Why Southeast Arizona in Summer?

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Jul 26, 2017 | by Greg Miller
Chiricahua Mountains - view near Rustler Park

Chiricahua Mountains – view near Rustler Park – photo by Greg Miller


The question I get asked the most about going to Southeast Arizona in August is “Why August? Wouldn’t it be terribly hot?”

Well. Yes, it is hot. It’s extremely hot in the desert with temperatures sometimes reaching over 100 F. But it is usually quite comfortable in early morning. So bird the desert in early morning and then go into the mountains for the rest of the day where temperatures are 10-20 degrees cooler. In some places you may even need a sweater or a jacket!

But, they say again, “Why August?”

Well. Let me ask you a question. Do you know how migrant birds here in North America winter in places much further south than their breeding grounds–like Central and even South America?

And you probably reply “Yes”.

And do you know how this birds migrate north to breed in summer in North America?

And you probably reply “Yes” again.

Has the little light bulb in your brain turned on yet? Have you gotten your “Aha!” moment yet? No?

Many species make their “northern” nesting places in Southeast Arizona. Birds that then retreat in winter months south of the Mexican Border. In fact, there are more than 40 species that are found here in summer more easily than anywhere else in the United States or Canada. And that is a big number when one is building a list–whether a life list or a year list.

And besides, Southeast Arizona is like the Galapagos Islands of North America. The mountain ranges are like islands jutting out of the desert. And each of these “sky islands” have unique habitat that more closely resembles that of Mexico than the United States. It offers unique habitat for specialty birds.

Did you know that according to eBird data that if you live in any state east of the Mississippi River your best bang for the buck for number of new species is Southeast Arizona in summer. Not only that, but the rugged scenery of Southeast Arizona is absolutely beautiful. You should totally go there!

Hey! And did you know there is a Big Year Tour coming soon, August 13-19, 2017? Read about it at!

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