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.
*2024 Prices are estimated and dates may change*
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)
The group saw 24 warblers (me 21) & I was elated!! Not to mention all the other quality birds. Stephen was superb. There were 13 of us & tho a high count of clients by RBT standards, it worked very well-we were lucky too-a fallout. Thanks Stephan thanks RBT.
Stephan and Claudia are a great team: Stephan is simply amazing hearing, spotting and helping all get on the relevant bird(s). As the only non-master birder and the oldest person on the trip, I thought that they both were helpful, careful and mindful of the needs of me and each of the group. Claudia often got on the bird as quickly as Stephan spotted it. The group worked for the best interest of the group. .... During a pandemic, the group acted responsibly and carefully.
Forrest Rowland led the tour, he was very good spotting birds and getting participants on the birds. Very friendly and professional, I would sign on to another tour with him.
Luke & Adam did a great job. This tour was the perfect US specialty tour (will be interested to see more of these)... We covered tons of environments in a fairly small territory. Luke is a LA-area expert and aimed us exactly where we needed to be.
Wish we had the hearing and eyesight with the knowledge and youth of the guides.