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Home Southeast Arizona Rare Bird Alert


This update of Tucson Audubon Society's Rare Bird Alert for Southeast Arizona was made on December 2, 2016. The next update will be made on December 9.

  • 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 revised EIGHTH EDITION of Tucson Audubon's Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona. 


#Greater Scaup

#Horned Grebe

#Green Kingfisher

#Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

#Red-breasted Sapsucker

#"Yellow-shafted" Northern Flicker

#Eastern Phoebe

#Winter Wren

#Pacific Wren

#Black-capped Gnatcatcher

#Rufous-backed Robin

#Gray Catbird

#Brown Thrasher

#Louisiana Waterthrush



#Baltimore Oriole


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

A *STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE continued at the Foothills Road (aka Rodrigues yard) feeders on 12/1 (Bob Rodrigues).

A #GRAY CATBIRD was photographed at Willow Tank on 12/1 (Luke Tiller).

A #BROWN THRASHER was reported in a yard in Portal on 11/28 and 11/30 (Rick Plage).


In Florida Canyon (annotated map: http://goo.gl/AAzD6), *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 11/29 (Laurens Halsey) in the West Fork past the dam. One was between the dam and the East Bend, and two were at the Oak Grove well up the canyon. Directions: About 400 yards from parking lot is a metal gate, and just past the gate the canyon forks. The main trail follows the East Fork, but most sightings have been in the West Fork to the right. About 125 yards up the rough trail in the West Fork is a large water tank and a low dam. The oak grove is about 1/3 mile past the dam. Note: The trail for the West Fork can be difficult to find, and is steep and rough in places. If you see the sign with distances to Florida Saddle, Madera Canyon, etc you've missed the turn. It is not necessary, recommended or permissible to enter the research station to see these birds. #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued in Florida Canyon on 11/29 (Laurens Halsey); they've been seen near the Florida Canyon parking area and a short distance up the trail.


Three #GREATER SCAUP were photographed at the Amado STP on 11/27 (Laurens Halsey); two continued on 11/28 (David Whittier).


At Patagonia Lake (annotated map: http://goo.gl/GgNvs), a #GREEN KINGFISHER continued at the east end on 11/29 (Jesse Rubenstein); perhaps the same bird was seen on 11/26 (Brian Jones) in the northwest part of the lake, so it may be moving around. A #"YELLOW-SHAFTED" NORTHERN FLICKER continued on 12/1 and an #EASTERN PHOEBE on 12/2 (David Yeamans). A #PACIFIC WREN and #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS were reported on 11/26 (m.ob.). A Brown Pelican was reported on 11/29 (m.ob.).


A #HORNED GREBE was reported at Arizona City Lake on 11/26 (Gordon Karre) and continued on 11/29 (Doug Jenness).

A #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was reported on 11/21 (Doug Jenness) along the Santa Cruz River just south of Sasco Rd. One was present here last winter.


A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER continued at Palo Verde Park (Broadway/Kolb area) on 11/27 (Mark Stevenson, Molly Pollock).

A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER as photographed on private property along the Tanque Verde wash off Redington Rd on 11/27 (Paul Suchanek, Brian Nicholas).

A #RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN continued at Catalina State Park on 11/27 (James Hoagland). It was seen at the intersection of the Canyon Loop and Sutherland Trails. An #EASTERN PHOEBE was reported on 12/2 (Michael Welch). Catalina State Park annotated map: http://goo.gl/maps/JK93k

A #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH was reported from the Santa Cruz River between Cortaro and Ina Rds on 11/26 (Mark Stevenson, Molly Pollock). It was south of the two culverts at the south end of Crossroads Park.

At Sweetwater Wetlands, the male #BALTIMORE ORIOLE continued this week (m.ob.); one wintered here the last two years but ranged widely.


A #YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER continued at Roper Lake SP on 12/2 (Jeff Coker).


At Pena Blanca Lake (annotated map: http://goo.gl/zBbzl), a #RED=BREASTED SAPSUCKER was reported on 11/27 and 12/1 (Betsy Checchia, Charles Corson). It has been seen in the large cove in the northwest part of the lake, about 1/3 mile north of the large boat ramp area in the Rock Water Cove. An #EASTERN PHOEBE was reported on 12/1 as well.


A #WINTER WREN was reported from San Bernardino NWR on 11/26 (Richard Webster) along Black Draw about 100 yards north of the border. An #EASTERN PHOEBE was at House Pond at nearby Slaughter Ranch.


At the San Pedro House, a #LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH continued along the San Pedro River on 11/30 (Mike Butterfield, John Broz); last year one frequented the area between trail markers #7 and #8.



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 2017.

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, as of March 2016 Garden Canyon was indeed now open to vehicles up to the upper picnic area and foot traffic beyond this. As of late July 2016, it was reported that it was open all the way to the top.

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


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





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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.


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