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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 November 20, 2020. The next update will be made on November 27.

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.

#Surf Scoter
#”Harlan’s” Red-tailed Hawk
#Ruddy Ground-Dove
#White-eared Hummingbird
#Green Kingfisher
#Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
#Red-breasted Sapsucker
#Eastern Phoebe
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Rufous-backed Robin
#Brown Thrasher
#Tennessee Warbler
#Black-throated Blue Warbler
#Worm-eating Warbler
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#Rufous-capped Warbler
#Clay-colored Sparrow
#Golden-crowned Sparrow
#Thick-billed Longspur
#Streak-backed Oriole


ACCESS NOTE: Many 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.

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
A *FIELD SPARROW was photographed in a private Portal yard on 11/17 (Lori Conrad, Jim Hengeveld).
One of the *EARED QUETZALS (the male) continued this week, but has moved – it is now being seen about 150 up the canyon from Stewart Campground through 11/20 (m.ob.). The female has not been seen for at least a week.
A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER continued in a Portal yard on 11/20 (Rose Ann Rowlett).

TUBAC area (annotated map:
A *FIELD SPARROW was photographed along the Anza trail south of Santa Gertrudis Lane the 3/4 mile south of the crossing on 11/19 (Nick Moore), coming in for a drink just past the frontage road bridge adjacent to the trail. Two #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS were reported here on 11/20 (m.ob.), and a #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was about 1/4 mile south of the crossing. Up to three #RUDDY GROUND-DOVES continued along Santa Gertrudis Lane this week (m.ob.). They’ve been seen in the pasture/yard at #12; several Common Ground-Doves have been present as well. Remember to park along the frontage road and walk in.
A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and a #GREEN KINGFISHER were reported along the De Anza Trail in Tubac on 11/19 (Dave Stejskal).
A #STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE continued in Tubac on 11/20 (m.ob.); see for access. It has also been seen in the small park where you can park. Please respect private property in this small neighborhood.
Two #RUDDY GROUND-DOVES continued at Rancho Santa Cruz on 11/20 (Cathy Beck).

A *FIELD SPARROW was photographed at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area near the observation deck on 11/20 (Susan Rogers). An #EASTERN PHOEBE was reported and a #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE continued on 11/16 (Larry Norris).

A *NORTHERN JACANA continued at the Ina Rd bridge over the Santa Cruz River through 11/20 (m.ob.). It has been seen in the channel south of the bridge, usually in the floating vegetation next to the tall cattails; best (and perhaps only) viewing is on the bridge itself from the pedestrian lane. Parking is available just to the south and west of the bridge. A #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE was reported south of the bridge on 11/14 (Scott Olmstead). Map:
The Himmel Park #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE flock grew to five birds this week (m.ob.), generally near the library. A #GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW was reported on 11/19 (Lindsay Willrick ), and was reported again on 11/20 (m.ob.) generally in the southwest section near the pool.
Three #RUDDY GROUND-DOVES continued at Fort Lowell Park this week (m.ob.), and a #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW continued through 11/18 (Bill Scott).
A #TENNESSEE WARBLER continued at Sweetwater Wetlands on 11/16 (Derik Bowen). A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was reported on 11/18 and continued through 1120 (m.ob.).
Another #TENNESSEE WARBLER was photographed about 100 yards north of the Camino del Cerro bridge over the Santa Cruz River on 11/15 (Ethan Beasley).
A #BROWN THRASHER was photographed at the Desert Trails RV Park in Avra Valley on 11/16 and continued through 11/19 (Judy White). A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN was photographed in an Avra Valley yard on 11/19 (Andra Doherty).
A #BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER continued north of the Twin Peaks Rd bridge on 11/16 (m.ob.). A #WORM-EATING WARBLER was reported on 11/20 (Thomas Love). Both were seen from the east bank about a half mile north of the bridge, about 100 yards south of the powerlines. Parking is available on Tiffany Loop Rd. near the Groome Transportation hub.

A #SURF SCOTER was photographed at Parker Canyon Lake on 11/20 (Peter Siminski, David Palmer).

A #”HARLAN’S” RED-TAILED HAWK continued near the intersection of Curry and Green Reservoir Rds 11/14 (Doug Jenness).
Up to 4 #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.
#THICK-BILLED LONGSPURS (i.e., MCCOWN’S LONGSPURS) were reported again at the Evergreen Turf Sod Farm at Tweedy & Pretzer on 11/14 (m.ob.). 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.

Two #RUDDY GROUND-DOVES were reported at Kino Springs between the ponds and the clubhouse on 11/17 (Peter Siminski).
A #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE was photographed in a Rio Rico yard on 11/15 (Ron Batie).
A #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued in Sycamore Canyon on 11/14 (m.ob.).

A #WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD continued at the Ramsey Canyon Inn on 11/15 (m.ob.).
At the San Pedro House, a #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was reported this week on 9/13 (m.ob.); the usual spot in the winter is between markers #6 and #7 south of the bridge.

A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN continued in a yard in Willcox on 11/20 (Max Jarrett). Visitors are welcome, call Max at 520-384-3004. Leave a message and they’ll call you back.

A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER continued at the Ajo Country Club on 11/16 (Roger Uzun).

In Florida Canyon (annotated map:, a putative #RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER continued through 11/20 (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 Madera Canyon (map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd (m.ob.).
A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was photographed at Quail Creek Veterans Municipal Park on 11/17 (Laurens Halsey).

At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, an #EASTERN PHOEBE was reported on 11/20 (Gregg Gorton) along the Birding Trail at the east end of the lake.
A #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER continued this week (m.ob.) along Blue Haven Rd between the Paton Center and the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve.

At Arivaca Lake, a #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was reported on 11/19 (Gavin Bieber); an #EASTERN PHOEBE continued on 11/19 (Tom Brown).

A #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER was reported in the traditional location of the upper spring in French Joe Canyon on 11/17 (Tim Helentjaris).

A #THICK-BILLED LONGSPUR (i.e., McCown’s Longspur) was reported in the San Rafael Valley on 11/14 (m.ob.). GPS: 31.384,-110.578


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