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 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.



“Southeast Arizona Specialties in Spring: Owls, Warblers, Trogons, and much more!”

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.

There are few U.S. birding destinations that conjure such tantalizing images in the mind of a birder than that of colorful trogons, warblers and hummingbirds against the breathtaking "Sky Island" backdrop of southeast Arizona.  Several nocturnal specialties - including "Mexican" Spotted Owl, Whiskered Screech-Owl and the recently split Mexican Whip-poor-will - also make their home in these mountains.  May is a prime time to explore the diverse biomes of the borderlands of Arizona.  All of our breeding specialties have arrived and are vocal on territory, while later migrants are still moving through.  Owls are more easily detected at this time than any other and hummingbird numbers are high.  Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers give their "squeaky-toy" calls from sycamore-lined canyons alongside Elegant Trogons, while amazing breeding warblers including Red-faced, Olive and Virginia’s carry out their life cycle in the higher elevations.  Such tantalizing species as Mexican Chickadee, Black-capped Gnatcatcher and Rufous-winged Sparrow are birds only readily found north of the Mexican border in southeast Arizona.  Add the potential for rare vagrants from the south, and you can see why a May trip to this fantastic birding location is a must!

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.


Day 1
The tour officially begins in Tucson at 4 pm in Tucson where we will assemble the group for introductions, orientation and dining.  For those arriving early, lunch can be arranged. Your guide will provide transportation from the airport to our lodging.  After dinner, we will spend a couple hours owling the Santa Catalina Mountains for Western and Whiskered Screech Owl, the seldom seen Flammulated Owl , and perhaps A Northern Saw-whet.  We will also look and listen for Common Poorwill and Mexican Whip-poor-Will. We will spend the first night in Tucson.

Day 2
After an early breakfast we will depart for the world-famous Madera Canyon and environs. We will bird the high desert grassland that leads to the mouth of the canyon, stopping to look for species like Botteri’s Sparrow, “Lilians” Eastern Meadowlark, the range restricted Rufous-winged Sparrow, and other desert denizens. We will work our way up the canyon, birding a sycamore-lined riparian corridor flanked by pine-oak habitat. Species we will make a special effort for include Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, the highly-sought Elegant Trogon, Cordilleran Flycatcher, and with luck, the male Flame-colored Tanager that has spent the last few summers in Madera. We will have a picnic lunch in the Canyon and depending on what we have seen, bird the adjacent Florida Canyon or begin our drive south along the I-19 Corridor with stops for birding. We will have an early dinner and spend the night near Amado.

Day 3
After an early breakfast, we will depart for California Gulch. This is rugged, scenic country, with a history of many rarities from south of the border. This is the only place in the United States where one can find Five-striped Sparrow!  The Gulch is also home to the elusive Montezuma Quail and the lovely Varied Bunting. We will be especially vigilant for avian vagrants here. On the way back out, we will make a stop at Peña Blanca Lake were Least Grebes were discovered breeding in 2010.  We will stop for lunch in Amado before heading to Tubac for birding along the Santa Cruz River or optional shopping to escape the mid-day Arizona heat.  Dinner and lodging will be in Patagonia this evening.

Day 4
Patagonia holds a well-deserved reputation as a world-class birding destination. We will bird Patagonia Lake State Park where Black-capped Gnatcatchers have bred and numerous rarities have been found. We will bird Kino Springs to look for Tropical Kingbirds, Gray Hawks, and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.  Next will be the legendary Patagonia Roadside Rest Stop where we will look for Thick-billed Kingbirds and other creek side residents. We will have lunch in Patagonia and visit the feeders at the Paton’s Birder Haven where more people have added Violet-crowned Hummingbird to their life lists than any other single location. We will have the opportunity for optional gift and souvenir shopping in Patagonia before departing for Sierra Vista. We will share a meal and sleep in Sierra Vista.

Day 5
After breakfast, we will bird Carr Canyon to search for residents including Buff-breasted Flycatcher and Mountain Pygmy-Owl. Other species of interest here include Red-faced, Olive and Virginia’s Warblers and Greater Pewees with their memorable “Jose Maria” vocalizations. After lunch in Sierra Vista we will visit Beatty’s Guest Ranch and view the amazing hummingbird station that holds the U.S. record for most hummers viewed in one day! Specialties here include White-eared and Blue-throated Hummingbirds. Depending on afternoon temperatures, we will visit Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast or retire to our hotel to cool off and have dinner. We will spend the night in Sierra Vista.

Day 6
We will bird in Miller or Scheelite Canyon with Spotted Owl as our main target.  Today we will visit Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast for the great feeder station that regularly holds the highly localized Lucifer Hummingbird. In addition to this rare hummer, the great feeder set-up affords incredible views of species including Hooded Orioles and Acorn Woodpeckers. After lunch we will depart for Portal in the Chiricahua Mountains where we will be based for the next two days. After dinner we will bird around Portal and go owling if we are missing any species from our previous attempt(s).

Day 7
We will bird South Fork in the morning, a location that has produced many unusual species over the years and regularly holds such stunners as Elegant Trogon, Hepatic and Western Tanagers and more. We will bird several other parts of Cave Creek Canyon before returning to Portal for lunch. Afterwards, we’ll continue at mid-elevation until early afternoon, at which point we’ll break before dinner to relax and cool off. After dinner, we will bird the Portal –Paradise Road for Black-chinned Sparrows and Common Poorwills as the sun sets.

Day 8
After breakfast we will drive up in elevation to look for resident warblers, tanagers and flycatchers, but our main target will be the large-bibbed Mexican Chickadee. The range of this species just barely enters the United States, and is found in only two mountain ranges on this side of the border; the Chiricahuas are the most accessible.  Short-tailed Hawk has nested nearby in recent years.  Driving over Onion Saddle and dropping down into Pinery Canyon, we will bird our way ever lower en route to Willcox.  Here we’ll break for lunch before checking the Cochise Lake (aka Willcox Twins Lakes), which is actually a small wastewater effluent pond that always seems to host some unusual bird during migration. We will travel back to Tucson to spend our last night. As one last personal touch to the tour, dinner will be hosted at your guide’s downtown loft. Optional post-tour celebratory drinks back at our motel!

Day 9
Tour concludes after breakfast, and your guide will shuttle you to the airport if you are departing today.


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 birding time before we return to our hotel or shopping opportunities to beat the heat.  There will be occasional walks on uneven surfaces, with moderate elevation gain, about 1,000 feet, but we will not be hiking anymore than two to three miles round trip, and almost always much less.  We will spend at least some portion of three different days at high elevation, but most birding will be near the roadside, so we will not be exerting ourselves with long hikes on these days.


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.


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.


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:

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.