Arizona - June 17th - June 20th 1999

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT


By Andy Birch

We used the ABA/Lane "A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona." for this trip. Please refer to it for more detailed directions for many of the locations listed below.

"June in Arizona is hot" the guidebooks warned us. Summer birding in Arizona is generally best very early in the morning before the sun drives most birds for cover. Still, this didn't deter Cin Ty Lee and myself taking a long weekend birding in SE Arizona.

On June 17th, our first morning we drove out from Tucson to Chino Canyon. We didn't see the hoped for Black capped Gnatcatcher but we did see two singing male Varied Buntings, Black tailed Gnatcatcher, Curve billed Thrasher, Brown crested Flycatcher and a Pyrrhuloxia.

We headed on to Madera Canyon by about 10am and spent some time at the hummingbird feeders, where we saw Magnificent, Blue throated and Broad billed Hummingbirds. Hepatic Tanager, Mexican Jay and Cordillerean Flycatcher were also around the car park. We followed one of the trails up and saw a noisy Sulphur bellied Flycatcher, Yellow eyed Junco and the highlight, a stonking male Elegant Trogon sitting in a branch above the path. Further up, we saw Red faced Warbler, a brief view of an Olive Warbler and Grace's Warbler and a Greater Pewee. Gaudy Painted Redstarts flirted around the trunks of many of the trees.

After a mid afternoon siesta, we headed on to Kino Springs. Tropical Kingbird took a bit of searching but we eventually saw one by the lake. Also here, were Gray Hawk, Strickland's Woodpecker and Gilded Flicker.

With some daylight left, we decided to try for Five striped Sparrows at California Gulch. We should have paid more attention to the gentle warnings in the guide book. It was a difficult drive down even in our four-wheel drive and by the time we got there we were running out of light. A singing Bell's Vireo at the Gulch and two Common Poorwills on the road back were some compensation for missing the sparrows.

First thing next morning,, June 18th, saw us at the famous Patagonia Rest Stop. After a short wait, the female Rose throated Becard flew over head with nest material and started adding to her bulbous nest. Thick billed Kingbirds were calling incessantly from the tops of the trees on the other side of the river and a Rufous crowned Sparrow showed well by our car.

Next, we drove on to the Paton's house at Patagonia where we added Bronzed Cowbird, two Violet crowned Hummingbirds, two Broad tailed Hummingbirds and an obliging Western Screech Owl.

Nearby at Patagonia State Park, we didn't see the hoped for Tyrannulets but a group of five Black bellied Whistling Ducks flew over and we got more views of Thick billed Kingbird and Gray Hawk.

Just after lunch, we arrived at Garden Canyon in the Huachucas. Buff breasted Flycatcher was our target bird and we knew we had a fair hike ahead of us We stopped for a restroom break on the way up and were greeted by a calling male Elegant Trogon and a noisy pair of Sulphur bellied Flycatchers. The biggest surprise, however, and to our relief, was a Buff breasted Flycatcher calling and showing well in a nearby pine tree. This saved us a trip further up the canyon so with some extra bonus time on our hands we decided to try for Spotted Owl in nearby Scheelite Canyon. No luck there but we did add Canyon Wren to the trip list.

We drove on to San Pedro House for Green Kingfisher. It was a long shot and we failed but we did have a singing Botteri's Sparrow out on the grassland and experienced a good Arizona thunderstorm.

We stayed overnight not far from Portal. Next morning, on June 19th, we drove to Portal in the Chiricahuas, where we racked up Crissal Thrasher, Scaled Quail and nice views of Magnificent and Blue throated Hummingbird at the Spofford's feeders. We had lunch at the store with the hope of seeing a Lucifer Hummingbird that had been present. No sign of the hummer to distract us from a great lunch. We drove up to the mountains to Rustler Park where we saw another Grace's Warbler and three Mexican Chickadees.

Our last day, was spent near Tucson. We drove up into the Catalina Mountains, where we finally got good views of an Olive Warbler and some more views of Grace's, Red faced and Audubon's Warblers. With a few hours left before catching our flight we went to Silverbell lake where we saw three Neotropical Cormorants; capping off an exhausting and hot but bird filled three days.

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Go to our Regional Guides section of the book store.

A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona (ABA)

Taylor, Bird-finding guide to this bird-rich area of N. America. Essential guide to bring on any trip to SE Arizona.

Go to our Regional Guides section of the book store.