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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 May 12, 2017. The next update will be made on May 19.

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.


#Broad-winged Hawk

#Semipalmated Sandpiper

#Least Tern


#Lucifer Hummingbird

#Green Kingfisher



#Black-capped Gnatcatcher

#Rufous-backed Robin

#Brown Thrasher

#Chestnut-sided Warbler


#Hooded Warbler





#Baltimore Oriole


*BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJARS and #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) at the south end of California Gulch at the confluence with Warsaw Canyon. Annotated map:


In upper Ramsey Canyon, a *TUFTED FLYCATCHER continued on 5/16 (Theresa Lawson) about 2 miles up the Hamburg Trail from the Ramsey Canyon Preserve Visitor Center, about 1/3 mile past the junction with the Brown Canyon Trail. This 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. A *FLAME-COLORED TANAGER continued on the Hamburg Trail between the overlook and the first stream crossing on 5/16 (Theresa Lawson). The map here shows the location:  

In Carr Canyon, at least one *TUFTED FLYCATCHER continued through 5/18 (m.ob.); there was a report of two birds on 5/12 (Matt Baker). They had been regular at Reef Townsite CG near the group campsite but recently were seen about 0.3 mi past the campground entrance.

In Garden Canyon, a *FLAME-COLORED TANAGER was reported on 5/6 (Jennie Macfarland) just below the upper picnic area. It continued through 5/11 (Don Glasco).

In Hunter Canyon (, *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 5/18 (John Chapple) 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. 

A #LEAST TERN was reported from the Sierra Vista EOP on 5/14 (Erika Wilson). The Sunday walk grants access to a larger area than is normally available, and is every Sunday at 8am Oct-Mar, 7am Apr-Sep.

#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued at Ash Canyon B&B this week (m.ob.) – dusk is the best time to see them.

A #CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER was reported in Huachuca Canyon on 5/16 (Rob Woodward).

A #BALTIMORE ORIOLE was reported from the San Pedro House on 5/17 (Mike Butterfield).

TUBAC area (annotated map:

A female *ROSE-THROATED BECARD was reported along the De Anza Trail at Tumacacori on 5/19 (Diane Touret); from the trailhead just north of the mission, head east to the kiosk. There is a short spur to the river just east of here, and the was seen in this area (occasionally high in the cottonwoods). This is the same area as the February sightings.

A *STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE was photographed in the Morning Star Ranch area in the foothills east of Tubac on 5/16 (Conrad McCarthy).

In Montosa Canyon (annotated map: #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued on 5/13 (m.ob.) near the culvert, upstream of the concrete stream crossing.

A #HOODED WARBLER was reported and #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued in Rock Corral Canyon on 5/16 (m.ob.) west of Santa Gertrudis Lane. A high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended; the birds were all within the first mile up canyon from the corral.

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:

A *SLATE-THROATED REDSTART continued in Pinery Canyon just downhill from the campground on 5/18 (m.ob.). This is the same place as 2016 and is about 2.4 miles west of Onion Saddle (and, from the west, 9.4 miles east of the turnoff) where a small, mostly dry creek crosses the road.

A #BROAD-WINGED HAWK was photographed in Cave Creek Canyon at the USFS Visitor Center on 5/13 (L S Paulson).

A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN was photographed in a Portal yard on 5/18 (Dodie Logue).

A #BROWN THRASHER continued in a yard in Portal on 5/13 (Rick Plage).


In Florida Canyon (annotated map:, *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 5/19 (m.ob.) 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.

In Madera Canyon (map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd this week (m.ob.).


A #BROAD-WINGED HAWK was reported in Dudleyville at the San Pedro River crossing on 5/13 (Tice Supplee) 


A #SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER was reported at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course on 5/13 (David Stejskal). 


A #GREEN KINGFISHER (one of perhaps two) was photographed along Sonoita Creek at the Patagonia Roadside Rest Area on 5/13 (Ruben & Victor Stoll) and continued on 5/17 (Bob & Bettina Arrigoni). Please do not cross the fence! The creek is on private property.

A #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER was photographed in the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve on 5/14 (Ken Murphy). It was at the east end of the Railroad Trail; Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve annotated map:


An #OVENBIRD was photographed at Parker Canyon Lake along the northwest inlet on 5/19 (Arlene Ripley).


Rare in Cochise County, a pair of #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS was reported from Leslie Canyon NWR on 5/16 (Ron Beck).


A Brown Pelican was reported flying at mile post 11 on Highway 286 in Buenos Aires NWR on 5/19 (Rob Rutledge). 

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 – REOPENED March 2017. 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.

RAMSEY CANYON – Ramsey Canyon Preserve is open; it is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

ASH CANYON – Ash Canyon B&B is open dawn to dusk EXCEPT Wednesday, when open noon to dusk; parking is limited to six spots.

BENSON – the Benson Birding Trail is no longer accessible as the property is under new ownership.

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 phone 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 new 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).
  • 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:

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.

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


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 throughout southeast Arizona. New for the Revised Eighth Edition:

  • New birding sites across Southeast Arizona
  • New maps and updated older maps
  • Updated contact information and web addresses
  • Updated information on existing site locations
  • Updated information on entering Mexico
  • Updated IBA (Important Bird Areas) information, including sites
  • Updated bar graphs and species accounts for all species

Learn more and purchase your copy today!

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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