A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Arizona's Second Spring III 2021

August 14-23, 2021 with Dave Stejskal (with Micah Riegner for part) guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
The high Chiricahuas loom in the background as we search for several Southeast Arizona specialties along the Onion Saddle road one morning. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

This one almost never made it out of the starting gate but, after pulling a few levers in the office, we made it work and, man, did it ever work! Our timing on this trip was such that we never really had to work around the record monsoon rains that we had this summer – I'm not sure how we did that – but the weather was never really an issue for us. We got to all of the places that we wanted to get into on this tour.

We had the great fortune of being able to have Micah Riegner tag along with us for the first several days of our tour (before he guided his own group on another tour just as ours was winding up), and that really paid dividends for us. To have another pair of excellent eyes and ears focused on finding the Southeast Arizona specialties that we were searching for was tremendous!

We had to re-work our traditional itinerary on this added tour a little bit in order to sync up with hotel availability, but it really didn't make much of a difference when it came to the birds. We started the tour in Sierra Vista (after an initial night in Tucson) for a couple of nights before we went on to the Chiricahuas – instead of the reverse – but it all worked well. After our three nights in the Chiricahuas, we continued as normal with our final three nights in Nogales before we headed to the Tucson airport on Day 10.

Birding was surprisingly slow overall at the start of our trip, which I think was due to a significant number of birds departing the region back in June due to the ongoing exceptional drought here. There just wasn't anything here for the adults to eat or to feed to their young in the nest. And there was hardly a drop of water to be had anywhere! I've never experienced drought conditions here in Arizona like this in my lifetime, and hope that I never do again. Pretty scary stuff. Thankfully, the weather changed for the better in July, after many of the breeding birds had given up and left, creating some wonderful, lush conditions for the birds that did remain.

Despite the slow birding, we did amazingly well on this tour, finding just about everything that you all came here to see – plus a couple of surprises! That close and cooperative Five-striped Sparrow on that first afternoon near Madera Canyon really set the tone for the trip. A quick trip up Mount Lemmon outside of Tucson on our first full morning brought us close views of multiple Red-faced Warblers and a close female Olive Warbler (or 'Ocotero' if you prefer) before we descended and headed to Sierra Vista. A couple of nice raptors en route – Mississippi Kite and Harris's Hawk – were fun to track down before we headed to Ash Canyon and our date with Lucifer Hummingbird. The next morning was spent mostly in Miller Canyon, where we enjoyed the hummingbird show at the Beatty's B & B feeders before hiking a ways up the canyon. The hummers, especially that male White-eared Hummingbird, were terrific, but that canyon hike was really quiet. That is until we found Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers and a cooperative Northern Pygmy-Owl! Our next full morning was spent up high in Carr Canyon, where our biggest quarry, the Buff-breasted Flycatcher, showed well.

It was then on to the Chiricahuas via the waterbirds of Willcox. Most of our waterbirds for the trip were gotten today with several species of ducks – including Mexican Duck – and thirteen species of shorebirds being tallied before we moved on to the scenic Chiricahuas. Our first birds in the Chiricahuas that evening after dinner were decent looks of both Whiskered Screech-Owl and Mexican Whip-poor-will – a couple of major wins since nightbirding in August here can be so difficult!

We managed to visit all of the major sites in the Chiricahuas that I wanted to visit during our three days there, and we racked up some great birds along the way. That silent male Elegant Trogon at South Fork has to rank right up there, but I also enjoyed our Elf Owls and Western Screech-Owl, our cooperative Mexican Chickadees, a surprise pair of Black-chinned Sparrows, yet more Lucifer Hummingbirds, that cooperative pair of Botteri's Sparrows, a stunning Violet-crowned Hummingbird and multiple Blue-throated Mountain-gems, and our Bendire's and Crissal Thrashers out in the desert.

We finished up our trip in the Patagonia/Nogales area for those final three days. For whatever reason, birding in the area seemed much more active, with more birds to look at, than over in Cochise County to the east. I suspect that it was due to the fact that Santa Cruz County wasn't nearly as dry as Cochise County was earlier in the year. We did very well with the local specialties, including a nearly final hour pair of Rose-throated Becards near Patagonia! We also went a little off script during our time here and chased a trio of immature Roseate Spoonbills west of Arivaca in the Buenos Aires NWR. What a thrill to see those three birds feeding at close range in the flooded basin on the refuge! It was a great way to finish up a wonderful tour to Southeast Arizona!

Thanks to you all for sticking with us until we managed to pull this trip out of the fire at the last minute! I had a great time with you and loved showing you the birds of my 'back yard' in Southeast Arizona. I hope that we have an opportunity to bird together again somewhere when I'm 'off the clock'.

—Cheers, Dave

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors) [b]

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Very common from the feeders in the Chiricahuas west to the Nogales area on this tour route, this male Broad-billed Hummingbird was an almost daily addition to our lists. Photo by participant David Blue.

CINNAMON TEAL (Spatula cyanoptera) [b]

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata) [b]

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos)

MEXICAN DUCK (Anas diazi)

Nice looks at this recently re-split species.

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis) [b]

REDHEAD (Aythya americana) [b]

Three birds on our last stop of the tour at Canoa Ranch.

RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris) [b]

A single female at Benson s.t.p.

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

GAMBEL'S QUAIL (Callipepla gambelii)

Very similar to the familiar California Quail.

MONTEZUMA QUAIL (Cyrtonyx montezumae) [*]

We heard a couple of these, but couldn't get them into view due to the luxuriant vegetation that sprang up in response to the monsoonal rains.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo) [I]

All of the turkeys that we see in s. Arizona are, in theory, descendants of birds re-introduced here in the '70's & '80's.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata)

We had what was likely the same large flock in the Chiricahuas on three different stops in one day there.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

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August can be a difficult month to track down the stunning Red-faced Warbler in the mountains of Southeast Arizona, but we had no problems with this beautiful bird in the Santa Catalina Mts. outside of Tucson on our first full morning. Photo by guide Dave Stejskal.

INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)

Nicely in Portal on our final morning there.

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

Singing on the power lines at Kino Springs one morning.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GREATER ROADRUNNER (Geococcyx californianus)

We finally got a good look at this iconic Southwestern species on our drive into Kino Springs.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

COMMON POORWILL (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii)

A couple of looks in the Huachucas and the Chiricahuas.

MEXICAN WHIP-POOR-WILL (Antrostomus arizonae arizonae)

A decent look in the scope of a bird perched uphill from the road in Cave Creek Canyon. A rather recent split from the birds of eastern N. America.

Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (Aeronautes saxatalis)

A few birds only in upper Carr Canyon.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

RIVOLI'S HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens)

A.k.a. Magnificent Hummingbird – but now split from the similar, but disjunct, Talamanca Hummingbird.

BLUE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis clemenciae)

Great looks at the Portal feeders.

LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD (Calothorax lucifer)

We ended up seeing about six individuals between Ash Canyon and the feeders in Paradise.

BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus alexandri)

One of the most common hummers of the trip.


Impressive numbers of this one at the Ash Canyon feeders.

COSTA'S HUMMINGBIRD (Calypte costae)

A very confiding female bird at the Ash Canyon feeders.

BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus)

We had several adult males who had not yet molted their modified primaries (the ones that make that loud whirring noise in flight).

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This female Arizona Woodpecker was very confiding at the top of Carr Canyon in the Huachuca Mts. one morning. Despite its name, about 95% of this species' range lies within Mexico. Photo by participant David Blue.

RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus rufus) [b]

A couple of nice males at Ash Canyon.

CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus calliope) [b]

At least one of these was seen well at the Paradise feeders in the Chiricahuas. The last of our 12 species of hummingbirds on this tour! I suspect that we had one or two Calliope X Rufous hummingbirds there as well (it's a know hybrid combination and the birds in question showed a mix of traits).

BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD (Cynanthus latirostris)

Another very common species along our route.


Super views while we waited in vain for the Berylline Hummingbird to show in the Chiricahuas.

WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD (Hylocharis leucotis)

Great looks at a nearly tailless male at the feeders in Miller Canyon.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

SORA (Porzana carolina) [b*]

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Only a few of these at Willcox during our one visit there.

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)

A reliable bird at Willcox at this season.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) [b]

At least two of these small plovers at Willcox.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

LONG-BILLED CURLEW (Numenius americanus) [b]

Nearly 50 of these big shorebirds at Willcox during our visit en route to the Chiricahuas.

STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus) [b]

Rather scarce as a migrant in Arizona overall, but regular at Willcox in the fall.

BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (Calidris bairdii) [b]

Longer-winged than the other peeps present at Willcox.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) [b]

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We enjoyed an almost eye-level view of this adult Mississippi Kite next to the road near St. David east of Tucson one afternoon. This species is near its Western limit of its U.S. distribution here in Southeast Arizona. Photo by guide Dave Stejskal.

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri) [b]

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus) [b]

A snoozing juvenile at Whitewater Draw was a good find.

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus) [b]

WILSON'S PHALAROPE (Phalaropus tricolor) [b]

Moderate numbers of southbound migrants at Willcox

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) [b]

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) [b]

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) [b]

Good to have direct comparisons with the above look-alike at Willcox.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus) [b]

The two birds that flew in at Benson were unexpected there.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) [b]

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

A distant adult across the lake.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

Woo Hoo!!! We injected a little spontaneity into our birding plans and chased the three spoonbills that were found at the Buenos Aires NWR in the Altar Valley. They turned out to be very easy to find and see, but it was the heat that finally drove us back into the tour vehicle and out of the area.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Always outnumbered here by the next species.

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) [b]

An early migrant at Patagonia Lake SP.

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On any other Arizona tour, we probably wouldn't have chased down these wayward Roseate Spoonbills in the Avra Valley – but we had the perfect setup to do just that this year! Photo by participant David Blue.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

MISSISSIPPI KITE (Ictinia mississippiensis)

This one wasn't too difficult to find near St. David this year, and we had super looks of a close bird on the wires next to the road.

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

HARRIS'S HAWK (Parabuteo unicinctus)

Right on cue!

GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus)

Nice looks in flight near Patagonia.

SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)

All of ours were light-morph birds.

ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus)

Our best was a close soaring bird next to the San Pedro River near Sierra Vista one rainy afternoon.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Strigidae (Owls)

WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL (Megascops trichopsis)

We found a cooperative bird next to the road near Portal one evening after dinner. I was a little concerned about this one after having dipped on it in the Huachucas.

WESTERN SCREECH-OWL (Megascops kennicottii)

Beautiful looks at a responsive bird near Paradise in the Chiricahuas.

NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium gnoma)

We came very close to missing this one completely. As we were heading back to the car after finishing up at Beatty's and Miller Canyon, I caught a couple of distant 'toots', which we eventually tracked down for excellent scope looks at this tiny diurnal predator.

ELF OWL (Micrathene whitneyi)

A generally very tough little bird in August, but we lucked out with terrific views near Paradise in the Chiricahuas.

BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)

A stake-out in New Mexico!

Trogonidae (Trogons)

ELEGANT TROGON (Trogon elegans)

There were fewer of these around this year, and they all seemed to be very quiet. Another lucky find!

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)

Everywhere where there were oaks.

GILA WOODPECKER (Melanerpes uropygialis)

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Tropical Kingbirds have really increased in abundance and in total range in s. Arizona in recent decades, but it's still rare to see any evidence of actual breeding. It was great to see an adult actively feeding a recently-fledged juvenile on the banks of the Santa Cruz River north of Nogales. Photo by guide Dave Stejskal.


HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)

ARIZONA WOODPECKER (Dryobates arizonae)

Great views of a cooperative female next to the road in upper Carr Canyon.

NORTHERN FLICKER (RED-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus cafer)

GILDED FLICKER (Colaptes chrysoides)

Terrific views of a responsive male next to the Catalina Highway - on top of a Saguaro no less! -on our first full morning.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

The number of breeders has really dropped locally.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

We saw a young bird at Buenos Aires NWR flying off with some prey item clutched in its talons while we were enjoying our views of the vagrant Roseate Spoonbills.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae)

We never got a whiff of these at the famous Roadside Rest near Patagonia, but we eventually found a pair along the road near the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve on our final attempt in the area. Great looks!

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)


Nicely at Patagonia Lake SP.

OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) [b]

A migrant along the San Pedro River near Sierra Vista.

WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus)

GRAY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax wrightii) [b]

A single calling migrant along the Paradise road was fun to see. That downward pumping motion of this species while perched is diagnostic.

BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax fulvifrons)

Still plenty of these up in Carr Canyon. We heard another near Rustler Park, and Micah was able to see that one a week later with his tour group.

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)

SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)

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We caught up with this close, hunting Zone-tailed Hawk along the verdant San Pedro River east of Sierra Vista one afternoon. Photo by participant David Blue.

VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

Pretty fancy for a flycatcher!

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)

One good look at a lingering bird along Sonoita Creek.

BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus)

An adult was still hanging around along the Harshaw Creek road feeding a juvenile that had just fledged.

SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes luteiventris)

Great scope looks at Miller Canyon. We heard many others later in the trip, mostly in the Chiricahuas.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

We watched an adult bird busily feeding a recently-fledged youngster along the Santa Cruz R. near Rio Rico.

CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus vociferans)

Still plenty of these and Westerns passing through.

THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD (Tyrannus crassirostris)

Harshaw Creek road was the place to see this one this year!

WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis)

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

BELL'S VIREO (Vireo bellii)

HUTTON'S VIREO (Vireo huttoni)

CASSIN'S VIREO (Vireo cassinii) [b]

A single migrant in the Portal Peak parking lot one morning.

PLUMBEOUS VIREO (Vireo plumbeus)

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus)

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

State Line Rd. is the reliable spot to see this one on this tour.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

STELLER'S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri)

This one has bounced back from being decimated by the West Nile virus about 20 years ago.

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The tiny "Coues's" White-tailed Deer is the second-smallest race of White-tailed Deer in the U.S. (only "Key" Deer is smaller) and is a common inhabitant of the mountains of Southeast Arizona. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)

MEXICAN JAY (Aphelocoma wollweberi)

CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN (Corvus cryptoleucus)

We finally found a convincing one in the Altar Valley when we chased the Spoonbills.

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE (Poecile gambeli)

Only on Mt. Lemmon this year, which is to be expected. Replaced by Mexican Chickadee in the Chiricahuas, whereas the Huachucas completely lack any chickadee species.

MEXICAN CHICKADEE (Poecile sclateri)

Nicely on our drive up to Onion Saddle from Cave Creek Canyon.

BRIDLED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus wollweberi)

The most widespread of the parids on this tour.

JUNIPER TITMOUSE (Baeolophus ridgwayi)

Found him on the first try!

Remizidae (Penduline-Tits)

VERDIN (Auriparus flaviceps)

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) [b]

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

We had wonderful views of the Mexican race p.p. melanogaster at our hotel in Nogales. It's easy to make out that dark, not whitish, forehead patch, even in flight!

Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)

BUSHTIT (INTERIOR) (Psaltriparus minimus plumbeus)

Brown ear patches and gray crowns here in the Interior West, but just the reverse along the West Coast.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)

Nice looks up on Mt. Lemmon on the first morning.

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The Portal feeders hosted both Blue-throated Mountain-gem and this male Rivoli's Hummingbird, along with a few other species. Photo by participant David Blue)

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta carolinensis)

The subspecies here is S.c. nelsoni, which sounds different than birds on the West Coast and in eastern N. America.

PYGMY NUTHATCH (Sitta pygmaea) [*]

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)

BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)

BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila melanura)

A bonus while we enjoyed our looks at Botteri's Sparrow near Portal.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus) [*]

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

BEWICK'S WREN (Thryomanes bewickii)

CACTUS WREN (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (Toxostoma curvirostre)

BENDIRE'S THRASHER (Toxostoma bendirei)

State Line Rd. is a great place to see this one!

CRISSAL THRASHER (Toxostoma crissale)

Usually a little tougher to find than the Bendire's.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis)

This one has nested in upper Carr Canyon for at least the last few years. This race, S.s. fulva, and the nominate race, S.s. sialis, are about to collide in s.e. Arizona We'll see what happens.

WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana)

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Patiently waiting for a 'stakeout' Berylline Hummingbird to show in the Chiricahuas... ...it never did. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)

PHAINOPEPLA (Phainopepla nitens)

Peucedramidae (Olive Warbler)

OLIVE WARBLER (Peucedramus taeniatus)

Great, close views up on Mt. Lemmon on our first morning together. Recently placed in its own family, the Peucedramidae.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)

RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)

We detected this one in the three main ranges that we birded in on the tour; the Santa Catalinas, the Huachucas, and the Chiricahuas.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW (Peucaea carpalis)

Not as vocal on this tour as I would have thought, given all of the rain that we've had.

BOTTERI'S SPARROW (Peucaea botterii)

A very cooperative pair just outside of Portal.

CASSIN'S SPARROW (Peucaea cassinii)

Scope looks at a singing bird along State Line Rd. near Portal.

CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)

BLACK-CHINNED SPARROW (Spizella atrogularis)

We were really fortunate to find a pair of these along the roadside en route to Onion Saddle. They had been very difficult all spring and summer in s.e. Arizona.

BLACK-THROATED SPARROW (Amphispiza bilineata)

FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW (Amphispiza quinquestriata)

Great views in Box Canyon on our first afternoon together! This site is a recent discovery, which makes driving in to California Gulch a little superfluous.

LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus)

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A few distant, soft 'toot toots' heard by your guides as we were leaving Miller Canyon betrayed the presence of this Northern Pygmy-Owl. We got some good scope views after we tracked it down, and Micah was even able to capture this image before it flew off. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

YELLOW-EYED JUNCO (Junco phaeonotus)

Easy in all of the mountain ranges here.

SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia) [*]

CANYON TOWHEE (Melozone fusca)

ABERT'S TOWHEE (Melozone aberti)

One of the most local birds in all of N. America.

RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW (Aimophila ruficeps)

Eventually, some good scope looks in the Chiricahuas.

SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus)

Icteriidae (Yellow-breasted Chat)


Much more conspicuous once we got to the Patagonia/Nogales area.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

Our birds were undoubtedly post-breeding dispersals from farther north.

EASTERN MEADOWLARK (LILIAN'S) (Sturnella magna lilianae)

There's been more talk of splitting this distinctive form out from Eastern as the Chihuahuan or Lilian's Meadowlark.

HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus)

Mostly at the feeders at this season.

BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (Icterus bullockii) [*]

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus)


GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

LUCY'S WARBLER (Leiothlypis luciae)

These were getting a little thin on the vine in mid to late August.

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Can you imagine trying to get a look at a Lucifer Hummingbird like this in the era before widespread adoption of hummingbird feeders? The near ubiquitous presence of hummingbird feeders has certainly made your guides' lives easier! Photo by participant David Blue.

NASHVILLE WARBLER (Leiothlypis ruficapilla) [b]

This one transits the state in decent numbers from mid-August onward. Ours are the tail-wagging Western race L.r. ridgwayi.

VIRGINIA'S WARBLER (Leiothlypis virginiae)

Fabulous looks at this normally difficult warbler near Rustler Park.

MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER (Geothlypis tolmiei) [b]

Decent looks on our first afternoon in Box Canyon.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

GRACE'S WARBLER (Setophaga graciae)

A few of these were still hanging out in the tall pines near Rustler Park.

BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens)

HERMIT WARBLER (Setophaga occidentalis) [b]

It was a little surprising to see multiples of these migrants, but not any Townsend's Warblers which usually accompany Hermits on the way south.

WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) [b]

RED-FACED WARBLER (Cardellina rubrifrons)

Great views of multiples on Mt. Lemmon on our first full morning.

PAINTED REDSTART (Myioborus pictus)

Surprisingly few seen this year, in perfect habitat, which might be an indication of a very poor breeding season.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

HEPATIC TANAGER (Piranga flava) [N]

We watched an adult male feeding a fledgling next to the road near Rustler Park in the Chiricahuas.

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

The big-billed Western race cooperi here.

WESTERN TANAGER (Piranga ludoviciana)

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

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A couple of very hard freezes in Southeast Arizona in the past fifteen years really knocked back reptile numbers here, but most, like this gorgeous Yarrow's Spiny Lizard, are finally starting to come back. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

PYRRHULOXIA (Cardinalis sinuatus)

A few of these beauties showed up at the Portal feeders, right on cue.

BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)

LAZULI BUNTING (Passerina amoena)

VARIED BUNTING (Passerina versicolor)

A couple of really nice studies of singing males.

PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris) [b]

At least two female-plumaged birds showed up on the trail behind Patagonia Lake. This species shows up in s. Arizona at this season from breeding grounds to the east in order to molt before they move on to Mexico and Central America for the winter.


EASTERN COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus floridanus)

The higher elevation cottontail here.

DESERT COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus audubonii)

CLIFF CHIPMUNK (Tamias dorsalis)

The only true chipmunk in the region.

HARRIS'S ANTELOPE SQUIRREL (Ammospermophilus harrisii)

These provided some comic relief at the Portal feeders.

ROCK SQUIRREL (Spermophilus variegatus)

Often mistaken for a Sciurus 'tree squirrel'

MEXICAN FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus nayaritensis) [*]

I've never had this one on any list as a 'heard only'.

ARIZONA GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus arizonensis)

This one has a very restricted World range.

COLLARED PECCARY (Tayassu tajacu)

Decent looks on our final afternoon along the Ruby Road near Nogales.

MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus)

In s. Arizona, this is the deer of the open desert lowlands.

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The towering spires and cliffs of weathered volcanic tuff at the mouth of Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus)

Ours were the very small race O.v. couesi.

PRONGHORN (Antilocapra americana)


COACHWHIP (Masticophis flagellum)

A couple of these quick pink snakes crossed the road in front of us in fast succession.


We had a couple of looks at the most common and widespread rattler in the state.

AMERICAN BULLFROG (Lithobates catesbeianus) [I]

RED-SPOTTED TOAD (Anaxyrus punctatus)

The monsoon rains brought these and the next species out in numbers.

GREAT PLAINS TOAD (Anaxyrus cognatus)

ELEGANT EARLESS LIZARD (Holbrookia elegans)

This one actually lacks any external ear openings.

CLARK'S SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus clarkii)

A big Sceloporus lizard that is almost entirely arboreal. A favorite food of the Gray Hawk here in the summer months.

YARROW'S SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus jarrovii)

A beautiful mountain lizard with an intricate pattern.

SONORAN SPOTTED WHIPTAIL (Aspidoscelis sonorae)

These were the whiptails that we saw in the lowlands in the Patagonia/Nogales region.

DESERT GRASSLAND WHIPTAIL (Aspidoscelis uniparens)

Widespread in the grassy uplands on this tour.

Totals for the tour: 189 bird taxa and 11 mammal taxa