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Trip Report

Comments: We have done several short trips to Arizona so I have detailed 2 of them here. I only list life birds or interesting species in the second report.

April 2005

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Day 1: Up early to enjoy the cooler part of the day and headed over to the Desert Botanical Gardens. Sat outside the café enjoying breakfast and a constant stream of birds. Costa’s, Anna’s and Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Greater Roadrunner, Cactus Wren, Gambel’s Quail, Curve-billed Thrash, Verdin, Phainopepla, Gila Woodpecker – 26 species in total and a lovely relaxing start to the day.

Spent the afternoon on a beautiful hiking trail heading up to Squaw Peak. Not overly birdy but did see Rock Wren, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher and Black-throated Sparrow. It was getting crazy hot so we called it a day and headed back to our hotel – Embassy Suites, Paradise Valley.

Grey Vireo

Day 2: It was heaven to get up and put on shorts and a t-shirt. Drove to Mesquite Creek and walked around – Lucy’s and Yellow Warblers, Black Phoebe, Lesser Goldfinch and Great-crested Flycatcher.

Had breakfast and then drove 10 miles down the road to Bushnell Tanks, this was a gorgeous walk and quite birdy – Bewick’s Wren, Grey Vireo, Hooded Oriole, White-crowned, Rufous-capped & White-throated Sparrows, Zone-tailed Hawk and Bushtit. Embassy Suites, Paradise Valley.


October 2019

Burrowing Owl

Day 1: Left our lovely hotel, Mountain Shadow resort, and started at the Community College where Burrowing Owls can be found at the back corner of the car park. This is a stunning campus and we found a number of other more common species around here as well.

Then a walk around Papago Park near the zoo gave us the Gilded Flicker (along with a number of other species) that we needed.

We were then driving down to Tucson so decided to check out a spot from ebird where Bendire’s Thrasher had been seen. The location seemed to be someone’s home so we walked the fields nearby and lucked out with an unusually showy bird. Night at Canoa Ranch Golf Resort.

Day 2: Because we were down here for some very specific species (Montezuma’s & Scaled Quails and Rufous-winged Sparrow) we had decided to hire a guide for the day so we drove to Patagonia to meet with Matt.

We started by going for the hardest species – Montezuma’s Quail – so we searched areas that Matt knew held the bird. There were plenty of

Rufous-winged Sparrow

signs of them but unfortunately no birds. We did much better with the other 2 species though. Matt drove straight to a spot for Rufous-winged Sparrow which appeared within seconds and then we drove quite a distance to the Visitor’s Centre at the Appleton-Whittel Audubon Research Ranch where we enjoyed a whole covey of Scaled Quail. Night at Canoa Ranch Golf Resort.

Day 3: Today we went back to Madeira Canyon where we had started our birding career many years ago. (We had stayed at the Chuperosa Inn at that time and were thrilled to see it was still there – this was where we saw our first Coppery-tailed Trogon.) Our first stop on the way up the canyon was Santa Rita Lodge where they have an amazing number of bird and hummingbird feeders. You can sit there for hours and enjoy a huge number of species – too many to list but a wonderful place to enjoy. We had also had an Elf Owl here many years ago.

After that we continued on up the Canyon and walked a great trail up to Josephine’s Saddle. Couldn’t resist another stop at the feeders again on the way down.

Bendire’s Thrasher

Drove back to Tucson and treated ourselves to the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain.

Day 4:  We had seen a spot for Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay on ebird so despite the fact that we were supposed to be enjoying a couple of lazy days at this wonderful resort we decided to strike out early to see if we could get lucky. The first spot we tried wasn’t a success but the 2nd spot was great and we were back enjoying the resort by mid-morning. Night at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain.

Day 5: Left early and drove back to a spot slightly west of Phoenix known as the ‘Thrasher Spot’. Wow! What a spot. There were a number of Curve-billed Thrashers, a Bendire’s Thrasher, several Sagebrush Sparrows and a number of Bell’s Sparrows. Good end to our trip.


Phoenix: (2005) –  Embassy Suites – no longer the Embassy Suites
(2019) – Mountain Shadow Resort

Tucson: (2019) – Canoa Golf Resort – (not recommended)
Dove Mountain Resort

Guides & Resources

Guide: Matt Brown – Lifebirds

Field Guide – Sibley’s app and ebird for species locations.

Bird List