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Short Trips for Target Birds Series

ARIZONA: Common Black Hawk Migration

Common Black Hawk, photo by Alex Lamoreaux


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2020 :: March 12 - March 16



From: $1,250 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Tucson, Arizona (TUS)


3 - 7 Participants


6 – 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: Common Black Hawk Migration

  • Short trip for target species
  • Common Black Hawk migration
  • Raptor diversity
  • Sunny, beautiful weather
  • Southeast Arizona specialties & rarities
  • Single hotel for entire tour – unpack and relax!

Description of ARIZONA: Common Black Hawk Migration

This long-weekend tour focuses on observing the spectacle of Common Black Hawk migration as they return north through the Santa Cruz River Valley near Tubac, Arizona. We will search for other migrating, wintering, and resident raptor species in the area, in addition to side-trips for Southeast Arizona specialties like Mexican Duck, Painted Redstart, and hummingbirds. Rarities like Rufous-capped Warbler and Black-capped Gnatcatcher often stray north from Mexico in early spring, and efforts will be made to search for them as time allows. Signs of spring will be everywhere and dozens of butterflies and some unique mammals can be found throughout the region. With part of our time dedicated to enjoying spring migration through the unique migration of Common Black Hawks, we will also get a taste of the very special region that is Southeast Arizona. This tour is as perfect for the raptor aficionado as it is for the all-around birder, and photographers will have plenty of great opportunities!

Common Black Hawk range map showing their spring/summer breeding dispersal 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 breed in cottonwoods 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 lush riparian 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 others have volunteered their time to counting migrate raptors from Tubac from March 1st to 31st, and 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 does usually fall between March 10th and 15th. Zone-tailed Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles, Merlin, and many other raptors can be seen migrating through this area as well, and resident Gray Hawks are sure to put on a show as they defend their territories. 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. Each day will have time dedicated to hawkwatching from Tubac, with side trips in the morning or afternoon depending on conditions. Additional days of private guiding for Southeast Arizona specialties and rarities can be arranged with our guides for before or after the Common Black Hawk Migration tour.



Length of Tour


Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrivals, birding around Tucson

Day 2 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Madera Canyon, and Green Valley

Day 3 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Patagonia, Sonoita, and San Rafael Grasslands

Day 4 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Sierra Vista, Sulphur Springs Valley, and the Chiricahua Mountains

Day 5 – Departures, birding around Tucson as time allows

Detailed Itinerary

*Note- The order of sites visited on days 2, 3, and 4 will depend upon current birding conditions, focusing on maximizing opportunities to view Common Black Hawks on migration, but the following itinerary gives a general outline of how this tour will operate!

Day 1 – Arrivals, birding around Tucson

Tour participants will be picked up from the airport, and we will spend the afternoon birding at local hotspots around Tucson and familiarizing ourselves with the local wildlife. Harris’s Hawk, Abert’s and Canyon 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. Dinner in Tucson, and night in Green Valley.

Day 2 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Madera Canyon, and Green Valley

The morning hours will be dedicated to hawkwatching in order to catch the lift-off and strongest pulse of migration. Birding around Tubac can be exciting, and we may even try to find some black hawks roosting in large cottonwoods along the river. 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 Madera Canyon Road from desert scrub, through oak canyon, to lush subtropical montane forests. Species we will be searching for include Bridled Titmouse, Mexican Jay, Elegant Trogon, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Acorn Woodpecker, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Hepatic Tanager, Cassin’s Sparrow, and Painted Redstart. Hummingbirds can be numerous and diverse, and we expect to see Rivoli’s (formerly Magnificent), Broad-billed, Black-chinned, Anna’s, Broad-tailed, and Rufous. Rarities such as Berylline Hummingbird are also possible.  Night in Green Valley.

Day 3 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Patagonia, Sonoita, and San Rafael Grasslands

We will spend the morning at the Tubac Hawkwatch once again witnessing the highlights of Common Black Hawk migration. After lunch we will set out for Patagonia where we will visit the Paton’s feeder for Violet-crowned Hummingbird and other hummingbirds. A drive along some back roads near Sonoita may turn up Baird’s Sparrow. The remainder of the day will be spent cruising through the San Rafael Grasslands for wintering raptors, sparrows, pipits, and longspurs. The prairie grasslands and scattered oak hillsides in this area provide scenic views and interesting birdlife. Night in Green Valley.

Day 4 – Tubac Hawkwatch, Sierra Vista, Sulphur Springs Valley, and the Chiricahua Mountains

Our final full day will include a few hours dedicated to hawkwatching followed by a big looping tour around extreme Southeast Arizona. After lunch our first stop will be to Beatty’s Guest Ranch for more hummingbird opportunities. From there we will cruise through the Sulphur Springs Valley for Ferruginous Hawks, and visit Whitewater Draw for Snow and Ross’s Goose, Scaled Quail, Greater Roadrunner, Pyrrhuloxia, Black-throated Sparrow, four species of thrasher, and Gray Flycatcher. Each year thousands of Sandhill Cranes winter in the Sulphur Springs Valley and we hope to catch some of the remaining flocks that have yet to set off north. To end the day we will explore up into the Chiricahua Mountains. In this isolated Sky Island we will look for Grace’s Warbler, Mexican Chickadee, Virginia’s Warbler, Scott’s Oriole, Hutton’s Vireo, and Yellow-eyed Junco. Night in Green Valley.

Day 5 – Departures, birding around Tucson as time allows

We will spend any time we have prior to our departures birding the Tucson area. We will then go to the airport to meet departing flights. If any clients would like to schedule additional days of private guiding for Southeast Arizona specialties for before or after the tour, we can make arrangements for that!

Cost Details


Cost is $1,250 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 $150 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 a standard motel, all ensuite and comfortable. Wherever possible, we support establishments that implement eco-friendly practices.

Activity Level

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

This tour includes short walks, sometimes over uneven terrain.

Additional Information

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.


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 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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