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.

This tour is operated by High Lonesome BirdTours in partnership with Rockjumper Birding Tours.

These are large group tours (up to 16 guests with multiple leaders), and will have guests from both Highlonesome and Rockjumper.

For any queries not related to a tour booking, please fee free to contact High Lonesome BirdTours directly Stephan Lorenz (Tour Director)

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 2 Tour Leaders

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

What our clients say about us

Stephan Lorenz
MS, Texas 2021

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.

Stephan Lorenz
MM & EM - Texas 2022

Wish we had the hearing and eyesight with the knowledge and youth of the guides.

Stephan Lorenz
WW, Texas 2021

Stephan Lorenz is a fantastic leader. This is my second trip with him and the reason I booked this trip. His attention to details and relentless searching for sought after birds makes any trip with him well worth the time. He and his wife, Claudia work well together as a dynamic team solving any problem that arise. We missed our connections and were late for the first day and efforts were made and resolved for us to join the group quickly. Despite the stormy weather we were able to see the target birds. This trip was selected because of the shorter amount of days making it easier to fit into our schedule. During this pandemic we felt safe traveling with this group and with the conditions of lodging and take out meal dining. I look forward to my next trip with Stephan.

Stephan Lorenz
EL, Texas 2021

It is great to be traveling again, even if it is a short domestic trip. But I don’t want to sell the tour short. It really was an excellent short tour. We saw a great number of migrating warblers and shorebirds. Stephan Lorenz has an uncanny ability to find the one special shorebird or a rare migrating warbler buried in the bushes. He is also kind, informative and always helpful. And a special thanks to Claudia for her help with the driving and coordination.

Stephan Lorenz
LP, Texas 2021

This being my first Rockjumper tour, it far surpassed my expectations. Stephan was a fantastic guide, attentive to the entire group and making sure everyone had a good look at the bird in front of us (sometimes, several birds!) The depth of his knowledge along with his raport and friendly/kind demeanor made him feel more like a good friend on a bird walk - with tons of knowledge and ability on top of a love for birds. Thanks Stephan/Claudia and Rockjumper for providing an amazing experience!

USA - Arizona: Southeast Specialties & Nightbirds 2024

01 May 2024 - 08 May 2024 (8 days)

USD3,500 - No Spaces Available

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Tour Leader: Local Leader

Tour price (Per person): USD3,500 * GBP2,759 * EUR3,233 * AUD5,335

Single Supplement: USD600 * GBP473 * EUR554 * AUD915

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