IMPORTANT NOTE: information presented here is for general reference only. We are now excited to offer ALL set-departure trips through Borderland Tours!  Full details, travel itineraries, maps, and bird checklists for all trips are available upon request.  Visit www.borderland-tours.com for details, or simply email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 520-558-2351 for more info.

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“Second Spring in Southeast Arizona: Monsoon Diversity”

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 unique travel and birding preferences!  Sample dates presented for reference.


The "Sky Islands" of southeast Arizona are well-known as a springtime destination - but August?  Isn't it unfathomably hot - and dry?

No way!  July and August bring a seasonal shift that meteorologists call the "North American Monsoon."  Unbearable heat dissipates as spectacular thunderstorms bring rain that renews the desert, turning Arizona into the single best late summer birding destination in the U.S.  Typically, scattered rain showers occur for a short period each day, just as the afternoons threaten to get too hot, cooling down the day and bringing forth singing sparrows and other southwestern treats.  You've never seen the desert so green!

The beautiful and highly sought-after Elegant Trogon is easier to see in August than at any other time of year.  Migrating hummingbirds gather in incredible numbers at bird feeders and blooming flowers.  Resident warblers like Painted Redstart, Red-faced Warbler and Olive Warbler are joined by migrant Hermit, Townsend's and MacGillivray's Warblers.  Colorful Lazuli Buntings are abundant, vying for your attention while Varied Buntings sing from ocotillo tops. Such tantalizing species as Mexican Chickadee, Black-capped Gnatcatcher and Rufous-winged Sparrow are birds only readily found north of the Mexican border in this corner of Arizona.  While not the best time of year for nocturnal birds, several specialties are still possible - including "Mexican" Spotted Owl, Whiskered Screech-Owl and the recently split Mexican Whip-poor-will. All this against the breathtaking backdrop of verdant mountains, and it's easy to understand why more and more birders are flocking to this region each August!

To sign up for this or any other Adventure Birding tour, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a printable registration form, or call 520-495-0229 to have one mailed to you.

 

The ever-spectacular Elegant Trogon, often easier to see in the Monsoon than any other time of year!



ITINERARY:

Day 1
Tour begins in Tucson by 5PM.  Guide will provide transportation from the Tucson International Airport to our hotel.  Once the group has assembled, we'll have a brief orientation and enjoy our first dinner together.  Night in Tubac.

Day 2
We'll start off strong by visiting the world-famous Madera Canyon as our first stop.  We'll begin in the desert grasslands below the canyon with singing Rufous-winged, Cassin's and Botteri's Sparrows.  We'll then work our way up in elevation through several different habitats, hoping to encounter the flashy Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Painted Redstart and Varied Bunting.  After Madera, we'll make a brief foray into Montosa Canyon on the west side of the same mountain range, in an attempt to locate the rare Black-capped Gnatcatcher.  We'll also have a good chance at actually seeing Canyon Wrens, whose song is so often heard spilling down canyon walls.  After lunch at the most charasmatic restaurant & grill in southern Arizona, we'll continue south to explore some flooded fields near Rio Rico for things like Black-bellied Whistling Duck and White-faced Ibis.  Tropical Kingbird and Gray Hawk are possibilities in the afternoon.  Night in Tubac.

Day 3
We'll grab a delicious packed breakfast as we depart early for California Gulch.  Aside from one adjoining canyon, this is the only place in the United States where one can see the unique Five-striped Sparrow.  Elusive Montezuma Quail abound in this area, so we hope to stumble across one (or five).  From here we'll head east through Patagonia for such specialties as Thick-billed Kingbird, including a stop at Paton's Birder Haven for their famous Violet-crowned Hummingbirds.  We'll reach the Huachuca Mountains by early evening.  If we have time before dinner we'll make a stop at some feeders in Ash Canyon for the highly localized Lucifer Hummingbird (otherwise we'll be sure to stop there before we leave the area on Thursday).  Night in Sierra Vista.

Day 4
A lush cottonwood gallery forest awaits us this morning along the San Pedro River.  This is one of the most heavily used avian migratory corridors in the southwest, famous for rare residents like Green Kingfisher as well as sheer numbers of nesting songbirds.  Vermilion Flycatcher is sure to delight us here, as is Abert's Towhee, a bird whose range is almost wholly contained within Arizona (almost).  During or after lunch we'll visit the Beatty's Guest Ranch in Miller Canyon, which holds the U.S. record for most hummingbirds seen in one location in one day (fourteen!)  A hike of about one half mile above the hummingbird feeders will take us to a good roosting area for "Mexican" Spotted Owls.  Tonight we'll be in a good position to do a little owling as well.  Night in Sierra Vista.

Day 5
An incredibly scenic drive into the upper elevations of Carr Canyon will be the focus this morning, as we make our way to the best site for Buff-breasted Flycatcher.  Greater Pewee, Hepatic Tanager, Virginia Warbler, Grace's Warbler and Olive Warbler are all very likely here if we haven't seen them already.  During the hottest (and least birdy) part of the day, we'll drive across the valley to the largest "Sky Island" range north of the U.S./Mexico border - the Chiricahua Mountains!  Night in Portal.

Day 6
We'll spend today exploring Cave Creek Canyon, including the renowned South Fork.  Elegant Trogon is probably easier to see here than anywhere else on our journey.  Blue-throated Hummingbirds are downright common!  A wide variety of habitats are available within a short drive from our lodging, and we'll take full advantage of it.  Juniper Titmouse, Black-chinned Sparrow and the skulking Crissal Thrasher are also possibilities.  This is not the best season for night birds, but we'll have another good chance to do some owling tonight.  Night in Portal.

Day 7
The focus of today will be the higher elevations of the Chiricahuas.  Aside from one other relatively inaccessible mountain range in New Mexico, this is the only home of Mexican Chickadees north of the U.S./Mexico border.  Massive warbler flocks might be encountered in the pine or spruce-fir forests.  Migrant Hermit and Townsend's Warblers mingle with the brilliant Red-faced Warbler, joined by boisterous Pygmy Nuthatches.  It is not uncommon to see flocks with twenty species of birds in a brief stop along the side of the road here.  After we've had our fill of this fun, we'll continue across Onion Saddle and down through Pinery Canyon en route to Willcox.  Lake Cochise, aka Willcox Twin Lakes, plays host to a wonderful diversity of shorebirds - not something one would expect in the desert!  Scaled Quail and Cassin's Sparrows are particularly abundant here.  We'll tally many different species in a broad range of habitats as travel back to Tucson.  We'll celebrate our final day and find out what the total trip list is!  Night in Tucson.

Day 8
Sleep in if you like! Guide not present this morning; flexible day left open to allow for everyone to have different travel plans  Transportation to the Tucson International Airport is available by free hotel shuttle service.


PACE:

The pace of this trip is moderate.  We will begin most days very early to take advantage of peak avian activity and to pack in much prime birding time before relaxing around hummingbird feeders or other shaded birding opportunities.  There will be occasional walks on uneven surfaces, and some with moderate elevation gain, but we will not be hiking anymore than about two miles round trip -- and rarely at that.  We will spend at least some portion of three different days at high elevation (over 7000 feet), but most birding will be near the roadside, so we will not be exerting ourselves with long hikes on these days.


TRIP COSTS:

Trip price is based on double occupancy and a minimum of 4 people. 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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it 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.


CANCELLATION POLICY:

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:

http://www.csatravelpro.com/
http://www.travelinsured.com/
http://www.travelsafe.com/

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 spring does not pose any significant danger to visiting birdwatchers. Primary hazards are sun exposure and low humidity.  Dehydration comes on faster than one might realize.  Visitors are advised to drink LOTS of water (several liters) each day.

WEATHER: Temperatures at this time of year can range from 45º F in the morning in the mountains to 90º F during very warm spells. We always recommend that you check the 10-day weather forecast before you pack your bags. Precipitation is not expected in May, but packing a light rain jacket would not be unwise. Strong winds are possible at any time.

CLOTHING: Be prepared for the possibility of chilly temperatures first thing in the morning at high elevations.  Most of the time, however, birding will be done outside of the hottest parts of the day. Daytime highs can soar into the low 90’s F, but on average it does not get above the mid 80's.  This may sound hot, but the lack of humidity really does make these temperatures quite bearable!  (Many visitors do not believe the thermometers at first, because it feels far more comfortable than the temperature readings.)  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.