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Greg Miller's Big Year Tour Series

ARIZONA: Birding the Southeast Specialties



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2019 :: August 11 - August 17
2020 :: August 9 - August 15
2021 :: August 8 - August 14



From: $1,850 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Tucson, Arizona (TUS)


3 - 7 Participants


2019 7 spaces available
2020 7 spaces available
2021 7 spaces available


This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

  • If not already completed, please enter the tour name above.


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Highlights of ARIZONA: Birding the Southeast Specialties

  • Enjoy Arizona’s Second Spring
  • Elegant Trogon, Montezuma’s Quail and Five-striped Sparrow
  • 14 species of hummingbird possible
  • Spectacular Sky Islands
  • Scenic Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert

Description of ARIZONA: Birding the Southeast Specialties

Welcome to another world—the world of birding in Southeast Arizona. It is a legendary location in North America. It is absolutely one of the must-see birding locations for the continent. The best time to come is between late spring and early fall. The breeders are special here. And it is a region that turns up rare birds with amazing regularity.

Over 360 species of birds have been reported in Arizona this week of the year. It is a special time to visit. Most of the breeding birds are still here enjoying what locals call Second Spring. It’s actually the rains of the summer monsoons that cause the desert to bloom and the birds sing again like it is spring. It can get hot on the desert floor during the day. But that is the time to retreat into the mountains where it is far more pleasant and the birds are plentiful.

We’ll see all manner of habitats and a ton of birds. This is a fantastic trip!



Length of Tour


Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals at Tucson International Airport in Tucson, AZ (TUS)
Day 2 – Willcox; Cave Creek Canyon
Day 3 – Chiricahua Mountains
Day 4 – Whitewater Draw; San Pedro River; Sierra Vista; Ramsey Canyon
Day 5 – Patagonia; Kino Springs
Day 6 – Montosa Canyon; Madera Canyon; Tucson area
Day 7 – Departures from Tucson International Airport in Tucson, AZ (TUS)

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals at Tucson International Airport in Tucson, AZ (TUS)

Arrival at Tucson International Airport in Tucson, AZ. Orientation at dinner. Night in Tucson, AZ. If all of our arrivals are earlier in the day, we’ll spend the afternoon birding nearby Tucson area hotspots.

Day 2 – Willcox; Cave Creek Canyon

Water in the desert is always worth checking for birds. Lake Cochise will be our first destination as we head for the famous Chiricahua Mountains. In addition to shorebirds, this area is also one of our best chances at Scaled Quail.

A legendary location for birders of North America is Cave Creek Canyon in southeastern Arizona. This will be our first stop in the mountains. Our lists will grow with a bang here. Birds include Acorn and Arizona Woodpeckers, Blue-throated and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Black-throated Gray and Grace’s Warblers, Painted Redstart, Bridled Titmouse, Mexican Jay, Plumbeous Vireo, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. Of course, the Chiricahua Mountains are probably best known for Elegant Trogon. We’ll look for this one, too. Night in Portal, AZ.

Day 3 – Chiricahua Mountains

Starting out near Portal and lower elevations we’ll look for Crissal Thrasher, Black-throated Sparrow, Cassin’s Kingbird, Greater Roadrunner, Juniper Titmouse, and if we are extremely lucky—Montezuma Quail. A little higher we’ll be looking for Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Virginia’s Warblers. Habitat will go through several steps of change as we gain in elevation to the highest locations. Here we’ll look for Band-tailed Pigeon, Olive Warbler, Pygmy Nuthatch, Red-faced and Hermit Warblers, Yellow-eyed Junco, and Zone-tailed Hawk among others. Night in Portal, AZ.

Day 4 – Whitewater Draw; San Pedro River; Sierra Vista; Ramsey Canyon

Whitewater Draw is more water in a dry land. We may find Vermilion Flycatcher and Lazuli Bunting here as well as American Avocets, Yellow-headed Blackbirds and maybe even Black Tern or Cassin’s Sparrow.

Our best chance for Botteri’s Sparrow on this itinerary is probably here in grassy areas near the San Pedro River. Abert’s Towhees should be in the riparian area. Vermilion Flycatcher and Curve-billed Thrasher should be present, too.

The Sierra Vista Environmental Operations Park is a water reclamation facility. Birds here may include Chihuahuan Raven, Bullock’s Oriole, Cassin’s Sparrow, Swainson’s Hawk, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Western Kingbird.

In the afternoon we’ll head up into the mountains west of Sierra Vista to the famous Ramsey Canyon. Southeast Arizona is the Hummingbird Central of North America. More hummers can be found here than anywhere else north of the Mexican Border. A dozen species of hummingbirds have been recorded here in Ramsey Canyon in eBird during the week that we are visiting! Magnificent, Blue-throated, Broad-billed, Broad-tailed, and Black-chinned are the most common. But all it takes is one of the highly prized, most sought after species like Berylline, Lucifer, or White-eared Hummingbirds—well, that will be cause for great celebration! Night near Sierra Vista, AZ.

Day 5 – Patagonia; Kino Springs

Some of the best birding in Southeast Arizona is in the Patagonia area. The diversity here is rich. This will be a really fun day birding as we’ll be visiting some of the most storied locations including in famous Patagonia Roadside Rest Area. Today we will be searching for Gray Hawk, Dusky-capped and Brown-crested Flycatchers, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Rufous Hummingbird. Two of the real gems here are the Thick-billed Kingbird and the Violet-crowned Hummingbird!

Kino Springs is known to most as a country club. But to birders it is a pretty good place to see birds. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and Common Ground-Doves should be in good supply. This is one of our best chances for Tropical Kingbird, too. Although not much is guaranteed, it is the surprises that occur here that should keep a birder coming back to check what is here. At this time of year one might expect Lucy’s Warbler, Phainopepla, Gray Hawk, or Gila Woodpecker. Did you know that all 4 buntings have occurred here in August? (Lazuli (the only expected one), Indigo, Varied, and Painted Buntings). Night near Green Valley, AZ.

Day 6 – Montosa Canyon; Madera Canyon; Tucson area

Montosa Canyon is one of the rising star hotspots of Southeast Arizona. Five-striped Sparrows has been found here occasionally over the last few years. Since this saves one from making the epic trip to California Gulch (this rugged location is not everyone’s cup of tea), Montosa Canyon has seen increased birding activity. And since there are more birders, more birds are being found. And the list is growing. Of course we’ll hope to get lucky and be there at the same time the Five-striped Sparrow is there. But this location is good enough to merit birding here even without the rarity. We’ll look for Bell’s Vireo, Canyon Towhee, Pyrrhuloxia, and Varied Bunting. Other, less common birds may include Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Gray Vireo, Scott’s Oriole, and Common Black Hawk.

The famous Madera Canyon can get pretty busy after late morning so our birding here may not be long. We’ll look for Arizona specialties of a drier habitat. We’ll drive to Tucson in the afternoon.

Catalina State Park is dry and has both scrub and grassy areas. Cactus Wren, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Gilded Flicker, Gray Flycatcher, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and Rufous-winged Sparrow are birds typical of this habitat.

Our final destination is Sweetwater Wetlands. Cinnamon Teal, Gambel’s Quail, Harris’s Hawk, Lucy’s Warbler, Tropical Kingbird, Verdin, and Abert’s Towhees will be birds that we’ll search for at this birdy location. Night in Tucson, AZ.

Day 7 – Departures at Tucson International Airport in Tucson, AZ (TUS)

Departures from Tucson International Airport in Tucson, AZ (TUS).

Cost Details


Cost is $1,850 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Tucson, Arizona (Airport code TUS).
This trip ends in Tucson, Arizona (Airport code TUS).

Cost Includes

Cost includes airport transfers, all ground transportation, accomodations, entrance fees and services of your professional leader(s).

Cost does not Include

All meals, flights to/from destination city, trip insurance, or anything that is not specifically mentioned in the itinerary.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of participants registered, the trip can still run with a small-group supplement fee per person determined by the number of participants.

Single Supplement

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $300 will be assessed.

Deposit Requirements

A $500 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of required participants are registered, we may still be able to run the trip by adding a small-group supplement fee, per person, determined by the number of participants registered.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.


This trip includes standard hotels.

Activity Level

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

There will be a few of difficult hikes in hot weather. You must be able to easily walk at least two miles with you birding gear.

Additional Information

Recommended Field Guide

Sibley Birds West (2nd Edition, 2016, Knopf)
by David Allen Sibley

Sibley Birds is also available as an App


Non-smoking Tour

This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our tour.

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

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