Select Page

COVID-19 updates: We are cautiously opening some programs and properties with restrictions. READ MORE

Southeast Arizona Rare Bird Alert

This update of Tucson Audubon Society’s Rare Bird Alert for Southeast Arizona was made on September 18, 2020. The next update will be made on September 25.

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.


#Roseate Spoonbill
#Short-tailed Hawk
#Sabine’s Gull
#Common Tern
#White-eared Hummingbird
#Berylline Hummingbird
#Plain-capped Starthroat
#Lucifer Hummingbird
#Green Kingfisher
#Eastern Phoebe
#Red-eyed Vireo
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#Hooded Warbler
#Rufous-capped Warbler
#Clay-colored Sparrow
#Painted Bunting
#Baltimore Oriole

ACCESS NOTE: Many areas remain closed due to COVID19, such as the Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia and Nature Conservancy properties (i.e., Ramsey Canyon, Patagonia-Sonoita Creek) and Ft Huachuca is only issuing new passes to local residents. If in doubt, call ahead.

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
*EARED QUETZALS were photographed along FR42 between Sunny Flat Campground and the Southwestern Research Station on 9/15 (Julien Ueda) and continued on 9/18 (m.ob.). Parking along FR42 is not an option, so park at Sunny Flat or the trailhead for Snowshed Trail #246 closer to the station.
#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued in many locations on the east flank of the Chiricahuas this week (m.ob.).
A #ROSEATE SPOONBILL was photographed over Willow Tank on 9/13 (Scott Olmstead).
#DICKCISSELS, #CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS and #PAINTED BUNTINGS were reported in many locations on the east flank of the Chiricahuas this week (m.ob.).

TUBAC area (annotated map:
Multiple *ROSE-THROATED BECARDS continued about 0.7 miles north of the Tubac bridge this week (m.ob.).
#PAINTED BUNTINGS were reported along the Anza Trail in Tubac at the bridge, Santa Gertrudis Lane and Palo Parado Rd, (m.ob.).
A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued along the Santa Cruz River between Santa Gertrudis Lane and Clark Crossing Rd this week (m.ob.).
A pair of #GREEN KINGFISHERS was reported at Rancho Santa Cruz on 9/18 (Rob Rutledge).
A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was reported at Clark Crossing Rd on 9/12 (Cathy Beck) and 9/18 (Seth Ausubel).

A #SHORT-TAILED HAWK was reported again over the Bear Wallow/Mt Bigelow area on Mt Lemmon on 8/12 and 9/13 (m.ob.). A #BROAD-WINGED HAWK was reported on 9/16 (Jim & Cynthia Krakowski).
An #EASTERN PHOEBE continued in Bear Canyon on Mt. Lemmon at Chihuahua Pine Picnic Area on 9/12 (m.ob.).
A #RED-EYED VIREO was reported at Lakeside Park on 9/18 (Mark Stevenson) and later photographed by many in the willows and mesquites at the south end of the lake.
#CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS were reported this week at Rio Vista Natural Resource Park in northeast Tucson, Sam Lena/KERP, McCormick Park, and Reid Park (m.ob.).
#DICKCISSELS were reported from Marana, Arthur Pack Regional Park, Ft Lowell Park, Vista Del Prado Park, along the Santa Cruz at Congress, and in several private yards (m.ob.).

A dark-morph #SHORT-TAILED HAWK was reported again onMt Graham, this time at Arcadia CG on 9/13 (Alec Hopping)

Two #SABINE’S GULLS continued at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course in Willcox on 9/15 (Ron Beck). A #SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and a Sanderling were also reported. A #DICKCISSEL was photographed on 9/18 (Jim Rorabaugh).

At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, a #COMMON TERN was reported on 9/12 (Kay Hawklee) and a #GREEN KINGFISHER was reported at the east end of the lake (Pete Gregoire).
A #PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT continued at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds through 9/14 (m.ob.) – though still closed, the feeders there are being maintained and some are visible from adjacent Blue Haven Road. The staff have moved many of the feeders so they can be viewed without going on to Paton’s property. Again, the property is *CLOSED* but the bird can often be seen from the road. A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD continued on 9/12 (Jason Horn). A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was reported on 9/12 and 9/13 (m.ob.). A #PAINTED BUNTING continued on 9/14 (Jim & Cynthia Krakowski). NOTE: Thursday 9/24 is a planned workday on the property and may be noisy – trees getting trimmed with chainsaws and that sort of thing. Plan accordingly.
A few hints for how to make your visit more enjoyable and productive:
Please be courteous to the neighbors; if you need to turn your vehicle around, continue down the road to the TNC preserve sign (about a quarter-mile) rather than using their driveways.
Please park completely off the road to avoid interfering with thru traffic on Blue Heaven Road/Pennsylvania Ave. The Town Marshal patrols this road regularly. Parking is also available in Patagonia Town Park.
Keep an eye on the weather – monsoon rains can quickly make the creek crossing hazardous.
Remain outside the perimeter fence at all times.
#RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued this week (m.ob.) along Blue Haven Rd between the Paton Center and the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve.

In Miller Canyon, #WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRDS continued this week (m.ob.). #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued this week (m.ob.) near Split Rock (about a mile from the parking area).
#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued at Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary (m.ob.) and in many locations on the east flank of the Huachucas this week (m.ob.).
A #BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD was photographed in Ramsey Canyon along the road near the Ramsey Canyon Inn on 9/14 (John Velasquez).
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.
In Hunter Canyon (, #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued this week (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 #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER was reported in the Coronado National Monument on 9/6 (Neil Leman). It was in the wash at the picnic area, directly across from the restrooms. Map:
A #HOODED WARBLER was reported at the Casa de San Pedro B&B on 9/13 (Randy Kimmett).
A #DICKCISSEL was photographed at Brown Canyon Ranch on 9/15 (Ken Tracey).

At Pena Blanca Lake (annotated map:, a #PAINTED BUNTING continued and an #OVENBIRD was reported on 9/16 (Keith Kamper).

In Box Canyon (map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.).
A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW continued at Canoa Ranch on 9/17 (m.ob.) and two #DICKCISSELS through 9/15 (Laurens Halsey).
Another #DICKCISSEL was reported at Quail Creek Park on 9/18 (Nick Pulcinella)
In Madera Canyon (map:, a #BALTIMORE ORIOLE was photographed on 9/18 (Eric Kallen).

A #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER continued on the Guindani Loop Trail at Kartchner Caverns State Park this week on 9/13 (Ethan Beasley).

Two #CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS were reported in Amado on 9/13 (Bill Lisowsky).

At Arivaca Lake, a #DICKCISSEL was reported on 9/17 (Brian Nicholas).


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:

Birding Southeast Arizona App

A great interactive companion to our Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona, our new app covers over 130 birding sites in six subregions in and around Tucson, all vetted by local experts. Search by nearest site, by bird, or by city and get exact directions! Keep track of your sightings and share with friends on Facebook.

Temporarily Unavailable

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

email-iconSign up for email updates. Stay Informed!

Choose from weekly updates, volunteer news, conservation alerts, Paton Center news, Habitat at Home news and more.

Sign up here


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