Overview

Arizona boasts the third highest total of bird species by state in the United States, pretty impressive for being completely landlocked. In particular, the southeast corner holds the highest diversity due to the confluence of eastern and western species and many southern species that just spill over the international border here. Southeast Arizona is a land of contrasts, where rugged, forested mountains form “sky islands” within the Sonoran Desert. Rivers, like the Santa Cruz and San Pedro, flow slowly across arid valleys, creating ribbons of greenery along their banks by supporting cottonwoods and willows. Middle elevations are covered by rich grasslands and juniper-oak woodland while the highest elevations harbor mixed coniferous forests. In between, one finds desert areas dominated by impressive saguaro cacti, dense mesquite thickets, man-made wetlands that are magnets for water birds, and ancient stands of sycamores along creeks and canyons. This variety of habitats packed into a relatively small area is home to the greatest diversity of breeding birds in the United States.

Many species from further south reach their range limits in southeastern Arizona and occur nowhere else in the country. This tour will focus on these southeast Arizona specialties, southwest desert birds, and the spectacular variety of nocturnal birds that can be found here, including up to eight species of owls and four species of nightjars. Some of the specialty species we seek include Montezuma Quail, Grey and Zone-tailed Hawks, Elegant Trogon, Arizona Woodpecker, Gilded Flicker, Greater Pewee, Buff-breasted, Dusky-capped and Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, Tropical and Thick-billed Kingbirds, Bendire’s and Crissal Thrashers, Olive, Virginia’s, Lucy’s, Grace’s and Red-faced Warblers, Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, Abert’s Towhee, Rufous-winged, Five-striped, Cassin’s and Botteri’s Sparrows, Yellow-eyed Junco, and Varied Bunting. Some rarer possibilities include Short-tailed Hawk, Rose-throated Becard, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Rufous-capped Warbler, and Flame-colored Tanager.

Southeast Arizona is also the hummingbird capital of the United States and we will search for Broad-billed, Violet-crowned, Blue-throated Mountain-Gem, Rivoli's, Black-chinned, Anna’s, Broad-tailed and Lucifer Hummingbirds. The canyons and mountains here also offer some of the most productive night birding anywhere and we will conduct several evening outings or search for species on day roosts. Possibilities include Whiskered and Western Screech-owls, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Flammulated, and the impressive Spotted Owls. Among nightjars, we will look for Mexican Whip-poor-will, Common Poorwill, Lesser Nighthawk, and the exceedingly rare Buff-collared Nightjar. These nocturnal outings can also be productive for mammals, including Collared Peccary, Black Bear, several species of skunks, Ringtail, Bobcat, and even Mountain Lions still roam these wilderness areas. Our itinerary will take us from the desert around Tucson to the famous sky islands of the Santa Rita, Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains through the Patagonia and Sonoita Creek areas and the unique California Gulch.

Tour Facts Top Birds
Montezuma Quail; Grey & Zone-tailed Hawks; Elegant Trogon; Arizona Woodpecker; Gilded Flicker; Greater Pewee; Buff-breasted & Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers; Thick-billed Kingbird; LeConte’s, Bendire’s, & Crissal Thrashers; Olive, Lucy’s, and Red-faced Warblers; Abert’s Towhee; Rufous-winged, Five-striped, & Botteri’s Sparrows; Yellow-eyed Junco; Varied Bunting; Violet-crowned, Blue-throated Mountain-Gem, Rivoli's, Broad-billed & Lucifer Hummingbirds; Whiskered Screech-owl; Flammulated, Elf & Spotted Owls.
Top Mammals
Collared Peccary; Black Bear; Ringtail; Bobcat; Mountain Lion (very rare).
Habitats Covered
Desert flats and scrub, mesquite thickets, grassland, riparian forest, and mountain coniferous forests.
Expected Climate
Spring is an ideal time for warm to mild temperatures in the mountains 20℃ (70℉), low lying desert areas can become hot during the day with temperatures exceeding 32℃ (90℉). Mornings could be cool at higher elevations, carry at least one warm layer. Throughout the tour, sunny and dry conditions prevail.
Max Group Size
14 with 1 Rockjumper Leader and 1 Highlonesome Leader
Tour Pace & Walking
easy, but some early mornings and later evenings, one moderate hike (optional), few long drives
Accommodation
very comfortable hotels; some fine local restaurants
Ease of Birding
mostly easy with a few difficult species
Number of Species Expected
140 - 150
Other Attractions
wonderful scenery, mountain views, wild west landscapes, historical towns, Spanish missions and historical parks
Photographic Opportunities
good to excellent
Tour Route Map Route Map Client Testimonials

Loved Stephan and Claudia! They were a great team and made the experience very pleasant and enjoyable. The sit down lunch on the last day was great! Pre-ordering lunch might help expedite the meal if needed for time. The Bat flight was worth the wait! Thank you! We look forward to birding with Rockjumper again.

Forrest Rowland is a great guide with thorough knowledge of the area and avifauna. He got all members of the group to see all the species encountered, and we found many great birds. He is very professional, dedicated and with good humour. The area is beautiful and the fauna fantastic.

This was my 4th tour with Stephan, and he continues to be welcoming, caring, and on-point the entire trip. He always goes the extra mile to ensure everyone has a chance to see the birds and is very informative throughout the tour, always slipping in identification characteristics, sounds, or habitats that will help us in the future. He does all this with a very easy-going manner despite his high energy level and excellent people skills to ensure comraderie within the group. Despite the varied skill levels of the group’s participants, he is able to make each of us feel special, whether it is for me as a beginner birder with limited name associations to the species and a brain that doesn’t recall the information from day to day, all the way for those who are excellent at spotting birds and already knowing the species, perhaps due to a career in the field. This tour provided more challenges with some restaurants and toilets closed due to the pandemic or limited hours which did not mesh with the tour route, but Stephan and Claudia did an excellent job of rounding up food, supplies, meals, drinks, and toilet breaks. Because of the intense nature and number of miles/hours required each day to see the target species, they arranged for one vehicle to return to lodging each night at dinner time to provide an early night for those of us who needed a bit more sleep or for those whose abilities limited nighttime walking on uneven surfaces! I really appreciated that effort and concern, even though I love to see owls, etc. They are wonderful guides and friends!!!

Stephan was an excellent guide and made sure everyone was able to see the birds and many times obtain photos. He was patient with the requests of the group members and facilitated an enjoyable experience for all. Claudia was a great addition to the team and we really appreciated her help finding birds in the scopes, identifying birds in the van, and working with Stephan to make sure our trip was as seamless as possible.

This was my first birding tour, not only with Rockjumper, but any tour company. Being a first for me, I was a bit anxious, but am happy to say the tour met and exceeded my expectations. The lodging, meals and other tour participants were all great. Best of all was our tour guide, Stephan Lorenz. His knowledge, kindness and willingness to accommodate each member of the tour were phenomenal. I am also happy to say I picked up 94 life birds!

Dates, Leaders and Pricing
2022 DEPARTURES
2023 DEPARTURES
Tour Enquiry
  • Your details

  • Contact permission

    We would love to send you Newsletters, Promotions, Discounts, Blog Articles, and other content that we think you would find interesting. If you are happy with this then please select your preferences below. If you would like to unsubscribe from previous subscriptions, or leave our mailing list entirely, then please do so by visiting the Preference Centre link at the bottom of these emails.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.