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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 27, 2021. The next update will be made on December 3.

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.


#Eurasian Wigeon

#Herring Gull

#Ruddy Ground Dove

#Green Kingfisher

#Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

#Red-breasted Sapsucker



#Rufous-backed Robin

#Varied Thrush

#Gray Catbird

#Tennessee Warbler

#Chestnut-sided Warbler

#Louisiana Waterthrush

#Rufous-capped Warbler

#Clay-colored Sparrow

#Thick-billed Longspur



A *LEAST FLYCATCHER continued in the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area downstream from Patagonia Lake through 11/27 (m.ob.). Access is by hiking downstream 2+ miles from the dam (permit available at Patagonia Lake Visitors Center) or walking upstream 3+ miles from the Rio Rico entrance; there may be other ways as well. See map for location:

A *ROSE-THROATED BECARD was photographed at the town park on 11/22 (Skye Haas, Louie Dombroski) and continued through 11/25 (m.ob.). A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN was reported on 11/22 (Scott Wilbor).

At the Paton Center for Hummingbirds, a #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE a #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and a #GRAY CATBIRD all continued this week (m.ob.).

At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, a #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was reported on 11/26 (Eli Anderson, Tanner Marsh) along the Birding Trail at the east end of the lake.



A #EURASIAN WIGEON was reported at the small pond on the west side of Wentworth Rd north of the Tanque Verde Wash on 11/20 (Mark Stevenson) and continued through 11/27 (Caleb Gordon). A #CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER continued in Tanque Verde Wash west of Wentworth Rd. through 11/27 (m.ob.).

A #VARIED THRUSH was reported at Reid Park on the hill behind Ramada #4 on 11/24 (Mark Stevenson) and continued through 11/27 (m.ob.). It was also seen on the hill between the two ponds (Barnum Hill).

A #TENNESSEE WARBLER continued at Columbus Park on 11/27 (m.ob.) at the canal between the lakes. A #CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER was photographed along the river on 11/21 (Chris McCreedy).

A #CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER was photographed at Isabella Lee Natural Preserve on 11/27 (Paul Suchanek).

A #CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER continued at the Cortaro Mesquite Bosque on 11/21 (Janine McCabe). To access this area requires a fair bit of walking; it is located halfway between Twin Peaks Road and El Rio Preserve along the west bank of the Santa Cruz River in Marana. GPS: 32.388, -111.1207 and see this map for details:

A #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was photographed at the Ina Rd Bridge on 11/26 (Michael Andersen).



A #HERRING GULL was photographed at Roper Lake SP on 11/25 (Kelly Wright).



A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued at Arivaca Lake on 11/27 (Laurens Halsey).


TUBAC area (annotated map:

A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued along the Santa Cruz River between Santa Gertrudis Lane and Tubac this week (m.ob.).



A #GREEN KINGFISHER was photographed at the ghost town of Ruby on 11/23 (David Bygott).

#RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS were reported again in Ramanote Canyon ( on 11/27 (Skye Haas). The road past Toruno Tank is unsuitable for low-slung passenger vehicles, and the birds are at least 1.5 miles past this point – take plenty of water and be prepared if you make the drive or hike in.



At Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, a #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE and a #CLAY-COLORED SPARROW continued on 11/23 (m.ob.) and two on 11/18 (Lee Bush).



A #RUDDY GROUND-DOVE was photographed at the Ajo Plaza on 11/24 (Greg Gillson) and continued through 11/25 (Isaiah McCourt). A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN was photographed on 11/21 (Doug Backlund) and continued through 11/27 (Janet Scheel).

A #RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER continued at the Ajo Golf Course on 11/25 (Isaiah McCourt).


PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:

A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was reported in Whitetail Canyon 11/21 (Rick Taylor).

A #GRAY CATBIRD continued in the Portal area on 11/21 (Harriet Marble).



A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN was photographed at Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary on 11/22 (Sheri Williamson) and continued on 11/23 (m.ob.).



In Madera Canyon (map:, a #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued through 11/25 (m.ob.) – it has been seen at the Madera Picnic Area and behind the Santa Rita Lodge.

At Canoa Ranch up to three #CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS continued this week (m.ob.).

#CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS were photographed at the Green Valley WWTP on 11/27 (Nancy Rudd) and Green Valley Country Club on 11/21 (Laurens Halsey)



Two #THICK-BILLED LONGSPURS were reported at the Smith Canyon Tank on 11/26 (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 – Apparently now open after a long closure due to COVID19 restrictions – hours are either 7am-2pm or 7am-3pm and it is open daily instead of weekends only as before. 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 if protocol allows. 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