Arizona is the richest state in the USA for birds, with more than 500 species. The southern state boasts 350 of those and is considered a birder's paradise, which is why so many people travel from all across the globe to witness the array of species that flock there.

So why do they migrate here? Southern Arizona features many different elevations, with mountain ranges that rise so high from the desert floor that multiple habitats can be found from base to peak. For example, Madera Canyon, which is 25 miles to the south of Tucson on the northwest face of the Santa Rita Mountains, is a habitat for many migrating species. Birders enjoy Southern Arizona as a place to view rare species such as the blue-thriated mountain gem, flame-coloured tanager, sandhill crane abd elegant trogon.

There are many parks with water features that attract a variety of resident birds like doves, sparrows, finches, quail, roadrunners, woodpeckers, warblers, cactus wrens, cardinals, vultures, owls, herons, cranes, hawks, ravens and hummingbirds. The more unusual specimens include vermillion flycatchers, phainopeplas, belted kingfishers, great egrets and yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

A not-to-be-missed venue for birders is the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, which has a walk-in aviary. North of Tucson is a pristine desert birding site owned and managed by the Tucson Audubon Society (TAS) called the Mason Centre. The TAS also own and manage the Paton Centre for Hummingbirds about an hour away in the Santa Cruz town of Patagonia.

Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival (Sierra Vista) Summer Festival: July 31st to August 3rd, 2024
Southeast Arizona Birding Festival: August 7th to 11th, 2024

Tucson Audubon Society: offers many informative field trips for birders in Tucson and Southern Arizona.
Tohono Chul: offers regular bird walks with a docent free with admission. Their 11 different gardens attract a variety of birds.
Mission Garden: holds monthly bird walks every second Thursday from 8am to 10am.

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