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SOUTHEAST ARIZONA BIRDING FESTIVAL

Field Trips

Expert leaders guide on full-day and half-day birding field trips. Learn more about our expert leaders from tour companies such as: WINGS, Sky Island Tours, Field Guides, Borderland Tours, Adventure Birding Company, VENT, Desert Harrier Guiding Services, Aplomado Environmental, and Tropical Birding!

Field trips include van transportation (with a few exceptions, noted in the description).  A packed lunch and drinking water are provided on full-day field trips. A light snack and drinking water is provided on half-day field trips. All trips depart from the Arizona Riverpark Inn

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations received on or before July 1, 2017 will be refunded less a 10% processing fee. No refunds will be issued after July 1. Tucson Audubon reserves the right to cancel or revise any event for any reason. If it becomes necessary to cancel a paid event (field trip or dinner) for which you have a reservation, we will notify you and issue a full refund. No refunds will be issued for no-shows.

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Kitt Peak with John Higgins
8:00 a.m.– 2:00 p.m.
$75/person
Difficulty: 1 (paved roads, less than 1 mile walking)
Experience the changing birds and scenery as you go up from the cactus to the oak and juniper surrounding the unique telescopes on top of Kitt Peak, which is located in the desert west of Tucson. It is 15 degrees cooler up there! Besides the resident Acorn Woodpeckers, Mexican Jays and Spotted Towhees, we will look for raptors and migrating warblers.  No tours of the telescopes but we will go into the visitor center. Back to the Riverpark Inn by 2 p.m. Limited to 9 participants.

Hummingbird Photography Class and Field Workshop with Steve Vaughan – SOLD OUT
Workshop: Thursday @ Riverpark Inn, 2-5pm
Field Trip: Saturday, 6am – 2:30pm
$120/person
Hummingbirds can flap their wings up to 80 times a second, which can present quite the challenge for a photographer. This is the perfect opportunity to learn the specialized techniques needed to create stunning images of hummingbirds. This workshop includes both a classroom discussion and field instruction to maximize your learning experience. We will cover ambient light, fill-flash and high-speed flash photography techniques. Join professional nature photographer Steve Vaughan for this fantastic opportunity to experience the joys of photographing these flying jewels.
Recommended equipment: Digital SLR, TTL flash, tripod and a telephoto lens capable of focusing close enough the fill the viewfinder with a 5 x 7 inch object. Limited to 8 participants. You can email Steve at StephenHVaughan@Gmail.com if you have questions.

Montosa Canyon with Jake Mohlmann and Luke Tiller, sponsored by Zeiss Sports Optics
5:15 am – 12pm
$85/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
While Madera Canyon has long been the most visited spot in the Santa Rita mountains, and adjacent canyon to the south is deserving of more attention. Join us on a half-day exploration of Montosa Canyon which supports some thornscrub habitat, as well as a nice drainage with scattered oaks and mesquites. We’ll seek out Black-capped Gnatcatchers, which have been breeding in the area for several years, and should see dazzling Varied Buntings on territory. Back to the Riverpark Inn by 12pm. Limited to 18 participants.

Northeast Tucson and Redington Pass with Brian Nicholas
5:15 am – 12:00 pm
$70/person
Difficulty: 2 (some mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces)
Grassland/pinyon-juniper habitat characterizes Redington Pass, an under-birded area close by to Tucson that has great potential for a unique mix of local breeders and early migrants. Although rare, there is always a possibility for Juniper Titmouse in this habitat. Brian Nicholas is a local expert birder who knows this area very well and will stop at various locations along the way to look for a riparian specialties, including Gray Hawks, Yellow-breasted Chats, and Blue Grosbeaks. Back by noon. Limited to 9 participants.

WOW Arizona: Click, Edit, AMAZE – Bird Photography and Editing from Start to Finish with Christopher Vincent
Workshop and Field Trip: 5:30 am – 3:00 pm
$175/person
This workshop/field trip is perfect for bird photography enthusiasts who want to take their skills to the next level in a beautiful and wildlife-filled environment. Basic principles will be covered over coffee, tea and muffins in our on-site classroom. Then, onto the grounds for shooting, to return to the classroom after lunch for editing lessons. WOW Arizona provides a 3-acre haven for birds and wildlife with 41 hummingbird feeders, 37 seed/suet feeders, and 5 water features, and at this time of year there will be hundreds of resident and migrating hummingbirds! CJ Vincent will lead participants through the photography process including step-by-step Lightroom and Photoshop methods of editing photos. See an example of his instructions here. An outrageously delicious taco bar lunch will be provided as well! Limited to 12 participants.

Equipment Needed: Participants would need a camera (DSLR preferred), optional flash, laptop (preferred) or iPad. Lightroom and Photoshop need to be installed, or be willing to install the trial version when they are here. The Lightroom/Photoshop bundle is nine dollars a month if they choose to continue it after the 30 day trial. You can email Christopher Vincent at cj@wowarizona.org if you have questions.

Catalina State Park with Kathe Anderson sponsored by Opticron
6:00 am – 10:00 am
$45/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
This state park on the northwest side of Tucson sits adjacent to the western slopes of the Coronado National Forest’s Santa Catalina Mountains and contains a good mixture of desert scrub, mesquite bosque, and riparian vegetation. These habitats support a varied mix of bird species including Brown-crested Flycatcher, Rufous-winged Sparrows, and Blue Grosbeaks. We will explore the Birding Trail which crosses a seasonal wash and depending on monsoon storms you may get your boots wet. Back at the Riverpark Inn by 10:00am. Limited to 9 participants.

Sparrows and Raptors of Las Cienegas with Homer Hansen
5:00 am – 12:00 pm
$70/person
Difficulty: 2 (some mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces)
Upstream and uphill of Cienega Creek near the town of Sonoita are the Las Cienegas grasslands. Managed by BLM, this area is host to several grassland breeders, including Cassin’s, Botteri’s and Grasshopper Sparrows and “Lilian’s” Eastern Meadowlark. A riparian corridor through the grasslands provides tall cottonwoods for nesting raptors such as Gray, Zone-tailed and Common Black Hawk. Enjoy a scenic morning with Homer Hansen looking for sparrows, raptors, and other species on this field trip. Limited to 9 participants.

Cienega Creek & Davidson Canyon: An Under-Birded Gem with Pima County Naturalist Jeff Babson – SOLD OUT
5:30 am – 11:00 am
$55/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
The perennial stream flow and lush riparian vegetation is an important nesting and migration corridor for a multitude of avian species. Home to Yellow-breasted Chat, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Bell’s Vireo, and Lucy’s Warbler, the creek has also hosted of a number of vagrants. Cienega Creek has potential for Yellow-billed Cuckoo as well. Under the shade of towering Fremont cottonwoods, we will explore this well-watered and increasingly rare habitat on a half-day outing. Back at the Riverpark Inn by 11:00am. Limited to 9 participants.

Madera Canyon Sampler with Rick Taylor – SOLD OUT
5:30 am – 12:00 pm
$75/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
This loop starts in grassland habitat for singing sparrows first thing in the morning. We’ll look for species that have waitied just for the monsoon season to breed: Cassin’s, Botteri’s, and Rufous-winged Sparrows to name a few. Next we’ll head into the mid-elevation oak-juniper habitat, looking for desirable southeast Arizona species like Arizona Woodpecker, Painted Redstart, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. After this we’ll spend some time walking along the riparian trail and investigating the hummingbird feeders that make Madera one of the best spots for hummingbird diversity in the country. Back by noon. Limited to 9 participants.

Going Batty with Karen Krebbs – SOLD OUT
6:00pm – 8:00pm
$25/person
Difficulty: 1
Join Karen Krebbs on an adventure to watch thousands of bats come out of their roost at dusk. Karen has studied bats for more than 30 years and will share her vast knowledge of these misunderstood night creatures. This nightly Tucson spectacle even brings in some Peregrine Falcons on occasion. Back at the Riverpark Inn at 8pm. Limited to 10 participants.

FULL-DAY FIELD TRIPS – Friday, August 11

Secluded Canyon Adventure with Tim Helentjaris
5:30 am – 3:30 pm
$50/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
We will get off the beaten path and explore one of the many secluded canyons in southeast Arizona. Join one of our local field trip leaders who knows these areas as well as an anyone and will pick our canyon based on road condition and recent bird sightings. This is a special “carpool” field trip. Participants are responsible for their own water, snacks, and lunch. We will carpool to our destination, requiring at least two participants to drive and take three others with them. In return, the fee will be waived for volunteer drivers. Reimbursement will occur post-trip. Limited to 11 participants.

Mt. Lemmon: Sonoran Desert to Mixed Conifer Forest with Laurens Halsey and Luke Safford
5:30 am – 2:00pm
$90/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
Rising over 6,000 feet above Tucson, Mount Lemmon, is the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains at 9157 feet, and a popular escape from urban life and the Arizona’s dry early-summer heat (before the relief of the cooling Monsoon rains). It is also an incredible birding experience and biology lesson. Traversing six life zones, from the Sonoran Desert at the base to mixed conifer forests at the highest elevations, the 25-mile drive up the wide, paved, two-lane Catalina Highway is equivalent biologically to traveling from Mexico to Canada. The fascinating array of desert denizens like Gilded Flicker at the base, to Olive, Red-faced and Grace’s Warblers on the easy drive up make this trip high on any birder’s list and the wide array of habitats give rise to a startling diversity of birds. The mountain supports very high numbers of breeding warblers, and by August they are beginning to form mixed species foraging flocks. A few hummingbird feeders are scattered about the route as well, and the day list will be high! Combine that with temperatures nearly 30 degrees cooler at the top and unparalleled scenery, it is hard to beat the Catalinas in August! Back to the Riverpark Inn by 2pm. Limited to 17 participants.

Huachuca Mountains with Gavin Bieber and Matt Griffiths – SOLD OUT
5:00 am – 3:30 pm
$110/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
We’ll get an early start from Tucson to explore the madrean oak woodland and open pine forests of Carr Canyon. This scenic canyon on the east flank of the Huachucas supports species such as Arizona Woodpecker and Painted Redstart on its lower slopes, and species such as Olive Warbler, Buff-breasted Flycatcher and Greater Pewee along the upper stretches of the road. We’ll spend a few hours exploring along the main road that winds up to near the peaks of the Huachucas before taking our picnic lunch and then descending to nearby Ash Canyon, where a private bank of hummingbird feeders should be buzzing with activity, including perhaps the range-restricted and very attractive Lucifer Hummingbird. We will be walking slowly along nearly level dirt roads at up to about 7000 feet in elevation. Back to the Riverpark Inn by 3:30pm. Limited to 17 participants.

Ruby Ghost Town with Ken Blankenship – SOLD OUT
5:30 am – 3:30 pm
$110/person
Difficulty: 3 (3-4 miles round-trip; hiking on rocky roads, grassy slopes, and dirt paths)
Ruby, Arizona is a ghost town 50 miles southwest of Tucson and 4 miles north of the Mexico border that served for many years as the largest mining camp in southwest Arizona during the early 1900’s. It is surrounded by the Coronado National Forest in an area of rugged mountains, semi-arid deserts and abundant wildlife. The area’s elevation of 4,200 feet supports both desert plants and range grasses along with mesquite, ash and oak trees. Along with brief stops for historic interpretation of the town’s heyday, we hope to find some great birds of the Arizona borderlands! Target species include Montezuma Quail, Gray Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Elegant Trogon, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Painted Redstart, Five-striped Sparrow (rare), Hepatic Tanager, and Varied Bunting.

California Gulch Adventure with Brian Gibbons and John Yerger – SOLD OUT
5:00am – 3:30 pm
$110/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
This trip sets out in search of some of the avian treasures (at the very northern edge of their ranges here) for which southeast Arizona is renowned. The day begins with a rugged mile-long (round-trip) trek to California Gulch in search of Five-striped Sparrow, Varied Bunting, and Montezuma Quail as well as other speces from south of the border. We’ll also stop at Pena Blanca Lake to check for specialty species. Time-permitting, we may travel to the Patagonia area to look for Thick-billed Kingbird, Violet-crowned Hummingbird and more. Depending on recent reports, we may take short detours for Gray Hawk, Tropical Kingbird, and Black-capped Gnatcatcher or other border range specialties. Note: this trip includes a short but steep and rocky bird walk conducted at a leisurely pace appropriate to birdwatching. Back by 3:30pm to the Riverpark Inn. Limited to 17 participants.

Patagonia Area with Richard Hoyer – SOLD OUT
5:30 am – 2:30 pm
$105/person
Difficulty: 3
The famous birding locations of Patagonia such as Patagonia Lake State Park, the Roadside Rest and the Paton Center for Hummingbirds live in birding lore. Exploring these beautiful areas is a treat for all birders. Patagonia specialty targets include Zone-tailed Hawk, Thick-billed Kingbird and Violet-crowned Hummingbird. Back to Riverpark Inn by 2:30 pm. Limited to 9 participants.

Photography Field Workshop with Paul Bannick
7:00am – 11:30am
$75/person
Location: Santa Rita Lodge
Paul Bannick conducts this special field workshop on how to get the perfect bird photograph. He covers everything from how to find and approach your subject to how to capture the photos that you imagine. He covers compositional guides, depth of field, shutter speed, exposure compensation, the use of flash, shooting modes, and even the selection of equipment.  Paul will help bring each student’s photography to the next level. Limit 8 participants.

YOUTH BIRDER OUTING at Sweetwater Wetlands sponsored by Zeiss Sports Optics
7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
FREE
Sweetwater serves as an environmental education facility and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Get ready for an easy walk through the wetlands to see waterfowl, warblers, and several exciting species hiding in the reeds. Birders ages 6-17 and of all experience levels are welcome to participate in an expert-led trip! Binoculars will be available for use, courtesy of Zeiss Sports Optics and each student will receive a free Southeast Arizona bird checklist. Limited to 30 participants.

Madera Canyon Sampler with Brian Gibbons – SOLD OUT
5:30 am – 12:00 pm
$75/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
This loop starts in grassland habitat for singing sparrows first thing in the morning. We’ll look for species that have waitied just for the monsoon season to breed: Cassin’s, Botteri’s, and Rufous-winged Sparrows to name a few. Next we’ll head into the mid-elevation oak-juniper habitat, looking for desirable southeast Arizona species like Arizona Woodpecker, Painted Redstart, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. After this we’ll spend some time walking along the riparian trail and investigating the hummingbird feeders that make Madera one of the best spots for hummingbird diversity in the country. Back by noon. Limited to 9 participants.

Las Cienegas NCA with Gavin Bieber and Chris Rohrer – SOLD OUT
5:30am – 12:00 pm
$65/person
Difficulty: 2 (some mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces)
Las Cienegas, a 45,000 acre national conservation area, with high desert grasslands, riparian strips with perennial streams, marshes, and juniper-oak woodlands is home to monsoonal breeders including the highly sought-after Cassin’s, Botteri’s and Grasshopper Sparrows, as well as riparian-associated species including Gray Hawk and Zone-tailed Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and Summer Tanager. The NCA is great for mammals, too — we’ll visit a colony of black-tailed prairie dogs (and their Burrowing Owl neighors) and keep an eye out for pronghorn. Back to Riverpark Inn by noon. Limited to 18 participants.

Tubac De Anza Trail and Area with John Yerger – SOLD OUT
6:00 am – 12:00 pm
$60/person
Difficulty: 1 (flat walking trails)
An easy stroll through this lush riparian corridor along the Santa Cruz provides many opportunities for migrants, Gray Hawks, flycatchers, and hordes of Yellow-breasted Chats. Painted Buntings frequented this trail in August of last year. Back by 12pm to the Riverpark Inn. Limited to 9 participants.

Saint David Monastery and Environs, Benson with Jim Rorabaugh – SOLD OUT
5:30 am – 12:30 pm
$70/person
Difficulty: 2 (some mild slopes but excellent surfaces)
Saint David is a curiously lush oasis bordering the San Pedro River characterized by artesian wells and springs that support high groundwater levels and abundant trees and ponds. The Holy Trinity Monastery is open for birding, and Summer Tanager, orioles, Crissal Thrasher, Tropical Kingbird, Gray Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and others are likely to be seen, as well as migrants. We will also search for Mississippi Kites, which nest nearby, and any other rarities that happen to be in the area. If the mosquitos aren’t too bad (bring repellent), we will visit the San Pedro River from the Monastery’s trail system. Limited to 9 participants.

FULL-DAY FIELD TRIPS – Saturday, August 12

Sky Islands Naturalist Saunter with Vincent Pinto
5:30 am – 4:00 pm
$110/person
Difficulty: 4 (sun exposure, steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
Join Naturalist, Wildlife Biologist, Ethnobotanist, and Wilderness Survival Instructor, Vincent Pinto, for an in-depth exploration of the Grasslands, Desert Scrub, Riparian Areas, and Madrean Evergreen Woodlands of the Patagonia region, making for a very diverse trip, bird and plant-wise! Vincent will lead you on a series of short to medium distance walks to investigate the flora and fauna of the 42-acre Raven’s Nest Nature Sanctuary, spectacular Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, Patagonia Lake, and the Patagonia mountains. This trip has a good chance at Varied Bunting, Bell’s Vireo, Rufous-winged and Botteri’s Sparrow, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Common Black Hawk, Gray Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Elegant Trogon, Montezuma Quail, Arizona Woodpecker, and Painted Redstart. Come prepared for a wide variety of weather and a varied terrain, bringing: a good and fairly spacious backpack, sunscreen, wide-brimmed sunhat, rain gear, sturdy hiking shoes, plenty of water, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and any personal medication you may need. The pace of explorations will be moderate during your outing, but expect to cover about 3 miles for the day. There will be a few steep ups and downs as well as frequently rocky terrain. This is monsoon season, so higher humidity and possibly high temperatures may prevail. Back to the Riverpark Inn by 4:00pm. Limited to 8 participants.

Borderland Specialties with Rick Taylor – SOLD OUT
5:30 am – 2:30 pm
$95/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
Join local expert Rick Taylor (author of Birds of Southeastern Arizona and ABA’s A Birder’s Guide to Southeastern Arizona) for a wildcard exploration of several of the region’s “can’t miss” birding sites. The exact itinerary will be determined by the latest sightings of borderland treats like Elegant Trogon, Arizona Woodpecker, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and other potential birds include Zone-tailed Hawk, Virginia’s and Grace’s Warblers, Painted Redstart, and Botteri’s and Cassin’s Sparrows. Back to Riverpark Inn by 2:30 p.m. Limited to 8 participants.

Mt. Lemmon: Sonoran Desert to Mixed Conifer Forest with Rich Hoyer and Matt Griffiths – SOLD OUT
5:15 am – 3:00 pm
$100/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
Rising over 6,000 feet above Tucson, Mount Lemmon, is the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains at 9157 feet asl, and a popular escape from urban life and Arizona’s dry summer heat before the relief of the cooling Monsoon rains. It is also an incredible birding experience and biology lesson. Traversing six life zones, from the Sonoran Desert at the base, to mixed conifer forests at the highest elevations, the 25-mile drive up the wide, paved, two-lane Catalina Highway is equivalent biologically to traveling from Mexico to Canada. The fascinating array of desert denizens like Gilded Flicker at the base, to Olive, Red-faced and Grace’s Warblers on the easy drive up make this trip high on any birder’s list. Combine that with temperatures nearly 30 degrees cooler at the top and unparalleled scenery, it is hard to beat the Catalinas in August! Back to the Riverpark Inn by 3pm. Limited to 17 participants.

Hummingbird Photography Class and Field Workshop with Steve Vaughan – SOLD OUT
Workshop: Thursday @ Riverpark Inn, 2-5pm
Field Trip: Saturday, 6am – 2:30pm
$120/person
Hummingbirds can flap their wings up to 80 times a second, which can present quite the challenge for a photographer. This is the perfect opportunity to learn the specialized techniques needed to create stunning images of hummingbirds. This workshop includes both a classroom discussion and field instruction to maximize your learning experience. We will cover ambient light, fill-flash and high-speed flash photography techniques. Join professional nature photographer Steve Vaughan for this fantastic opportunity to experience the joys of photographing these flying jewels.Recommended equipment: Digital SLR, TTL flash, tripod and a telephoto lens capable of focusing close enough the fill the viewfinder with a 5 x 7 inch object. Limited to 8 participants. You can email Steve at StephenHVaughan@Gmail.com if you have questions.

California Gulch Adventure with Laurens Halsey and Andy Bennett – SOLD OUT
5:00 am – 3:30 pm
$110/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
This trip sets out in search of some of the avian treasures (at the very northern edge of their ranges here) for which southeast Arizona is renowned. The day begins with a rugged mile-long (round-trip) trek to California Gulch in search of Five-striped Sparrow, Varied Bunting, and Montezuma Quail as well as other species from south of the border. We’ll stop at either Pena Blanca Lake or Arivaca Lake for a lunch break and to look for migrating buntings. Time-permitting, we may travel to the Patagonia area to look for Thick-billed Kingbird, Violet-crowned Hummingbird and more. Depending on recent reports, we may take short detours for Gray Hawk, Tropical Kingbird, and Black-capped Gnatcatcher or other border range specialties. Note: this trip includes a short but steep and rocky bird walk conducted at a leisurely pace appropriate to birdwatching. Back to the Riverpark Inn by 3:30pm. Limited to 17 participants.

Patagonia & Sonoita with Scott Olmstead – SOLD OUT
5:15 am – 3:00 pm
$105/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
The Patagonia area is one southeast Arizona’s best-known destinations for riparian birds. Nearby, the grasslands adjacent to Sonoita hold an entirely different set of species. Some of the specialties found around Patagonia are Gray Hawk, Thick-billed Kingbird, Varied Bunting, Violet-crowned Hummingbird and Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet. There are many famous places to bird here including the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, Harshaw Canyon, and of course the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Our exact itinerary will be at the leader’s discretion, based on where our target birds are being seen most readily. Our short visit to the open grasslands around Sonoita will complement the riparian habitats of Patagonia, with species such as Botteri’s, Grasshopper, and Cassin’s Sparrows. We should see a wide variety of species throughout the day. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch in the field and return to the Riverpark Inn by 3:00 pm. Limited to 8 participants.

Huachuca Mountains with Jake Mohlmann and Jennie Macfarland – SOLD OUT
5:00 am – 3:30 pm
$110/person
Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
We’ll get an early start from Tucson to explore the madrean oak woodland and open pine forests of Carr Canyon. This scenic canyon on the east flank of the Huachucas supports species such as Arizona Woodpecker and Painted Redstart on its lower slopes, and species such as Olive Warbler, Buff-breasted Flycatcher and Greater Pewee along the upper stretches of the road. We’ll spend a few hours exploring along the main road that winds up to near the peaks of the Huachucas before taking our picnic lunch and then descending to nearby Ash Canyon, where a private bank of hummingbird feeders should be buzzing with activity, including perhaps the range-restricted and very attractive Lucifer Hummingbird. We will be walking slowly along nearly level dirt roads at up to about 7000 feet in elevation. Back to the Riverpark Inn by 3:30pm. Limited to 17 participants.

Pena Blanca Lake and Canyon with Ken Blankenship – SOLD OUT
5:15 am – 2:00 pm
$90/person
Difficulty: 2 (some mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces)
An interesting man-made lake gives opportunities for a few wetland bird species including the possibility of a Green Kingfisher, which made an appearance at the lake last August. The adjoining canyon has become quite popular recently and has been popular for Rufous-capped Warbler. Montezuma Quail favor the hillsides surrounding the lake and other interesting species include Gray Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Varied Bunting, and migrants. Expect to walk on groomed trails around the lake and a gravel/loose rock forest service road through the canyon. Limited to 8 participants.

Willcox Shorebirding Excursion with Gavin Bieber
5:30 am – 12:00 pm
$65/person

Difficulty: 1 (flat walking on groomed trails or roads)
When someone mentions birding in southeast Arizona, images of Elegant Trogons or flashy Painted Redstarts probably dance through their heads. Few visiting birders think about shorebirds. Although not a major flyway for waders, SE Arizona still supports good numbers of a wide variety of shorebirds on migration. Join us on this half-day trip to the Willcox Twin Lakes and Benson Sewage Ponds to witness migration in action, and to gain some insights on how to identify some of the shorebird species that, albeit briefly, call Arizona home. Likely species include American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, Long-billed Dowitcher, Pectoral, Stilt, Baird’s, Western, and Least Sandpipers. The lakes also play host to an array of migrant swallow species, as well as birds of the open grassland like Scaled Quail and Horned Lark. With sometimes hourly turnover nearly every visit during migration has a good chance of turning up something unusual. This will be a very relaxed paced half-day trip with limited walking on level surfaces. Back at the Riverpark Inn by 12:00pm. Limited to 9 participants.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with Cynthia Pruett
7:00 am – 11:00 am
$45/person Includes cost of admission/coffee voucher/stingray exhibit/and transportation
Difficulty: 1 (walking on groomed trails or paved pathways, some uphill, all exhibits can be reached by wheelchair)
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a definite “must-see” for anyone visiting Tucson for the first time. The Desert Museum is ranked on TripAdvisor.com as one of the Top 10 Museums in the country and the #1 Tucson attraction. The 98 acre Desert Museum is a fusion experience: zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium. Desert Museum volunteer and Tucson Audubon board member, Cynthia Pruett, will lead you through this beautiful outdoor museum. You will have an opportunity to touch, or even feed, a stingray as well! Limited to 9 participants.

Madera Canyon Sampler with Laurens Halsey and Chris Rohrer
5:30 am – 12:00 pm
$75/person

Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
This loop starts in grassland habitat for singing sparrows first thing in the morning. We’ll look for species that have waited just for the monsoon season to breed: Cassin’s, Botteri’s, and Rufous-winged Sparrows to name a few. Next we’ll head into the mid-elevation oak-juniper habitat, looking for desirable southeast Arizona species like Arizona Woodpecker, Painted Redstart, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. After this we’ll spend some time walking along the riparian trail and investigating the hummingbird feeders that make Madera one of the best spots for hummingbird diversity in the country. Back by noon. Limited to 18 participants.

Borderland Specialties with Rick Taylor
5:30 am – 12:30 pm
$75/person

Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
Join local experts Rick Taylor (author of the new Birds of Southeastern Arizona and ABA’s A Birder’s Guide to Southeastern Arizona) and John Yerger for a wildcard exploration of several of the region’s “can’t miss” birding sites. The exact itinerary will be determined by the latest sightings of borderland treats like Elegant Trogon, Arizona Woodpecker, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and other potential birds include Zone-tailed Hawk, Virginia’s and Grace’s Warblers, Painted Redstart, and Botteri’s and Cassin’s Sparrows. Back to Riverpark Inn by 12:30 p.m. Limited to 9 participants.

Cienega Creek & Davidson Canyon: An Under-Birded Gem with Pima County Naturalist Jeff Babson – SOLD OUT
5:30 am – 11:00 am
$55/person

Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
The perennial stream flow and lush riparian vegetation is an important nesting and migration corridor for a multitude of avian species. Home to Yellow-breasted Chat, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Bell’s Vireo, and Lucy’s Warbler, the creek has also hosted of a number of vagrants. Cienega Creek has potential for Yellow-billed Cuckoo as well. Under the shade of towering Fremont cottonwoods, we will explore this well-watered and increasingly rare habitat on a half-day outing. Back at the Riverpark Inn by 11:00am. Limited to 9 participants.

FULL-DAY FIELD TRIPS – Sunday, August 13

Huachuca Mountains with John Yerger and Andy Bennett
5:00 am – 3:30 pm
$110/person

Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
We’ll get an early start from Tucson to explore the madrean oak woodland and open pine forests of Carr Canyon. This scenic canyon on the east flank of the Huachucas supports species such as Arizona Woodpecker and Painted Redstart on its lower slopes, and species such as Olive Warbler, Buff-breasted Flycatcher and Greater Pewee along the upper stretches of the road. We’ll spend a few hours exploring along the main road that winds up to near the peaks of the Huachucas before taking our picnic lunch and then descending to nearby Ash Canyon, where a private bank of hummingbird feeders should be buzzing with activity, including perhaps the range-restricted and very attractive Lucifer Hummingbird. We will be walking slowly along nearly level dirt roads at up to about 7000 feet in elevation. Back to the Riverpark Inn by 3:30pm. Limited to 17 participants.

Patagonia & Rio Rico with Jake Mohlmann and Ken Murphy
5:15 am – 3:30 pm
$105/person

Difficulty: 3
This loop starts in low-elevation habitat along the Santa Cruz River south of Tucson, where towering cottonwoods support species such as Gray Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and also form an important migration corridor. We will continue south toward some isolated wetlands near Rio Rico and Kino Springs to look for Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Common Ground-Dove, Varied Bunting, Tropical Kingbird, and a variety of migrants. From Nogales, we’ll turn north to visit the famous birding locations of Patagonia such as Patagonia Lake State Park, the Roadside Rest and the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Patagonia specialty targets include Zone-tailed Hawk, Thick-billed Kingbird and Violet-crowned Hummingbird. Back to Riverpark Inn by 3:30 pm. Limited to 17 participants.

Mt. Lemmon with Scott Olmstead and Jennie Macfarland – SOLD OUT
5:00 am – 1:00 pm
$85/person

Difficulty: 3 (some mild to moderate slopes)
The Catalina Mountains, just north of the city of Tucson offer a respite from the heat of the desert floor, and access to high elevation forests that are more typical of those found in the Rocky Mountains. We’ll depart Tucson at 5am and head straight up to the top of the mountains. Here, amidst dense spruce/fir forests and maple-filled draws we will seek out higher-elevation specialties such as Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Red Crossbill, and Olive Warbler. Mixed species flocks tend to be common here in August and often include numerous Red-faced, Townsend’s, Virginia’s, and Black-throated Gray Warblers. This trip will involve some walking (about 1-2 miles cumulative distance) at elevations above 7,000 feet. We’ll bird along well maintained trail and road surfaces. The slope is moderate in some areas, but we’ll take it slow when necessary. Back to the Riverpark Inn by 1:00pm. Limited to 17 participants.

California Gulch Adventure with Rich Hoyer – SOLD OUT
5:00am – 3:30 pm
$110/person

Difficulty: 3 (steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)
This trip sets out in search of some of the avian treasures (at the very northern edge of their ranges here) for which southeast Arizona is renowned. The day begins with a rugged mile-long (round-trip) trek to California Gulch in search of Five-striped Sparrow, Varied Bunting, and Montezuma Quail as well as other speces from south of the border. We’ll also stop at Pena Blanca Lake to check for Least Grebe. Time-permitting, we may travel to the Patagonia area to look for Thick-billed Kingbird, Violet-crowned Hummingbird and more. Depending on recent reports, we may take short detours for Gray Hawk, Tropical Kingbird, and Black-capped Gnatcatcher or other border range specialties. Note: this trip includes a short but steep and rocky bird walk conducted at a leisurely pace appropriate to birdwatching. Back by 3:30pm to the Riverpark Inn. Limited to 8 participants.

Hummingbird Safari for Beginners with Karen Krebbs – SOLD OUT
6:00 am – 2:00 pm
$85/person

Difficulty: 2 (some mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces)
This small-group excursion is a “can’t miss” for beginner birders interested in getting to know some of the area’s most dazzling birds and a few popular, nearby birding sites including the Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia! Back to the Riverpark Inn by 2:00pm. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Specialty Clean-up – SOLD OUT
5:30am – 2:00pm
Difficulty: 2-3 (depending upon areas chosen but generally short walks from vehicle)
$85 per person
This post-Festival trip is designed to find species of interest such as Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Elegant Trogon, Thick-billed Kingbird, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, etc., that participants might have missed during the other Festival trips. Target birds and trip location/s will be selected by the leader to match the interests of participants and decided upon during the course of the festival. Participants will be asked to nominate species of interest prior to the festival but then we will meet on Sunday afternoon to finalize target species and routes, grouping participants by their similar interests. Limited to 16 participants.

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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!

Special thanks to our Gray Hawk Level Sponsor, Carl Zeiss Sports Optics!

Elegant Trogon Level

Elegant Trogon Level

Cactus Wren Level

Cactus Wren Level

Our Partners

 

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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