard Webster). The kingfisher 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:
An immature #GREEN KINGFISHER was reported at House Pond at nearby Slaughter Ranch on 7/11 (Richard Webster).

At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) at the east end along the Birding Trail.

A #PAINTED BUNTING was reported at the Desert Survivors nursery (Santa Cruz River at Starr Pass Blvd) on 7/11 (Janine McCabe).


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.

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