Birding (bird watching) is big around Tucson. Southern Arizona boasts the 2nd Largest Bird Species habitat in the world. The Amazon rainforest is #1. With over 230 identified species of birds, Southern Arizona is prime birding country. From Ramsey Canyon, the self-acclaimed “Hummingbird Capital of the World”, to cool(er) and beautiful Madera Canyon, to the BANWR and the SPRNCA, Southern Arizona is the place to visit for birdwatching, both winter and summer. Following is a list of websites and Festivals you can visit to find out more about Southern Arizona’s rich birdwatching habitats.
Bird Watching Festivals in Southern Arizona
Wings over Willcox – January. Wings over Willcox is about the Sandhill Crane, but it is so much more than that. Field trips, photography events, seminars, overnighters; This event sells out every year. You can still come and experience the majesty of the Sandhill Cranes without attending the events.
Southwest Wings Birding Festival – July-August. Many species make their home in the canyons south of Sierra Vista in the summer months.
Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival – August. Sponsored by the Audubon Society.
Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival – April in the Verde Valley North of Phoenix.
Bird Watching Websites for more information
IF you are a beginning birder, check out this comprehensive article; The “Ultimate Beginners Guide to Bird Watching.”
The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, SPRNCA, along one of the last perennial river’s in Arizona is home to over 350 species of birds. Stop by the San Pedro House, take a walk along the river or join one of the Friends of the San Pedro River’s many hikes, walks and tour programs.
Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, Bird Habitats and Migrations.
The Friends of Madera Canyon hosts one of the most famous birdwatching areas in the United States. It has limited access, parking, lodging and groceries, but some say that it has some of the best birdwatching in the world. Plan to do some hiking if you are serious. Madera Canyon is hugely popular, so expect to encounter large groups of people. There are campsites that are shady and treed, and quite inviting in the summer months. It is cooler than Tucson, but not as cool as Mt. Lemmon, Mt. Graham, Ramsey and Carr Canyons. The great advantage is its close proximity to Tucson.
The BANWR – Buenos Aries National Wildlife Refuge is not just about birds, although they are certainly plentiful. This wildlife refuge near Arivaca covers over 100,000 acres. Stop in Arivaca, at the 100 old Cantina, La Gitana.
The Tucson Audubon Society has an extensive website with a ton of resources for amateur and professional birders alike. Check out their new edition of Finding Birds in SouthEast Arizona. or purchase it from Amazon here.
SABO – Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. This conservation organization is based in Bisbee. They offer walks, workshops and tours as well as research and monitoring, including a long-term hummingbird banding project at the San Pedro River.
Sierra Vista Birding – Sierra Vista bills itself as the Hummingbird Capital of the World. It’s the closest major city to the San Pedro River conservation area, as well as Ramsey and Carr Canyons.
And don’t forget the Audubon Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia.
Just a little bit little further down the road from the Paton House is the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, part of the Nature Conservancy.
Find a Friend to go Birdwatching with. Here is a site of people looking for friends to go birding with throughout Arizona.
For more information about the best Birdwatching opportunities in Southern Arizona, see our page, 10 Best Birding Hotspots in Southern Arizona.