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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 August 7, 2020. The next update will be made on August 14.

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.

#Tricolored Heron
#Short-tailed Hawk
#Semipalmated Sandpiper
#Buff-collared Nightjar
#White-eared Hummingbird
#Berylline Hummingbird
#Plain-capped Starthroat
#Lucifer Hummingbird
#Yellow-throated Vireo
#Black-capped Gnatcatcher
#Louisiana Waterthrush
#Hooded Warbler
#Rufous-capped Warbler
#Painted Bunting

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.

A *PURPLE GALLINULE continued along the Santa Cruz River south of Valencia Rd through 8/2 (m.ob.) in a gravel pit at the south end of Renaissance Dr on the west bank of the river. Map:
A #TRICOLORED HERON was reported on 8/5 (Sharon Goldwasser) at Lakeside Park and continued through 8/7 (m.ob.).
A female #PAINTED BUNTING continued at the pond at Wentz and Grier Roads in Marana on 8/2 (Jim &Cynthia Krakowski).
A #PAINTED BUNTING was reported from Sweetwater Wetlands on 8/1 (Jeff Oliver).
A #PAINTED BUNTING was reported at WOW Arizona B&B in Catalina on 8/1 (Christopher Vincent).

A *PURPLE GALLINULE was photographed in a tree at a ranger residence on Buenos Aires NWR on 8/3 (Joshua Smith).
A #BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR continued in the Brown Canyon section of Buenos Aires NWR ( through 8/5 (Kandace Glanville) on the publicly accessible (east) side of the gate. There are three cattle guards on Brown Canyon Rd (#102) leading up to the security gate, which is 3.5 miles from Hwy 286. In past years the best location for hearing a nightjar is between the third cattle guard and the gate but they have been heard at all three cattle guards.
Photo opportunities may be limited as the better habitat is not adjacent to public access along Rd 102 (see map here
Another area is along BANWR Rd 148 (high clearance recommended) – the turnoff is just before the first cattle guard.
DO NOT ACCESS BY FOOT OR BY VEHICLE- the private land holding north of Rd 102 as shown on the map (between cattle guards #1 and #2). DO NOT ENTER the roads leading to the coral and watering facility. Faded signs indicating “Stay Out” are posted but could be easily missed. Access to State Trust Land must be done with proper state permits.
For details regarding access to the restricted area (west of the gate) contact the refuge headquarters (520.823.4251 ext 101).
At least two male #PAINTED BUNTINGS continued at Arivaca Lake near the parking area through 8/7 (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 continued along the river this week as well (m.ob.).
In Montosa Canyon (annotated map: #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) near the culvert, upstream of the concrete stream crossing.
#BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued from Salero Ranch (private) on 8/6 (Curtis Smith, Sue Carnahan) in the foothills east of Tubac.
A #GREEN KINGFISHER continued along the Santa Cruz River between Santa Gertrudis Lane and Clark Crossing Rd this week (m.ob.).

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map:
A #SHORT-TAILED HAWK was reported at Barfoot Park on 8/3 (David Palmer).
#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued in a yard in Whitetail Canyon this week (Rick Taylor).
A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD continued at the George Walker House this week (m.ob.).
A #WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD, #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD and #PAINTED BUNTING all continued in a Portal yard this week (Rose Ann Rowlett).
A #BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD continued along FR42A near the cabins and in the South Fork of Cave Creek Canyon (m.ob.).
A #PAINTED BUNTING continued at the Foothills Road (aka Rodrigues yard) feeders this week (m.ob.), and #PAINTED BUNTINGS were reported in several Portal yards (m.ob.).

A #SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER was reported at Lake Cochise by the Twin Lakes Golf Course in Willcox on 8/7 (m.ob.).

#BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJARS and #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) at the south end of California Gulch at the confluence with Warsaw Canyon. Annotated map:
At Pena Blanca Lake (annotated map:, #PAINTED BUNTINGS continued on 8/2 (Betsy Checchia).

A #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER was recorded in a new spot in the Huachucas in Joe’s Canyon in the Coronado National Monument on 8/4 (Peter Siminski). Map:
In Miller Canyon, a #PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT was reported on 8/6 (David Palmer) about 200 yards up the trail. A #WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD continued this week (m.ob.). A #HOODED WARBLER continued about 150 yards past the second stream crossing 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 several yards on the east flank of the Huachucas this week (m.ob.).
A #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was photographed on the west flank of the Huachucas in Bear Canyon on 8/1 (Troy Hibbets). Map:

A #PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT continued at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds through 8/7 (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 #PAINTED BUNTING continued on 8/2 (Thomas Brown).
A few hints for how to make your visit more enjoyable and productive:
Please be courteous to the neighbors; if you need to turn around 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.
A #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER continued along Blue Haven Rd this week (m.ob.) between the Paton Center for Hummingbirds and the Patagonia- Sonoita Creek Preserve. Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve annotated map:
At Patagonia Lake (annotated map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) at the east end along the Birding Trail.

#LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD#BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER and #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS all continued on the Guindani Loop Trail at Kartchner Caverns State Park this week on 8/4 (m.ob.).

In Florida Canyon (annotated map:, #RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued this week (m.ob.) in the West Fork near 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, and at the old corral at FR488 & 62A.
In Madera Canyon (map:, #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along Proctor Rd this week (m.ob.). A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD was reported at the Santa Rita Lodge on 8/6 (Jesse Huth) and was photographed on 8/7 (Scott Carey). A #YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was photographed on 8/7 (Laurens Halsey) along the road between the Amphitheater and the Kubo Lodge.

#BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued in Guadalupe Canyon on 8/2 and 8/4 (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:

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

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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