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August 11–15, 2021 | Tucson, AZ

Field Trips

  • Early Bird Registration opens June 21 at 10am AZ Time
  • General Registration opens June 23 at 10am AZ Time

Field trips include van transportation (with a few exceptions such as “Drive Yourself” trips).  A packed lunch, snacks, and drinking water are provided on full-day field trips. A light snack and drinking water are provided on half-day field trips. All trips depart from the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at Reid Park (again with a few exceptions).

NOTE: Check back soon, more trips being added below!

For trips on other days, please click a tab above

Wednesday – Thursday, August 11-12

One-night trip to Madera Canyon, hosted by Laurens Halsey

  • Lodging: Santa Rita Lodge
  • Transportation: Drive Yourself and Meet On-Site
  • Wednesday, August 11 – Thursday, August 12
  • $225/person includes lodging, meals (dinner & breakfast)
  • Difficulty: Moderate, moderate walking distances over unpaved trails with some steeper slopes
  • Arrive at Santa Rita Lodge for 3:00pm start and finish on Thursday around 11am.

Staying at the Santa Rita Lodge gives you a unique experience  of spending the night in iconic Madera Canyon where Elegant Trogons croak and hummingbirds zoom. Who knows, you might even see a Coatimundi snacking at the hummingbird feeders! Elf Owls are known to nest near the lodge and sometimes are visible poking their head out of their hole. Begin by enjoying the birds at the feeders (Rivoli’s Hummingbird, Arizona Woodpecker, Wild Turkey) before evening birding in the mouth of Madera Canyon and proceeding up into the oak-juniper habitat, listening for nightjars and owls characteristic of these habitats (Mexican Whip-Poor-Will, Whiskered Screech-Owl & Elf Owl). We’ll get an early start the next morning and explore the same range of habitats looking for Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Botteri’s and Cassin’s Sparrow, Summer Tanager, and Varied Bunting lower down as well as Painted Redstart, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Elegant Trogon in mid-canyon.  Limited to 8 participants.

 

Thursday, August 12

Full-day Van Trips—Complete Covid-19 Vaccination Required for Van Trips (includes snacks, drinks, and lunch)

California Gulch Adventure with Gavin Bieber and David Simpson

  • 5:00am – 3:30pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Hard (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to location approximately 2 hours on some rough road.)

This trip sets out in search of some of the avian treasures (at the very northern edge of their ranges here) for which southeast Arizona is renowned. The main event for the day is the chance to bird the rugged and remote California Gulch in search of Five-striped Sparrow, Varied Bunting, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Gray Hawk, and Montezuma Quail as well as other species from south of the border. California Gulch is set in the stunningly beautiful Atascosa Highlands and requires a full two hours in the van each way to get to this spot, including some rough roads. Depending on recent reports, we will try to maximize our time in this area by birding other nearby sites such as Pena Blanca Lake or Arivaca to look for other SE Arizona specialties. Note: this trip may include a steep mile-long (round trip) trek into the canyon or we may be able to simply take a short walk on a rocky jeep track. Access conditions are variable and can be impacted by the monsoon rains. Lunch included. Limited to 16 participants.

 

Mt. Lemmon: Sonoran Desert to Mixed Conifer Forest with Brian Gibbons

  • 5:30 am – 3:00pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to final location approximately 75 minutes.)

Rising over 6,000 feet above Tucson, Mount Lemmon is the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains at 9,157 feet, and a popular escape from urban life and the Arizona’s dry early-summer heat (before the relief of the cooling monsoon rains). It is also an incredible birding experience and biology lesson. Traversing six life zones, from the Sonoran Desert at the base to mixed conifer forests at the highest elevations, the 25-mile drive up the wide, paved, two-lane Catalina Highway is equivalent biologically to traveling from Mexico to Canada. Our efforts will be concentrated on the higher elevations far above the desert below. We’ll look for typical mountain species like Steller’s Jay, Acorn Woodpecker, Spotted Towhee, and Plumbeous Vireo. We’ll make a special effort to track down a variety of warblers; Painted Redstart and Olive, Red-faced, and Grace’s Warblers all breed in these mountains and by August they are beginning to form mixed-species foraging flocks. A few hummingbird feeders are scattered about our route as well. Combine the birds with temperatures nearly 30 degrees cooler at the top and unparalleled scenery, it is hard to beat the Catalinas in August! Lunch included. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Hummingbird Safari with Karen Krebbs

  • 5:30 am – 2:30 pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces. Drive time to location approximately two hours.)

This small-group excursion is a “can’t miss” for beginner birders interested in getting to know some of the area’s most dazzling birds and a few popular hummingbird locales around Southeast Arizona. Peak hummingbird diversity is happening and you’ll have the chance to see anywhere from 7 – 10 species. Beatty’s Guest Ranch and Ash Canyon are preliminary destinations but locations are up to the discretion of the leader and based on current observations. Lunch included. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Parker Canyon Lake Area with John Yerger

  • 5:00am – 3:00pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to final location approximately two hours on some rough and curvy road.)

This 130-acre, deep water lake is tucked back on the west slopes of the Huachuca Mountains and because of its location is under-birded but holds great potential. Grassy hillsides dotted with oaks may hold Montezuma Quail, Western or Eastern Bluebirds, Bushtits, flycatchers, and early migrants. Western Grebes and Ospreys have been seen catching fish out of the lake during summer and Cassin’s Kingbirds are quite common. Lunch included. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Half-day Van Trips—Complete Covid-19 Vaccination Required for Van Trips (includes snacks)

Box Canyon Loop with Jacob Roalef

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (mostly flat walking trails on some uneven and rocky terrain, includes some driving on rocky road)

This beautiful and scenic loop that starts near Madera Canyon and crosses the northern part of the Santa Rita Mountains offers fantastic birding during the monsoon season. The road goes along rugged Box Canyon where at least one pair of Five-striped Sparrows has been seen the past few years. Varied Buntings, Hooded and Scott’s Orioles, Canyon and Cactus Wrens, Pyrrhuloxia, and more will be singing their hearts out as you make various stops along the drive. The loop comes out just north of the ranching community of Sonoita. Return to the venue by 12pm. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Saint David & Benson Area with Jim Rorabaugh

  • 5:30am – 12:30pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some mild slopes but excellent surfaces. Drive time to location approximately one hour on paved roads.)

Saint David is a curiously lush oasis bordering the San Pedro River, characterized by artesian wells and springs that support high groundwater levels and abundant trees and ponds. Summer Tanager, orioles, Tropical Kingbird, Gray Hawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and others are likely to be seen, as well as migrants. We will also search for Mississippi Kites, which nest nearby, and any other rarities that happen to be in the area. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Patagonia Lake State Park with Keith Kamper

  • 5:00am – 12:30pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Will include walking along mostly level trail but with uneven surfaces for around 2-3 miles.  Drive time to location about 80 minutes)

This is the top eBird hotspot in the state with lake, riparian, and upland desert/grassland habitat affording the chance for a number of target species of lower elevations.  Early walking along the birding trail, we hope to find Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Rufous-winged Sparrow, and Lucy’s Warbler, eventually heading for the inlet creek where we might possibly find Green Kingfisher—one can hope!  Scanning the lake, there are Mexican Ducks along with other species, as well as Neotropic and Double-crested Cormorants, and shorebirds at the dam area.  Afterwards, a stop at the famous Roadside Rest will provide opportunity for both Thick-billed Kingbird and Varied Bunting.

Back by 12:30pm, limited to 8 participants.

 

Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountains with John Higgins and Adrian Lesak

  • 5:30am – 11:30am
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Paved roads, less than 1 mile walking)

Come see the birds that actually like it in the desert during the summer. We will travel through the saguaro cactus forest of the Pima County Tucson Mountain Park and the west side of the Saguaro National Park, looking for Gilded Flicker, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher and other desert denizens. The tour will stop at the National Park Service visitor center with its exhibits, restrooms and air conditioning. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Walker Canyon with Richard Fray

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Will include walking along some graded roads and mostly level trail but with uneven surfaces for about 3 miles.  Drive time to location about 75 minutes)

This area is located in the southern mountains just a few miles from the border and west of Nogales with excellent oak habitat, and much less birder visitation than many other better known locations.  Walking along the old road/trail in the shade of the riparian zone and flanked by grasslands, we’ll have opportunity for many target species, including Montezuma Quail, Gray Hawk, Elegant Trogon, Acorn and Arizona Woodpeckers, Rufous-winged and Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Scott’s Oriole and Varied Bunting.  Thick-billed Kingbird have also recently colonized this drainage and we’ll be actively hunting for them as well. Back by noon, limited to 8 participants.

 

Drive Yourself—Meet On-Site Field Trips. Please read description for meeting location and arrive promptly.

Empire Gulch/Las Cienegas with Felipe Guerrero

  • 6:00am – 11:00am
  • $30/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Mostly flat walking trails on some uneven and rocky terrain)

Las Cienegas is a 45,000-acre national conservation area with high desert grasslands, riparian strips and perennial streams, marshes, and juniper-oak woodlands. You will meet at Empire Ranch and bird the significant riparian areas along Cienega Creek. Here we can find riparian-associated species including Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler, and Summer Tanager. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 50 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 6 participants.

 

Paton Center for Hummingbirds with Rob Ripma and Tyler Ficker

  • Two Times; 6:00am – 8:00am & 8:30am – 10:30am
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Some wheelchair accessibility. Will include short walks on mostly flat walking trails)

The famous Paton Center for Hummingbirds is known for its backyard birds and scenic location. Wally and Marion Paton first began inviting birders into their yard shortly after moving to Patagonia in 1973, and after their passing, the center was acquired by the Tucson Audubon Society with generous help from the American Bird Conservancy and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. It is a place to explore and experience the special birds of southeast Arizona and it is dedicated to the celebration and conservation of hummingbirds—and all of southeast Arizona’s astounding biodiversity. Violet-crowned Hummingbirds are common and the many feeders attract a wide array of bird species. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 70 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand.  Limited to 6 participants/guide on each time slot.

 

Looking for Becards with Robert Mesta

  • Two Times; 6:00am – 9:00am & 9:30am – 12:30pm
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Mostly flat walking trails for about 1.5 miles roundtrip)

An easy stroll through this lush riparian corridor along the Santa Cruz provides many opportunities for migrants, Gray Hawks, flycatchers, and hordes of Yellow-breasted Chats. Rose-throated Becard, whose nests look like a large football hanging from the end of a branch, have nested along this trail the past few years. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 60 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 6 participants.

 

Sabino Canyon with Jean & Mark Hengesbaugh

  • 6:30am – 9:00am
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (mostly flat walking trails on some uneven and rocky terrain)

We’ll bird Sabino Canyon Recreation Area walking a loop that includes both Sonoran desert upland and Sabino Creek riparian area. Meet at the ramada by the Visitor’s Center at 5700 N Sabino Canyon Road. $5 parking fee. Return to car by 9am. Sunhat, water and walking shoes always recommended. Leaders are Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists. Limited to 10 participants.

 

Tohono Chul Docent-Led Birding Tours

  • 8:30am – 9:30am
  • Free with registration, $5 suggested donation at Tohono Chul
  • Difficulty: Easy (some mild slopes–mostly flat ground and good surfaces)

For visitors and those new to the Sonoran Desert, Tohono Chul’s easy-walking trails and gardens provide close-up looks at many of the desert specialties. Of the more than 500 bird species that spend time in Arizona during the year, 140 are known to have visited Tohono Chul, and on any given morning you might see up to 10 or 20 species here. All year long you can watch our state bird, the Cactus Wren, flit from cactus to tree and back again, chattering as he goes. Observe the Curved-billed Thrasher, with its saucy two-part whistle, scrabbling on the ground or nesting in cholla cactus. Enjoy our two year-round resident hummingbird species, Anna’s and Costa’s, as they dart about, feeding among the many colorful flowers. And be sure to look upward for a glance of our majestic Cooper’s Hawks, a pair of which has nested in the gardens for each of the last four years. Meet at Tohono Chul. Limited to 10 participants.

 

Behind the Scenes at the Reid Park Zoo

  • 8:00am – 9:30am
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (paved pathways)

Join keepers at the Reid Park Zoo for a tour of the South American and Flight Connection Aviaries and get a sneak peek at some of the birds that will be featured in the zoo’s upcoming expansion. Please be prepared for moderate walking in the heat. Face masks are currently required in some sensitive areas. Participants will meet keepers at the Zoo’s main entrance at 8am. Includes zoo entry fee. Limited to 10 participants.

 

Bird ID Workshops at Sweetwater Wetlands with Richard Crossley and Holly Merker

  • Three Times: 6:00am – 7:30am; 8:00am – 9:30am; 10:00am – 11:30am
  • $15/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Easy walking on groomed pathways)

Join birding legend, Richard Crossley, and inspirational birding author, Holly Merker at the most popular hotspot in Tucson, Sweetwater Wetlands, where you’ll search for Cinnamon Teal, Tropical Kingbirds, and Abert’s Towhees, while receiving invaluable birding advice and wisdom. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 20 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 15 participants during each time slot.

 

The Secret Lives of Desert Purple Martins with Jennie MacFarland and Olya Phillips

  • 6:00am – 10:00am
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (walking over uneven, rocky terrain and off trails relatively short distances)

Be a part of the Desert Purple Martin Project research crew for a morning! Tucson Audubon is using technology and a network of volunteers to learn more about these little known birds that nest in saguaro cavities during the monsoon abundance. We will visit several saguaros with active nests and use an endoscope camera and telescoping pole to peek inside the nests. We will be gathering real datapoints of what stage each nest has reached as specific timing of nests is still not completely known to science. Participants must wear sturdy shoes, long pants and sleeves, binoculars, hat and other sun protection. Bring water and snacks, it heats up quickly in the desert! Meeting place will be the Greasewood Park parking lot. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 20 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Birdability outing to Madera Canyon with Birdability’s Virginia Rose and Freya McGregor, and Tucson Audubon accessible outing leader Marcia OBara

Bathrooms: Accessible bathrooms are available at the Proctor Rd Trailhead; bathrooms are not available for public use at Santa Rita Lodge.

This trip is designed to be intentionally inclusive and accessible for beginner and advanced birders who experience accessibility challenges as a result of a disability or other health concern. The three outing leaders experience their own accessibility challenges, including one who uses a manual wheelchair, and the location’s accessibility features have been documented in detail to help you decide if you’d like to attend.

Join us for a leisurely birding experience in beautiful Madera Canyon. We will meet at the Proctor Road Picnic Area at the entrance to Madera Canyon, and will bird 1 mile of this paved trail (travelling 2 miles total). There are two benches along the way, and a rest area with benches near the end of the first half. Participants are welcome to wait for us or turn back at any time. After that we will drive up the canyon to Santa Rita Lodge. Folks who need to drive themselves can do so; we ask everyone else to carpool from Proctor Rd – we’re conscious of limited parking at Santa Rita Lodge and want to prioritize it for folks who need it. At Santa Rita Lodge we will enjoy the variety of birds at the feeder station, where benches are available. We will have two scopes available to use: one set up at the height of a seated person, and one at the height of a standing person.

Target birds: Rivoli’s Hummingbird, Mexican Jay, Black-headed Grosbeak, Hepatic Tanager, Arizona Woodpecker, Bridled Titmouse.

Number of attendees: Limited to 15 participants, with up to five additional attendants if you need to bring someone to help you participate.

Additional information: 12 pairs of loaner binoculars will be available, and scopes to use at Santa Rita Lodge. Outing is free with festival registration, however attendees are responsible for the US Forest Service entrance fee of $8/vehicle. (For more information, including Interagency Passes, visit the Coronado National Forest Service website.) Please feel free to email info@birdability.org with any additional questions you may have about this event. To learn more about Birdability, please visit birdability.org

 

Afternoon/Evening Trips (Complete Covid-19 Vaccination Required for Van Trips)

Hummingbird Murals of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe with Dan Weisz

  • 1:30pm–4:00pm
  • $25/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Very short walks from vehicle)

For a different kind of ‘birding’, take a tour of a number of beautiful outdoor murals depicting hummingbirds, created by artists of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. According to Louis D. Valenzuela, an accomplished Yaqui artist, the hummingbird “represents the Yoeme culture. The hummingbird is considered to be a spiritual bird that comes from the ‘Sewa Ania’ Flower World and is a messenger with powerful blessing and protection.” Limited to 8 participants.

For trips on other days, please click a tab above

Friday, August 13

Full-day Van Trips—Complete Covid-19 Vaccination Required for Van Trips (includes snacks, drinks, and lunch)

Arivaca Lake and Area with Jake Mohlmann

  • 5:00am – 3:00pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Hard (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to location approximately 90 minutes on some rough road.)

Arivaca Lake is quickly growing into a favorite birding hotspot for Tucson locals and offers a chance for rare waterbirds and a great mix of breeding and migrating songbirds. We’ll search for Varied, Lazuli, and possibly Painted Bunting, Gray Hawk, Blue Grosbeaks, Canyon Towhees, and Hooded Orioles. The lake is situated in the stunningly beautiful Atascosa Highlands and requires a full 90 minutes in the van each way to get to this spot, including some rough roads. Access conditions are variable and can be impacted by the monsoon rains. Lunch included. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Mt. Lemmon: Sonoran Desert to Mixed Conifer Forest with John Yerger & David Simpson

  • 5:30 am – 3:00pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to final location approximately 75 minutes.)

Rising over 6,000 feet above Tucson, Mount Lemmon is the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains at 9,157 feet, and a popular escape from urban life and the Arizona’s dry early-summer heat (before the relief of the cooling monsoon rains). It is also an incredible birding experience and biology lesson. Traversing six life zones, from the Sonoran Desert at the base to mixed conifer forests at the highest elevations, the 25-mile drive up the wide, paved, two-lane Catalina Highway is equivalent biologically to traveling from Mexico to Canada. Our efforts will be concentrated on the higher elevations far above the desert below. We’ll look for typical mountain species like Steller’s Jay, Acorn Woodpecker, Spotted Towhee, and Plumbeous Vireo. We’ll make a special effort to track down a variety of warblers; Painted Redstart and Olive, Red-faced, and Grace’s Warblers all breed in these mountains and by August they are beginning to form mixed-species foraging flocks. A few hummingbird feeders are scattered about our route as well. Combine the birds with temperatures nearly 30 degrees cooler at the top and unparalleled scenery, it is hard to beat the Catalinas in August! Lunch included. Limited to 16 participants.

 

Patagonia and Harshaw Canyon with Keith Kamper

  • 5:00am – 2:00pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some walking on mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces. Drive time to location approximately one hour on mostly paved roads)

Some of the most well-known birding locations in Southeast Arizona, and the United States, occur in the riparian area around the small mining town of Patagonia. We’ll spend a few hours in the low-lying Patagonia Mountains providing us the opportunity to find many birds of oak and mountain riparian habitats for the Sky Islands including Elegant Trogon and the Azure subspecies of Eastern Bluebird. We will also check out the famous Patagonia Roadside Rest and enjoy lunch at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds while looking for Violet-crowned Hummingbird. Lunch included. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Sycamore Canyon with Ethan Beasley

  • 5:00am – 3:00pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Hard (Round-trip hiking distance of about 2.5 hot miles, over very uneven tread and multiple, wet stream crossings. About two hour drive on some rough road)

Rugged, remote Sycamore Canyon is legendary among birders for the rarities it has harbored over the years, as well as for its scenic terrain.  This steep-sided canyon is in the Pajarito Wilderness Area of Coronado National Forest.  It drains southward into Mexico, crossing the international border 5.6 miles from the trailhead off Ruby Road, west of Nogales.  Along the way we’ll encounter species typical of Oak-Juniper and Riparian habitats, with the potential to see Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Montezuma Quail. Lunch included. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Half-day Van Trips—Complete Covid-19 Vaccination Required for Van Trips (includes snacks)

Box and Florida Canyons with Richard Fray

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Hard (Walking a narrow trail with uneven surfaces and some increase in grade.  Drive time to location about 1 hour)

These two canyons are just north of the more famous Madera Canyon and offer fabulous birding in riparian areas flanked by upland desert and grassland. From the Florida Canyon parking lot, we’ll first look for Black-capped Gnatcatchers and then cross the creek, keeping our eyes open and ears alert for Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Black-chinned and Rufous-crowned Sparrows, along with Varied Bunting.  Working our way up higher along the creek, we’ll look for Gray Hawk, three species of Myiarchus flycatchers, Bell’s and Hutton’s Vireo’s, Hooded Oriole, and perhaps even catching a glimpse of the soaring resident Golden Eagles. Time permitting we will drive through Box Canyon hoping to find a rare Five-striped Sparrow. Back by noon, limited to 8 participants.

 

Experiencing Sparrows in the Field with Homer Hansen

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some walking on mild slopes, and possibly rocky/uneven surfaces)

Our skulky sparrows come to life during the monsoon season in southeast Arizona, and species such as Botteri’s, Cassin’s and Grasshopper’s can be identified readily if you are familiar with their appearance and vocalizations. This field experience dovetails with the classroom workshop offered on Thursday which will introduce you to the breeding sparrows of our region, along with their habitat, identification characteristics, and songs. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Trogon Search with Jennie MacFarland

  • 5:30 am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Hard (some walking on a few steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)

Elegant Trogons are one of those bird species you never tire of seeing, and you never forget the moments you spend with it. We’ll put forth a half-day’s effort to search for trogons in a pre-determined location with Tucson Audubon’s Bird Conservation Biologist, Jennie MacFarland. Of course, we’ll see various other species while we look and listen for trogons. Back by noon. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Montosa Canyon with Brian Gibbons  

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Hard (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to location approximately one hour with some gravel roads.)

While Madera Canyon has long been the most visited spot in the Santa Rita Mountains, this adjacent canyon to the south is deserving of more birders’ attention. Join us on a half-day exploration of Montosa Canyon, which supports some hackberry thornscrub habitat as well as a nice drainage with scattered oaks and mesquites. Our top target is Black-capped Gnatcatcher, which has been breeding in the area for several years, and we should also see dazzling Varied Buntings on territory. Five-striped Sparrow frequented the area in past years as well. Some more common species we can expect to encounter include Bell’s Vireo, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Wren, and Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Oracle State Park and Peppersauce Canyon with Kathe Anderson

  • 5:30am – 11:30am
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some mild hiking on fairly flat trails or gravel roads. About 45 minutes to destinations)

We’ll start in beautiful Oracle State Park, located at 3,700’ to 4,600’, with landscape dominated by rolling hills and panoramic vistas as it transitions from desert grassland to oak-woodland. There, we’ll likely encounter common desert species, such as Harris’s Hawk, Gila Woodpecker, Say’s Phoebe, Curve-billed Thrasher, Canyon Towhee and summer visitors such as Summer Tanager, Lucy’s Warbler and Brown-crested Flycatcher, among others.  Then we’ll move onto Peppersauce Canyon, an oasis mostly shaded by huge sycamores, where Bell’s and other vireos, plus Acorn Woodpeckers and Western Wood-Pewees are common, amongst a variety of lovely summer surprises. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Drive Yourself—Meet On-Site Field Trips. Please read description for meeting location and arrive promptly.

Paton Center for Hummingbirds with Kyle Carlsen

  • Two Times: 6:00am – 8:30am & 9:00am – 11:30am
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Some wheelchair accessibility. Will include short walks on mostly flat walking trails)

The famous Paton Center for Hummingbirds is known for its backyard birds and scenic location. Wally and Marion Paton first began inviting birders into their yard shortly after moving to Patagonia in 1973, and after their passing, the center was acquired by the Tucson Audubon Society with generous help from the American Bird Conservancy and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. It is a place to explore and experience the special birds of southeast Arizona and it is dedicated to the celebration and conservation of hummingbirds—and all of southeast Arizona’s astounding biodiversity. Violet-crowned Hummingbirds are common and the many feeders attract a wide array of bird species. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 70 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand.  Limited to 6 participants during each time slot.

 

Madera Canyon at Proctor Road with Tyler Ficker

  • Two Times: 6:00am – 8:00am & 8:30am – 10:30am
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some mild hiking on smooth and rocky trails with slight grade)

At the mouth of Madera Canyon the grassland/riparian habitat around Proctor Road has an easy nature trail where we’ll search for Brown-crested Flycatcher, Bell’s Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, and Varied Bunting. We’ll also be looking and listening for singing sparrows, soaring Zone-tailed Hawks, and buzzing Broad-billed Hummingbirds. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 60 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 6 participants during each time slot.

 

Madera Canyon at Madera Picnic Area with Rob Ripma

  • Two Times: 6:00am – 8:00am & 8:30am – 10:30am
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (some walking on a few steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)

Iconic Madera Canyon is one of the top destinations for any birder. We’ll be birding in the mid-elevation oak-juniper habitat, looking for desirable southeast Arizona species like Arizona Woodpecker, Painted Redstart, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. Mexican Jays and White-breasted Nuthatches will greet us along the Nature Trail and then we’ll head over to the hummingbird feeders at Santa Rita Lodge where we will hope to see the magnificent Rivoli’s Hummingbird. Maybe we’ll find an Elegant Trogon! Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 60 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 6 participants during each time slot.

 

Empire Ranch with Adrian Lesak

  • 6:00am – 9:00am
  • $25/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Mostly flat walking trails on some uneven and rocky terrain)

Las Cienegas is a 45,000-acre national conservation area with high desert grasslands, riparian strips and perennial streams, marshes, and juniper-oak woodlands. You will meet at Empire Ranch and bird the significant riparian areas along Cienega Creek. Here we can find riparian-associated species including Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler, and Summer Tanager. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 50 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 6 participants.

 

Easy Birding: Troubleshooting in the Field with Hannah Buschert and Erik Ostrander

  • 8:00am – 12:00pm
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Easy walking on groomed park pathways)

Join Hannah and Erik (from “Hannah and Erik Go Birding”) for some easy birding in the Tucson metro-area.  We’ll caravan to a few local hotspots and see how many species we can find while talking eBird pro-tips, answer any optic questions, and enjoy birding with others! Be on the lookout for Green Herons hiding at Sweetwater Wetlands and southern species like Abert’s Towhee and Curve-billed Thrasher at Reid Park. Plan to meet at the hotel venue at 8am and caravan to locations. Meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Tohono Chul Docent-Led Birding Tours

  • 8:30am – 9:30am
  • Free with registration, $5 suggested donation at Tohono Chul
  • Difficulty: Easy (some mild slopes–mostly flat ground and good surfaces)

For visitors and those new to the Sonoran Desert, Tohono Chul’s easy-walking trails and gardens provide close-up looks at many of the desert specialties. Of the more than 500 bird species that spend time in Arizona during the year, 140 are known to have visited Tohono Chul, and on any given morning you might see up to 10 or 20 species here. All year long you can watch our state bird, the Cactus Wren, flit from cactus to tree and back again, chattering as he goes. Observe the Curved-billed Thrasher, with its saucy two-part whistle, scrabbling on the ground or nesting in cholla cactus. Enjoy our two year-round resident hummingbird species, Anna’s and Costa’s, as they dart about, feeding among the many colorful flowers. And be sure to look upward for a glance of our majestic Cooper’s Hawks, a pair of which has nested in the gardens for each of the last four years. Meet at Tohono Chul. Limited to 10 participants.

 

Behind the Scenes at the Reid Park Zoo

  • 8:00am – 9:30am
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (paved pathways)

Join keepers at the Reid Park Zoo for a tour of the South American and Flight Connection Aviaries and get a sneak peek at some of the birds that will be featured in the zoo’s upcoming expansion. Please be prepared for moderate walking in the heat. Face masks are currently required in some sensitive areas. Participants will meet keepers at the Zoo’s main entrance at 8am. Includes zoo entry fee. Limited to 10 participants.

 

Bird ID Workshops at Tubac De Anza Trail with Richard Crossley and Holly Merker

  • Three Times: 6:00am – 7:30am; 8:00am – 9:30am; 10:00am – 11:30am
  • $15/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Mostly flat, groomed trails)

Join birding legend, Richard Crossley, and inspirational birding author, Holly Merker along the De Anza Trail which runs along the Santa Cruz River south of Tucson. You’ll receive invaluable birding advice and wisdom while searching for and listening to singing Summer Tanagers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Lucy’s Warblers. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 60 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 15 participants during each time slot.

 

Photography Field Workshop: Photographing Birds in Flight, Big and Small at Sweetwater Wetlands with Krisztina Scheeff

  • 6:00am – 9:00am
  • $45/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Mostly flat, groomed trails)

This trip is the field counterpart to Krisztina’s Flight Photography workshop on Thursday. It can be incredibly rewarding to photograph birds in flight. Equally, however, there can be nothing more frustrating than the very same thing. In this classroom & field workshop professional photographer Krisztina Scheeff with KS Nature Photography will teach you lots of tips and tricks, camera settings and more to help you get those fantastic in flight bird shots. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 20 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Photography Field Workshop: Bird Behavior with Photography with Maresa Pryor-Luzier

  • 6:00am – 9:00am
  • $45/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (mostly flat, groomed trails)

This trip is the field counterpart to Maresa’s photography workshop on Thursday. Working in the field can bring fantastic results or frustration.  So knowing your basic camera settings will be essential for this workshop.  She will teach you what to look for to get those fantastic bird behavioral shots. Being in Sabino Canyon, we’ll be working with passerines so time will be spent on distance, shutter speeds, ISO, backgrounds and what’s important to maximize your photography potential. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Birding & Invasive Plants Walk and Talk at Richard E. Genser Starr Pass Trailhead with Tony Figueroa

  • 6:00am – 10:00am
  • FREE with Festival Registration
  • Difficulty: Difficult (Around 3 miles round trip over rocky trail)

Early morning walk through native desert plant communities that will culminate at a site we have worked in partnership with Pima County Natural Resources Parks and Recreation. It is a site with a diversity of invasive species as a result of a wildlife water tank that was tampered with resulting in excess water flow to the site. This supplemental water allowed for the invasive species to establish a foothold in the area. Learn how Tucson Audubon is trying to restore this location, and others, back to the way it once was. We’ll look for birds of the Sonoran Desert too! Limited to 8 participants.

 

Birdability outing to Sweetwater Wetlands with Birdability’s Virginia Rose and Freya McGregor, and Tucson Audubon accessible outing leader Marcia OBara

  • 8:00am – 10:30am
  • Free with Festival Registration
  • Difficulty: Easy (The concrete loop is 0.35 miles. The optional hard packed dirt trail is a loop about 1 mile total. For detailed accessibility information on this location, please visit the Sweetwater Wetlands Birdability Site Review on the Birdability Map.)

Bathrooms: Bathrooms are available and are wheelchair accessible. No soap is provided, so bring hand sanitizer.

This trip is designed to be intentionally inclusive and accessible for beginner and advanced birders who experience accessibility challenges as a result of a disability or other health concern. The three outing leaders experience their own accessibility challenges, including one who uses a manual wheelchair, and the location’s accessibility features have been documented in detail to help you decide if you’d like to attend.

Join us for a leisurely birding experience at Sweetwater Wetlands. We will meet at the parking area, and bird from the shaded viewing area. Benches and scopes will be available there, with one set up at the height of a seated person and one at the height of a standing person. We will continue along the flat, wide, concrete loop trail for 0.35 miles. There will be the option of continuing on the hard packed dirt trail (a 1 mile loop), or the group splitting and some of us staying on the paved trail and some continuing on.

Target birds: Cooper’s Hawk, Green Heron, Common Gallinule, Vermillion Flycatcher, Tropical and Western Kingbirds, Yellow Warbler.

Number of attendees: Limited to 15 participants, with up to five additional attendants if you need to bring someone to help you participate.

Additional information: 12 pairs of loaner binoculars will be available, and scopes to use at the observation area. Outing is free with festival registration. Please feel free to email info@birdability.org with any additional questions you may have about this event. To learn more about Birdability, please visit birdability.org

 

Afternoon/Evening Trips (Complete Covid-19 Vaccination Required for Van Trips)

Going Batty with Karen Krebbs

  • 6:00pm – 8:00pm
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Easy watching from pathway/parking area and short drive.)

Join Karen Krebbs on an adventure to watch thousands of bats come out of their roost at dusk. Karen has studied bats for more than 30 years and will share her vast knowledge of these misunderstood night creatures. This nightly Tucson spectacle even brings in a Cooper’s Hawk or Peregrine Falcon on occasion. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Creatures of the Night with Jim Rorabaugh and Hanna Strauss

  • 6:00pm – 10:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Will include walking in the dark, some uphill on paved road, groomed trail. Total distance about 3-4 miles.)

Sabino Canyon night hikes during monsoon season are a local favorite past-time. Bring your flashlight as we walk up in the light and walk down in the dark in search of birds, toads, snakes, bugs, and more! Good possibilities for Lesser Nighthawk and Common Poorwill at sunset and we’ll hope for monsoon rains so we can see and hear Spadefoots and giant Sonoran Desert Toads. Lizards, scorpions, and tarantulas are crowd favorites and maybe we’ll run into a Gila Monster. We will go at a slow pace and plan on being back to the van at 9:30am. Bring a water bottle and be prepared for hot weather. Limited to 8 participants.

For trips on other days, please click a tab above

Saturday, August 14

Full-day Van Trips—Complete Covid-19 Vaccination Required for Van Trips (includes snacks, drinks, and lunch)

California Gulch Adventure with Richard Fray and Scott Olmstead

  • 5:00am – 3:30pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Hard (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to location approximately 2 hours on some rough road.)

This trip sets out in search of some of the avian treasures (at the very northern edge of their ranges here) for which southeast Arizona is renowned. The main event for the day is the chance to bird the rugged and remote California Gulch in search of Five-striped Sparrow, Varied Bunting, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Gray Hawk, and Montezuma Quail as well as other species from south of the border. California Gulch is set in the stunningly beautiful Atascosa Highlands and requires a full two hours in the van each way to get to this spot, including some rough roads. Depending on recent reports, we will try to maximize our time in this area by birding other nearby sites such as Pena Blanca Lake or Arivaca to look for other SE Arizona specialties. Note: this trip may include a steep mile-long (round trip) trek into the canyon or we may be able to simply take a short walk on a rocky jeep track. Access conditions are variable and can be impacted by the monsoon rains. Lunch included. Limited to 16 participants.

 

Carr & Ash Canyons with Brian Gibbons and David Simpson

  • 5:00am – 3:30pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Hard (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to locations approximately 2 hours on very rough road.)

We’ll get an early start from Tucson to explore the Madrean oak woodland and open pine forests of Carr Canyon. This scenic canyon on the east flank of the Huachucas supports species such as Arizona Woodpecker and Painted Redstart on its lower slopes, and species such as Olive Warbler, Buff-breasted Flycatcher and Greater Pewee along the upper stretches of the road. We’ll spend a few hours exploring along the main road that winds up to near the peaks of the Huachucas before taking our picnic lunch and then descending to nearby Ash Canyon, where a private bank of hummingbird feeders at Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary should be buzzing with activity, including perhaps the range-restricted and very attractive Lucifer Hummingbird. We will be walking slowly along nearly level dirt roads at up to about 7000 feet in elevation. Lunch included. Limited to 16 participants.

 

Patagonia Area with Troy Corman

  • 5:00am – 2:30pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some walking on mild slopes, and possibly rocky/uneven surfaces. Drive time to location approximately one hour on mostly paved roads)

Some of the most well-known birding locations in Southeast Arizona, and the United States, occur in the riparian area that runs along the Sonoita Creek and around the small mining town of Patagonia. Gray Hawks, Summer Tanagers, and Violet-crowned Hummingbirds are the stars of the show. We’ll have lunch at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Mt. Lemmon: Sonoran Desert to Mixed Conifer Forest with Jake Mohlmann

  • 5:30 am – 3:00pm
  • $110/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to final location approximately 75 minutes.)

Rising over 6,000 feet above Tucson, Mount Lemmon is the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains at 9,157 feet, and a popular escape from urban life and the Arizona’s dry early-summer heat (before the relief of the cooling monsoon rains). It is also an incredible birding experience and biology lesson. Traversing six life zones, from the Sonoran Desert at the base to mixed conifer forests at the highest elevations, the 25-mile drive up the wide, paved, two-lane Catalina Highway is equivalent biologically to traveling from Mexico to Canada. Our efforts will be concentrated on the higher elevations far above the desert below. We’ll look for typical mountain species like Steller’s Jay, Acorn Woodpecker, Spotted Towhee, and Plumbeous Vireo. We’ll make a special effort to track down a variety of warblers; Painted Redstart and Olive, Red-faced, and Grace’s Warblers all breed in these mountains and by August they are beginning to form mixed-species foraging flocks. A few hummingbird feeders are scattered about our route as well. Combine the birds with temperatures nearly 30 degrees cooler at the top and unparalleled scenery, it is hard to beat the Catalinas in August! Lunch included. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Half-day Van Trips—Complete Covid-19 Vaccination Required for Van Trips (includes snacks)

San Pedro House with Chris Rohrer

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (some walking on mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces. Prepare for possibility of chiggers. Drive time to location approximately 90 minutes)

The San Pedro River is one of the single most important biological features in the arid Southwest and serves as a migratory corridor for an estimated 4 million migrating birds each year! The conservation and restoration of the San Pedro River has been a long-standing priority for Tucson Audubon and this field trip will give you the opportunity to see it up close. Riparian specialties like Common Ground-Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Gray Hawk are expected along with a good mixture of flycatchers like Western Wood Pewee, Cassin’s Kingbird, and plenty of Vermilion Flycatchers. A walk through the historic ranch house operated by the Friends of the San Pedro will follow our birding. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Arivaca Cienega Area with Ethan Beasley

  • 5:00am–12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (mostly flat walking trails on some uneven and rocky terrain. Drive time to Arivaca is about 75 minutes.)

Just outside of the small town of Arivaca is the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge where efforts to re-introduce the Masked Bobwhite are being undertaken by a group of partners, including Tucson Audubon. We’ll focus our birding efforts at the Arivaca Cienega and along the Arivaca Creek where we’ll look for Black Vultures, Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Tropical Kingbird, and buntings. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Santa Cruz Flats with Kathe Anderson

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Birding from vehicles and the road but very hot by mid-morning. Drive time to flats area approximately one hour. Will include driving on gravel roads.)

This flat area of agricultural fields, mesquite bosques, pecan groves and desert scrub is rarely birded in the summer, but it holds many surprises. Tropical Kingbirds will be fledging their young at this time, and we can expect to see between 20 and 40 individuals in the rows of pecan trees along the road. Raptors such as Black Vultures, Swainson’s Hawks, and Burrowing Owls and if we are lucky, an early Crested Caracara are possible. Sludge ponds and flooded fields at this time of year have yielded rarer shorebirds like Ruddy Turnstone, Willet, Snowy Plover and Sanderling along with blackbirds. It will be very hot by 10 am so put on sunblock, bring a water bottle and wear a hat. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Las Cienegas NCA with Rob Ripma

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some walking on mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces. Drive time to location approximately one hour plus driving on gravel/dirt roads)

Las Cienegas is a 45,000-acre national conservation area with high desert grasslands, riparian strips and perennial streams, marshes, and juniper-oak woodlands. Here we can find grassland breeders such as Cassin’s, Botteri’s and Grasshopper Sparrows, “Lilian’s” Eastern Meadowlark, and Loggerhead Shrike, as well as riparian-associated species including Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler, and Summer Tanager. Las Cienegas is great for mammals, too — we’ll visit a colony of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (road condition permitting) and keep an eye out for Pronghorn Antelope. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Drive Yourself—Meet On-Site Field Trips. Please read description for meeting location and arrive promptly.

Southwestern Songbirds at Saguaro NP East with Holly Kleindienst

  • 6:30am – 9:00am
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some mild slopes, and soft, rocky or uneven terrain.)

Come for a hike to see and hear many songbirds unique to the Southwest in the cactus forests of Saguaro National Park East. Likely species include: Verdin, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Phainopepla, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Pyrrhuloxia, and maybe even a nomadic Greater Roadrunner.  We will walk about three miles on scenic trails that are sometimes soft, rocky, or uneven, with some slopes.   Meet at the Broadway Trailhead for Saguaro NP East. Specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 10 participants.

 

Madera Canyon at Proctor Road with Kyle Carlsen

  • Two Times: 6:00am – 8:00am & 8:30am – 10:30am
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some mild hiking on smooth and rocky trails with slight grade)

At the mouth of Madera Canyon the grassland/riparian habitat around Proctor Road has an easy nature trail where we’ll search for Brown-crested Flycatcher, Bell’s Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, and Varied Bunting. We’ll also be looking and listening for singing sparrows, soaring Zone-tailed Hawks, and buzzing Broad-billed Hummingbirds. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 60 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 6 participants during each time slot.

 

Madera Canyon at Madera Picnic Area with Gordon Karre

  • Two Times: 6:00am – 8:00am & 8:30am – 10:30am
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (some walking on a few steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)

Iconic Madera Canyon is one of the top destinations for any birder. We’ll be birding in the mid-elevation oak-juniper habitat, looking for desirable southeast Arizona species like Arizona Woodpecker, Painted Redstart, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. Mexican Jays and White-breasted Nuthatches will greet us along the Nature Trail and then we’ll head over to the hummingbird feeders at Santa Rita Lodge where we will hope to see the magnificent Rivoli’s Hummingbird. Maybe we’ll find an Elegant Trogon! Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 60 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 6 participants during each time slot.

 

Looking for Becards with Robert Mesta

  • Two Times: 6:00am – 9:00am & 9:30am – 12:30pm
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Mostly flat walking trails for about 1.5 miles roundtrip)

An easy stroll through this lush riparian corridor along the Santa Cruz provides many opportunities for migrants, Gray Hawks, flycatchers, and hordes of Yellow-breasted Chats. Rose-throated Becard, whose nests look like a large football hanging from the end of a branch, have nested along this trail the past few years. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 60 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 6 participants.

 

Paton Center for Hummingbirds with Dave Stejskal

  • Two Times: 6:00am – 8:30am & 9:00am – 11:30am
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Some wheelchair accessibility. Will include short walks on mostly flat walking trails)

The famous Paton Center for Hummingbirds is known for its backyard birds and scenic location. Wally and Marion Paton first began inviting birders into their yard shortly after moving to Patagonia in 1973, and after their passing, the center was acquired by the Tucson Audubon Society with generous help from the American Bird Conservancy and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. It is a place to explore and experience the special birds of southeast Arizona and it is dedicated to the celebration and conservation of hummingbirds—and all of southeast Arizona’s astounding biodiversity. Violet-crowned Hummingbirds are common and the many feeders attract a wide array of bird species. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 70 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand.  Limited to 6 participants during each time slot.

 

Easy Birding: Troubleshooting in the Field with Hannah Buschert and Erik Ostrander

  • 8:00am – 12:00pm
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Flat walking on some sandy/gravel trails)

Join Hannah and Erik, from “Hannah and Erik Go Birding,” for a leisurely stroll through the riparian forest along the Santa Cruz River following the historic De Anza Trail.  Along the way get tips and tricks for using your optics and different apps to make your birding trip more enjoyable and get the most out of any outing.  Keep your eyes open along the walk for a variety of flycatchers, warblers and vireos. We’ll meet at the Santa Gertrudis Lane parking area at 8am (which is about 60 minutes south of Tucson). Specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Tohono Chul Docent-Led Birding Tours

  • 8:30am – 9:30am
  • Free with registration, $5 suggested donation at Tohono Chul
  • Difficulty: Easy (some mild slopes–mostly flat ground and good surfaces)

For visitors and those new to the Sonoran Desert, Tohono Chul’s easy-walking trails and gardens provide close-up looks at many of the desert specialties. Of the more than 500 bird species that spend time in Arizona during the year, 140 are known to have visited Tohono Chul, and on any given morning you might see up to 10 or 20 species here. All year long you can watch our state bird, the Cactus Wren, flit from cactus to tree and back again, chattering as he goes. Observe the Curved-billed Thrasher, with its saucy two-part whistle, scrabbling on the ground or nesting in cholla cactus. Enjoy our two year-round resident hummingbird species, Anna’s and Costa’s, as they dart about, feeding among the many colorful flowers. And be sure to look upward for a glance of our majestic Cooper’s Hawks, a pair of which has nested in the gardens for each of the last four years. Meet at Tohono Chul. Limited to 10 participants.

 

Fort Lowell Park with Adrian Lesak

  • 6:30am – 8:30am
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (easy walking around city park trails)

Less than 15 minutes from the festival venue, this is one of the best spots in Tucson to find Vermilion Flycatchers and the city park habitat (along with pond) offers a good variety of species. Try out some new binoculars with Adrian Lesak of Vortex Optics and walk the grounds hoping to find Broad-billed Hummingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Cassin’s Kingbird, Lark Sparrows, and Lucy’s Warblers. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 10 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand.  Limited to 10 participants.

 

Molino Basin with Jacob Roalef

  • 6:00am – 8:30am
  • $20/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails)

A small campground surrounded by oak woodland and chaparral with intermittent streams, Molino Basin is a favorite stop for local birders on their way up Mt. Lemmon. We will walk around the good trail system looking for resident Acorn Woodpeckers, Bridled Titmouse, Bushtit, and Rufous-crowned Sparrows. Colorful summer breeders such as Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, and Hooded Orioles are always crowd pleasers. Attendees are responsible for the US Forest Service entrance fee of $8/vehicle. (For more information, including Interagency Passes, visit the Coronado National Forest Service website.) Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 40 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 6 participants.

 

Bird ID Workshops at Reid Park with Richard Crossley and Holly Merker

  • Three Times: 6:00am – 7:30am; 8:00am – 9:30am; 10:00am – 11:30am
  • $15/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Mostly flat, groomed trails)

Vermilion Flycatchers love Reid Park and you will too while you receive invaluable birding advice and wisdom from birding legend, Richard Crossley, and inspirational birding author, Holly Merker. Black-crowned Night Herons are quite obvious around the two ponds and a mix of local breeding birds and early fall migrants will be on your species list. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 2 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 15 participants during each time slot.

 

Birdability outing to Reid Park with Birdability’s Virginia Rose and Freya McGregor, and Tucson Audubon accessible outing leader Marcia OBara

  • 8:00am – 10:30am
  • Free with Festival Registration
  • Difficulty: Easy. (0.75 miles on concrete surfaces. For detailed accessibility information on this location, please visit the Gene C. Reid Park Birdability Site Review on the Birdability Map here.

Bathrooms: Bathrooms are available but are not wheelchair accessible.

This trip is designed to be intentionally inclusive and accessible for beginner and advanced birders who experience accessibility challenges as a result of a disability or other health concern. The three outing leaders experience their own accessibility challenges, including one who uses a manual wheelchair, and the location’s accessibility features have been documented in detail to help you decide if you’d like to attend.

Join us for a leisurely birding experience at Reid Park, near the festival hotel and expo hall. We will meet at the parking area near the Cele Peterson Rose Garden. From S Country Club Rd, enter the park at the S Concert Place entrance. Bear to the right and look for the solar panel covered shade structures. We will bird the pond, trees and grassy areas of the park, travelling on a concrete trail for about 0.75 miles.

Target birds: Vermillion Flycatcher, White-winged Dove, Black-crowned Night-heron, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Lucy’s Warbler, Western Tanager.

Number of attendees: Limited to 15 participants, with up to five additional attendants if you need to bring someone to help you participate.

Additional information: 12 pairs of loaner binoculars will be available. Please feel free to email info@birdability.org with any additional questions you may have about this event. To learn more about Birdability, please visit birdability.org

For trips on other days, please click a tab above

Sunday, August 15

Half-day Van Trips—Complete Covid-19 Vaccination Required for Van Trips (includes snacks)

Pena Blanca Lake and Canyon with Richard Fray and David Simpson

  • 5:00am – 12:30pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to location approximately 90 minutes, some gravel road.)

An interesting man-made lake makes a great water source and stopover for migrants and nesting birds. The adjoining canyon is a good location for Elegant Trogon, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and Hepatic Tanager. Montezuma Quail favor the hillsides surrounding the lake and other interesting species include Gray Hawk, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and Varied Bunting are expected species. Expect to walk on groomed trails around the lake and a gravel/loose rock forest service road through the canyon. Limited to 16 participants.

 

Las Cienegas NCA with Chris Rohrer

  • 5:30am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some walking on mild slopes, but still on excellent surfaces. Drive time to location approximately one hour plus driving on gravel/dirt roads)

Las Cienegas is a 45,000-acre national conservation area with high desert grasslands, riparian strips and perennial streams, marshes, and juniper-oak woodlands. Here we can find grassland breeders such as Cassin’s, Botteri’s and Grasshopper Sparrows, “Lilian’s” Eastern Meadowlark, and Loggerhead Shrike, as well as riparian-associated species including Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow Warbler, and Summer Tanager. Las Cienegas is great for mammals, too — we’ll visit a colony of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (road condition permitting) and keep an eye out for Pronghorn Antelope. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Cochise Lake with John Yerger

  • 6:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Flat walking on groomed trails or roads. Drive time to location approximately 80 minutes.)

This half-day trip to the Willcox area and Cochise Lake will add a wide variety of shorebirds to your Arizona and festival species list. Likely species include Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, Long-billed Dowitcher, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Western, and Least Sandpipers. The lakes also play host to an array of migrant swallow species, as well as birds of the open grassland like Scaled Quail and Lark Sparrow. With sometimes hourly turnover nearly every visit during migration has a good chance of turning up something unusual. This will be a very relaxed paced half-day trip with limited walking on level surfaces. Limited to 8 participants.

 

High Elevation in the Catalinas with Holly Kleindienst

  • 5:30 am – 12:00 pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (some walking on mild slopes, drive time to location about 50 minutes on paved roads)

Enjoy birding where Tucson residents escape the summer heat in the small mountain hamlet of Summerhaven.  We’ll look for mixed warbler flocks which may include Red-faced, Orange-crowned, Virginia’s, Townsend’s, Hermit, Wilson’s, and Grace’s Warblers. Birding in the conifer forests of Mt. Lemmon can also produce species like Hairy Woodpecker, Steller’s Jay, Mountain Chickadee, and Cordilleran Flycatcher. Back by noon. Limited to 8 participants.

 

De Anza Trail and Area with Gordon Karre

  • 6:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: 1 (Flat walking trails. Drive time to location approximately one hour.)

An easy stroll through this lush riparian corridor along the Santa Cruz provides many opportunities for migrants, Gray Hawks, flycatchers, and hordes of Yellow-breasted Chats. Rose-throated Becard, whose nests look like a large football hanging from the end of a branch, have nested along this trail the past two years.  A stop at the Amado Wastewater Treatment plant on the way back could be good for Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Madera Canyon with Troy Corman

  • 5:30am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person

Iconic Madera Canyon is one of the top destinations for any birder. We’ll start in grassland habitat around Proctor Road looking and listening for singing sparrows first thing in the morning. Black-capped Gnatcatcher has been a regular along this nature trail along with Bell’s Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, and Varied Bunting. Next we’ll head into the mid-elevation oak-juniper habitat, looking for desirable southeast Arizona species like Arizona Woodpecker, Painted Redstart, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. After this we’ll spend some time walking along the riparian trail and investigating the hummingbird feeders that make Madera one of the best spots for hummingbird diversity in the country. Maybe we’ll find an Elegant Trogon! Back by noon. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Box and Florida Canyons with Jake Mohlmann

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Hard (Walking a narrow trail with uneven surfaces and some increase in grade.  Drive time to location about 1 hour)

These two canyons are just north of the more famous Madera Canyon and offer fabulous birding in riparian areas flanked by upland desert and grassland. From the Florida Canyon parking lot, we’ll first look for Black-capped Gnatcatchers and then cross the creek, keeping our eyes open and ears alert for Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Black-chinned and Rufous-crowned Sparrows, along with Varied Bunting.  Working our way up higher along the creek, we’ll look for Gray Hawk, three species of Myiarchus flycatchers, Bell’s and Hutton’s Vireo’s, Hooded Oriole, and perhaps even catching a glimpse of the soaring resident Golden Eagles. Time permitting we will drive through Box Canyon hoping to find a rare Five-striped Sparrow. Back by noon, limited to 8 participants.

 

Patagonia Area with Dave Stejskal

  • 5:00am – 12:00pm
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Some walking on mild slopes, and possibly rocky/uneven surfaces. Drive time to location approximately one hour on mostly paved roads)

The Patagonia area is one southeast Arizona’s best-known destinations for riparian birds. Some of the specialties found around Patagonia are Gray Hawk, Thick-billed Kingbird, Varied Bunting, Violet-crowned Hummingbird and Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet. There are many famous places to bird here including the Patagonia Roadside Rest, Harshaw Canyon, and of course the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Our exact itinerary will be at the leader’s discretion, based on where our target birds are being seen most readily. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Cienega Creek & Davidson Canyon with Pima County Naturalist Jeff Babson

  • 5:30am – 11:30am
  • $65/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Steeper slopes or more rocky/rooted trails. Drive time to location approximately 45 minutes.)

The perennial stream flow and lush riparian vegetation is an important nesting and migration corridor for a multitude of avian species. Home to Yellow-breasted Chat, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Bell’s Vireo, and Lucy’s Warbler, the creek has also hosted a number of vagrants. Cienega Creek has potential for Yellow-billed Cuckoo as well. Under the shade of towering Fremont cottonwoods, we will explore this well-watered and increasingly rare habitat on a half-day outing. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Drive Yourself—Meet On-Site Field Trips. Please read description for meeting location and arrive promptly

The Secret Lives of Desert Purple Martins with Jennie MacFarland and Olya Phillips

  • 6:00am – 10:00am
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Moderate (walking over uneven, rocky terrain and off trails relatively short distances)

Be a part of the Desert Purple Martin Project research crew for a morning! Tucson Audubon is using technology and a network of volunteers to learn more about these little known birds that nest in saguaro cavities during the monsoon abundance. We will visit several saguaros with active nests and use an endoscope camera and telescoping pole to peek inside the nests. We will be gathering real datapoints of what stage each nest has reached as specific timing of nests is still not completely known to science. Participants must wear sturdy shoes, long pants and sleeves, binoculars, hat and other sun protection. Bring water and snacks, it heats up quickly in the desert! Meeting place will be the Greasewood Park parking lot. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 20 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Beyond Birds: Dragonflies & Damselflies in Southeast Arizona with Laurens Halsey

  • 7:00am – 11:00am
  • $10/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Flat walking trails.)

This is the field trip portion of the Saturday workshop aimed at examining some of the odonate diversity found around Southeast Arizona. Have you been curious about dragonflies but mystified by the challenge of identifying them? Join Laurens Halsey for a field trip aimed at providing a foundation for how to go about identifying these challenging arthropods. Location to be determined. Specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 8 participants.

 

Bird ID Workshops at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds with Richard Crossley and Holly Merker

  • Three Times: 6:00am – 7:30am; 8:00am – 9:30am; 10:00am – 11:30am
  • $15/person
  • Difficulty: Easy (Some wheelchair accessibility. Will include short walks on mostly flat walking trails)

Join birding legend, Richard Crossley, and inspirational birding author, Holly Merker, at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds and learn how to sharpen your birding skills. Drive time to meeting location from festival venue is about 70 minutes, specific meeting instructions will be emailed beforehand. Limited to 10 participants during each time slot.

 

Birdability outing to McDonald Park and Agua Caliente Park with Birdability’s Virginia Rose and Freya McGregor, and Tucson Audubon accessible outing leader Marcia OBara

Bathrooms: Wheelchair accessible bathrooms are available at McDonald Park. Bathrooms are available at Agua Caliente, although no wheelchair accessible bathrooms are present.

This trip is designed to be intentionally inclusive and accessible for beginner and advanced birders who experience accessibility challenges as a result of a disability or other health concern. The three outing leaders experience their own accessibility challenges, including one who uses a manual wheelchair, and the location’s accessibility features have been documented in detail to help you decide if you’d like to attend.

Join us for a leisurely birding experience at McDonald Park, with the option to continue on to Agua Caliente Park. We will start at McDonald Park, in the parking area off N Harrison Rd, slightly south of the main entrance. Drive in and park in the right hand section of the parking area. We will bird along the asphalt loop trail for approximately 0.7 miles. Please note, this trail is somewhat bumpy and can be challenging for those using mobility devices.

You then have the option to continue on with us to Agua Caliente Park, which is a 15 minute drive in your own vehicle. At Agua Caliente Park, enter via E Roger Rd, and we will meet at the end of the parking lot farthest from the entrance. We will bird along the asphalt loop trail which extends approximately 0.8 miles around two retention basins. Participants are welcome to wait for us and enjoy some stationary birding, or turn back at any time. We have the option of travelling along several hard packed dirt trails (total distance about 0.3 miles) that branch off from the asphalt trail, or the group splitting if participants have different preferences.

Target birds: McDonald Park: Phainopepla, Lucy’s Warbler, Cooper’s Hawk, Great-horned Owl, Vermillion Flycatcher, Verdin. Agua Caliente: Gila Woodpecker, Purple Martin, Lesser Goldfinch, Bell’s Vireo, Brown-crested Flycatcher.

Number of attendees: Limited to 15 participants, with up to five additional attendants if you need to bring someone to help you participate.

Additional information: 12 pairs of loaner binoculars will be available. Outing is free with festival registration. Please feel free to email info@birdability.org with any additional questions you may have about this event. To learn more about Birdability, please visit birdability.org

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations received on or before August 1, 2021 will be refunded less a 10% processing fee. No refunds will be issued after August 1. Tucson Audubon reserves the right to cancel or revise any event for any reason. If it becomes necessary to cancel a paid event (field trip or dinner) for which you have a reservation, we will notify you and issue a full refund. No refunds will be issued for no-shows

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

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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

color_square_face_right

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

color_square_face_right

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