Birding in Arizona

10.15 – 11.03.2009

By Svetlana Baskakova

e-mail to:


1.    United States Agency on International Development (USAID) and Community Connections Program for choosing my candidature to participate in International study trip “Eco-tourism and Community-based tourism development” to Arizona as a member of Kazakhstan delegation and for cover all my travel costs.

2.    World Learning (Washington, DC) and International Training and Consulting, Inc. (Tucson, AZ) and personally Nancy A. Stanley, Executive Director for working out my individual travel schedule and spirit support of my birding.

3.    Gale A. Griffin – my host family and piano teacher for my three weeks adoption, hospitality and warm care.

4.    Steven W. Murray – birdwatcher and engineer for his especial arrival from Castle Rock, CO to Tucson, AZ to show me the best South Arizona’s  bird’s sites. I have seen or confirm identification of more then a half species because of Steven’s kind assistance.

5.    Mary Jo Ballator – Ash canyon B&B host for her bird feeding and help in some species and subspecies identification.

Identification Literature used:

1.    National Geofraphic Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Jon l.Dunn and Jonatan Aldereer, 2006.

2.    50 Common Birds of the Southwest by Richard L. Cunningham. Western national Parks Assoyiation, 2005.

3.    Soaring Birds of the West. Get Go Guides, by Pinau Merlin. Arizona-Sonora desert Museum, 2004.

4.    Arizona Birds. An Introduction to Familiar Species by James Kavanagh &Raymond Leung, 2000.

5.    Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Interpretive Trail Guide. The Nature Conservancy Southeastern Arizona Preserves, 2008.


Birding sites and dates


1.    Tucson – downtown and metropolis: 10/15-18,28-29 and 11/03/2009

2.    Tohono Chul Park : 10/16/2009

3.    Tubac and Tumacarori:  10/18/2009

4.    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: 10/19/2009

5.    Old Tucson Studio:  10/19/2009

6.    Tombstone: 10/20/2009

7.    Bisbee: 10/21/2009

8.    San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: 10/21/2009

9.    Tucson Botanical Gardens: 10/22/2009

10.                       Sabino Canyon (Santa Catalina Mountains): 10/22/2009

11.                       Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon: 10/23/2009

12.                       Kaibab National Forest (rom Williams to Tusayan, KOA campground): 10/24/2009

13.                       Grand canyon: 10/24-25/2009

14.                       Flagstaff: 10/26/2009

15.                       East Saquaro  National Park: 10/27/2009

16.                       Oracle Valley (Biospharae-2): 10/29/2009

17.                       Catalina State Park: 10/30/2009

18.                       Ramsey Canyon Preserve (Huachuca mountains): 10/31/2009

19.                       Miller Canyon (Huachuca mountains): 10/31/2009

20.                       Ash Canyon (Huachuca mountains): 10/31-11/01/2009

21.                       Patagonia –Sonoita Creek Preserve: 11/01/2009

22.                       Dry Pena Blanca Lake (Pajarita Wilderness): 11/02/2009

23.                       Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge: 11/02/2009



Bird’s checklist

1.    Gambel’s Quail – Callipepla gambelii

Very common in dry rarified prickly thickets, gardens, dry wash woods and in waste grounds of Tucson and metropolis. Usually in groups from 6 to 12 individuals. In parks come to people, willingly eat dropped for them dry food. Recorded in Old Tucson Studio (10/19/2009) – 12 individuals in a group, Sabina Canyon (10/22/2009) – 12 individuals in a group, Buenos Aires (11/02/2009) – 10 individuals in a group.

2.    Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo

Mexican subspecies recorded in Ramsey and Ash Canyons (10/31-11/01/2009). Come to human to 3-4 m eliciting for food. Lonely birds as well as groups till 15 individuals of young this year birds are recorded on the Ash Canyon feeding ground.

3.    Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias

Single birds were seen twice: flying above a creek in pine Kaibab National Forest on the way from Williams to Tusayan, 10/24/2009 and in grass wetland in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge: 11/02/2009.

4.    Turkey Volture – Cathartes aura

One record of soaring bird was done near by Tumacacori 1102/2009.

5.    Northern Harrier – Circus cyaneus

One bird has been seen in low flight above grass wetland in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge: 11/02/2009.

6.    Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii

Apparently, common in dry rarefied prickly thickets in Tucson and surround. Sit on poles, fly above prairies. Was trustworthy identified in dry to the South of Tucson.

Pena Blanka Lake Area 11/02/2009.  Catch Scott’s Oriole on the way to Patagonia 11/02/2009.

7.    Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis

Quite common bird in open country. Usually sit on poles and trees along highway in the morning and in the evening. Soap in a day time. Recorded in East Saquaro National Park 10/27/2009 and everywhere to the South of Tucson.

8.    American Kestrel – Falco sparverius

Couple recorded in East Saquaro National Park 10/27/2009. Quite common species to the South and Southeast of Tucson: was met in Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve 11/01/2009 and in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge: 11/02/2009.

9.    Rock Pigeon – Columba livia

Common species in towns and settlements. Can be seen in small groups from 2 to 6 birds and in flocks till 80 individuals as well (11.01.2009).

10.            Eurasian Collared Dove – Streptopelia decaocto

Couples were mentioned in Tucson metropolis sitting on parallels and poles. Pair in Patagonia.

11.            White-winged Dove – Zenaida asiatica

Common species in settlements and recreation areas. Recorded in Bisbee and dry Pena Blanka Lake vicinity. Less in number in compare with Mouring Dove.

12.            Mouring Dove – Zenaida macroura

The most common dove of towns and recreation areas. More often have been seen in groups from 2 to 6 individuals, but 80 birds were recorded in one flock in dry Pena Blanka Lake bank in fallen trees.

13.            Inka Dove – Columbina inca

Not numerous. Single individuals were recorded in Tumacarori (10/18/2009), in San Pedro River (10/22/2009), in KOA campground (10/24/2009), in Pena Blanka Lake. The bird’s size is smaller then two previous species.

14.            Greater Roadrunner – Goecoccus californianus

Common species as in Tucson metropolis as in bushes and rarefied forests of recreation areas.

15.            Anna’s Hummingbird – Calypte anna

Common in Tucson everywhere, noted in Bisbee (10/21/2009), in San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (10/22/2009) and in Ash Canyon (10/31 and 11/01/2009).

16.           Acorn Woodpeacker – Melanerpes formicivorus

Apparently, common in low part of Ramsey canyon (10/31/2009).

17.                       Gila Woodpecker – Melanerpes uropigialis

The most common woodpecker, was seen everywhere in Tucson, in San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (10/22/2009), Catalina State Park (10/30/2009), in Patagonia – Sonoita Creek Reserve (11/01/2009).

18.                       Red-napped Sapsucker – Sphirapicus nuchalis

Was seen in Bisbee (10/22/2009), Ramsey Canyon (10/31/2009), Ash canyon  (11/01/2009), Peno Blanca Lake (11/02/2009).

19.                       Ladder-backed Woodpecker – Picoides scalaris

Was seen in Catalina State Park (10/30/2009) and in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, where hollowed reeds (11/02/2009).

20.                       Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus

Was seen in oak wood of Ramsey Canyon (10/30/2009) and in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (11/02/2009).

21.                       Hammond’s Flycatcher – Empidonax hammondii

One bird have been seen in low part of Ramsey Canyon (10/31/2009) near the creek in the wood with oak domination.

22.                       Black Phoebe – Sayornis  nigricans

Mentioned twice in similar habitats: in dry wash woodlands - in San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (10/22/2009) and  in  Arivaca Creek valley of Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge (11/02/2009).

23.                       Say’s Phoebe – Sayornis saya

Quite common species in gardens and parks of Tucson. Was met in Mesquite trees (Prosopis velutina): Old Tucson Studio (10/19/2009), Buenos Aires wildlife Refuge (11/02/2009).

24.                       Ash-throated Flycatcher – Myiarchus cinerascens

Single birds were mentioned twice: in Tucson Botanical Gardens (10/22/2009), sitting on dry up going tree’s branch, and in Eastern metropolis (10/29/2009), warming on sunshine in berry’s bush early in the morning.

25.                       Loggerhead Shrike – Lanius ludovicianus

Single birds were mentioned twice in dry habitats: on Mesquite tree (Prosopis velutina) in Catalina State Park (10/30/2009) and in oak tree near the road to Pena Blanca Lake (11/02/2009).

26.                       Steller’s Jay – Cyanocitta stellery

Has been common species in dry pine forest – KOA campground (10/24/2009).

27.                       Western Scrub Jay - Aphelocoma californica

Was  seen in Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon: (10/23/2009), Grand Canyon (10/25/2009) and on Catalina foothills/Biospharae-2 (10/29/2009). Visual, common bird.

28.                       Mexican Jay – Aphelocoma ultramarine

Common species in south counties of Arizona. Habits in dry oak woodlands: Ramsey Canyon (10/31/2009) – birds were picking up acorns from oaks, Ash canyon (11/01/2009) – birds dominated on feeding site.

29.                       American Crow – Corvus  brachyrhynchos

Common, but not numerous species, have been seen everywhere: often along roads, in anthropogenic landscapes, in light dry forests. Keep in isolated couples, the maximum flocks were seing – 4 individuals – in Tusayan town and in Patagonia town.

30.                       Common Raven – Corvus corax

Common, wide spread species as well as American Crow. Perhaps, even more numerous then American Crow, especially on the Grand Canyon South Rim. Encloses all possible habitats – from mountain oak woods to plain deserts and towns, 8 individuals were met in Patagonia town (11/01/2009).

31.                       Mountain Chickadee – Poecile gambeli

Single bird was mentioned in dry pine forest in KOA campground (10/24/2009).

32.                       Bridlet Titmouse – Bacolophus wollweberi

Single birds were met in mountain oak wood of Ash Canyon (11/01/2009), in wash forest of Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Reserve (11/01/2009) and in Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge (11/02/2009).

33.                       Verdin – Auriparus flaviceps

One individual was seen in Catalina foothills/Biosphaerae-2 on the tree trunk (10/29/2009) and another one in Catalina State Park on Mesquite tree (10/30/2009).

34.                       Bushtit – Psaltriparus minimus

A flock from about 15 birds was meet in the fir wood on the South Rim of Grand Canyon (10/24/2009).

35.                       White-breasted Nutatch – Sitta carolinensis

By one individuals were meet in San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area on a feeder (10/21/2009), in dry pine forest close to Tusayan town (10/25/20090) and in Ash Canyon on a feeder (10/31/2009).

36.                       Pygny Nutatch – Sitta pygmaea

A flock of 6 birds was seen feeding on cones and branch’s tops of pine trees in KOA campground (10/24/2009). I was surprised by their feeding manner and gregariousness. A single bird was meet in dry pine forest close to Tusayan town (10/25/2009).

37.                       Brown Creeper – Certhia Americana

One record of one bird in Ramsey Canyon in oak forest (10/31/2009).

38.                       Cactus Wren – Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus

Common, well visual bird in Tucson metropolis and desert light thickets with Saquaro cactus domination, doesn’t escape anthropogenic landscape. 10/22/2009 in Sabina Canyon I watched the nest building process. Prickly Pear’s barbs from the floor were used as a nest material. The nest cap was creating in a junction of Cholla cactus branches on about 1,1 m hight.

39.                       Rock Wren – Salpinctes obsoletus

One individual was met in Eastern Saquaro Park 10/27/2009.

40.                       Canyon Wren – Catherpes mexicanus

Was met in Ramsey Canyon in oak wood in the middle part of the main trail 10/31/2009.

41.                       Sinaloa Wren – Thyothorus sinaloa

2 individuals 11/01/2009 – in Patagonia in reed thickets along Sonoita Creek. By the oral message of Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve volunteer this species appeared in the area just in spring 2009, a few males arrived only, they singed and build the nests, but no one female came.

Additionally I saw 2 individuals of Sinaloa Wren in analogical habitat – reed and fallen dry trees - in Buenos Aires Natural Wildlife Refuge 11/02/2009.

42.                       House Wren – Troglodytes aedon

By one individuals were seen in Bisbee – 10/21/2009, in Sedona – 10/23/2009 and in Peno Blanka Lake vicinity – 11/02/2009. Always in boulders.

43.                       Marsh Wren – Cistothorus palustris

Single bird was mentioned in wet reed grassland in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge 11/02/2009.

      44.Ruby-crowed kinglet – Regulus calendula

One singing bird was registed and identified by noise in coniferous wood in Bisbee in the morning 10/21/2009.

      45.Western Bluebird – Sialia Mexicana

A couple was met in Sedona National Park 10/23/2009 and 4 birds flying in Ash Canyon 11/01/2009.

      46.Mountain Bluebird – Sialia currocoides

A couple was met in Sedona National Park 10/23/2009 and 6 birds flying in Grand Canyon 10/24/2009.

47.Hermit Thrush – Catharus guttatus

One individual feeding on the floor in dry Mesquite trees thickets in Catalina State Park 10/30/2009 and one individual feeding on the floor as well in dark mountain oak forest in Ramsey Canyon 10/31/2009 . Shy, cryptic, barely visible bird.

48. American Robin – Turdus migratotius

Single bird was seen on an oak in mountain forest in Ramsey canyon 10/31/2009.

49. Northern Mockingbird – Mirmus poliglottos

Single birds were seen everywhere in gardens and parks of Tucson. Keeps shadow habitats near by water sources.

50. Curve-billed Thrasher – Toxostoma aurvirostre

Commom in Tucson metropolis, Old Tucson Studio (10/19/2009), Ash Canyon(10/31/2009).

51. European Starling – Sturnus vulgaris

Common bird in Tucson, Tusayan towns. Well visible early in the morning sitting on parallels and antennas in small flocks till 6 birds. 10/25/2009 – in Tusayan for example.

52. Phainopepla – Phainopepla nitens

Typical bird in arid light Mesquite and cactuses woods. Not numerous, single. 10/18/2009 – Tumacacori, 10/19/2009Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

53.Yellow-rumped Warbler – Dendrioca coronate

Small flocks were regular mentioned: 10/15/2009 and 10/17/2009 in Tucson, 10/31/2009 – in Ash canyon, 11/02/2009 – in Coronado National Forest and Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.

54. Canyon  TowheePipilo fusus

Was seen in Catalina State Park 10/30/2009 and in Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Reserve 11/01/2009 by single birds.

55. Aberts TowheePipilo aberti

Common in arid areas. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum10/19/2009 one bird.

56. Chipping Sparrow – Spizella passerine

Quite common: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum 10/19/2009, Ash Canyon 11/01/2009, Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge 11/02/2009 – where was very common in dry tall weeds.  Usually in groups of 5-6 birds.

57. Black-throated Sparrow – Amphispiza bilineata

Flocks to 5-6 birds mentioned in Tombstone (on the grave yard) 10/20/2009 and East Saguaro Park 10/27/2009.

58. White-crowned SparrowZonotrichia leucoph

In flocks from 10 to 25 individuals: Tumacocori and Tubac 10/18/2009,  Patagonia- Sonoita Creek Preserve 11/01/2009.

59. Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis

In flocks to 10-12 birds. Both subspecies – Oregon and Grey-headed were met in join groups: Sedona 10/23/2009, KOA campground 10/24/2009, Grand Canyon 10/26/2009, Ramsey Canyon 10/31/2009, Miller Canyon 10/31/2009, Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve 11/01/2009.

60. Yellow-eyed Junco – Junco phaeonotus

One individual was seen on the floor in oak forest in Ramsey Canyon on the border with Coronado National Forest.

61. Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis

Single birds were seen in Old Tucson Studio in Mesquite tree crown 10/19/2009 and in Catalina State Park 10/30/2009. Couples – in dry bushy brakes in Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve 11/01/2009 and in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge 11/02/2009.

62. Pyrrhuloxia – Cardinalis sinuatus

One individual was recorded in in Old Tucson Studio in Mesquite tree crown 10/19/2009, by couples – in Sabina Canion 10/22/2009 and in Ash Canyon 11/01/2009.

      63. Western Meadowlark – Sturnella neglecta

Flock from about 20 birds was met in the evening in grasslands close to Huachuca Mountains 10/31/2009.

64.                       Brewer’s Blackbird – Euphagus cyanocephalus

Single bird was recorded 10/15/2009 in wet garden in Tucson metropolis.

65.                       Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula

Common species in Tucson town. Keeps in small groups, creates join groups with Great-tailed Grackle.

66.                       Great-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus mexicanus

Common species in Tucson town. Keep in small groups, seats on rabish bins and standing cars, trained to feeding by human, joins Common Grackle’s groups.

67.                       Scott’s Oriole – Icterus parisorum

One male was met 11/02/2009 in Pena Blanka Lake vicinity. One bird was catch by Cooper’s Hawk on the near-road tree on the way from Tumacocori to Buenos Aires 11/02/2009.

68.                       House Finch – Carpodacus mexicanus

The most common city/s species – recorded in Tucson, Bisbee, Tusayan. Dominated in the bird’s population  on feeders – San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area 10/22/2009, Ash Canyon 10/31/2009.

69.                       Red Crossbill – Loia curvirotra

One bird (yellow color) was seen on the top of pine tree in Tusayan town (Grand Canyon vicinity) 10/25/2009.

70.                       Lesser Goldfinch – Carduelis psaltria

Perhaps, the most common species in towns and recreation areas – Tucson, Tumacocori (10/18/2009), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (10/19/2009), Bisbee (10/21/2009), Ash canyon (10/31/2009). Drinks water from fountains.

71.                       American Goldfinch – Carduelis tristis

Was met once in Tohono Chul Park 10/16/2009 on a feeder 6 birds.

72.                       House Sparrow – Passer domesticus

      Small flocks were mentioned in Tucson and Bisbee. Pure town’s bird.In Old Tucson Studio the join group of about 30 House Sparrows and a few Chipping Sparrows was seen 10/19/2009.


Table 1. Quantity assessment of seeing birds in regarding with                               exist avifauna checklists

Checklist of

Total species number registed

I saw


Species number



North America










Common birds of Arizona





Sonora Desert





Common birds of Tucson






It was my first visit to the United States. Bird watching is as a sport: then more – then better. So I tried to evaluate my Arizona’s achievement in numbers. Look at the conclusion gave me a sad picture. I need to travel and see more… But from other side, only 7 species I saw before in Eurasia – Northern Harrier, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Raven, European Starling, Red Crossbill and House sparrow, the rest 65 are completely new for me. Not bad for three weeks journey.

All the comments regarding bird’s species or my English gram are very welcome. Please, contact with author: or

14, Taldybulak Street, Tulkubas District, South-Kazakhstan Province, Republic of Kazakhstan, 161310 (Central Asia, Former Soviet Union).

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