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Home Southeast Arizona Rare Bird Alert


This update of Tucson Audubon Society's Rare Bird Alert for Southeast Arizona was made on February 17, 2017. The next update will be made on February 24.

  • The RBA number is 520-629-0510 ext 3; press 1 to hear the RBA or press 2 to report a rare bird, OR email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
  • For additional sightings in the region, please see the The Arizona-New Mexico Birding ListServ

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. Documentation and photos of review species may be submitted at http://www.azfo.org/gallery/1main/whatIsABC.html.

Where directions are not given, they can be found in the revised EIGHTH EDITION of Tucson Audubon's Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona. 


#Eurasian Wigeon

#Greater Scaup

#Rough-legged Hawk

#Ruddy Ground-Dove

#"Yellow-shafted" Northern Flicker

#Eastern Phoebe

#Winter Wren

#Black-capped Gnatcatcher

#Rufous-backed Robin

#Gray Catbird

#Brown Thrasher

#Louisiana Waterthrush


#Clay-colored Sparrow

#"Red" Fox Sparrow


#Baltimore Oriole


PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map: http://goo.gl/maps/XfXfX)

A *STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE continued to be seen daily (though sporadically) at the Foothills Road (aka Rodrigues yard) feeders as of 2/17 (James Bunn).

A #GRAY CATBIRD continued in Portal on 2/14 (Greg Ward) at Cave Creek Ranch.

A #"RED" FOX SPARROW continued in Whitetail Canyon on 2/14 (Rick Taylor).

A #"RED" FOX SPARROW was reported at Faraway Ranch in Chiricahua NM on 2/16 (Paul Suchanek).


In Hunter Canyon (https://goo.gl/CR4YXm), *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 2/16 (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.

A #ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was reported behind the Walmart on Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway on 2/11 (Katherine Cudney).

At the San Pedro House, a #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued along the San Pedro River on 2/14 (Robb Welch); last year one frequented the area between trail markers #7 and #8. A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was reported near marker #11 on 2/17 (Leo Miller).


In Florida Canyon (annotated map: http://goo.gl/AAzD6), *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 2/17 (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.

In Madera Canyon (map: http://goo.gl/dXBYP), #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd on 2/11 (m.ob.).

In Montosa Canyon (annotated map: http://goo.gl/8L8tv) #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued on 2/15 (Bill Lisowsky) near the culvert, upstream of the concrete stream crossing.


A male #EURASIAN WIGEON continued at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course on 2/16 (Judith Ellyson).

A #ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was reported from milepost 332 on I-10 on 2/10 (Rick Taylor).


At Patagonia Lake (annotated map: http://goo.gl/GgNvs), #GREATER SCAUP continued through 2/16 (m.ob.). A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued at the east end of the lake on 2/12 (m.ob). A #"YELLOW-SHAFTED" NORTHERN FLICKER, #EASTERN PHOEBE, #WINTER WREN, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS and a #GRAY CATBIRD all continued along the Birding Trail this week (m.ob.). observers are encouraged to note or record the calls of the wren to help separate this from the very similar Pacific Wren.


Three #RUDDY GROUND-DOVES continued along the De Anza Trail in Rio Rico about 200-300 yards southeast of the Guy Tobin Trailhead on 2/15 (m.ob.). A bright blue plastic water bottle and an old refrigerator are good landmarks for the spot.


At the intersection of Wheeler and Baumgartner Rds. a #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN continued through 2/16 (m.ob.) and a #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE continued through 2/14 (Richard Fray). They have been seen near the tan house north of the intersection on Wheeler, which is possibly occupied (please be sensitive to any potential occupants or neighbors); the pomegranate tree is a good place to start looking.

A #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued along the Santa Cruz River at Sasco Rd on 2/16 (m.ob.).

TUBAC area (annotated map: http://goo.gl/maps/yDqi0)

An #EASTERN PHOEBE continued along the De Anza Trail between the Tubac Bridge and Clark Crossing Road on 2/13 (Al Ports).

A #BROWN THRASHER continued at Santa Gertrudis Lane this week (m.ob.) across from #12. It was reported just north of the De Anza trail gate on 2/17 (Mary Freeman). Remember to park along the frontage road and walk in. A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN continued along the de Anza Trail north of the crossing on 2/12 (Brian Walsh).


A #WINTER WREN continued at Cienega Creek Preserve (permit required) on 2/11 (m.ob.) just upstream of the confluence with Davidson Canyon on the north side of the creek. NOTE: This area is accessible from the Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead. A special advance permit is required to visit this preserve; see: http://webcms.pima.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=1515 and annotated map: http://goo.gl/8DrrSk

At Sweetwater Wetlands, the male #BALTIMORE ORIOLE continued on 2/12 (Mark Stevenson, Molly Pollock); one wintered here the last two years but ranged widely.



The revised 8th edition of Finding Birds in SE Arizona (2015) is the current edition. Addendum to the revised 8th edition is available at: http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/what-we-do/publications/431-fbiaddendum8th.html

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 paved lot in the southwest corner or along the south edge near the berm. Construction may hinder access for the next few months. Annotated map: http://goo.gl/5vIQSb

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. ACCESS UPDATE: Closed due to construction until 2017.

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.

PATAGONIA - The Paton Center for Hummingbirds remains open to birders.

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 www.huachuca.army.mil - 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. http://www.huachuca.army.mil/pages/des/visitoraccess.html


ACCESS NOTE: apparently some states driver's licenses do not meet federal requirements for base entry (KY, ME, MT, PA, SC, MN, MO, and WA); see https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs or http://huachuca-www.army.mil/pages/des/visitoraccess.html 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 is currently revising security procedures and the following rules are subject to change any time. Please see this link for important information regarding access: http://www.pima.gov/wwm/about/pdf/birdwatching.pdf. 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).




Good birding!

Andrew Core


Important Phone Numbers

General Info: 520 629-0510
University Nature Shop: 520 629-0510 x1
Rare Bird Alert: 520 629-0510 x3
Education: 520 629-0510 x7012
Membership: 520 629-0510 x7002
Agua Caliente Nature Shop: 760-7881
Executive Director: 520 629-0510 x7001
FAX: 520 623-3476

Sick or injured birds, please call:
Tucson Wildlife Center at 520-290-9453

Additional numbers





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Phone: 520-629-0510 x3

E-Mail: rarebirdalert

Documentation and photos of review species may be submitted to AZFO.

The Arizona-New Mexico Birding ListServ

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. Changes in site access since the publication of this guide can be found by going to our Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona Online Addendum.

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.


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