View Full Version : Southern Arizona in late February / early March?

Jeff Dyck
01-19-2011, 09:53 PM
I find my self in the position of having some carried over vacation time that I have been told I have to use before the end of March or lose. With my schedule the way it is, it really only leaves the last week of February / first week of March so I am throwing around some ideas for a birding and photography trip at that time. My initial thought was to head to south Texas but a I've since found out that the annual NANPA summit is being held there in McAllen in the second week of March and that there will likely be crowds of people around for some pre-NANPA shooting and that really isn't going to be my scene...

I have since been tossing around a trip to southern Arizona (i.e. fly into Tucson and drive from there) but I don't know much in the way of specifics about the area. I've heard lots of great things about places like Madera Canyon, and I've found a few websites the identify some other popular areas but they haven't gotten into specific details about timing.

A few questions:

What can I expect this time of year in the way of "southern Arizona speciality species"?
Will I be too early for desert blooms?
Any recommendations on reasonably priced accomodations in the area?
Any specific recommendations on specific area birding spots?

Any help or information would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.

Rob Miner
01-21-2011, 02:22 PM
Hey Jeff, Type: Sierra Vista Area of Arizona in Google. There info is solid - this web site should give you all the leads that you need to have a great time.

Cost of Info: Lets us know what happens when you get back.:bg3:


Sid Garige
02-01-2011, 10:35 PM


I was there last March and truly one of the best places to photograph birds using setups.


Jeff Dyck
02-01-2011, 10:41 PM
Thanks Sid. I`ve actually already been talking with Bill Forbes about a few days in his blinds.

Don Nelson
02-03-2011, 01:33 AM

Couple of Ideas

Keep an eye on the SE Az Rare Bird alert
and the Az-NM birding list

You'll find out where overwintering Trogans are ...but they're a lot quieter and harder to find before May.

I'll second the Huachucas:
Contact Tony Battiste
He has a B&B for birders. Also a blind for rent. He'll let you know if the Hummingbirds are back that early

Also Ash Canyon B&B - Mary Jo for Hummingbirds (and a B&B)
Mary Jo also has Gray Hawks in her canyon. And a large flock of Turkeys...

And one of the best Hummingbird sites, but won't allow flash/long lenses/mobile setups, etc (the complete opposite of the philosophy of Bill Forbes)
http://www.beattysguestranch.com/ Read Tom's website carefully before arriving so you won't be disappointed. Lots of good images are made without all the equipment many of us take for granted.

Over in the Santa Ritas, beside's Bill's setup just to the west in Amado:
at the south end -- stop at the Patton's house (sadly they are both deceased) in Patagonia(most reliable place for Violet Crowned Hummingbirds), and the adjacent Patagonia-Sonotia Creek Preserve (Nature Conservancy)
And of course Madera canyon (where male Trograns have overwintered the past several years, but they are pretty quiet and harder to find in Feb/Mar.). Stop at the Kubo and see if the Flame Tanager has returned already (they've got Hepatic Tanagers overwintering this year). The Flame Tanager disappeared early last summer -- too early compared to early years. It was a 6-8 year old bird; some suspect it might not be still alive...we will see in March

And if you go to Tucson - check out Sweetwater Wetlands.
ANd in Gilbert (east of Phoenix on hiway60), Gilbert's Water Ranch (which had the baikal teal a few months ago...sadly not seen since)

too many choices. Bill's place is a good start....

Have fun

And the wildflowers are variable on the desert -- in Arizona they are entirely dependent upon adequate moisture in Fall (and some during the winter) which is when they germinate. Just having rain in winter isnt enough
Here's the phone numbers to check current conditions:
Arizona's State Parks' wildflowers hotline ( 602) 542-4988
Arizona Wildflower Hotline (602) 754-8134.
Hint: If this is a big year for wildflowers in Organ Pipe Cactus NM...go.

Paul Lagasi
02-10-2011, 10:57 PM
Jeff.. Don gave you some fantastic spots, I was in southeastern Arizona last February, My 7th trip to area and it never dissapoints
I'll add a few, Patagonia Lake - always something good there Hepatic Tanager, Elegant Trogan (lucky find), Phoebes,
Cave Creek Canyon Ranch in Portal, Arizona - this place has feeders set up and Reed is a great host, accomodations reasonable. Bridled Titmouse, Yellow Eyed Juncos, Siskins, Painted Redstart, Black-Chinned Hummingbirds..lots more. We even had a Coati come to the feeders. Might be a little early but you could see Owls in the trees outside guest cabins.
Buenos Ares NWR, Aravica Creek area near Nogales - Montezuma Quail, Lawence's Goldfinch (both these birds are about a 1 in ten chance of seeing) - but area is close to the border and there was talk of closing this it down down - lots of accomodations in Nogales
Madera Canyon area - another great find Rufous-Capped Warbler, not sure if its back this year.
Phoenix - Buckeye site http://www.funbirdingtours.com/2010/07/26/buckeye-thrasher-site/ one of the only places to where you have a great chance of seeing a Le Conte's Thrasher - tough bird though - Crissals, Curve-Billed, Sage all can be seen here
Tucson - http://www.desertmuseum.org/ - you won't be dissapointed
Wilcox to McNeal - Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area (Ducks, lots of them and close) and Sulphur Springs Valley, area near Elfrida great place to look for Mountain Plover, 4 species of Thrashers, hawks.

Check out this site - http://www.sabo.org/index.htm

We were there in Mid to late Feb, 9 days, not much blooming but still took some lovely HDR, Panorama images was pretty dry.
In this part of Arizona you just never know birds are like that...but if you check the

I will be in Cave Creek for 3 days during migration, Apr. 18, 19, 20 - I can't wait, I am already packed...lolol
Hope this helps a bit
One thing to keep in mind if it rains stay off the dirt roads (even if you rent a small SUV), you can really get stuck out there....I know from experience :e3