Short Trips for Target Birds Series

ARIZONA: Black Hawk Migration

0W5A2376

TOUR FOCUS
BIRDS & WILDLIFE

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SCHEDULED TOURS

2025 :: March 10 - March 14

TRIP LEADERS

TOUR COST

From: $2,000 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Tucson, Arizona (TUS)

GROUP SIZE

3 - 7 Participants

AVAILABILITY

2025: 7 spaces available

PRIVATE TOUR OPTION

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.

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TESTIMONIALS

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Highlights of ARIZONA: Black Hawk Migration

  • Short trip at the peak of Common Black Hawk migration
  • Southeast Arizona specialties & rarities
  • Lingering wintering birds & newly-arrived spring migrants!
  • Beautiful weather & stunning scenery
  • Single hotel for entire tour – unpack and relax!

Description of ARIZONA: Black Hawk Migration

This five-day tour focuses on observing the spectacle of the annual Common Black Hawk migration when this large, rare raptor returns north into the United States through the Santa Cruz River Valley near Tubac, Arizona. We will also search for other migrating, wintering, and resident southwestern raptors, in addition to side-trips for classic Southeast Arizona specialties like Mexican Duck, Painted Redstart, Arizona Woodpecker, and various hummingbirds. Signs of spring will be everywhere and dozens of butterflies and some unique mammals can be found throughout the region. Part of our time will be dedicated to witnessing the Common Black Hawk migration and we will explore the surrounding Sky Island region where these hawks call their summer home. This tour is as perfectly suited for the raptor aficionado as it is for the all-around birder, and photographers will have plenty of great opportunities too! Come on down to southeast Arizona for this relaxed but immersive birding experience and enjoy the spectacle of spring hawk migration!

Common Black Hawk range map showing their spring/summer breeding season dispersal (orange) into SE Arizona. Range map from Cornell.edu

Common Black Hawks are large, tropical raptors that have a very restricted range in the United States. Although fairly common year-round residents in the lowland areas of Central America, these hawks just barely reach into Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah during the summer months to nest in lush cottonwood riparian forests. Recent hawkwatching efforts near Tubac have discovered that during the middle of March you can expect to see black hawks migrating north in the skies above the Santa Cruz River. The river corridor in Tubac works to funnel birds north, and also provides the Common Black Hawk with its preferred hunting and nesting habitat. Peter Collins and other volunteers offer their time to count the migrant raptors from a hawkwatch site in Tubac from March 1st to 31st, and counters have averaged an astonishing 199 Common Black Hawks per year! Counts have ranged widely though, from 32 to 296! March 2019 saw a record 95 black hawks in a single day on March 11th, and the peak count usually falls between March 10th and 15th. Zone-tailed Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles, and many other raptors can be seen migrating through this area as well. For more information on the Tubac Hawkwatch, check out HawkCount.org.

This short tour begins and ends in Tucson, Arizona and we will be staying at the same hotel for each of the four nights – the Canoa Ranch Golf Resort! Each day will have time dedicated to hawkwatching from Tubac so that we make sure to catch a good flight of Common Black Hawks. Additional time will be spent exploring the region’s many other birding hotspots. We can expect to see many exciting birds including Mexican Duck, Cinnamon Teal, Greater Roadrunner, Rivoli’s Hummingbird, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Costa’s Hummingbird, Harris’s Hawk, Gray Hawk, Whiskered and Western Screech-Owls, Arizona Woodpecker, Gray Flycatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Cassin’s Kingbird, Mexican Jay, Chihuahuan Raven, Bridled Titmouse, Phainopepla, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Lark Sparrow, Yellow-eyed Junco, Abert’s Towhee, Chihuahuan Meadowlark, Lucy’s Warbler, Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, and Lazuli Bunting!

Length of Tour

5-Days/4-Nights

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals, birding around Tucson. Night in Green Valley.

Day 2 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Madera Canyon & Green Valley area. Night in Green Valley.

Day 3 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Patagonia, Sonoita & San Rafael Grasslands. Night in Green Valley.

Day 4 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Tubac & Green Valley area. Night in Green Valley.

Day 5 – Final morning birding. Departures from Tucson.

Detailed Itinerary

*The exact order of each day’s itinerary is subject to change, but our primary focus will be to maximize our opportunities to view Common Black Hawks in active migration during the late-morning hours in particular. The following itinerary gives a general outline of how this tour will operate! We strive to find the perfect balance between hawk-watching and soaking in all the other great birding this area of Southeast Arizona has to offer!*

Day 1 – Arrivals, birding around Tucson. Night in Green Valley.

Tour participants will be picked up from the Tucson International Airport, and we will spend the afternoon birding at local hotspots around urban Tucson to start familiarizing ourselves with the local wildlife. Harris’s Hawk, Abert’s Towhee, Gambel’s Quail, Lucy’s Warbler, Mexican Duck, Gila Woodpecker, and Gilded Flicker are a few of the classic Arizona birds we will search for. To maximize the birding we can do on the first day, we do recommend arriving the day before and making arrangements to stay at one of the airport hotels. Night in Green Valley.

Day 2 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Madera Canyon & Green Valley area. Night in Green Valley.

We’ll start off the day with some warm-up birding near Tubac before heading to the hawkwatch. The late-morning hours will be dedicated to hawkwatching from Tubac in order to catch the raptor lift-off and (hopefully) the strongest pulse of migration. After lunch we will set out to explore Madera Canyon for the afternoon. This famous destination is the perfect introduction to Southeast Arizona’s beautiful, bird-rich “Sky Islands”. We will climb up from desert scrub, through oak canyon, to lush subtropical montane forests, and suddenly find ourselves in one of the region’s incredible Sky Islands! Species we will be searching for include Bridled Titmouse, Mexican Jay, Acorn Woodpecker, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Hepatic Tanager, Yellow-eyed Junco, and Painted Redstart. Hummingbirds including Rivoli’s (formerly Magnificent), Broad-billed, Anna’s, Broad-tailed, Rufous, and Costa’s can also be found. After dark we will attempt to track down both Whiskered and Western Screech-Owls in Madera Canyon. We may also hear Great Horned or Elf Owls is we are lucky! Night in Green Valley.

Day 3 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Patagonia, Sonoita & San Rafael Grasslands. Night in Green Valley.

After early-morning birding, we will spend the late-morning at the Tubac Hawkwatch once again anticipating solid Common Black Hawk migration. After lunch we will set out for Patagonia with a visit to the Paton Center for Violet-crowned Hummingbird and other excellent birds. Gray Hawks are often just arriving to their territory in Patagonia during the timeframe of our trip! A drive along backroads near Sonoita may turn up wintering Baird’s Sparrows and various raptors. The remainder of the day will be spent cruising through the San Rafael Grasslands or Las Cienegas Grasslands for wintering raptors, sparrows, pipits, and longspurs. The prairie grasslands and scattered oak hillsides in this area provide scenic views and interesting birdlife. Chihuahuan Meadowlark, Golden Eagle, and Pronghon may be encountered in this area. Night in Green Valley.

Day 4 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Tubac & Green Valley area. Night in Green Valley.

Our final full day will once again kick off with early-morning birding in Green Valley or Tubac and then visit the hawkwatch for a few hours before lunch. After lunch we will bird more hotspots near Tubac and Green Valley, and visit a few canyons at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains in search of additional species for our trip list. Night in Green Valley.

Day 5 – Final morning birding. Departures from Tucson.

On the final morning, we will make one or two birding stops before drop-offs at the Tucson International Airport. We typically visited Sweetwater Wetlands for some last-minute trip additions, especially waterbirds and migrant songbirds!

If you are interested in a more complete birding adventure in Southeast Arizona please see our full, weeklong tour available each August: ARIZONA: Birding the Southeast Specialties!

Cost

Cost is $2,000 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Tucson, Arizona (Airport code TUS).
This trip ends in same as arrival city (Airport code TUS).

Cost Includes

Cost includes airport transfers, all ground transportation, accommodations, 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.

Four night’s accommodations in one standard motel, ensuite and comfortable. Wherever possible, we support establishments that implement eco-friendly practices.

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

Prepare for short hikes, sometimes over uneven terrain. Desert areas may be quite hot (80F+), but temperatures drop an average of 3 degrees for every 1000 feet gained, so time spent in the shaded mountains will be quite pleasant. The average daily temperature range is 50-75F. Many hours will be spent standing in place, hawkwatching, each day.

Recommended Field Guide

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

**Sibley Birds is also available as an App**

Birds of Prey of the West: A Field Guide

by Brian K. Wheeler

Hawks at a Distance: Identification of Migrant Raptors

by Jerry Ligouri

Non-smoking Tour

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

Transportation

We will using a 12 or 15-passenger van, driven by the leader(s). If the group size is smaller, a mini-van or SUV may be used.

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 recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to help cover your investment, for covered reasons. 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.

Location Map