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Species list

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List of species seen

Pied-billed Grebe

3 birds in breeding plumage at Patagonia Lake

Double-crested Cormorant

6 birds were perched on posts above the surface of Patagonia Lake, among slightly more numerous Neotropic Cormorants. None of these were in breeding plumage

Neotropic Cormorant

12 on exposed posts on Patagonia Lake. They are noticeably smaller than Double-crested, and the gular pouch could be seen to be different. Only one of the birds showed the light coloured ear feathers

Great Blue Heron

Regularly seen in the Patagonia area with 3 at Patagonia Lake and 6 the next day around the Roadside rest pull in. The only other bird was at the San Pedro River Inn

Green Heron

Three single birds seen at: Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds; Rancho del Rio Pond (near San Pedro River Inn); Patagonia Lake

Cattle Egret

3 birds over Arizona City

Night Heron

A pair of birds over the car just before nightfall in Phoenix on the last night

White-faced ibis

8 birds flew in and landed on Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds, and were seen more closely on the rear scrape, with a single bird later in the week at the reeded eastern end of Patagonia Lake

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

After a pair of birds flew up from the stream of the Roadside rest near Patagonia, 2 sets of 4 birds were seen flying to the West from the same area

(Mexican) Mallard

This subspecies of Mallard looks like a midway version of female Mallard and Black Duck: Sierra Vista (3 on 16th); Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (~50); Green Valley Sewage Ponds (1); Patagonia Lake (1)

Blue-winged Teal

Male and female pair on one of the lagoons at Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds

Cinnamon Teal

About 8 birds (mix of males and females) on the rear lagoon at Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds


One pair at the reeded eastern end of Patagonia Lake

Ruddy Duck

Male and female pair near the reeds on the East side of Patagonia Lake

American Black Vulture

Few and far between (as compared with the common and regular Turkey Vulture). 4 early morning perched between Fort Huachuca and Garden Canyon; ~6 flying over Sonoita / Patagonia Creek Preserve among Turkey Vultures

Turkey Vulture

Common – seen every day with numbers from ~6 on 19th and 20th to many on other days

Cooper’s Hawk

Garden Canyon Upper picnic site (1); San Pedro River Inn (1); Mount Lemmon summit (2)

Grey Hawk

South-east Ariziona is the very Northern most tip of this species’ breeding range, and a handful of pairs can be seen in the San Pedro / Patagonia area: drive between Tucson and Sierra Vista on 16th (3 towards the Sierra Vista area perched on telegraph poles); Kino Springs (pair at nest opposite golf course club house); Patagonia Lake (1); Sonoita / Patagonia Creek Preserve (1 pair and a separate single bird)

Swainson’s Hawk

All but one of the birds seen were light phase, and are quite easy to distinguish from Red-tailed Hawk. The red tail on the latter is usually quite easy to see, but, in flight, the two have quite different underwing patterns, with Swainson’s always showing dark flight feathers. The light patterning on the scapulars of Red-tailed is not as helpful, since this seems to vary on both species. The most seen was around 7 on the 18th (San Pedro River valley area), including one close bird perched at the San Pedro House. None were seen in the Patagonia area

Red-tailed Hawk

The commoner of the two large Buteo species. A maximum of 6 were seen on any single day, and the only day without a sighting was 19th, when we visited the Santa Catalina mountains

American Kestrel

All birds seen in flight – approach to Madera Canyon (1); Kino Springs (2); Patagonia roadside rest (1); Tucson (1)

Prairie Falcon

1 in flight over the Sierra Vista Wastewater ponds

Scaled Quail

We thought these would be a lot easier to see, but only one pair was found, hanging around the cabins at the San Pedro River Inn. Apparently, they are very easy to see here, often feeding underneath the bird tables

Gambel’s Quail

A very common bird, and in fact one of the first species seen (at Shannon Road). Quite a few of the parties seen contained young birds. The only day when none were seen was on the 17th, and daily numbers ranged from 2 (19th, 20th, 22nd), to around 50 (Tucson desert area)

American Coot

Only seen on the Kingfisher Lake at San Pedro House (6) and Patagonia Lake (~30)


Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (7); Santa Cruz Flats (3)

Long-billed Dowitcher

The only bird seen was a breeding plumaged bird on the Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds. Although we were fairly sure of its identity in the field, this is the only dowitcher likely in this area (occurs quite commonly in spring and autumn migration times)

Spotted Sandpiper

All birds seen were either in full breeding plumage, or at least in partial breeding plumage for a minority. Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (4); San Pedro River Inn (3 together on one of the small ponds adjacent to the cabins); Patagonia Lake (1 on mud near the eastern reeded end of the lake)

Wilson’s Phalarope

A rather impressive looking group of 8 birds were feeding together on the Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds. These included 1 full and 1 part breeding plumaged birds, and 3-4 juveniles

Band-tailed Pigeon

We had expected these to be a common and easily seen bird, but they do seem to stay rigidly in the more mountainous areas. The only birds we saw were at the Irongate Lodge on Mount Lemmon. 3 birds were initially seen perched on one branch of a tree just below the car park, and 2 subsequently came to feed on the tarmac under the hummingbird feeders of the lodge

Mourning Dove

Common – seen every day

Laughing Dove

Common – seen every day apart from 17th

Common Ground-dove

Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (1); San Pedro River Inn (1); Molino Basin campground (1); The Patons garden (2); Kino Springs (8): Sonoita / Patagonia Creek Preserve (4); Santa Cruz Flats (6)

Inca Dove

Shannon Road (3); The Patons garden (6)

Greater Roadrunner

This was the bird that we most wanted to see, in particular because 2 of the party had missed the Lesser Roadrunner I had seen briefly in Mexico 3 years earlier. We did expect to see them, but were a little surprised to only turn up 3 during the week, especially when we were told of birds in birders back gardens who lived in Arizona. However, events are strange, and it was fitting that the first Roadrunner that we saw was on Shannon Road, only about 15 minutes after we had arrived, and it was motoring its way along the line of household gardens, before making a speedy exit towards the desert area. The 2 other birds were seen crossing the road on the journey to the San Pedro River Inn, both of which stopped briefly at the side of the road before disappearing

Great Horned Owl

At San Pedro River Inn, a breeding pair had one chick in a large tree next to the river. The chick looked recently fledged, and one of the parents was in the same tree. We found the other parent in a tree about 100 metres away as we returned from the river walk

Burrowing Owl

The Lane guide had given a site at the Santa Cruz Flats, but the distances were not all correct. Because of this, we ended up finding a pair along the central watering channel of the turf fields on Greene Reservoir Road, just West of the sign for Western Sod. They were quite approachable, although there was always the feeling that the 800 metre long watering jet system would start at any time, since the owls were nesting along the rut created by the systems’ engine. When we left these birds and drove another few hundred metres to the West, we came upon the concrete slabs that were mentioned in the book as the preferred Burrowing Owl area – there were no birds there. Sometimes mis-directions are not a bad thing. This also happened to be the last of the new birds we saw only about half an hour before dusk on the last evenings birding!

Lesser Nighthawk

Only 2 birds seen, both briefly over the car at dusk – 1 at Green Valley, the other over Arizona City

White-throated Swift

These turned out to be a reasonably regularly seen bird, usually occurring in small flocks, and are a very smart member of the family - Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (7); Rose Canyon Lake (10); Patagonia Roadside rest (6 on 21st, 25 on 22nd); Patagonia Lake (5); Kino Springs (3); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (10)


This is probably one of the families of birds that are a target for birders in South-east Arizona. At this time of year, there are 8 regular breeding species usually possible, with a few extras as incidentals that are also possible. Many birds will be chanced upon as the area is covered, and this is certainly an enjoyable way to experience them (we saw almost all species at some time through the week away from feeders). However, for more success in variety of species seen, and for close views, there are some gardens with feeders where birders are welcomed by the owners for hummer watching (and other species). The most accommodating that we visited were:
     The Patons home in Patagonia – 4 regular species including regular Violet-crowned
     Tom Beatties’ at the upper end of Miller Canyon – the best for variety and numbers due to higher           elevation
     Mary Jo Cox at the upper end of Turkey Creek Road. More nice hummers, and the additional           possibility of Lucifer Hummingbird while we were there

Broad-billed Hummingbird

This is one of the more outstanding species, with bottle green tones contrasting with the red bill in the males, and the females easy to identify by the long bill with (usually but not always) a red base: Tom Beatty's garden (1 male); Turkey Creek Road (2 males, 1 female); Molino Basin campground (1 male); Madera picnic site (2); Florida Wash (2); Santa Rita Lodge (2); Madera Kubo (4); Patagonia Roadside rest (3 on 21st, 2 on 22nd); The Patons garden (10); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (2)

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

The Patons garden is reputedly the best place in the States to see this species, and there were at least 2 birds which regularly returned to the same 2 favourite feeders while we were there. They are very distinctive, since they are relatively large and are the only local hummingbird to have a brown back. Although there is apparently no difference in male and female plumage, one of the birds we saw there was definitely paler than the other. We also found a further single bird returning to a regular spot at the Patagonia Roadside rest

Blue-throated Hummingbird

This seems to be more of a Canyon dweller of slightly higher elevations, and not very commonly seen. Both males and females are easily identified, due to their largish size, and overall dark colour with white stripe behind the eye. 1 male was on a favoured perch at the lower of the 2 feeding areas behind Tom Beatty's garden, and a pair were returning to the feeders and perches on nearby trees at cabin #3, Madera Kubo

Magnificent Hummingbird

Another distinctive species, with size, shape and base colours (apart from the throat) similar to Blue-throated, but it has only an easily seen white spot behind the eye, rather than the stripe of Blue-throated. Males show a brilliant green throat when the light catches it. Shannon Road (1 male); Tom Beatty's garden(1 male, 1 female); Turkey Creek Road (3 males, 1 female); San Pedro vista on Mount Lemmon (1 male); Irongate Lodge, Mount Lemmon feeders (2 males); Santa Rita Lodge (1 male)

Black-chinned Hummingbird

This is superficially similar to Broad-tailed Hummingbird, since both show black throats until the light highlights the purple lower edge (compared with red of Broad-tailed), and both males have a green wash to the sides of the breast. However, this species has a longer bill, and he most characteristic feature is the constant tail dipping when it hovers. It also appeared to be the most aggressive bird at the feeders. Tom Beatty's garden / Turkey Creek Road (common at both sets of feeders)

Anna’s Hummingbird

When the sun caught the red hood of the male, they looked quite spectacular. We saw at least 1 male at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, and both males and females were common at Tom Beatty's garden and Turkey Creek Road. None were seen elsewhere

Costa’s Hummingbird

This is most commonly found in the lowlands of the Tucson area, and we saw our closest birds at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (2 males, 2 immature males), where they are allegedly attracted to the artificially hospitable environment. However, we did see one further male on the hillside at the entrance to Kino Springs

Calliope Hummingbird

Since this species is rare on passage in South-east Arizona in the Spring, we were more than pleased to identify a female coming back regularly to the upper feeding area at Beatties home. We had been watching the other species for some hours when this much smaller bird started to appear on one specific feeder. Plumage matched the book exactly, even down to the throat streaking

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

The similarities with Black-chinned Hummingbird have been mentioned, but in addition to the bright red throat in certain lights, an additional interesting feature is the loud whistle made by the wings of the male as it flashes past. This tends to be one of the species that prefers the higher altitudes, hence its absence from places like The Patons garden, but good numbers in the Huachuca Mountains: common at the Beatties home / Turkey Creek Road; Irongate Lodge, Mount Lemmon (10+, mainly at the feeders); Madera Kubo (2)

Elegant Trogon

This is another of the speciality birds of South-east Arizona, and we struck luckily at the Upper picnic site in Garden Canyon. It is best located by listening for the call, which sounds strangely like a small dog barking in a car. Another important point to make with the call is that bird is a lot closer when calling than it sounds – the first bird we found seemed to be some way up a hillside, but was in fact only around 30-40 metres distant. This bird was calling over a stream, about 200m downstream from the Upper picnic site. We were told of the second bird by a friendly American based Lancashire birder. He eventually took us to below the exact tree from which it was calling, yet we looked up and couldn’t find it. The reason for this was that it was calling from a hole in the tree for some time (presumably a nest hole), until it appeared on a branch only inches from the hole. It remained there for some time despite our presence. Both birds that we saw were the brightly coloured males, and were typical in their preference for locations above streams

Acorn Woodpecker

This is a characteristic and stunning woodpecker, and also very easy to see throughout the region. They are also very easy to approach, seemingly more intent on their perching posts than watching birders. Upper picnic site (3); Turkey Creek Road (2 on feeders and close tree branches); Rose Canyon Lake (2); Madera Canyon (the most populous area, with 50+ seen throughout the day); The Patons garden (2 on feeders); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (1 only at the start if the woodland trails, on the same tree as a Gila Woodpecker)

Gila Woodpecker

The most common, and noisy, woodpecker seen. In addition to it being very common in the Tucson desert area on the first day: San Pedro river valley (10+); Kino Springs (4); The Patons garden (2 on feeders in front of viewing area); Patagonia Roadside rest (2); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (10+)

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

San Pedro River Inn (1 in wood near stream); Kino Springs (1); Patagonia Lake (1); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (1 at end of Creek Trail)

Arizona Woodpecker

Only 2 seen, but they are a striking woodpecker due to their predominantly brown markings: Miller Canyon (1); Madera picnic site (1)

Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker

San Pedro River Inn (1 on ground alongside cabins); Bear Canyon (1)

Gilded Flicker

The differences in head colour between this and the Northern Flicker are evident if the bird is seen well, but it is only when they fly and the yellow (or red in the latter) underwings are seen that ID is positive: Shannon Road (2); Kino Springs (1)

Northern Beardless-tyrannulet

This is a remarkably long name for a small and understated flycatcher. The 4 birds we saw were all either in or alongside the dry river bed of the Florida Wash. Their feeding action is noticeably different from other flycatchers – more akin to the foraging of wood-warblers. Although they do not have a great deal going for them in the looks department, these birds are nevertheless quite characteristic when seen

Greater Pewee

These are a flycatcher of the higher altitudes, and look noticeably larger than the other pewees, with an obvious crest at the back of the head when seen well. Sawmill Canyon (2); Irongate Lodge, Mount Lemmon (1 at the top of a tall, bare tree below the car park)

Western Wood-pewee

A very common flycatcher, seen every day in small numbers apart from on the first day in the Tucson desert area. Easy to tell from other flycatchers in this part of the States due to lack of eye ring and size. Upper picnic site (6); Sawmill Canyon (3); San Pedro River Inn (1 in wood); Irongate Lodge, Mount Lemmon (1); Madera picnic site (4); Madera Kubo (6); Kino Springs (4); Patagonia Lake (4 in woods); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (4)

Dusky Flycatcher

Mid May onwards is probably a little late for many of the Empidonax genus, since many leave their wintering grounds here earlier than this. This is likely to be the reason why we only saw singles in Sawmill Canyon and Madera picnic area

Cordilleran Flycatcher

Usually only found at higher altitudes (our only one was singing in Sawmill Canyon), it is fortunate that Pacific-slope Flycatcher is very rare at this height, and that this bird was singing (latter tends to be found lower down in valleys on migration)

Buff-breasted Flycatcher

Due to its altitude, Sawmill Canyon is a prime spot for this bird. We saw ~6 along the track, most singing. Although the books show a bright buff breast, and some birds do exhibit this, others can be noticeably paler

Black Phoebe

Surprisingly, only one bird was found in a characteristic place (next to a stream, perching low down) opposite the Madera Kubo gift shop

Say’s Phoebe

A parent and juvenile were the first birds seen as we entered Kino Springs, and were present for some time. The only other birds were a second adult at Kino Springs and a single bird feeding in the open grassland around the visitor centre of Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve

Vermilion Flycatcher

The males of this species are literally stunning, with the most vivid red face and breasts. They also prefer lowland open areas, and usually perch out in the open, and when found are often in good numbers. Some of the pairs of birds found had well grown young in tow, and a nest was found at Kino Springs. We actually only saw them on 3 days, in the San Pedro valley, and Kino Springs to Patagonia areas: San Pedro House (8); San Pedro River Inn (4); Kino Springs (10); The Patons garden (1); Patagonia Lake (10); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (1)

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

The Myiarchus flycatchers were at first separated very technically, with this species tracked down by characters such as rufous edges to secondaries and lack of rufous in the undertail. After some experience, the smaller size and bill quickly became much better features, the former being used purely as backup. Sawmill Canyon (1); Molino Basin campground (2); Bear Canyon (4); Madera picnic site (8); Madera Kubo (4); Kino Springs (2); Patagonia Roadside rest (2); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (12)

Ash-throated Flycatcher

These birds are much larger than the Dusky-capped, but have smaller bills and are paler than Brown-crested. All were seen in the first 2-3 days, which generally covered the more low lying, open desert areas. Shannon Road (2); Sawmill Canyon (4); San Pedro House (10); Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (2); San Pedro River Inn (6)

Brown-crested Flycatcher

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (1 adult plus 1 juvenile); San Pedro River Inn (2); Kino Springs (12); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (4)

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher

These birds were quite a lot larger and bulkier than expected, and had been on the shopping list since we failed to see them in Mexico (February, 2000). Only seen around the upper picnic site, where there were at least 3 birds

Cassin’s Kingbird

The darker head and mantle as compared with Western Kingbird was usually sufficient to separate the two, but there was some variation in this, and lighter coloured Cassin’s would sometimes need the unmarked tail to be seen to confirm identity. They are a common and regular kingbird, usually seen in more open countryside. Garden Canyon grassland (2); Upper picnic site (4); San Pedro House (6); Molino Basin campground (6); Florida Wash (2); Kino Springs (12); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (8)

Thick-billed Kingbird

This is an uncommon bird in South-east Arizona, although we discovered that one area that it can be seen comparatively easily is in the Patagonia area. We even found a pair building a nest directly above the Patagonia Roadside rest. Other single birds were in Patagonia (in a bare tree off California Drive), and Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (2 separate birds)

Western Kingbird

The white edges to the tail were often used as confirmation to ID from Cassin’s Kingbird, although most birds were light enough on the head and mantle to avoid confusion. Saguaro National Park (West) to Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (2); Garden Canyon (2); Miller Canyon (2); San Pedro House (6); Madera Canyon (1); Kino Springs (2); Santa Cruz Flats (6)


A single bird was adjacent to the hide at Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds, and the final 10 or so were in singles and small groups at Santa Cruz Flats

Purple Martin

Only 3 of this local subspecies were seen – 1 on wires and 2 flying overhead at Shannon Road

Violet-green Swallow

These birds seem to prefer the higher altitudes, and when seen from above, as we did towards the top of Mount Lemmon, the reason for their name can be clearly seen by the iridescent green colour of their backs. Rose Canyon Lake (6); Irongate Lodge, Mount Lemmon (10+)

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Turkey Creek Road (1); Patagonia Lake (1)

Sand Martin

The only birds seen were 10+ presumably on migration through Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds

Cliff Swallow

Most birds were seen at a little distance on the wing, until we had a dip in the swimming pool of the Motel 6 in Nogales, where the birds not only joined us for a drink, but also landed in the eaves of the hotel next to the pool (presumably to roost). Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (1 with other hirundines); Kino Springs (4); Motel 6 in Nogales (3+ on 21st and 22nd)


Very common, and seen on all days apart from the 19th


We only saw one of these smart looking birds (Shannon Road) in the first 3 days, and thought they may be quite difficult to find. However, after the 20+ deluge around Molino Basin campground, and only 1 from the swimming pool in Nogales, they were very common in the Patagonia area (Kino Springs 20+; Patagonia Lake 30+; Patagonia Roadside rest 12; Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve 10)

Cedar Waxwing

8 birds at the Patagonia Roadside rest on the evening of the 21st

Cactus Wren

This bird was very common on the first day at all sites visited in the Tucson desert area, with many birds both seen and heard. However, only 2 further birds were seen during the trip (Molino Basin campground)

Rock Wren

We were just about to leave the Patagonia Roadside rest on the evening of the 21st, when we spotted our only Rock Wren about 30 metres away feeding around the base of the cliffs

Canyon Wren

The location of this species came as something of a surprise. We had been listening for them all the way up Madera Canyon, and straining our eyes to see them on the distant rocky outcrops. However, when we heard one calling from cabin #3 at Madera Kubo, we were deciding on whether to follow the calls of a much closer bird when one appeared right in front of us on a truck. 4 birds in 2 pairs were subsequently seen in this yard, and they seemed to be nesting in the houses and sheds

Bewick’s Wren

The most common and vocal of the wrens that we saw. Upper picnic site (2); San Pedro House (2 around Kingfisher Pond); San Pedro River Inn (1); Molino Basin campground (1); Madera picnic site (2); Patagonia Lake (1); Kino Springs (2 at the first pond); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (4)

Northern Mockingbird

Common in the Tucson desert areas on the first day; Upper picnic site (1); San Pedro river valley area (6); Molino Basin campground (2); Kino Springs (6)

[Bendire’s Thrasher]

A single bird at Shannon Road seemed unlikely, since it is apparently usually a skulking bird. However, the bill (looked at again closely on video) shows the straight lower edge of this species, and the bird did not look like a juvenile, where young Curve-billed would show a similar shape in some cases

Curve-billed Thrasher

In some lowland and open areas, the sight and sound of this confiding bird were common. Tucson desert areas on first day (30+); San Pedro House (2); San Pedro River Inn (2); Kino Springs (6); Patagonia Lake (2)

Western Bluebird

A single male was at the very top of a dead tree on the opposite bank of Rose Canyon Lake. Thankfully, the telescope was available to clinch the specific ID

Swainson’s Thrush

Upper picnic site (4); Beatties home (2); Madera Kubo (12)

Hermit Thrush

Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (3)

American Robin

Uncommon - Upper picnic site (1); Madera picnic site (1); Madera Kubo (1)

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Only 2 groups were found, both on the first day - Saguaro National Park (West) (6); Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (2 adults & 2 juveniles)


Shannon Road (2); Sawmill Canyon (6); Madera picnic site (family party of ~10)

Mountain Chickadee

The only chickadees seen were a nesting pair at Bear Canyon, and while the habitat pointed to Mountain, it was some time before the characteristic head pattern could be seen to confirm this

Bridled Titmouse

Upper picnic site (12+); Beatties home (1); Bear Canyon (1); Madera picnic site (4); Santa Rita Lodge (2); Madera Kubo (6); Patagonia Roadside rest (1 on 21st, 4 on 22nd)

Pygmy Nuthatch

Singles seen at Rose Canyon Lake and Mount Lemmon summit

White-breasted Nuthatch

Beatties home (1); San Pedro River Inn (1); Bear Canyon (nesting pair); Rose Canyon Lake (2); Mount Lemmon summit (1); Madera picnic site (2); Santa Rita Lodge (1); Madera Kubo (8); Patagonia Lake (1); Patagonia Roadside rest (1); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (2)


Regularly seen in lowland areas, this is a stunning little bird. 2 nesting pairs were found. Tucson desert areas (12); Florida Wash (4, including a pair nest building); Patagonia Lake (1 seen nest building); Kino Springs (2 behind the first pool); Patagonia Roadside rest (1)

Loggerhead Shrike

Garden Canyon grasslands (2 singles); San Pedro River Inn (1); Molino Basin campground (1)

Steller’s Jay

This is a bird of the higher altitudes. After taking some time to see a single bird crossing the slopes below Irongate Lodge, Mount Lemmon, at least 10 birds were subsequently seen coming for food under the feeders. 1 further bird was seen on the Mount Lemmon summit

Western Scrub Jay

Only 1 seen amongst the more numerous Mexican Jays at Molino Basin campground

Mexican Jay

Small parties totalling around 25+ birds were seen from Upper picnic site to Sawmill Canyon, ~6 were in a group at Molino Basin campground; Madera picnic site (~20); Santa Rita Lodge (6); Madera Kubo (20+)

Chichuahan Raven

A common bird of the more open lowlands, with most seen in the Tucson desert and San Pedro River valley areas, with a few on the approaches to Madera Canyon, and only one noticed at Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve


Saguaro National Park (West) (1); Mount Lemmon (4); Madera picnic site (2); Kino Springs (a pair with a nest in the trees of the first pool); Patagonia Roadside rest (2 on both days); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (2)



House Sparrow


Bell’s Vireo

1 at Florida Wash, and 3 of these rather drab vireos were at Madera Kubo

Plumbeous Vireo

As opposed to the Bell’s Vireo, these slatey grey coloured vireos are a rather smart bird, as is their bubbling warble of a song. Upper picnic site (6); Sawmill Canyon (4); Bear Canyon (2); Madera Kubo (8, including one pair on a nest directly above the road)

Hutton’s Vireo

Only one of these was seen in Sawmill Canyon

Warbling Vireo

The scratchy rattling song of these birds, reminiscent of European Sylvia warblers, was often quite commonly heard in dense bushy areas. Upper picnic site (1); Bear Canyon (4); Madera picnic site (2); Madera Kubo (2); Patagonia Roadside rest (1); Patagonia Lake (~10)

Red-eyed Vireo

This species is a rare migrant in the Spring and Autumn, and, according to Lane, does not occur at all some years. Imagine our surprise when we found no fewer than 3 separate birds: Madera Kubo; Kino Springs (2)

House Finch

Very common – seen on all days and in almost all habitats

Lesser Goldfinch

Upper picnic site (5); Beatties home (1); San Pedro River Inn (1 on feeders); Madera picnic site (2); Santa Rita Lodge (~12 on feeders); Kino Springs (1); Patagonia Roadside rest (1); Patagonia Lake (~10)

Orange-crowned Warbler

1 at Upper picnic site

Lucy’s Warbler

These small, grey warblers often show no distinctive features, and it took some time before we saw some with the characteristic rufous on crown and rump. It is therefore likely that we saw some unidentified birds before this. Florida Wash (6); Kino Springs (~20); Patagonia Roadside rest (1 on both visits); Patagonia Lake (2); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (3)

Yellow Warbler

San Pedro House (~20); San Pedro River Inn (4); Kino Springs (1); Patagonia Roadside rest (1 on 21st & 2 on 22nd); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (2)

Black-throated Grey Warbler

Upper picnic site (2); Beatties home (1); Madera picnic site (1)

Townsend’s Warbler

Upper picnic site (2); Beatties home (1); Madera picnic site (1)

Grace’s Warbler

Sawmill Canyon (1); Rose Canyon Lake (1)

MacGillvray’s Warbler

A stunning male was seen all too briefly at Florida Wash, and was a little unexpected as it is seen only on migration in the area

Common Yellowthroat

Common in wet areas: San Pedro House (10); Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (4); San Pedro River Inn (2); Patagonia Lake (1); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (3)

Wilson’s Warbler

The most common of the wood-warbler migrants, seen in good numbers despite the fact that this was likely to be towards the end of migration. Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (2); Upper picnic site (2); San Pedro River Inn (1); San Pedro House (2); Florida Wash (2); Kino Springs (6); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (4)

Red-faced Warbler

This is a stunning little bird, with the brilliant red of the face contrasting with the grey tones on the rest of the body. They tend to be found only at higher altitudes, but almost all were singing and thus fairly easy to locate (preferred perches were towards the middle to high canopy). Sawmill Canyon (1); Molino Basin campground (1); Rose Canyon Lake (4); Bear Canyon (4)

Painted Redstart

Another outrageously stunning bird. 2 were seen – the first at Upper picnic site was feeding along the tops of trees, the second at Madera Kubo, was much more obliging, spending a prolonged time feeding opposite the gift shop itself, sometimes landing only a few metres away

Yellow-breasted Chat

This bird is usually secretive and thus hard to pin down, despite the easily located harsh and chattery song. When we tracked down the first bird around Kingfisher Lake, San Pedro House, it fit the bill perfectly, giving only brief and half obstructed views. However, a portion of the population at the first pond, Kino Springs, mustn’t have read the books carefully, since following the first bird we saw, singing happily at the top of an open bush 20-30 metres away, there were about another 10 or so in the area. At one time, I was stood amongst a group of 3-5 birds chasing each other through the bushes at the rear edge of the pond, and more were seen singing in the thorn bush scrub. Other birds seen were: Patagonia Lake (1); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (2); Patagonia Roadside rest (1)

Hepatic Tanager

Once seen, the dark bill, grey back & ear coverts of both sexes make this species easy to tell apart from the equally prominent Summer Tanager. Upper picnic site (4); Beatties home (2); Rose Canyon Lake (1); Madera picnic site (4)

Summer Tanager

San Pedro House (8); Molino Basin campground (1); Madera Kubo (2); Kino Springs (6); Patagonia Lake (1); The Patons garden (1); Patagonia Roadside rest (2); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (6)

Western Tanager

Shannon Road (1 male); Upper picnic site (6); Beatties home (1); Irongate Lodge, Mount Lemmon (1); Mount Lemmon summit (1); Madera Kubo (2), Patagonia Roadside rest (2)

Flame-coloured Tanager

For American birders, this is one of the birds to see, since it is a very rare vagrant to South-east Arizona from Mexico, and so is an American listers’ delight. We had heard of a bird present further up the canyon from the Beatties home, and Mr Beatty did in fact take trips up to find this bird. However, a much easier bird was in the Madera Kubo area. We were told of its presence while birding in the very vicinity, and were lucky enough to see it 3-4 times between us. It seemed to be doing a circuit, and was found roughly every ½ to 1 hour

Green-tailed Towhee

Mid to late May represents the very end of the Spring migration for this species, although numbers do fluctuate each year. We were thus very pleased to see 4 of these at San Pedro House. They were mostly to be seen feeding around the visitor centre, alongside both Canyon & Abert’s Towhees

Canyon Towhee

Easily the most common of the towhees seen, usually preferring a certain amount of cover, feeding under thickets or trees. San Pedro House (4); Molino Basin campground (6); Florida Wash (2); Patagonia Lake (2); Kino Springs (2)

Abert’s Towhee

San Pedro House (1); Rancho del Rio pond (1); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (3)

Botteri’s Sparrow

A few were heard singing along the grasslands towards Garden Canyon, but was only seen singing from an exposed perch. One further bird was sharing a bush with a Black-throated Sparrow on the approach to Florida Wash

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

These birds vary in the depth of their plumage colour, but most are a lot drabber than they appear in the books. They were often seen singing low down on exposed perches. Molino Basin campground (1); Florida Wash (1); Madera picnic site (2)

Rufous-winged Sparrow

1 bird close up briefly on Shannon Road. Another was singing (Garden Canyon), but not seen

Lark Sparrow

A group of 4 landed at the roadside of the grasslands approaching Garden Canyon; 2 were in a conifer opposite the Kino Springs clubhouse; The Patons garden (1 around the closest feeder); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (1)

Black-throated Sparrow

This understated sparrow is very impressive when seen in the field. San Pedro House (1); Florida Wash (6); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (2)

Song Sparrow

The birds of South-east Arizona are much paler and more rufous than their eastern counterparts, although all birds found still showed the characteristic breast spot when seen well. San Pedro River Inn (4); Kino Springs (4, with at least 2 singing birds at the first pond); Patagonia Lake (2); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (15+)

White-crowned Sparrow

This species is a winter visitor to the southern States, but good numbers were still present – San Pedro House (6); San Pedro River Inn (4); Santa Rita Lodge (1); Kino Springs (6); The Patons garden (10); Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve (1)

Yellow-eyed Junco

Any Dark-eyed Juncos seemed to have left the area by the time we arrived, leaving the stage to this species, which has a foothold in the USA thanks to the birds in South-east Arizona. The two have similar plumages when found here in the Winter, but the yellow eye stands out when seen well. They are also specialists of higher altitudes, preferring the cover of coniferous or mixed forest. Sawmill Canyon (6); Molino Basin campground (2); Bear Canyon (2); Rose Canyon Lake (2); Mount Lemmon summit (1)

Northern Cardinal

Shannon Road (2); Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (6); San Pedro House (1); Kino Springs (4); Patagonia Roadside rest (2 on both visits); The Patons garden (2)


Shannon Road (4); Madera Canyon (1); Kino Springs (1)

Black-headed Grosbeak

This species was seen regularly on all days, with a maximum of almost 30 birds in the Madera Canyon area

Blue Grosbeak

All 4 birds seen were lone males at Molino Basin campground, Patagonia Lake, Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve, and along the main track at Santa Cruz Flats

Lazuli Bunting

A male was seen briefly along the return track at San Pedro House, and single females (possibly the same bird?) at Santa Rita Lodge and Madera Kubo

Varied Bunting

Male singing on the opposite bank of the dried river bed at Kino Springs, and 1 overhead a little further down the track

Red-winged Blackbird

Very common when found, with double figures at Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds, San Pedro House area, San Pedro River Inn, Patagonia Lake, and Santa Cruz Flats. Single figure numbers seen at Kino Springs (2 at first pond), Patagonia Roadside rest (2), and Sonoita Patagonia Creek Preserve

Eastern Meadowlark

Sierra Vista Wastewater Ponds (4); San Pedro River Inn (2); Santa Cruz Flats (4)

Great-tailed Grackle

Common, with up to 30 birds or so seen on all days

Bronzed Cowbird

A strutting male amongst Brown-headed Cowbirds at The Patons garden

Brown-headed Cowbird

Very common, seen every day, in good numbers, and in almost all habitats

Hooded Oriole

Shannon Road (1); Garden Canyon (2); Upper picnic site (1); Molino Basin campground (4♂, 2♀, including one pair building a nest); Madera picnic site (4); Madera Kubo (3)

Bullock’s Oriole

Only 3 males seen at Upper picnic site (2) and San Pedro House

Scott’s Oriole

A single male around the Upper picnic site


Paintings gallery

Video clips




Site map




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Species list

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