Birds flourish in Arizona, so when you visit, bring your binoculars, camera, and love of nature. Arizona is an extraordinary birding destination, especially for hummingbirds. In the eastern United States, only one hummingbird – the ruby-throated – breeds east of the Mississippi River. In unique areas of Arizona, like Sierra Vista, birders may sight as many as fifteen species of hummingbirds!
Diverse wildlife and spectacular scenery make Arizona a premier destination for birders, hikers, nature enthusiasts, and photographers. Arizona is a beautiful and exceptional destination for nature lovers, ranking as a top revenue generator in the Mountain States for wildlife watching. And, the birds of the Grand Canyon State are TripleA – amazing, abundant, and awesome.
Abundant birds plus sightings of rarities
As an ecological crossroads location, Arizona offers an abundance of common bird species plus the chance to spot a rarity. Have the North American Rare Bird Alert hotline on speed dial when you explore Arizona’s diverse landscape. NARBA will alert you to rare sightings, so you can zoom over to view a rare bird. Or, if you identify an unusual bird, perhaps a Mexican species rarely seen in the United States, you can make your own Rare Arizona Bird Alert by calling it into the Southeast Arizona Alert at (520) 629-0510(520) 629-0510, Extension 3.
Winter brings the Christmas Bird Count
When it’s cold in the northern United States, temperatures are comfortable and balmy in Arizona, where the birding, landscape, and wildlife viewing have something to offer in all seasons. Winter birding offers the challenge of the Sierra Vista (Ramsey Canyon) Christmas Bird Count, where that event regularly achieves one of the highest inland species totals in the United States, topping 150 species.
Spring brings tropical and migratory species
From mid-April through September is the best times to see tropical species such as hummingbirds, trogans, warblers and flycatchers. The peak of spring migration occurs in late April through early May when tens of thousands of songbirds wing northward. And, the cooling thunderstorms of July and August create a “second spring,” when wildflowers draw hummingbirds, butterflies, and migrating species.
Sierra Vista with Madera and Ramsey Canyon — hummingbird capital of the US
A location famous worldwide is just over an hour south of Tucson. There, nestled between Kartchner Caverns, Tombstone, Bisbee, and Arizona’s wine country, birders flock to Sierra Vista, the hummingbird capital of the United States. Sierra Vista’s beautiful Ramsey Canyon region is surrounded by the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona. The live oak foliage canopy of the national forest is internationally renowned among birders.
In the Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve within the Upper San Pedro River Basin, fifteen species of hummingbirds have been identified as well as dozens of bird species whose geographical ranges usually lie in Mexico. This 380 acre property provides excellent birding opportunities, year round, and is home to the Arizona Folklore Preserve as well as Nature Conservancy’s renowned Ramsey Canyon Preserve.
In this southeastern Arizona region, the steep rise of the mountains from the surrounding arid grasslands and deserts, create “sky islands,” that harbor tremendous habitat diversity. Be sure to visit Madera Canyon and the San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area to add richly to your birding list. And, be sure to visit the sky island of Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Sky Island Scenic Byway
The Sky Island Scenic Byway travels through the Coronado National Forest, starting among giant saguaro cacti of Saguaro National Park’s Sonoran desert and climbing to shady conifer forests at nearly 9,000 feet atop Mt. Lemmon. The journey offers a biological diversity equivalent to a drive from Mexico to Canada in just 27 miles. The views are spectacular, and the birding offers an incredible day of species diversity.
Yuma and two, national wildlife refuges
Joining Arizona’s human snowbirds, nearly 400 species of birds make Yuma, Arizona, a seasonal stop or year round home. West Wetlands and Gateway parks and the East Wetlands restoration area provide wonderful wildlife watching. Kofa and Cibola National Wildlife Refuges and Mittry Lake Wildlife Area offer thousands of acres of diverse desert, mountain and riparian habitat.
Red rocks of Sedona
Oak Creek Canyon among the red rocks of Sedona offers a bird watchers a spectacular paradise and desert oasis. In Oak Creek Canyon, birders can spy several species of hummingbirds including the Anna’s, the rufous, the broad-tailed, and the black-chinned. Orioles, tanagers, woodpeckers and the delightful sounds of the Gambel’s Quail make for a memorable Sedona retreat.
The Big Year – on film and in Arizona
Interest in birding is destined to rise as the film, The Big Year, starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson premiered on October 14, 2011 and continues to intrigue birders and nature lovers. The trio’s humorous trials and tribulations as they attempt to spot the rarest birds in North America while competing in a prestigious bird watching tournament will make avid birders smile and create new interest in competitive bird watching for new and experienced birders.
Slideshow of Arizona birds
In all seasons, the birding is superb in Arizona. Winter and spring hold specific, seasonal highlights. And, hummingbirds are cherished highlights across the seasons. The slideshow accompanying this article offers a delightful glimpse of birds photographed in Arizona. Visit Arizona for the thrill of a big year in birding. The Grand Canyon states offers Southwestern scenery and unforgettable landscapes to heighten the enjoyment of birding.
Travel information and two, special inns
The Arizona Office of Tourism offers an official Arizona and vacation guide. The Ramsey Canyon Inn is delightful, and on the Arizona Republic’s List of the Top Ten B&Bs in Arizona. Reservations may be made online. The Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon is another accommodation highly favored by experienced birders, and it has humming bird feeders throughout the property as well as guidance for seeing key species such as hummingbirds as well as Elf and Whiskered Screech owls and trogans. At both accommodations, you’ll be glued to the marvelous sightings that fly right into their backyards.
Because of the popularity of birding in the Santa Rita Mountains, especially near Madera Canyon and Ramsey Canyon, the small cafes and shops, almost any business, nestled in these areas have feeders and/or birdhouses up. When stopping for a cup of java, be sure to check the eaves as you walk in, look for a feeder near your window or patio seat, and check the plantings around and near the establishment. You’ll garner more sighting excitement with ease.
Delight in Arizona’s birding and nature
As winter winds blow in, visit the big birding state of Arizona to enjoy the natural beauty of desert solitude, mountain landscapes, lush pine forests, and fascinating birds and wildlife. Arizona’s extraordinary birds, wildlife, and landscapes are unforgettable and filled with natural splendor.
Find the take in this article to be helpful? These National and International Travel materials come from a husband and wife creative team, who travel extensively as photonaturalists and writers. One is an experienced scientist with a doctorate in Material Sciences and background in optics research. The other is former Vice President of GKE (Global Knowledge Exchange), who served as a US Web-based Education Commissioner during the Clinton administration, and was a former US National Tech&Learning Teacher of the Year. To keep current on similar articles, view the suggested links below and click the free, “subscribe to get instant updates” link at the top of this article and get a conveniently customized news delivery.