Birdwatching in Tucson in early February

Old Dec 31st, 2008, 06:33 AM
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Birdwatching in Tucson in early February

We're headed to Tucson for the first time over the first weekend of February. We're very (underscore very) casual birdwatchers and wonder what we can expect to see at that time of year. I read that about 5 types of hummingbirds are there year-round and want to hit the spots where they are most likely to be seen. Any input greatly appreciated.
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Old Dec 31st, 2008, 11:54 AM
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The first time I birded in Arizona I hooked up with a bird club and joined them on an outing. It was TOTALLY fun. The next day one of the members and I went out again and hit up a few great places (all near Phoenix).

For Tuscan, you could check out this page for outings:

http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/fieldtrips/index.htm

I'd probably email them and ask if they are the only bird club in town. It's hard to find the really active birders online sometimes unless you have a lead.

Have fun!
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Old Dec 31st, 2008, 12:30 PM
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I live in Tucson and although I don't "birdwatch" in any organized fashion, I will tell you what I've seen just out for walks in the last couple days: Cooper's hawks, some sort of big owl (scared the bejeezus out of me last night), multiple hummingbirds, cactus wrens, a roadrunner, the most beautiful jewel-like cardinal, and more quail than you could shake a stick at. Oh, and a herd of wild turkies.

You might try doing a search here for MikePinTucson's blog. I'm not sure if he posts any more, but his blog was a wealth of resources when we first moved here.
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Old Dec 31st, 2008, 01:22 PM
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As a native Tucsonian, I highly recommend a visit to the
Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum.
desertmuseum.org
It's a zoo of sorts,(although I am pretty sure you won't have every been to one quite like this!) of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds native to the Sonoran Desert.
There are also exhibits of the geology of the region - one is a really cool man-made cave- another must see out there.

As you are interested in birding you must visit their truly spectacular Hummingbird Aviary
http://www.desertmuseum.org/visit/ex...iongardens.php
You can go in, sit down on a bench and enjoy the wonderful creatures.

In addition, be sure to schedule your visit to attend one of the daily Raptor Free flights-I think the first one is at 10:30 AM

I would plan to be out there as early as possible, it's a very popular place !

R5
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Old Dec 31st, 2008, 09:46 PM
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Tucson Audubon is a great source for information on bird walks and birding trips in the area. The Sonoran Dessert Museum as already suggested is a great place to watch birds in an aviary. Many birders visit Madera Canyon which is south of Tucson about 30 minutes. The gift shop there has a schedule for guided bird walks, but there are many feeders and a nice viewing area for those who just want to sit and watch the birds at the feeders. Usually there are many hummingbirds and regular birds at the feeders. Madera Canyon is popular for serious birders as well as casual birders. Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson also offers bird watching with many ducks, herons (black-crowned & green), egrets, as well as woodpeckers, hawks, kinglets, gnatcatchers, etc. The weather and birding should be wonderful in Feb.!
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 07:54 AM
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For the last few years we travel to Bisbee/Sierra Vista area where we spend a whole month hiking and bird watching. We are not hard core birders but love it. Once you get to that area you can’t help yourself, you have to become a birdwatcher. If you are willing to venture south of Tucson then go to the area of Bisbee/Sierra Vista. Already mentioned Madera Canyon is the area where last April we saw a beautiful Trogan and colorful Flame Tanager but February is too early for migration of Trogans, Flame Tanager and Hummingbirds. You‘ll see some Hummingbirds but nothing like what in the end of April/May or August. We are in that area usually in the end of March/April and migration is in a full swing. For one day we always hire a superb bird guide to get an idea what birds we'll see during our stay. I copied a list of birding places I have in my files. Check them out. Many of them include phone numbers. If you are in Tucson for one short weekend it can be a problem to decide where to go. Birding in Saguaro National Park East is always extremely successful. Willcox Playa Wildlife Area and Whitewater Draw Wildlife Refuge are great in February to see thousands of Sandhill Cranes. Here are some other choices:

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. 42,000 acres of grassland and riparian woodland featuring several marshes (cienegas) that are most productive for bird watching. #1-520-258-7200, off AZ Hwy. 83, near Sonoita, AZ.

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. Owned by the Nature Conservancy, this preserve with groves of cottonwoods and dense willows stand along Sonoita Creek, supports 300 bird species. One of the best spots in the country to see the rare gray hawk. #1-520-394-2400, off AZ Hwy. 82, east through Patagonia, AZ.

Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Owned by The Nature Conservancy, this 380-acre site, located on the eastern flank of the Huachuca Mountains, is renowned for scenic beauty and excellent birding opportunities, particularly hummingbirds. . #1-520-378-2785, off AZ Hwy. 92 at Ramsey Canyon Rd., near Sierra Vista, AZ.

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. A strip of land on either side of the San Pedro River, stretching from the Mexican border north for 40 miles makes this one the largest and most varied areas open to birders. . #1-520-439-6400, off AZ Hwy. 90, near Sierra Vista, AZ.

Cave Creek Canyon Recreational Area. #1-520-364-3468, off AZ Hwy. 80, west through Portal, AZ. Many interesting birds from south of the border can be found here in the Chiricahua Mountains, claimed as having the richest diversity of wildlife in the U.S. by researchers.

Willcox Playa Wildlife Area. The annual Wings over Willcox festival in January celebrates the thousands of sandhill cranes that migrate here in the winter. Many other species of birds populate the area year-round. Off AZ Hwy. 186 at Kansas Settlement Rd. in Willcox, AZ.

Madera Canyon. An outstanding cross-section of Southwestern bird habitats. Trails cover a range of life zones, from desert grassland to mountain forest. . #1-520-281-2296, off I-19 or I-10 to AZ Hwy. 83, east of Green Valley, AZ.

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. About 118,000 acres of grassland managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A re-population program is underway for the rare masked bobwhite, making this the only place in the country where four species of quail occur. #1-520-823-4251, off I-19 at exit 48, near Arivaca, AZ.

Nature's Hideaway at Discovery Park. #1-888-837-1841. Off U.S. Hwy. 191, in Safford, AZ. Open Tues.-Sat. 1-10 p.m. This area within Discovery Park is being restored for birders. Viewing decks and a bird blind overlook a pond with ancient cottonwoods where plenty of resident and migratory birds flock.

Catalina State Park. Birding trails in a desert habitat. North of Tucson.

Garden Canyon. Moderate hiking trails get you up close and personal with a wide array of native and migratory birds. . #1-800-288-3861, Fort Huachuca off AZ Hwy. 90.

Mt. Lemmon Travel from the desert floor to pine-covered mountain peaks and expanded birding opportunities.

Sabino Canyon Recreational Area. The stream here, which is one of the few continuous sources of water in the area, attracts all kinds of birds and other wildlife.

John Slaughter Ranch and San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge. Gray hawks, tanagers, blue grosbeaks, and hummingbirds thrive in this area. Off AZ Hwy. 80, east of Douglas.

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Refuge. Winter home of thousands of sandhill cranes and many species of raptors. Off U.S. Hwy. 191, northeast of Bisbee in the Sulphur Springs Valley.

Sonoita, Arizona. Wind through a birder's paradise in some of the most picturesque, peaceful territory in Southern Arizona. South on Arizona Hwy 83 to Sonoita and Elgin.

www.sabo.org

http://www.markprettinaturetours.com/

http://www.sanpedroriver.org/

http://www.visitsierravista.com/inde...6526&cityid=20

http://www.beattysguestranch.com/


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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 09:12 AM
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Great post NewPlaces!!

All anyone could want
to know..wish I were
going.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 01:27 PM
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Awesome post. I live in Phoenix and didn't know about the bird club in Tucson. Thank you for sharing.

Ken

http://destinationvacationsblog.traffic4pros.com ] Destination Vacations Blog [/url]
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 01:48 PM
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wliwl, this is a great link. Thanks
http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/fieldtrips/

I went with them twice. Once to Arivaca Cienega, another time to Madera Canyon which is well known among birders. Arivaca Cienega was a huge surprise, a fantastic place for birding in a very interesting area.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2009, 01:03 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the wealth of info! The Desert Museum is on our absolute to-do list, as everyone I know who has been there raves about it. I would love to see a roadrunner, as I grew up on those cartoons. We're going to be in the area for 6 nights, so have time to get multiple natural settings. Again, thanks so much.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2009, 04:12 PM
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Just so you aren't disappointed - the roadrunners don't actually say "Meep Meep!".
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Old Jan 4th, 2009, 12:01 PM
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Oh, lennyba, you have ruined my day!
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