“The Roadrunner Tour”
We will start and conclude in Tucson, the second largest city in Arizona, with travels to the Huachuca and Santa Rita mountains.
April 7th – 12th 2024
Number of participants
Maximum of 6 participants, plus one guide.
Our guided tour will visit some of southeast Arizona’s most sought after birding locations, from the the highest peak in the Santa Catalina mountains (Mount Lemmon) to Madera Canyon in the Coronado National Forest.
Arizona is filled with spectacular desert landscapes, in addition to a mix of habitats from the urban fringe to the high mountains. We will minimize our walking distances as best as possible to maximize our birding opportunities closer to the vehicle.
What species can be spotted?
Some of the species to be encountered on this tour are: Greater roadrunner (our personal favorite), Gilded flicker, Phainopepla, Cactus wren (state bird and largest wren in the United States), Curve-billed thrasher, Verdin, Pyrruloxia, an assortment of flycatchers, Western bluebird, Pygmy nuthatch, Painted Redstart, Red-faced warbler, Hepatic tanager, Red crossbill, Harris’ hawk and an abundance of hummingbirds (Broad-tailed, Anna’s, Broad-billed, Black-chinned are among the regular sightings), in addition to a chance to spot the magnificent Elegant trogon.
Day 1: Arrival into Tucson – Mount Lemmon – Traveling southbound
Our tour will commence after lunch, which allows for flights into Tucson in the morning where we can pick you up from the airport, or from your accommodation if you’ve already arrived.
We will go straight to the highest peak in the Santa Catalina mountains (Mount Lemmon) for some high-elevation birding with chances to spot Painted Redstart and Red-faced Warbler.
After birding at Mount Lemmon we will proceed to our hotel in the small town of Amada, south of Tucson. Any stops on the way will depend largely on what birds have been seen recently in that area and if time allows. Have your eyes and binoculars prepped – Greater Roadrunners hit the ground running, just like we do!
Night in Amado (D)
Day 2: Santa Rita Mountains
There are an assortment of canyons in the Santa Rita Mountains and arguably the most well-known is Madera Canyon, which will be a primary focus of our birding today. A mixture of habitats from juniper-oak woodlands to pine forests near a streambed give us a chance to find many species, including Elegant Trogon, Mexican Jay and an abundance of hummingbirds.
If we didn’t encounter a Greater Roadrunner previously, then we will scope out another canyon in the area, which has regular sightings. The Greater Roadrunner is very common throughout its range, but is quite uncommon in its movements. We are just as likely to stumble upon one as we are to find one specifically searching for it.
Night in Amado (B,L,D)
Day 3: Patagonia – Hummingbirds – Traveling eastward
After breakfast we will make a short drive to Patagonia where we will spend some time at the Tucson Audubon Society’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, in particular to search for the Violet-crowned Hummingbird.
Patagonia Lake State Park provides some fantastic riparian habitat and a great trail to scan for more hummingbirds, doves, flycatchers, or even a Canyon Towhee.
After birding in Patagonia we will continue eastward for our next few nights in Hereford.
Casa de San Pedro (B,L,D)
Day 4: Ramsey Canyon
We will spend our morning birding The Nature Conservancy Preserve at Ramsey Canyon. It’s a very well-known birding location with opportunities to spot not only birds, but a variety of mammals and reptiles too! Oak woodlands provide the habitat for warblers and hummingbirds and hopefully Elegant Trogon if we missed it previously. Don’t forget to scan the skies for raptors.
In the afternoon we will focus our efforts alongside the San Pedro River. Phoebes, kingbirds, warblers, sparrows and hawks, among other species, will abound to keep us entertained.
Casa de San Pedro (B,L,D)
Day 5: Ash and Carr Canyons
After breakfast we will drive to upper Carr Canyon to see the high pine forest. Here we may find Greater Pewee, Steller’s Jay, Hutton’s Vireo, Buff-breasted Flycatcher and a few warbler species, among others.
We will take our packed lunch to have a picnic while observing the bird feeders at Ash Canyon, which is a hotspot for woodpeckers and hummingbirds, in addition to Scott’s Oriole. Here we could see the Acorn, Arizona and Ladder-backed woodpeckers.
Day 6: Return to Tucson
We will return to Tucson by lunchtime. Guests can be dropped off at the airport if they have flights, or at accommodation in Tucson if staying longer in the Arizona desert.
There will be time in the morning to do birding before the drive back into Tucson.
This is a guide only – our tours can be modified to suit your needs.