Hotspots Near You

  • 184. Mount Ord, Sunflower, Arizona

    Mount Ord is a favorite of Phoenix-area birders for two reasons: A daytrip up Ord during breeding season gets them out of the low-desert heat, and it is the only place in central Arizona where geography and habitat concentrate all of the state’s mountain warblers — Virginia’s, Black-throated Gray, Grace’s, Olive, and Painted Redstart.

  • 166. Mount Lemmon, Tucson, Arizona

    My favorite birding location in southeastern Arizona is 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon, the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

  • 143. Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, Show Low, Arizona

    At 6,300 feet in the White Mountains, Fool Hollow Lake is a cool getaway from the sweltering summer heat of Arizona’s deserts, and the birding here is way cool, too.

  • 136. Garden Canyon, Fort Huachuca, Arizona

    Located on the outskirts of Sierra Vista, Garden Canyon is a lush hotspot noted for sought-after species such as Elegant Trogon and Spotted Owl. But it’s a great place to find many other birds, too. The grassy fields on the way into the canyon, for example, are where to watch for Cassin’s and Botteri’s Sparrows.

  • 79. Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson, Arizona

    The name may be a bit misleading, but the adjective sweet certainly applies to the birding opportunities at these water-reclamation ponds. The riparian habitat is important for wildlife in the absence of the cottonwood gallery forest that used to exist along the nearby Santa Cruz River. As such, it is a green jewel in an otherwise arid environment.

  • 53. Boyce-Thompson Arboretum State Park, Superior, Arizona

    Boyce-Thompson Arboretum, “BTA” to state birders, showcases a collection of 3,200 plants from deserts around the world, including Sonoran Desert vegetation native to central Arizona. Combine this greenery with the riparian areas along Queen Creek, a small man-made lake, flowers in the Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden, and fruiting trees in the Herb Garden, and you have a wide diversity of habitats for birds.

  • 43. Gilbert Water Ranch, Gilbert, Arizona

    Metro Phoenix finally has a vibrant and accessible hotspot worth checking any time of year. When the Gilbert Water Ranch (also known as the Gilbert Riparian Area) opened in 1999, it attracted waterfowl and wading birds immediately. Birders hoped it was just a matter of time until the ranch became an oasis for common Sonoran Desert land birds and a migrant trap for vagrants and rarities. Hope became reality in 2003, when a Tropical Kingbird appeared, and a Groove-billed Ani, Streak-backed Oriole, and Prairie Warbler turned up in the fall of 2005.

  • 34. Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Tucson, Arizona

    It’s easy to see why people fall in love with desert habitats after a late-afternoon walk in Sabino Canyon. When the setting sun casts a golden glow on the mountains, I have to remind myself that I visit this place with the intention of birding. I’m brought back to the task at hand by the inquisitive wurp of the locally common Phainopepla and the activity of bold, noisy Cactus Wrens. On spring evenings, Elf Owls can be heard barking from the surrounding saguaros, and they are often joined by Common Poorwill, Western Screech-Owl, and Great Horned Owl.