There are over 500 species of birds just waiting to be spotted in the Tucson area.
Bring Your Binoculars!
Bird watching is a wonderful pastime in Tucson and Southern Arizona, whether you want to identify birds in your own backyard or join a band of birders on a field trip.
There's a surprising diversity of birds here, thanks to what Tucson Audubon calls a perfect storm: varied elevations; generally mild climate; Sky Island ranges linking the Rocky Mountains to the Sierra Madre; influences from Sonoran, Mojave, and Chihuahuan deserts; migratory flyways; and tropical areas south of the border.
Our amazing local birds — such as cactus wren, greater roadrunner and Gila woodpecker — are specially adapted to their desert home. See these and many other native and migrating birds at our two summer birding festivals in August. For a great show of giant sandhill cranes and other wintering birds, come during the Wings Over Willcox Birding and Nature Festival in January.
The Tucson area has so many excellent bird-watching spots that we can't list them all, but here are a few favorites to get you started.
If you have a half-day: Choose any of these urban oases: Agua Caliente Park, Sweetwater Wetlands, The Loop, Tohono Chul, Tucson Botanical Gardens.
If you have a full day: Sabino Canyon; Mt. Lemmon; Florida Wash for desert and grassland birds; Madera Canyon for oak woodland birds and hummingbirds; Catalina State Park; Madera Canyon; Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve.
If you have more time: San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, Garden Canyon, Chiricahua Mountains (Cave Creek and Rustler Park), Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, California Gulch, or other nearby areas.
Video: Birds of the Catalina Foothills
Follow the Birds
To see the maximum diversity of Southwestern specialties, come between mid-April and mid-September. Find other good times to visit with tips for birding travelers from Southeastern Arizona Birding Observatory (SABO).
Watch the landscape change from cacti to pine trees on a trip from Sonoran Desert valley to Sky Island peak, using the free Mt. Lemmon Science Tour smart phone app, an audio-video journey along scenic Catalina Highway featuring music and narration by the Tucson-based band Calexico.
Resources and information: Tucson Audubon’s Nature Shops, 300 E. University Blvd. #120, has local guidebooks, bird feeders, optics, apparel, and helpful staff.