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Birding is the number-one attraction in Southern Arizona – especially at places like Ramsey Canyon Preserve and its surrounding national forest, where visitors come from all over the world come for a chance to see more than 170 species of birds. But dedicated birders can also find interesting species in locations throughout the state:
- Southern Arizona
This ecological crossroads includes habitats and species from the Sierra Madre Mountains in northern Mexico, the Rocky Mountains and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, creating a spectacularly diverse collection of flora and fauna. Southeastern Arizona bird rarities include the elegant trogan and white-eared and berylline hummingbird, which are generally considered scarce, but are regular visitors to the mountains here.
- Arizona's West Coast
Here, amid the region’s many lakes and rivers, waterfowl abound. Don’t miss the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, home to the ruddy duck, northern pintail, great egret and many others. Or, visit the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, a 30-mile protected habitat on the lower Colorado River near Yuma – a perfect spot for wintertime birding.
- Central Arizona
Located just east of the greater Phoenix area, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community is a great spot to spy red-tailed hawks hunting, while in Scottsdale, great blue herons are often on display along the sprawling Indian Bend Wash. At The Nature Conservancy’s Hassayampa River Preserve in Wickenburg you may see some of the 280 species of birds that live, nest, or migrate along the riparian corridor. In Gilbert, in the southeastern part of the metro area, the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch also offers incredible birding in the middle of the city. A city-owned water reclamation project, these wetlands are home to a variety of shorebirds, hummingbirds and more – including kingfishers, ibis, American avocet and dozens of others.
- North Central Arizona
Sedona and the Verde Valley offer even more excitement for birders, where annual festivals give visitors the chance to spot the elusive sora or heron rookery. And in eastern Arizona's White Mountains, visitors can find osprey, bald eagles and several types of woodpeckers.
Head to Mormon Lake, near Flagstaff, for a glimpse at the endangered spotted owl, as well as the tree swallow and western nuthatch. Further north, in Grand Canyon country, the majestic bald eagle soars overhead, as well as the majestic, and endangered, California condor – once nearly extinct, but now slowly coming back due to extensive breeding-and-release programs.
For More Information
Visit these websites for details on planning your Arizona bird-watching vacation:
- Arizona Game & Fish Department
- Arizona Watchable Wildlife Tourism Association
- Arizona Audubon
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Cochise County Arizona
- Graham County Outdoor Activities
- Maricopa Audubon Society
- Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Department
- The Nature Conservancy
- Northern Arizona Audubon Society
- Sonoran Audubon Society
- Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory
- Tucson Audubon Society
- Tucson Birdwatching
- White Mountain Audubon Society
- Wings Over Willcox
- Yuma Birding & Nature Festival
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