This trip was undertaken by Michael, Anne and Stephen Howarth. None of us had visited Arizona before, although Michael and Stephen had been to Texas before (and we made a brief stop there on the way out this time). Except on the first full day we were self-guided and hence probably missed quite a lot. Information about birding sites and accommodation was mostly found either through the books mentioned below or from the Internet (details below).
Itinerary & Sites Visited
Most of the sites visited are covered in more detail in either "A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona" by Richard Taylor (published by American Birding Association) or "Birds of Phoenix and Maricopa County Arizona" (published by Maricopa Audubon Society). The former should be available in the UK and both can be ordered from the ABA website.
Sunday 2 April: Arrived in Phoenix at about midday. Transferred to hotel close to downtown Phoenix. Short afternoon walk in local park (Margaret T Hance Park, located over Interstate 10 where it is crossed by Central Avenue). Amongst the few birds seen were good numbers of Inca Doves, Mourning Doves, Great-tailed Grackles and Northern Mockingbirds. Less common were House Finches, Verdins and single Curve-billed Thrasher and Anna's Hummingbird (although several other unidentified hummers were also seen flying past).
Monday 3 April: An early rise saw as driving to the Desert Botanical Garden. This is located on the West side of Scottsdale to the East of Phoenix. It is probably best reached along McDowell Road which runs East-West just to the North of Interstate 10. The gardens are off Galvin Parkway which is on the south side of McDowell. We joined the regular Monday morning bird walk led by local volunteers. Walks begin 8am except June-August when they start at 7am. Arriving early we had some time to look at the desert area surrounding the parking lot where we found our first desert species including Gila Woodpecker, Gambel's Quail, Cactus Wren and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.
The guided walks take about 2-3 hours and end up at the café in the centre of the park. They are a good introduction to some of the commoner birds in the company of people who know them well. It is certainly the best time to see the birds in the gardens since by the time we left they were becoming rather crowded with several school groups around. Amongst the new birds seen were Red-tailed Hawk, White-throated Swift, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Phainopepla, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Abert's Towhee, Lincoln's Sparrow, Northern Cardinal and Lesser Goldfinch. In truth none of these species were hard to see elsewhere but this was a good, gentle introduction to the commoner species. Even sitting in the café provided good birding with Gambel's Quails, Cactus Wrens and at least one Abert's Towhee being regular visitors searching out crumbs.
After leaving the botanic gardens we turned left along Galvin Parkway towards Papago Park and Phoenix Zoo. Rather than go into the zoo (which by this time was also rather crowded), we opted for a walk in Papago Park. The park includes a number of pools as well as fairly typical desert-scrub habitat. Most of the new species we saw here were on or around the pools and they included Pied-billed Grebe, Green Heron, Ring-necked Duck, American Coot and an excellent Belted Kingfisher.
After leaving the park we looked at a couple of other sites in the Scottsdale area which were listed in the Birds of Phoenix and Maricopa County but found them to be mostly disappointing, particularly the Scottsdale Community College campus. This was listed as a reliable site for Burrowing Owl but it appears that the grassy areas referred to have been covered by expanded parking lots. We then called it a day since we had tickets for an ice hockey match in the evening and wanted a break beforehand.
Tuesday 4 April: Our next couple of days were scheduled for a visit to the Grand Canyon. We left a little later than usual to avoid the rush hour traffic in Phoenix before heading up Interstate 17 towards Flagstaff. We made one detour en-route, to Oak Creek Canyon. This spectacular area is reached by leaving I-17 at exit 298 and heading for Sedona. This road takes you through some truly spectacular red rock landscapes before reaching the small tourist town of Sedona. At the major junction in the town we turned right towards Flagstaff. This road winds through Oak Creek Canyon. We made a stop alongside the river a few miles north of Sedona (opposite a small store/café and a bar) and walked for a short distance along the river. Amongst the birds seen in this area were Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, Black Phoebe, American Robin and many Yellow-rumped Warblers (including the only Myrtles that we saw all trip). However, the star of the show was undoubtedly a Common Black-Hawk which flew over whilst we were chasing the Flicker. The bird showed very well whilst slowly drifting across the canyon.
Continuing up the canyon there were several other places we could have stopped, including some side canyons where higher altitudes could be accessed. However, we were keen to reach the Grand Canyon for sunset so we continued on, pausing briefly at the viewpoint at the top of the pass out of Oak Creek Canyon where we saw Common Raven, Turkey Vultures (although we had seen a few of these en-route) and more White-throated Swifts.
On arriving at the Grand Canyon, and having booked into our hotel at Tusayan, just outside the park, we proceeded to the rim, stopping at one of the first viewpoints to watch the impending sunset. Not surprisingly the area was rather crowded and so there weren't too many birds around. However, we did see several beautiful male Western Bluebirds.
Wednesday 5 April: The whole of this day was spent exploring the south rim of the Grand Canyon. First stop was in Grand Canyon Village from where we began walking along the West Rim Trail. Starting fairly early in the morning there weren't too many people walking in this direction and so there was plenty of bird activity. Even in the woodlands around the village there were new species such as Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches and Chipping Sparrow. In fact, the Chickadee and both Nuthatches were common throughout the woodlands along the rim. As the path leaves the village it passes a number of viewpoints which overlook the start of the Bright Angel trail which leads (eventually) to the Colorado River. The rocks around several of these viewpoints housed Rock Wrens as well as Rock Squirrels and delightful stripy-faced Chipmunks. Overflying the canyon itself were Violet-Green Swallows and White-throated Swifts. The woodlands along the rim contained several of the commoner species also mentioned but we also saw Pinyon Jay, Pine Siskin, Juniper Titmouse, Bushtit and Crossbill. However, the highlight of the morning (apart from the spectacular views) was less expected. As we came towards the end of our walk a large raptor came over. At first we assumed it was another Turkey Vulture. However, as it turned the underwing pattern was clearly different, showing white patches on the leading edge. It was, in fact, a California Condor, from the reintroduction scheme further up the Colorado River. The bird floated almost over our heads and back out into the canyon. Shortly afterwards I saw another one lower down in the canyon and the radio transmitter could be seen on its back.
As we reached the end of the morning we took the bus back to the village (one of the nice things about the West Rim Drive is that it is closed to cars and the only vehicles allowed are the buses). After eating lunch and shopping for souvenirs we went for a short walk in the woods around the village. Despite getting a little lost (and ending up in the residential area) we saw very few people and quite a lot of birds considering it was early afternoon. Some of the best birds were around the trash cans in the residential area and included Hairy Woodpecker and Dark-eyed (Grey-headed) Junco as well as other birds seen earlier in the day. The village area was also the best place for American Crows (which are absent from central and south-east Arizona). One other new species was American Kestrel.
For the rest of the afternoon we drove along the East Rim Drive to Desert View. Again the views were spectacular but no new birds were added.
Thursday 6 April: Much of the day was again taken up with travelling as we returned to Phoenix. We decided to return to Flagstaff via Cameron and the Painted Desert. This meant re-entering the park and heading along the East Rim Drive. Again we stopped at a couple of viewpoints for a last look at the canyon. Being much earlier in the day there were fewer people, and hence more birds. The only new species seen was Spotted Towhee, a pair of which showed very well at one stop. Having breakfasted at Flagstaff (watching a small prairie dog colony by the railroad opposite) we proceeded on towards Phoenix. We made one stop en-route, at Dead Horse Ranch State Park near Cottonwood in the Verde Valley. This whole area contains a number of good spots. Cottonwood is reached by leaving I-17 at exit 278 and taking Highway 260 west for about 10 miles. This park is not very easy to find in Cottonwood (and I've lost the directions). The best bet is probably to stop at the Tourist Information office at the main junction in Cottonwood where they can provide you with a local map and information about other local sites.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park is alongside the Verde River and consists of a mixture of habitat. It is primarily a recreational park but it has some interesting birds and is certainly a good spot if you have a couple of hours to spare. The entrance hut had a couple of hummingbird feeders (the first we had seen) but despite watching for a while the only species we saw was Black-chinned. At the entrance as well as taking your money they can also provide you with a birdlist (something which seemed to be common to most of the State Parks). Amongst the new species we saw in the park were Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Say's Phoebe, Cassin's Kingbird, Bridled Titmouse, Bewick's Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Lucy's Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, White-crowned Sparrow and Red-winged Blackbird. Again, none of these were species which we didn't see again (and mostly fairly commonly) but it was a fairly leisurely paced introduction to them. We might well have spent a bit more time in the area but we wanted to get back to Phoenix to take another slice of American culture by attending our first baseball match.
Friday 7 April: Following advice from the locals on the Monday bird walk, we headed off to the Salt River area East of Phoenix. This area was reckoned to be the best bet for seeing Bald Eagles in Arizona at this time of year. Unfortunately, we failed to see any eagles but the area had other things to offer as well. The area is reached by taking Highway 60 East from Phoenix. Take the Power Road exit (about 15 miles East of I-10) and head north. After about eight miles the road bends to the east and along the next stretch there are several places to stop. Our first stop was at Granite Reef. There were quite a few people around this area but even so there were plenty of birds. On the river were Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret and hundreds of American Coots. In the vegetation at the side of the river we saw a Marsh Wren and a Lincoln's Sparrow. In the trees and bushes in and around the parking area we saw Vermillion Flycatcher (although only females here), Verdin, Phainopepla, Lucy's Warbler, Black-throated Grey Warbler, Abert's Towhee and a superb male Bullock's Oriole.
Next stop, a short distance further along the road, was at Coon Bluff. This is a rather more sizeable campsite but again there were plenty of birds including several Vermillion Flycatchers (this time including some magnificent males), Gray Flycatcher, Rock Wren and Brewer's and Lark Sparrows as well as a Spotted Sandpiper on the river. Our final stop in the area was at Saguaro Lake, although this was not very accurately named, at least not at this time of year. Here we saw another Osprey and, on the river, both Redhead and Lesser Scaup. Again birding activities finished a little early as we had another appointment with the Phoenix Coyotes ice hockey team.
Saturday 8 April: We finally left Phoenix behind us and headed south towards Tucson and the famous areas of South Eastern Arizona. Instead of taking the direct route along Interstate 10 we went the alternative route via Highways 60 and 79. One reason for this was we had been told that we could find Burrowing Owls along Highway 79 between Florence Junction and Tucson but this search was unsuccessful. The other reason was so we could visit Boyce-Thompson Arboretum. This is accessed from Highway 60 between Florence Junction and Superior, about 50 miles East of Phoenix. Even the area around the parking lot was full of bird noise, and we saw our first Cooper's Hawk and Yellow Warbler. By the entrance there is a bird sightings book and on checking this we discovered that there was a rare visitor in residence, a Rufous-backed Robin. This was being seen regularly in the rose garden close by so we headed straight there and, after one false alarm caused by our first Hermit Thrush we eventually got excellent views of the Robin. Next to the rose garden is a small hummingbird garden with a convenient bench which allowed us to see our first Costa's Hummingbird together with an out-of-range female Magnificent Hummingbird. We then set off to walk around some of the trails in the Arboretum. Unfortunately, due to a festival being on that day (and the fact it was a weekend), the site got rather busy and noisy as the day wore on. Nevertheless, we still saw Sora, Bell's Vireo, Violet-green Swallow, Cactus Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Canyon Towhee and Song Sparrow amongst commoner things. We also heard a singing Canyon Wren from one of the cliffs but never managed to get a sighting of one.
We proceeded onwards to Tucson where, having checked into our hotel, we went for a short local walk. This proved interesting, with several White-winged Doves giving the first indication that we were entering a different area. Another new species was a Sharp-shinned Hawk seen very well in a local park.
Sunday 9 April: An early start for a long day in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The mountains lie to the North East of Tucson and are accessed along the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road. A permit is required and can be bought in local shops and gas stations which might save time. Our first stop was at Molino Basin campsite which is about half a mile after the fee station on the left. We parked here and walked through the campsite and into the scrub beyond. As we pulled up we immediately saw our first new birds, Mexican Jays which were hanging around the car park. Not long afterwards we had added Western Kingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher and Acorn Woodpecker to the list, the latter being particularly common here and in many other places we stopped afterwards. Continuing onwards, through the other side of the campsite we saw Loggerhead Shrike, Spotted Towhee, Rufous-crowned and Black-chinned Sparrows (the latter being a particular speciality of the site). We also saw what was, almost certainly, a Crissal Thrasher but it disappeared into a thick bush before we could clinch the identification.
Next stop, about another five miles up the road, was in Bear Canyon. One of the beauties of the Santa Catalina Mountains is the range of habitats, because of the altitudinal range. Bear Canyon contains dense forest, mostly made up of Arizona Cypress trees. We stopped at a couple of the picnic sites in Bear Canyon, eating at one of them, accompanied by both Dark-eyed and Yellow-eyed Juncos. The woodland contained lots of flocks of warblers and other small birds, with Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Bridled Titmice and White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches forming the largest part of the flocks. However, we did manage to find both Hermit and Grace's Warblers amongst them. In the dried-up stream beds around the picnic sites we also found two new species, House Wren and the delightful Painted Redstart. We found that almost invariably when you saw a Redstart it would end up coming closer and closer to you, almost as if it wanted to put on a show.
Our next two stops were only brief ones at Windy Point to look at the view and at Bear Wallow where bird activity was very limited, although we did find a bear footprint in an isolated patch of unmelted snow. This proved that the various signs warning of the presence of bears were there for a reason. We then proceeded up the Ski Run Road to the Iron Door Restaurant at the foot of the chairlift to the summit of Mount Lemmon. Here we stopped for a drink whilst watching the hummingbird feeders. At first the only visitor was a bedraggled Yellow-eyed Junco but eventually a fine male Magnificent Hummingbird put in a number of appearances. We then took the chairlift to the top of Mount Lemmon and back. At the top bird activity was limited but we did see a small flock of Mountain Chickadees, here at the southernmost limit of their range. On returning to the bottom of the chairlift we encountered a couple of Steller's Jays.
On the way down we stopped at Rose Canyon. The campsite here was closed but we decided to walk down to the lake. In the event this turned out to be further than we expected and most of the birds were ones we had seen before. However, our efforts were rewarded on the way back when on two occasions new raptors flew across gaps in the trees. The first was a Zone-tailed Hawk and the second a Grey Hawk. Happy with this we returned to our hotel in Tucson.
Monday 10 April: First stop today was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This is reached by heading West out of Tucson along Speedway Boulevard (exit 257 from Interstate 10). This becomes Gates Park Road and ends at Kinney Road. Turn right here and the museum is on the left after a couple of miles. The museum is really a mixture of botanical gardens and zoo but with most of the animals and birds being ones which are found in and around the Sonora Desert which spreads from Arizona south into Mexico. The cages and aviaries give you an opportunity to look at some of the birds which you would hope to see elsewhere in the state and the grounds also contain a good range of the commoner desert species. One other advantage is that some of the gardens are watered which means that the museum acts as a magnet to migrant birds. Most of the best birds we saw were of this kind and were in the gardens near the café/restaurant complex. They included Warbling Vireo, MacGillivray's and Orange-crowned Warblers and Hooded Oriole. Many of the common desert species were easily seen here and there are a couple of good walk-through aviaries.
As the day wore on we decided to head for one of the few wetland sites in SE Arizona, Sweetwater Wetlands. This is reached from Prince Road (exit 254 from I-10). At the interstate take Prince Road West and almost immediately turn right along Business Center Drive until you reach Sweetwater Drive. Turn left along here and the car park for the wetlands is on the left. We found these wetlands to be well worth a visit. On entering the site you come to the first of a series of reed-fringed pools, with a shaded overlook. These pools hold quite a range of wildfowl, even at this time of year. These included Ruddy Duck, Cinnamon Teal and Blue-winged Teal as well as species more familiar to the British birder. In addition we had an appropriately named Solitary Sandpiper and another Marsh Wren. The vegetation around the ponds contained many sparrows, mostly Brewer's and White-crowned but there were probably others and there were also a few Abert's Towhees. We continued along the path around the pools and then noticed a raptor perched on a telegraph pole on the other side of Sweerwater Drive (I believe there are some productive sewage ponds there although we didn't visit them). The raptor was some way off but it turned out to be a Harris's Hawk. Later it was joined by several others. The path continues on to a pair of large settling ponds. These had only a small amount of water in them but they had several interesting birds in and around them. These included Common (Wilson's) Snipe, Savannah and Lark Sparrows and on the banks Lark Sparrow and Horned Lark.
The final stop today was at the San Xavier Mission. This is most easily reached by taking Interstate 19 and leaving at exit 92 and heading West. The mission is obvious and has a large parking lot opposite. The mission itself has no real birding interest, although the fountains probably attract the odd migrant. However, the area of scrub behind and to the right of the mission was reasonably productive. Here we got very good looks at a pair of Rufous-winged Sparrows and also saw our first Pyrrhuloxia.From here we drove on to Green Valley which was to be our base for the night.
Tuesday 11 April: We left Green Valley early morning and headed for Madera Canyon. This is reached by taking Continental Road (exit 63 from I-19) East and then turning right onto East White House Canyon Road after about 1.5 miles. After about 7 miles the main road turns to the right and shortly afterwards crosses three bridges. We stopped by the third of these bridges, where the road crosses Florida Wash and took a short walk in the surrounding scrub. The scrub here contained good numbers of sparrows including Rufous-crowned and our first Black-throateds. We also found a migrant Wilson's Warbler in this area.
We next drive up into Madera Canyon, stopping at the Madera Picnic Site about four miles up the road from Florida Wash. This picnic site is located just below the Santa Rita Lodge. As we arrived the picnic site was full of Mexican Jays and Acorn Woodpeckers. We crossed the Madera Creek and walked the short distance along it to the Santa Rita Lodge. Before leaving the picnic site a Hepatic Tanager flew into the top of one of the large trees there. On the walk along the creek we saw one or two Empidonax flycatchers, one of which was almost certainly a Western Flycatcher, although which of the two species we couldn't tell since it didn't call. Just before reaching the Lodge, we encountered a mixed flock containing several species of warblers amongst which was a single male Townsend's Warbler.
Santa Rita Lodge has an interesting array of bird feeders, both for hummingbirds and other species. These provided us with good looks at many species we had seen before (including acrobatic Acorn Woodpeckers on hummingbird feeders) as well as a few new ones such as Scott's Oriole, Broad-billed Hummingbird and two new races of Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon and Pink-sided Juncos). We also took the opportunity to buy some lunch from the small shop and eat it whilst watching the feeders.
After lunch, we headed further up the canyon to the parking area at the end of the road. From here we followed the Vault Mine Trail for about a mile (to the point where there was a sign saying it became a "Very Steep Trail"). This trail proved quite productive. Not far up it we caught sight of a Strickland's Woodpecker and further up we saw another. Near the upper end of our walk we added two more species, a Dusky Flycatcher (just about the only Empidonax which showed well enough to be identified) and a female Olive Warbler. Other species seen in this area included House Wren, Hermit Thrush, Painted Redstart and Black-throated Grey Warbler.
Heading back down the canyon we stopped briefly at the Proctor Road parking area just near the entrance to the canyon. Here we took a short walk alongside the creek. It was pretty quiet (not surprisingly since it was mid afternoon) but we did find a Red-naped Sapsucker.
We had rooms booked for the following night in Sonoita and since we decided not to risk our hire car over the dirt Box Canyon Road we had a fairly long drive to get there. This meant that we now had to leave Madera Canyon and head back to Interstate 19 which we took south to Nogales on the Mexican border and then headed back up Highway 82 towards Patagonia. We did have time for a short stop at Kino Springs golf course. This is located about 5 miles north of Nogales on the right hand side. There are two pools in the complex, the first about 1 mile from the entrance on the left. Just before this pond we saw a Grey Hawk sat on a telegraph pole. On the ponds themselves the birdlife was similar to what we'd seen in other spots although a Belted Kingfisher was nice. The second pond is opposite the clubhouse. We parked here and, after asking permission from the pro-shop, walked around the pond. Again there was plenty of birdlife but most of it was fairly standard fare, although some of the many sparrows in the surrounding grassland went unidentified.
From here we proceeded to our overnight stop at Sonoita in the fine, newly converted Sonoita Inn.
Wednesday 12 April: Most of today was spent at various sites in the Patagonia area. Before leaving Sonoita, however, we did see a couple of new species outside the hotel. The first was Eastern Meadowlark of the race lilianae which is split by some authorities. The other was a small flock of Chihuahuan Ravens.
First stop was at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. This is reached from the village of Patagonia by turning right (if approaching from Sonoita) along either 3rd of 4th Avenues to the junction with Pennsylvania Avenue. Turn left along here and follow the road until you come to the Visitor Centre on the left. There are a number of marked trails on the preserve and we walked part way along the Creek Trail. The grasslands and their surrounds were full of Kingbirds, mostly Western but a few Cassin's, and Vermillion Flycatchers. When we reached the first viewpoint over the creek we noticed a pair of raptors nest building. After a frustrating time trying to get a decent view we eventually decided they were Cooper's Hawks. Other birds along the creek were fairly typical of ones we had seen in similar habitats elsewhere although they did include Pyrrhuloxia. As we came back out onto the grasslands to head back to the visitors centre we did see three Grey Hawks soaring.
The next stop was at Patagonia Lake State Park, the turn for which is signposted about 5 miles south of Patagonia. The park includes campsites which seemed to be fairly busy. We turned to the right and parked at the end of the campsite from where a trail led along the side of the lake as far as the mouth of the Sonoita Creek. At the time we were there a wintering Elegant Trogon was supposed to be still in residence towards the bottom of the creek but we were unable to find it. However, we did see several other good birds around the lake. In the middle of the lake was a small group of Ring-billed Gulls, the only gulls we saw (except for a few unidentified ones flying high over Phoenix). Also on the lake was an Eared (Black-necked) Grebe and in the surrounding reeds we saw Sora, Green Heron and Cinnamon Teal (as well as Common Moorhen which was more notable here than any of the others). Shortly after we started our walk, we noticed that one of the many vultures flying over was different from the usual Turkey Vultures. In fact it was a Black Vulture. Alas, it quickly drifted behind a small rise and never reappeared. In the scrub beside the path we first heard and finally saw a Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet. One other new species came in the form of a small group of American Pipits which were around the mouth of the creek.
It was now getting towards the middle of the day and bird activity was dying down so we decided the best bet was to head back towards Patagonia and the hummingbird feeders. However, we did make a brief stop at the famous Patagonia Roadside Rest Area, on the right side of the road about half way between the road to Patagonia Lake and the village itself. There was not much activity in the bushes around the area but there were lots of White-throated Swifts flying around and we could hear, and eventually managed to see, a couple of singing Canyon Wrens on the cliffs above.
From here we headed back to Patagonia and the hummingbird feeders put out by the Paton's in their backyard. This is located on Pennsylvania Avenue (you pass it on the way to the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve). They have a sign on the gate saying birders welcome. Inside there is a small sun shelter from where you can watch about half a dozen hummingbird feeders, as well as a bird table. The feeders were full of activity, mostly Black-chinned and Broad-billed Hummingbirds but with occasional visits from other species, including the local speciality Violet-Crowned Hummingbird which appeared about every ten minutes or so. The birdtable also provided interest at times when the hummers were less active and birds seen there included Lazuli Bunting, Hooded Oriole and Green-tailed Towhee amongst others.
From Patagonia we headed back to Sonoita and then onwards towards Sierra Vista. Our base for the night was at the delightful Casa de San Pedro. This is located in Hereford (pronounced Her-Ford) which is to the south east of Sierra Vista. This hotel is run by birders and is very close to the San Pedro River, surrounded by grasslands. As such, it is certainly a good place for birders to stay, although it would certainly be advisable to book in advance.
Thursday 13 April: We took an early morning walk in the San Pedro Riparian Area adjacent to the hotel. The grasslands were full of sparrows of various kinds, mostly Brewer's, White-crowned and Song. The walk didn't yield anything new, however, apart from a pair of Mexian Ducks, the local race of Mallard in which the male looks very much like the female and both are a little darker than normal female Mallards (though not as dark as Black Duck). The feeders at the hotel also attracted these species as well as Red-winged Blackbirds, Gambel's Quails, White-winged Doves and Curve-billed Thrashers with Black-chinned Hummingbirds regular at their own special feeders. At breakfast (which was served to all guests together) we saw a Cooper's Hawk lurking around the feeders and later a couple of Say's Phoebes. Shortly afterwards, as we prepared to set off for the day there was a pair of Scaled Quails underneath one of the feeders, the only time we saw this species.
Our first stop of the day was at the Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Ramsey Canyon is one of a series of canyons accessed along roads which are signposted off Highway 92 south of Sierra Vista. There is limited parking at the preserve but there was plenty of space the day we were there. When we arrived we were told that there was a guided tour leaving shortly so we decided to wait for this. Whilst we waited we had excellent views of a male Blue-throated Hummingbird on the feeders beind the centre. When the tour finally got underway we found that the pace was rather too slow for our liking (lots of interesting but time-consuming stuff about the history and conservation of the preserve) so we moved away on our own and followed the trail up the canyon. Further up the canyon we found plenty of birds but most of them turned out to be rather frustrating. We saw a warbler which was probably a Nashville (other birders in the area said they had seen one) and a hummingbird which was probably a female Calliope but neither were certain enough. We did see our first Brown Creeper and several Painted Redstarts however but there was no sign of the Elegant Trogons which were supposed to be in residence. On our return, about 100 metres above the information centre we found a small flock which included a Virginia's Warbler.
As the day was moving on, and getting hotter, we decided it was time to hit the hummingbird feeders again, this time at Beatty's Orchard in Miller Canyon. Miller Canyon is just a couple of miles south of Ramsey Canyon and is also reached off Highway 92. Beatty's orchard is just above the carpark at the top of the road into the canyon and as well as offering Bed & Breakfast, they have a similar set-up to the Paton's where you can sit under a sun shade and watch a line of hummingbird feeders. The main difference is that the altitude is somewhat higher and so the species are slightly different. The commonest hummers are still Black-chinned and Broad-billed but they are supplemented by Blue-throated, Magnificent and Broad-tailed (which was new for us). However, star of the show was a male Lucifer Hummingbird who appeared a couple of times during the two hours or so we were there. Other birds in the area were fairly limited but did include Steller's Jay. As the afternoon wore on we took a walk along the trail from the carpark, which winds around the orchard before heading on up the canyon. Unfortunately, all was quiet, with just a few Chipping Sparrows seen and no sign of the Eared Trogons which were supposed to be present. After this we headed back to the Casa de San Pedro for a second night.
Friday 14 April: Our last day's birding began again with a pre-breakfast walk in the grasslands and woodlands adjacent to the hotel. This time we spent more time in the grasslands and less in the woods. This approach was rewarded as we saw several Common Ground-Doves on the paths and a couple of Northern Harriers hunting. Returning through the woods alongside the river we saw Pyrrhuloxia amongst the commoner species.
Reluctantly we left the Casa and headed back towards Sierra Vista. When we reached Highway 90 we turned to the East and just before reaching the San Pedro River we turned into the entrance road to San Pedro House on the right. From here there are several trails which you can walk through the grasslands and along the river. We chose to walk around a loop of about two miles passing Kingfisher Pond. In the grassland areas we saw more Common Ground-Doves and also added two more new species, Swainson's Hawk and Vesper Sparrow. The Kingfisher Pond is famous as a site for Green Kingfisher but we had no luck with this species and we found no new species alongside the river.
Next we headed back along Highway 90 to the Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (which are on the right side about three miles from San Pedro House. Here we pulled up just by the first ponds we came to. The ponds had very few birds on them (mostly American Coots). However, on the bank just in front of us was something much more interesting, a Greater Roadrunner. Having gone almost two weeks without seeing one of these birds running across a road in their classic fashion, it was quite a relief to finally find one. The bird quickly ran off across the adjoining fields. We walked from here up the road to the next pond where there is a small hide and a log book. This pond was teeming with birdlife, although almost all of it was of a single species. Luckily, it was another new one, Yellow-headed Blackbird of which there must have been over a thousand in a relatively small reedbed including many magnificent males. Other than that the only bird seen on the pond was a single Sora, although a Horned Lark on the bank and Chihuahuan Ravens and Swainson's Hawk flying around were added extras. There was also a distant Lesser Scaup on one of the other ponds and every fencepost had a Western Kingbird on it.
We now began our journey back to Tucson. However, there was one more stop on the way, although not for birding. We spent a short while in Tombstone, which we found to be quite nicely preserved and not overly commercialised, although maybe we would have had a different impression if our visit was at a weekend.
Having returned to Tucson and booked into our hotel we decided to pay another visit to Sweetwater Wetlands. This proved to be just as good as the previous visit and as well as seeing many of the same species again we also added a couple of new ones, American Wigeon and Black-necked Stilt. Just as we were heading back towards the Interstate we had one last surprise, another Greater Roadrunner, this time on a road, if not exactly running across it.
Saturday 15 April: Our morning flight out of Tucson didn't really allow any time for birding.
Systematic List of Birds Seen (166 Species)
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps): Seen on most substantial areas of standing water (e.g. Papago Park, Salt River, Patagonia Lake, Sweetwater Wetlands).
Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis): One seen at Patagonia Lake.
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus): Small numbers seen along Salt River.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias): Seen regularly in wetland habitats (and flying over in a couple of other places).
Great Egret (Ardea alba): Two or three seen at Salt River and one at Sweetwater Wetlands.
Green Heron (Butorides virescens): Seen very well in Papago Park and Patagonia Lake.
[California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus): One or two birds from the reintroduction scheme (with transmitters attached) seen at the Grand Canyon).]
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus): One seen briefly over Patagonia Lake.
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura): Common throughout.
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis): One seen on first visit to Sweetwater Wetlands.
Gadwall (Anas strepera): Small numbers in Papago Park.
American Wigeon (Anas americana): Three birds seen on the second visit to Sweetwater Wetlands.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos): Seen several times in wetland habitats. Mexican Duck subspecies (diazi) fairly common along San Pedro River.
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors): Seen on both visits to Sweetwater Wetlands.
Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera): Common at Sweetwater Wetlands. Also seen at Kino Springs and Patagonia Lake.
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata): Fairly numerous at Sweetwater Wetlands.
Redhead (Aythya americana): One at Saguaro Lake in the Salt River Valley.
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris): Seen at Papago Park and Kino Springs.
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis): Singles at Saguaro Lake and Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds.
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser): One seen on the Salt River.
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis): Seen at Sweetwater Wetlands, Kino Springs and Patagonia Lake.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus): One seen very well at Dead Horse Ranch and another at Saguaro Lake.
Northern Harrier (Circus (cyaneus) hudsonius): Several seen in grasslands in San Pedro Valley.
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus): Only certain one was seen in Tucson but several possibles.
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii): Seen several times in South East, including a pair nest building in Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve.
Common Black-Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus): One seen soaring over Oak Creek Canyon.
Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus): Several seen together on first visit to Sweetwater Wetlands.
Grey Hawk (Buteo plagiatus): One seen over Rose Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains, two at Kino Springs and several in the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek area.
Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni): Common in the grasslands in the San Pedro Valley.
Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus): One seen over Rose Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis): Fairly common throughout.
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius): Fairly common throughout.
Peregrine (Falco peregrinus): Two seen at the Grand Canyon.
Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata): Pair seen under the bird table at Casa de San Pedro (hotel).
Gambel's Quail (Callipepla gambelii): Common in desert habitat.
Sora (Porzana carolina): Seen at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, Patagonia Lake and Sweetwater Wetlands.
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus): Seen at Sweetwater Wetlands and Patagonia Lake.
American Coot (Fulica americana): Common in all wetland habitats.
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus): Fairly common in the vicinity of wetlands.
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus): Seen on the second visit to Sweetwater Wetlands.
Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria): Seen on both visits to Sweetwater Wetlands.
Spotted Sandpiper (Tringa macularia): One seen along Salt River at Coon Bluff.
Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago (gallinago) delicata): Seen at Sweetwater Wetlands and Patagonia Lake.
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis): Several gulls seen flying high over Phoenix were probably of this species. Definite sightings were at Patagonia Lake.
Rock Dove (Columba livia): Common around towns and villages.
White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica): Common from Tucson southwards.
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura): Common throughout.
Inca Dove (Columbina inca): Seen several times in Phoenix, particularly in Margaret T Hance Park. Only other sighting was at Patagonia Lake.
Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina): Seen several times in San Pedro Riparian Area.
Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus): Seen twice on the last day, at Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds and on the road near Sweetwater Wetlands.
[Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus): An owl seen hunting from the car at night in San Pedro Valley was probably of this species.]
White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatilis): Fairly common around cliffs, for example at Oak Creek Canyon, Grand Canyon and Patagonia Roadside Rest Area.
Violet-crowned Hummingbird (Amazilia violiceps): Seen at Paton's (every ten minutes or so).
Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cyanthus latirostris): One of the commonest hummingbirds at feeders, notably at Paton's (Patagonia) and Beatty's (Miller Canyon).
Blue-throated Hummingbird (Lampornis clemenciae): Male seen very well several times at feeders at Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Also seen at Beatty's.
Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens): Fairly common at feeders in Madera, Miller and Ramsey Canyons. Also seen at Iron Door Restaurant in Santa Catalina Mountains and at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum.
Lucifer Hummingbird (Calothorax lucifer): Male seen twice on feeders at Beatty's.
Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri): Common throughout. The commonest hummingbird at most of the feeders.
Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna): Common in Phoenix area. Seen several times elsewhere, mostly at low altitude.
Costa's Hummingbird (Calypte costae): Seen at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Paton's.
Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus): Seen only at Beatty's, where it was fairly common.
[Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope): A female, probably of this species, was seen along the trail in Ramsey Canyon.]
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon): Seen at Papago Park and Kino Springs.
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus): Common in most canyons from Santa Catalina mountains southwards. Particularly entertaining on the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon.
Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis): Common in desert areas, especially around Saguaro Cacti.
Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis): One seen in Proctor Road area of Madera Canyon.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris): Common in lowland areas.
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus): One seen close to Grand Canyon village.
Strickland's Woodpecker (Picoides stricklandi): Two or three seen along the trail in Madera Canyon.
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus): Seen several times in wooded areas in the lowlands (e.g. Oak Creek Canyon, Dead Horse Ranch, San Pedro River).
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet (Camptostoma imberbe): One seen at Patagonia Lake.
Gray Flycatcher (Empidonax wrightii): One seen at Coon Bluff by the Salt River and others in the San Pedro area.
Dusky Flycatcher (Empidonax oberholseri): Only one identified was along the trail in Madera Canyon. Needless to say many other Empidonax flycatchers went unidentified.
[Western Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis/occidentalis): One Empid almost certainly of one of these species was seen in Madera Canyon but didn't call and so couldn't be positively identified. Time of year suggests it was probably a Pacific-slope.]
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans): Common around rivers, streams and other wetland areas (including the sprinklers at Kino Springs golf course).
Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya): One seen at Dead Horse Ranch and several around the San Pedro Riparian Area.
Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus): Common in riparian areas, especially in the San Pedro River area.
Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens): Seen at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and at Molino Basin in the Santa Catalina Mountains. As with the Empids, a few other Myiarchus flycatchers went unidentified.
Cassin's Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans): Fairly common in open country in the South, although outnumbered by Western. One also seen at Dead Horse Ranch.
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis): Common in open country in the South.
Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus): One seen in Molino Basin in the Santa Catalina Mountains and several on roadside wires in the San Pedro valley.
Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii): Seen at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum and Florida Wash (Madera Canyon). Heard elsewhere.
(Western) Warbling Vireo (Vireo (gilvus) swainsonii): Seen briefly at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri): Seen in the vicinity of the chairlift near the summit of Mount Lemmon and at Beatty's Orchard (Miller Canyon).
Mexican Jay (Aphelocoma ultramarina): Common in canyons from Santa Catalina mountains southwards.
Pinyon Jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus): Fairly common at the Grand Canyon.
American Crow (Corvus brchyrhynchos): Fairly common at the Grand Canyon and in surrounding areas.
Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus): Seen a few times, mostly at the roadside. Best views were at Sonoita and Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds.
Common Raven (Corvus corax): Fairly common throughout, especially at the Grand Canyon.
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris): Seen on first visit to Sweetwater Wetlands and at Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds.
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina): Fairly common at Grand Canyon. Also seen at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum and in Santa Catalina Mountains.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis): Fairly common in areas close to rivers and cliffs.
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia): Seen at Dead Horse Ranch and Sweetwater Wetlands.
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica): Seen several times, mostly in wetland areas.
Mountain Chickadee (Parus gambeli): Common at the Grand Canyon. Also seen near the summit of Mount Lemmon.
Bridled Titmouse (Parus wollweberi): Common in wooded areas except in the North.
Juniper Titmouse (Parus ridgwayi): Fairly common at the Grand Canyon.
Verdin (Aurparus flaviceps): Fairly common in desert and scrub areas.
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus): One seen briefly along the West Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon.
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis): Common in wooded area, particularly at Grand Canyon, Santa Catalina Mountains and Santa Rita Lodge (Madera Canyon).
Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea): Fairly common at Grand Canyon. Also seen in Bear Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana): One seen by the trail in Ramsey Canyon Preserve.
Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus): Common (noisy and tame) in desert areas.
Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus): Fairly common at the Grand Canyon. Also seen at Coon Bluff on Salt River.
Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus): Seen distantly at Patagonia Roadside Rest Area. Also heard at Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii): Common in wooded areas particularly in lowland areas.
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon): One seen in Bear Canyon, Santa Catalina Mountains and a few along the trail in Madera Canyon.
Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris): One seen at Granite Reef on the Salt River and one at Sweetwater Wetlands.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula): Common in wooded areas throughout.
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea): Seen in scrub at Molino Basin (Santa Catalina Mountains), Proctor Road (Madera Canyon) and by the trail in Madera Canyon.
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura): Seen twice in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana): Fairly common at Grand Canyon.
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus): Seen at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, Santa Catalina Mountains and Madera Canyon.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius): Fairly common in wooded areas, particularly damp areas.
Rufous-backed Robin (Turdus rufopalliatus): One (a vagrant) seen at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum.
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottus): Fairly common throughout, especially in the Phoenix area.
Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre): Common in desert and scrub areas.
[Crissal Thrasher (Toxostoma crissale): A thrasher seen briefly in Molino Basin was probably of this species.]
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris): Common close to human habitation.
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens): Several seen alongside Sonoita Creek at Patagonia Lake and a few at Sweetwater Wetlands.
Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens): Common in desert areas.
Olive Warbler (Peucedramus taeniatus): A female seen briefly by the trail in Madera Canyon.
Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata): Seen at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Patagonia Lake and Ramsey Canyon Preserve.
[Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla): A warbler probably of this species was seen briefly in Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Other birders had seen the species shortly before.]
Virginia's Warbler (Vermivora virginiae): One was seen just above the lodge in Ramsey Canyon Preserve.
Lucy's Warbler (Vermivora luciae): Fairly common in scrub and open woodland.
Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia): Seen at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum (in the car park) and several times in the San Pedro River area.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata): Common throughout. Most were Audubon's Warbler (auduboni) but there was at least one Myrtle Warbler (coronata) in Oak Creek Canyon.
Black-throated Grey Warbler (Dendroica nigrescens): Fairly common in canyon woodland from Santa Catalina mountains southwards. One seen at Granite Reef on Salt River.
Townsend's Warbler (Dendroica towsendi): One seen by the creek close to Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon.
Hermit Warbler (Dendroica occidentalis): One seen briefly in Bear Canyon, Santa Catalina Mountains.
Grace's Warbler (Dendroica graciae): At least one seen in a mixed flock in Bear Canyon, Santa Catalina Mountains.
MacGillivray's Warbler (Oporornis tolmiei): One seen very well at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas): Fairly common in San Pedro Riparia Area. Also seen at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum and Kino Springs.
Wilson's Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla): Fairly common, mainly in riparian areas.
Painted Redstart (Myioborus pictus): Fairly common in canyons from Santa Catalina Mountains southward.
Hepatic Tanager (Piranga flava): One female seen at Madera Picnic Area.
Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus): Fairly common in San Pedro Riparian Area. Also seen at Dead Horse Ranch, San Xavier Mission and Florida Wash (Madera Canyon).
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus): Two seen very well at Grand Canyon (Grandstand View). Also seen at Molino Basin (Santa Catalina Mountains) and by the trail in Miller Canyon.
Canyon Towhee (Pipilo fuscus): Seen several times but most easily at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (in the Coati and Prairie Dog exhibits). Other sites included Boyce-Thompson Arboretum and Florida Wash.
Abert's Towhee (Pipilo aberti): Common in San Pedro Riparian Area. Also seen at Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden (near café), Sweetwater Wetlands and Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve.
Rufous-winged Sparrow (Aimophila carpalis): Pair seen well in scrub behind San Xavier Mission.
Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps): Seen in Molino Basin (including singing male) and Florida Wash.
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina): Common in and around woodland.
Brewer's Sparrow (Spizella breweri): Common in grassland and wetland areas.
Black-chinned Sparrow (Spizella atrogularis): Pair seen briefly in Molino Basin.
Vesper Sparrow (Poecetes gramineus): Small numbers seen in grassland near San Pedro House.
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus): Seen at Coon Bluff (Salt River) and on both visits to Sweetwater Wetlands.
Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata): Only seen in Florida Wash area (where it was common).
Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys): Seen on both visits to Sweetwater Wetlands.
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis): Seen at Sweetwater Wetlands and in San Pedro House area.
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia): Fairly common in grassland and riparian areas.
Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii): Fairly common in riparian areas.
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys): Common in scrubby areas, especially close to water.
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis): Seen at the Grand Canyon, in Bear Canyon (Santa Catalina Mountains) and at Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon. In the first two the subspecies was Grey-headed Junco (caniceps). At Santa Rita Lodge both Oregon (oreganus) and Pink-sided (mearnsi) were seen.
Yellow-eyed Junco (Junco phaeonotus): Seen around picnic tables in Bear Canyon and at the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis): Common, mostly at lower altitude.
Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus): Seen in scrub near the San Xavier Mission, at the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve and along the San Pedro River.
Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena): Seen on the feeders at Paton's in Patagonia.
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus): Common (and noisy) in waterside vegetation throughout.
Eastern (Lilian's) Meadowlark (Sturnella (magna) lilianae): One seen outside hotel at Sonoita.
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus): Only seen at Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds but there were hundreds there.
Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus): Common throughout, especially in towns and near water.
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater): Seen at Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden and Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve.
Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus): Seen at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and at Paton's in Patagonia.
Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullockii): One seen at Granite Reef by the Salt River.
Scott's Oriole (Icterus parisorum): A pair seen on the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon.
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus): Common throughout.
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra): Several seen at Grand Canyon.
Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus): Fairly common in pines at Grand Canyon and in Santa Catalina Mountains.
Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria): Fairly common in desert and scrub habitats.
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus): Common around human habitation.
The two key birdfinding books used were:
"A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona" by Richard Cachor Taylor (American Birding Association). Often referred to as the Lane Guide. Gives very detailed directions to all the main sites in South Eastern Arizona (broadly the area South and East of Tucson). Also gives details of which birds are present at each time of year and how likely you are to see them. For specialities it gives more details of when and where you have the best chance to see them. It has just been reprinted and is fully up-to-date. Should be available in Britain through specialist stockists of birding books.
There is another similar book called "Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona" published by Tucson Audubon Society. This looked to cover similar ground to the ABA guide and in similar detail but will probably be harder to find in the UK.
"Birds of Phoenix and Maricopa County Arizona" by Janet Witzeman, Salome Demaree and Eleanor Radke (Maricopa Audubon Society). Follows a similar format to the above but is less detailed. Most of the directions are accurate and up-to-date but we did find a couple of sites which were no longer suitable (for example the Scottsdale Community College site for Burrowing Owls is now a car park). As far as I am aware this book is not available in the UK but it can be ordered direct from the Maricopa Audubon Society's website or from the American Birding Association's site. Details of both are given below.
The main field guide which we used was the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. This was supplemented by two titles in the Peterson series: Advanced Birding by Ken Kaufmann and Western Bird Songs (which includes three tapes).
American Birding Association (for Sales and much else): www.americanbirding.org
Maricopa Audubon Society: www.amug.org/~drowley/mas/index.html
Tucson Audubon Society: www.audubon.org/chapter/az/tucson
Northern Arizona Audubon Society: nazas.org (covers area from Camp Verde northwards)
Arizona-New Mexico Birding List: www-stat.wharton.upenn.edu/~siler/AZNM.html (this includes transcripts of the local Rare Bird Alerts and often contains rarity news more quickly than those services do).
Stuart Healy's site: www.aztrogon.com (Stuart is a British born Arizona resident who offers guided tours of South East Arizona. His site contains a range of general and birding information about the area and also includes a journal of his sightings.)
Most of the above sites also include links to other sites of local interest.
Accommodation (places we stayed):
Sonoita Inn: www.sonoitainn.com
Casa de San Pedro: www.theriver.com/casadesanpedro
Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden: www.dbg.org
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: www.desert.net/museum
Boyce-Thompson Arboretum: ag.arizona.edu/bta/btsa.html
Ramsey Canyon Preserve: www.tnc.org/ramseycanyon/ramseycanyoninn/front.html
Beatty's Orchard/B&B: personal.riverusers.com/~beattybb/
end of report