“Southeast Arizona in Winter: Raptors, Cranes, Sparrows, Thrashers, and Other Specialties”
This tour is currently being offered on a custom basis only. Please contact us so that we can craft a tour for you or your group, based on your travel and birding preferences! Sample dates presented for reference.
Southeast Arizona is popular during peak migration, but winter birding is our best-kept secret! Arizona is blessed with many habitats: deserts and grasslands, lush riparian corridors and “Sky Islands”. Birders can expect exceptional avian diversity, and hope for vagrants from Mexico. Sandhill Cranes, raptors, sparrows and other winter visitors abound. Many residents like Crissal and Bendire’s Thrashers burst into full song, marking the transition to early spring. Pleasant weather and impressive birding makes SE Arizona in winter a “must” for discerning birders.
To sign up for this or any other Adventure Birding tour, please email
for a printable registration form, or call 520-495-0229 to have one mailed to you.
Saturday, January 19 — Day 1
The tour officially begins in Tucson at 5 pm in Tucson where we will have introductions and dinner. For those arriving early, lunch can be arranged. Your guide will provide transportation from the airport to our lodging. We will spend the first two nights at the spectacular Arizona Inn in mid-town Tucson.
Sunday, January 20 — Day 2
We will have breakfast at the hotel and depart for the Santa Cruz Flats to the northwest of Tucson. We will search for wintering raptors, including White-tailed Kites and Crested Caracaras, Mountain Plovers, Bendire’s Thrasher, sparrows, and surprises for which this area is known. We will return to Tucson for lunch and explore the lush desert oases that the city is blessed with, including Sweetwater Wetlands. Dinner will be in eclectic downtown Tucson, where the group will decide on what sounds appealing. Your guide will provide culinary reviews. We will again spend the night at the Arizona Inn.
Monday, January 21 — Day 3
After breakfast at the motel, we will head to world-famous Madera Canyon to search for mid-elevation and high-desert grassland species Including Arizona Woodpecker, Painted Redstart, Rufous-winged and Black-throated Sparrows. After lunch, we will explore the lush riparian corridor between Tubac and Tumacacori, where we often find rare wintering species. Past exciting finds here include Rufous-backed Robin, Rose-throated Becard and Streaked-backed Oriole! Who knows what might be found next? Optional shopping time at Tubac will be provided if there is interest! We will continue on to Patagonia where we will spend the night at a B&B.
Tuesday, January 22 — Day 4
After breakfast, we will depart for the incredible scenic vistas of the San Rafael Valley where we will look for raptors, sparrows including the elusive Ammodromus sparrows (namely Baird’s) and longspurs. Lunch will be at the must-stop Velvet Elvis in Patagonia. We will spend the afternoon at the Paton’s in Patagonia and the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. We will spend the evening once again in Patagonia.
Wednesday, January 23 — Day 5
We will bird Patagonia Lake State Park after breakfast with hopes of finding Black-capped Gnatcatcher and other unusual avian residents. We will have lunch in Patagonia, with time for optional souvenir shopping. We will depart for Whitewater Draw in the Sulphur Springs Valley to watch the spectacle of thousands of bugling Sandhill Cranes flying in to their evening roost. We will have dinner in Willcox and spend the evening at a B& B outside Willcox.
Thursday, January 24 — Day 6
We will bird the Sulphur Springs Valley in the morning and work our way out to the Chiricahua National Monument for some of the most incredible natural scenery that Arizona affords. We will then bird our way up into the Chiricahua Mountains. This area is often quiet in winter (bird-wise), but harbors the Mexican Chickadee, a species that only enters the United States here and one other remote mountain range in New Mexico. We will be do a Picnic lunch at the monument and depart mid-afternoon for Tucson. We will stop off at the Willcox Ponds to see what surprises are present there. Night in Tucson.
Friday, January 25 — Day 7
Our final full day! Locations will be dictated by tour participant’s preferences, birds still unseen and species that may have shown up while we were on tour. With Tucson as our base, we will be poised to travel to almost any SE Arizona location! Wherever we end up, you can be sure the guide will have a great dining option in mind.
Saturday, January 26 — Day 8
We will breakfast in Tucson, then bird the east side of Tucson including Saquaro National Park East and Aqua Caliente. The tour officially ends at noon. Transportation to the airport will be provided by your guide. All who are staying longer are invited for dinner and drinks at the guide’s downtown loft.
The pace of this trip is moderate. There will be some early mornings, but most will be rather sane as it can be quite cold at this time of year and bird activity doesn’t often pick up until the sun warms the treetops. There will be occasional walks on uneven surfaces, but we will not be hiking anymore than two miles round trip - and almost always much less. We will have one day at high elevation, but birding will be from the roadside, so we will not be exerting ourselves with long hikes.
Trip price is $1690 based on double occupancy and a minimum of 4 people. Single supplement is $495. We will attempt to pair you with a roommate of the same gender if you choose, but if this is not possible you will be charged the single supplement fee. The trip price includes van transportation from Tucson International Airport (and transportation throughout the tour), all lodging, meals, guides, park entry fees, and bird feeder donations.
The following are not included: airfare to the starting point of the trip, alcoholic beverages, tips for the guides, and costs resulting from illness, injury, or emergency evacuation, program changes, and delays beyond our control.
To register for this tour, contact
or call 520-495-0229. A deposit of $200 per person is required to reserve a space on the trip. Full payment of the tour fee is due ninety days prior to the tour departure. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Refunds are made as follows.
--Cancellations in writing made more than 90 days before departure will forfeit the deposit.
--Cancellations made 60 to 90 days before departure will forfeit 50% of the trip price.
--There is no refund for trips canceled less than 60 days before departure. No trip substitutions can be made for cancellations. One name change allowed up to 21 days before departure.
It is highly recommended that you consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance to cover your financial investment in this trip. A few examples of companies from which you can purchase such insurance are listed below:
In the rare event that the Adventure Birding Company must cancel a trip, 100% of all payments received to date will be refunded. The Adventure Birding Company is not responsible for non-refundable airfare or trip insurance.
Also note that your insurance company may not cover you for medical expenses incurred while traveling. As such, you may wish to consider additional coverage provided by the same companies that offer trip cancellation insurance.
GENERAL TRIP INFORMATION:
Please note: this information is offered to give a general impression for what is to be expected for the listed trip. If the reader requires any clarification or wishes for more detailed information, please do not hesitate to contact a representative of the Adventure Birding Company. Please remember that we are not a travel agency, and as such will not be held liable for any errors or omissions made in the presentation of this information.
ENTERING THE COUNTRY: Non-U.S. citizens should check with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to learn about the latest requirements for travelers entering the United States. Most travelers will only need a valid passport, but some may require a tourist visa. Information for both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens may be found here: http://travel.state.gov/.
HEALTH: Generally speaking, southeastern Arizona in winter does not pose any significant danger to visiting birdwatchers. Primary hazards are sun exposure and low humidity. Visitors are advised to drink LOTS of water (several liters) each day.
WEATHER: Temperatures at this time of year can range from 25º F in the morning in the grasslands to 70º F during very warm spells. We always recommend that you check the 10-day weather forecast before you pack your bags. Winter rains may come in the form of light drizzle on some days. Strong winds are possible at any time.
CLOTHING: Be prepared for the possibility of temperatures just below freezing on the occasional early morning. Most of the time, however, this is a pleasant place to be in the winter, and daytime highs in 50’s and low 60's F are the norm. Long pants, sturdy shoes, and a broad-brimmed hat are all recommended. Sun protection begins with clothing, but is enhanced by a sunscreen of 30 SPF or greater. And don't worry - our restaurants won't require your best evening formalwear.
EQUIPMENT: Binoculars should be brought by the participant. Trip leader will carry a spotting scope and tripod; it is not necessary for participants to bring one. You may wish to bring a camera for 'souvenir' photos. There may be limited opportunities for bird photography, but remember that the primary focus of this trip is to see the birds, not photograph them.
LODGING: We select hotels that are clean and comfortable with good reputations.
FOOD: Each of our hotels will provide a continental-style breakfast. Lunches will consist of healthful picnic food when our meals are taken in the field, but may be provided in standard restaurants as our daily itinerary allows. Dinners will be provided in standard restaurants with a focus on local cuisine (Mexican-American, steakhouses, etc). Alcoholic beverages are not included in the price of the tour. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know.
TRANSPORTATION: Transport to and from the Tucson International Airport will be provided by the tour guide in the group tour van. Transportation throughout the tour will be provided in this same van.
SMOKING: Smoking is strictly prohibited in the vehicles or in close proximity to the group. Smoking is permitted well downwind of the group in outdoor settings, unless otherwise dictated by the policies of the locations in which we are visiting. If you are sharing a hotel room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room and be mindful of any cigarette odors that may travel with you into the room.
DETAILED INFORMATION PACKET: Each tour participant will receive a packet containing detailed information on all of our policies, as well as all remaining pertinent information for the trip (where/when the group will meet on the first day, specific locations of our hotels, etc). This will be mailed several weeks in advance of our departure date.
The Adventure Birding Company is a permittee of the Coronado National Forest, and an equal opportunity service provider.