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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 March 5, 2021. The next update will be made on March 12.

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.


#Ruddy Ground-Dove
#Green Kingfisher
#Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
#Eastern Phoebe
#Pacific Wren
American Dipper
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Rufous-backed Robin
#Brown Thrasher
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#Clay-colored Sparrow
#Harris’s Sparrow
#Thick-billed Longspur
#Lapland Longspur

ACCESS NOTE: The Foothills Road bird feeders in Portal will be temporarily closed until March 9. Many other areas remain closed due to COVID19 (such as the Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia) and Ft Huachuca is only issuing new passes to local residents. If in doubt, call ahead.

A *NORTHERN JACANA continued at the Ina Rd bridge over the Santa Cruz River this week (m.ob.). It frequents the channel south of the bridge, usually in the floating vegetation next to the tall cattails; the only view is from the pedestrian lane on the bridge itself. Parking is available just to the south and west of the bridge. Map:
A #BROWN THRASHER was photographed in the Tanque Verde Wash west of Wentworth Rd. on 2/28 (Julie Michael) and continued through 3/5 (m.ob.).
A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and a #HARRIS’S SPARROW continued on the west side of Silverlake Park this week (m.ob.).
A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW continued at Ft Lowell Park on 3/5 (Susan Atkisson).

TUBAC area (annotated map:
*ROSE-THROATED BECARDS continued about 0.7 miles north of the Tubac bridge this week (m.ob.). A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was reported on 2/27 (Susan Fishburn).
A female *ROSE-THROATED BECARD continued along the river at Tumacacori National Historic Park on 2/21 (Kathy Bearden). A #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER continued this week (m.ob.) in the orchard, and a #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN continued on 2/28 (Kim Nordquest).
A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN continued along the Anza Trail at Santa Gertrudis Lane this week (m.ob.). Remember to park along the frontage road and walk in.
A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued along the Santa Cruz River between Santa Gertrudis Lane and Tubac this week (m.ob.).
A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and an #OVENBIRD continued along the De Anza Trail at Clark Crossing Rd this week (m.ob.).

Up to six #RUDDY GROUND-DOVES continued at the Red Rock feedlot on Sasco Rd this week (m.ob.) – they have been seen in the feedlot and with the Inca Doves on the northwest side.
A #THICK-BILLED LONGSPUR (i.e., MCCOWN’S LONGSPUR) was reported again at the Evergreen Turf Sod Farm at Tweedy & Pretzer on 2/27 (Craig Burmeister). Friendly reminder: 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.

An #EASTERN PHOEBE continued in Empire Gulch on 2/27 (Mary Backus).

Up to five #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBINS continued along Blue Haven Rd between the Paton Center and the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve this week (m.ob.).

At the San Pedro House, a #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was reported again this week (m.ob.), both north and south of the bridge. It has also been seen ranging south from the bridge to marker #7.
A #PACIFIC WREN continued along the river this week through 2/13 (m.ob.). It’s been seen between markers #6 and #7 south of the bridge.

Two #LAPLAND LONGSPURS and 100+ #THICK-BILLED LONGSPURS (i.e., MCCOWN’S LONGSPURS) continued on Swanson Rd west of Bell Ranch Rd (GPS: 32.0438,-109.687) southeast of Willcox this week (m.ob.).

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
An American Dipper continued at Herb Martyr CG in Cave Creek Canyon this week (m.ob.).

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 6:30-9:00 am 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. See

The gravel pit at the south end of Renaissance Ave may be viewed from outside the fence, but do not enter the pit. Similarly, the fields at the intersection of nearby Indian Agency Rd/Los Reales Rd. may be viewed from the road, but the pit is posted “No Trespassing”.

GREEN VALLEY WRF – CURRENTLY CLOSED due to COVID19 restrictions. When open, access is usually on weekends only. Protocol for visiting when open: use the call box at the gate, sign in at the office on the west side of the complex before birding, and stay away from buildings and construction equipment. If gate is open, proceed to office to sign in. Sign out when finished. If you’d like to call ahead, you can try at 520-625-0025. Map:

ASH CANYON – open dawn to dusk EXCEPT Thursday, when open noon to dusk. Parking is limited; please carpool whenever possible. No need to call ahead.

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 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 (REAL ID compliant; see for details) for everyone in the vehicle at the entrance, and possibly your vehicle registration and insurance as well. In the past, foreign nationals needed an approved military escort; if this policy is reinstated, 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 and opens at 5:00 am.

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:


Madera Canyon annotated map:
Florida Canyon annotated map:
Green Valley WRF:


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

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


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