An excellent 10-day trip to Southeast Arizona, one of the premier birding destinations within the US, in the midst of ‘second spring.’ This time of year, marked by a lush resurgence of vegetation and bird breeding activity, has proven excellent for finding a host of hummingbirds (as many as 15 species are possible) as well as an abundance of sparrows, plus classic showstoppers such as Elegant Trogon & Montezuma Quail.
Summertime in Southeast Arizona is an excellent time to look for all the local specialties unique to the region. Cooling monsoon rains beginning in June and running into September quench the land and cover the grasslands with lush vegetation. This period, often referred to as Arizona’s ‘second spring,’ marks the start of the breeding season for quite a few of the target specialties and a resurgence of breeding activity for many others. This is the best time of year for such targets as Montezuma Quail and Botteri’s & Cassin’s Sparrows, which are at their most vocal. Southeastern Arizona is also known as the “hummingbird capital of the US” with 15 species being possible, including Rivoli’s (recently split from Magnificent), Broad-billed, Violet-crowned, Calliope, Blue-throated, and Lucifer Hummingbirds, with such rarities as Plain-capped Starthroat, White-eared and Berylline Hummingbirds appearing with some regularity in recent years. This is a great time in general for Mexican vagrants to show up, and parts of our itinerary will remain fluid to give us the best chance at finding whatever exciting birds happen to be around. Tufted Flycatcher, Flame-colored Tanager, Rufous-capped Warbler and even Eared Quetzal are possible!
This ten-day Venture has been put together with the goal of finding as many of the Southeastern Arizona specialties as possible, and at this time of year we should encounter many of them with ease. Early mornings are best spent in the desert before it gets too hot, and the sunrises are nothing short of spectacular. Saguaro National Park harbors Costa's Hummingbird while the deserts east of Portal hold Bendire's, Crissal, and Curve-billed Thrashers. Canyons will be a theme and we will visit many, if not all of the following - Madera, Florida, Ramsey, Carr, Miller, Ash, Huachuca, and Cave Creek. Within these and others we will encounter many of our targets, from the incomparable Elegant Trogon and Painted Redstart to the incredibly vocal Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers and rare Black-capped Gnatcatcher.
California Gulch is a must stop, being one of the last-remaining reliable spots for the elegant Five-striped Sparrow, and we may find Buff-collared Nightjar there as well. While July may not ideal for finding nocturnal birds, we still stand a good chance of seeing/hearing Common Poorwill, Mexican Whippoorwill, and Lesser Nighthawk as well as Western & Whiskered Screech-Owls, Northern Pygmy, Elf, and Spotted Owls.
Some of the Birds We Hope to See
Montezuma, Gambel’s, and Scaled Quails; Gray & Zone-tailed Hawks; Greater Roadrunner; Whiskered & Western Screech-Owls, Elf Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Spotted Owl; Common Poorwill, Mexican Whippoorwill, and Buff-collared Nightjar; 10+ hummingbird species (including Costa’s, Violet-crowned, Rivoli’s, Broad-tailed, Blue-throated, and more); Elegant Trogon; Acorn and Arizona Woodpeckers; Greater Pewee; Buff-breasted, Sulphur-bellied, Dusky-capped, and Vermilion Flycatchers; Cassin’s and Thick-billed Kingbirds; Bridled & Juniper Titmice, Mexican Chickadee; Cactus, Canyon & Bewick’s Wrens; Verdin; Phainopepla; Olive, Grace’s, Lucy’s & Red-faced Warblers; Painted Redstart; Scott’s Oriole; Hepatic & Western Tanagers; Lesser Goldfinch; Lark, Lazuli & Varied Buntings; Yellow-eyed Junco; Lark, Cassin’s, Rufous-crowned, Rufous-winged, Five-striped, Botteri’s, Black-chinned, and Black-throated Sparrows; Abert’s Towhee; Pyrrrhuloxia and many, many more.