Tucson Audubon Society

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Southeast Arizona Rare Bird Alert


This update of Tucson Audubon Society's Rare Bird Alert for Southeast Arizona was made on May 27, 2016. The next update will be made on June 3. SPECIAL UPDATE MAY 30

  • The RBA number is 520-629-0510 ext 3; press 1 to hear the RBA or press 2 to report a rare bird, OR email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
  • For additional sightings in the region, please see the The Arizona-New Mexico Birding ListServ

SEVERAL IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS follow the sightings, including information on temporary closures and rules for access to other important birding areas. Abbreviation "m.ob." = multiple observers. An asterisk (*) preceding a species name in the list indicates that it merits careful, full documentation. A pound sign (#) indicates that brief corroborating details are warranted. Documentation and photos of review species may be submitted at http://www.azfo.org/gallery/1main/whatIsABC.html.

Where directions are not given, they can be found in the EIGHTH EDITION of Tucson Audubon's Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona. 



#Berylline Hummingbird

#Plain-capped Starthroat

#Lucifer Hummingbird

#Green Kingfisher




#Black-capped Gnatcatcher







A *PINE FLYCATCHER was reported at Aliso Spring in a seldom visited part of the Santa Rita Mountains on 5/28 and 5/30 (Dave Stejskal)and continued on 5/31 (m.ob.). This would be a first US record, pending acceptance. This is in the same main drainage as the Red-headed Woodpecker (see below), but a different side canyon (Sawmill, one of many so named in Arizona). Take Gardner Canyon Rd west from Hwy 83; at mile 6.3, the road to Aliso Spring is to the right. Dave's directions: "To the left is the Gardner Canyon Trail, straight ahead is Cave Canyon Trail, and to the right is the way you want to go.  There's a brown forest service sign at this intersection that says 'Aliso Springs' to the right.  This is the start of the very bad road.  Turn right and follow the rocky, uneven road (FR 4084) down into a dry stream drainage and up the hill to the other side.  At 7.0 miles (that's 7 miles from the start of Gardner Canyon Rd. where you zeroed your odometer), bear to the left and follow the sign there that says 'Sawmill Trail 3'.  Another 30-40 meters past here, bear left again onto the road marked as 4084A (4084 goes off to right - don’t take this one).  The road past here isn't confusing, but it's EXTREMELY ROUGH AND STEEP!!!  You could park and walk the remaining three miles into Aliso Spring from this last intersection, but it's all open, steep, and hot terrain, which would require great stamina and LOTS OF WATER.  If you continue to drive, there are at least three very steep hills that definitely require 4WD to climb and descend (I had to put my 4Runner into 4Low to make it with a full vehicle).  There's another minor intersection at 9.5 miles and you should bear to the right at this point.  Then it's down the last hill into the Aliso Springs drainage and the road dead ends at 9.9 miles.  There are lots of big oaks and a few big Arizona Sycamores here with lots of open ground, and a 10' long concrete water trough in the middle of it.  The bird has been in this clearing and is often very confiding if you wait for it to show.  It's the only bird giving a soft 'whip' note (like a Dusky or Gray or Willow flycatcher), so it should be relatively easy to track down." 

Map: https://goo.gl/eUEPkC

*RED-HEADED WOODPECKER continued in Cave Canyon on the east flank of the Santa Ritas on 5/27 (Troy Corman). It is at a group campsite on Gardner Canyon Rd. Park at the turnoff 7.8 miles west of Hwy 83 and walk down to the creek and back up to the campsite; the bird is frequenting the northwest section. A good landmark is a small drip in the middle of the campsite with a piece of rebar sticking up out of it at an angle. Map (same as above): https://goo.gl/eUEPkC

PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map: http://goo.gl/maps/XfXfX)

A *SLATE-THROATED REDSTART continued in Pinery Canyon just downhill from the campground on 5/26 (m.ob.). It seems to be most reliable in the early morning. The bird is about 2.4 miles west of Onion Saddle where a small, mostly dry creek crosses the road; there is a small cairn on the south side. The road forms a "U" and the bird is evidently building a nest inside the "U". We are specifying the location in the hopes that birders will take the opportunity to observe it from a distance rather than accidently disturbing it. Please do keep your distance. There was a report of a second bird on 5/22.


In upper Ramsey Canyon, the pair of *TUFTED FLYCATCHERS continued this week through 5/27 (Laurens Halsey). The birds are being seen about 2 miles up the Hamburg Trail from the Ramsey Canyon Preserve Visitor Center, about 1/3 mile past the junction with the Brown Canyon Trail. This is an occasionally steep 4 mile round trip hike at 6,000 ft elevation to reach this location; take plenty of water (several quarts) and be prepared for very hot dry days or sudden monsoon storm activity. The map here shows the location: https://goo.gl/aMh1ke 

In the Ramsey Canyon Preserve, the male *FLAME-COLORED TANAGER continued through 5/26 (m.ob.) on the Bledsoe Loop Trail. Ramsey Canyon Preserve is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

In Hunter Canyon (https://goo.gl/CR4YXm), *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 5/26 (Kip Miller) in the upper canyon about 0.7 miles up the trail from the end of Hunter Canyon Road just as the trail enters the grove of trees.

A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD continued at Ash Canyon B&B through 5/24 (m.ob.).


*BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJARS continued at the south end of California Gulch at the confluence with Warsaw Canyon on 5/26 (Laurens Halsey); three #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued as well. Annotated map: http://goo.gl/wSr0mi

ACCESS NOTE: the La Sierra Fire in the Atascosa and Pajarito Mountains is 90% contained; there may be some areas still locally closed, but most areas are open again. Updates here: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4731/


In Florida Canyon (annotated map: http://goo.gl/AAzD6), #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) near the Florida Canyon parking area and a short distance up the trail. They were also at the corral at the junction of FR488 and 62A on 5/14 (Jay Taylor).

In Madera Canyon (map: http://goo.gl/dXBYP), an *AZTEC THRUSH was photographed at the Carrie Nation Mine on 5/30 (Gary Jue); this is about 1.25 miles up the Carrie Nation Trail from the upper parking lot.  #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along the loop trail at Proctor Rd on 5/24 (m.ob.). A #BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRD was photographed at the Santa Rita Lodge on 5/21 (Barry Zimmer) and continued through 5/23 (m.ob.). A #PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT continued at the Santa Rita Lodge through 5/25 (m.ob.).

In Chino Canyon (map: http://goo.gl/maps/oTBK), #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS and two FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS continued on 5/24 (Laurens Halsey). High clearance is recommended for the rough road in.


A #GREEN KINGFISHER was reported again along Sonoita Creek, this time at the Salero Rd crossing on 5/26 (Troy Corman).

At Patagonia Lake (annotated map: http://goo.gl/GgNvs), a pair of #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued along the Birding Trail at the east end of the lake on 5/27 (Alan Schmierer).



The revised 8th edition of Finding Birds in SE Arizona (2015) is the current edition. Addendum to the revised 8th edition is available at: http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/what-we-do/publications/431-fbiaddendum8th.html

TUCSON - Mosquito control operations are scheduled at Sweetwater Wetlands from 6:30-8:30am on Mondays.  The gate will open when operations are finished. Roger Road WRF was closed as of 1/10/2014 and it is uncertain when access will be allowed again.

EL RIO OPEN SPACE PRESERVE/COACHLINE GRAVEL PIT - park in the dirt lot along the south edge near the berm, not in the neighborhood to the west. Annotated map: http://goo.gl/5vIQSb

GREEN VALLEY WWTP - Protocol for visiting: use the call box at the gate, sign in and out at the office, and stay away from buildings and construction equipment. ACCESS UPDATE: Closed due to construction until August 2016.

RAMSEY CANYON - Ramsey Canyon Preserve is open; it is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

ASH CANYON - Ash Canyon B&B is open dawn to dusk EXCEPT Wednesday, when open noon to dusk; parking is limited to six spots.

BENSON - the Benson Birding Trail is no longer accessible as the property is under new ownership.

PATAGONIA - The Paton Center for Hummingbirds remains open to birders.

FORT HUACHUCA - is an active military installation and will suspend your driving privileges on Post for 30 days on your first offense for talking or using a cell phone while driving. You MUST use a hands free device. Current entry requirements (subject to change without notice): US citizens should be prepared to show photo ID for everyone in the vehicle at the entrance, and possibly your vehicle registration and insurance as well. Foreign nationals must be accompanied by an approved military escort; contact the base (520.533.7111), or possibly the Sierra Vista Visitor's Bureau (520.417.6960) well in advance.  

IMPORTANT: Ft. Huachuca has posted information on new access requirements on its official webpage at www.huachuca.army.mil - look for the "Gate Information" tab on the left side of the homepage. Read the information at the "Visitors Access" button. If you click the "Installation Access Forms" button, you can see the information you'll have to provide to get access. The Visitor Control Center is located at the Van Deman Gate on Hwy 90. http://www.huachuca.army.mil/pages/des/visitoraccess.html

ACCESS NOTE: apparently some states driver's licenses do not meet federal requirements for base entry (IL, MN, MO, NM, and WA); see https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs for details.

ACCESS NOTE: Despite the signage, Garden Canyon is indeed now open to vehicles up to the upper picnic area and foot traffic beyond this. (March 2016)

SANTA CRUZ FLATS: Management at the Evergreen Turf Sod Farm has asked birders not to drive into the property (i.e., the 2750 road); birding from perimeter roads (i.e., Tweedy or Pretzer) is still fine.

BAIRD'S SPARROW HILL AND THE VACA RANCH CORRAL in the San Rafael Valley is off limits to birders due to the thoughtless actions of a few birders. DO NOT ENTER THE PROPERTY.  A sign has been posted previously stating that "stopping within 0.25 mile of the corral is prohibited."

The Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department is currently revising security procedures and the following rules are subject to change any time. Please see this link for important information regarding access: http://www.pima.gov/wwm/about/pdf/birdwatching.pdf. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

AVRA VALLEY WRF: Gates open at 6AM and close PROMPTLY at 2PM (do not linger, you will be locked inside).




Good birding!

Andrew Core

#Plain-capped Starthroat

Important Phone Numbers

General Info: 520 629-0510
University Nature Shop: 520 629-0510 x1
Rare Bird Alert: 520 629-0510 x3
Education: 520 629-0510 x7012
Membership: 520 629-0510 x7002
Agua Caliente Nature Shop: 760-7881
Executive Director: 520 629-0510 x7001
FAX: 520 623-3476

Sick or injured birds, please call:
Tucson Wildlife Center at 520-290-9453

Additional numbers





A must-have for any SEAZ birding trip!

Revised 8th Edition out now!


Donate to Tucson Audubon

saguaro_sunsetKeep your quality of life and support our natural world with a donation to Tucson Audubon. There are many ways to donate. Check them out!

See the details


donate now

Report Sightings

Phone: 520-629-0510 x3

E-Mail: rarebirdalert

Documentation and photos of review species may be submitted to AZFO.

The Arizona-New Mexico Birding ListServ

Directions to Birding Sites
Where directions are not given, they can be found in the newest edition of Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona, published by and available from Tucson Audubon Nature Shop. Changes in site access since the publication of this guide can be found by going to our Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona Online Addendum.

Methodology of this Report
The sequence of sightings in this report is not random. Species are listed by order of overall rarity within locality. The first locality mentioned contains the rarest species seen during the reporting period. Within that locality, species are mentioned in relative-rarity order or in taxonomic order, if relative rarity is the same, within sub-locality. When the sightings for a locality are complete, the rarest remaining species dictates which locality is mentioned next, and so forth. At any point when 2 or more species are of the same relative rarity, taxonomic order then determines the sequence in which the localities are covered. Consequently, the order in which localities are mentioned will vary from one report to the next.

Contributors are listed in the text. The spelling of names given over the phone is not guaranteed to be accurate. Any errors or omissions are unintentional.


Tucson Audubon's
Mason Center

Birds Benefit Business Alliance

BBB_logoSupport Tucson Audubon with your "green" business!