Best places to birdwatch in Arizona during March?

Hi! I’ve recently been surprised with a four day trip to go birdwatching in Arizona during March for my birthday which I am ecstatic about. While March isn’t the best time to go to Arizona (I’d assume that would probably be April or May), it was done in Spring break so I wouldn’t miss school. I am a little out of my depth, I know that the “big” places for birds are in the south (Patagonia, Ramsey Canyon, Chiricahua, Box Canyon Road, and Marshall Gulch) but other than that I’m clueless as to where to go. To give you an idea of what birds I’m hoping to see I’m from Calgary. I know how secretive people are with owls so I have essentially given up on any possibility of seeing Elf Owl, Whiskered Screech-Owl, or Spotted Owl, but if you know anything about where to see those please share.
Below is the admittedly long list of birds I would like to see. (I don’t expect to see all or even most of these). But I will add that I love sparrows and above all seeing a Common Black Hawk or Rose-throated Becard would make the trip.

It feels weird asking for help for this but if you are from Arizona or have been there and you know a good place to see any of these birds I would love to know. Birds in bold are ones I would really like to see.

  • Mexican Duck
  • Scaled Quail
  • Gambel’s Quail
  • Montezuma Quail
  • Inca Dove
  • Common Ground Dove
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Lesser Nighthawk
  • Rivoli’s Hummingbird
  • Blue-throated Mountain-gem
  • Lucifer Hummingbird
  • Costa’s Hummingbird
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  • Violet-crowned Hummingbird
  • Common Gallinule
  • Neotropic Cormorant
  • Least Bittern
  • Snowy Egret
  • California Condor
  • White-tailed Kite
  • Harris’s Hawk
  • Common Black Hawk
  • Gray Hawk
  • Short-tailed Hawk
  • Zone-tailed Hawk
  • Barn Owl
  • Flammulated Owl
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Elegant Trogon
  • Williamson’s Sapsucker
  • Acorn Woodpecker
  • Gila Woodpecker
  • Arizona Woodpecker
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Gilded Flicker
  • Rosy-faced Lovebird
  • Rose-throated Becard
  • Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
  • Greater Pewee
  • Gray Flycatcher
  • Buff-breasted Flycatcher
  • Black Phoebe
  • Vermilion Flycatcher
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Ash-throated Flycatcher
  • Brown-crested Flycatcher
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Cassin’s Kingbird
  • Bell’s Vireo
  • Gray Vireo
  • Hutton’s Vireo
  • Plumbeous Vireo
  • Pinyon Jay
  • Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay
  • Mexican Jay
  • Chihuahuan Raven
  • Mexican Chickadee
  • Bridled Titmouse
  • Juniper Titmouse
  • Verdin
  • Pygmy Nuthatch
  • Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
  • Black-capped Gnatcatcher
  • Canyon Wren
  • Cactus Wren
  • Curve-billed Thrasher
  • Bendire’s Thrasher
  • LeConte’s Thrasher
  • Crissal Thrasher
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Phainopepla
  • Olive Warbler
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • Lawrence’s Goldfinch
  • Rufous-winged Sparrow
  • Botteri’s Sparrow
  • Cassin’s Sparrow
  • Black-chinned Sparrow
  • Five-striped Sparrow
  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • Yellow-eyed Junco
  • Sagebrush Sparrow
  • Canyon Towhee
  • Abert’s Towhee
  • Rufous-crowned Sparrow
  • Green-tailed Towhee
  • Chihuahuan Meadowlark
  • Hooded Oriole
  • Scott’s Oriole
  • Bronzed Cowbird
  • Lucy’s Warbler
  • Virginia’s Warbler
  • Grace’s Warbler
  • Hermit Warbler
  • Rufous-capped Warbler
  • Painted Redstart
  • Hepatic Tanager
  • Pyrrhuloxia
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Is that a comprehensive list of every bird known to occur in Arizona?

What I would recommend is – as you have time, as I know that is a long list – use iNaturalist to help answer the question. Filter taxon for a given species on your list, filter location for Arizona, filter observation date for March. Show the results in map view.

For example, here is the map of the Northern Beardless-tyrannulet in Arizona in March:

If you start to see that many of your choice species are shoiwing up in the same locations, those would be the locations to concentrate on.

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Not a comprehensive list, I excluded most birds that also occur in canada, as well as a couple other birds, this is also just the list of birds that are in Arizona in March. I’ve done what you’ve suggested before, though I usually use ebird since -for now- it’s has more data on birds. The reason why I didn’t do this for this trip is because it’s only four days, so I thought that input from people who know the area would be helpful. I know that Patagonia and Ramsey Canyon are two of the best but for hawks especially I was unsure since people usually go looking for hawks in rural areas not designated parks. I know hoping to see even half of the list is extremely optimistic especially in March.

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You might want to order the book Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona. It goes into considerable detail about where to go see what in the area.

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I’ve got a copy of that book somewhere. Also, you might see what Tucson Audubon Society has in terms of info. Or see if they have any field trips planned for when you’re in the area.

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Also, eBird will have what you want if you narrow down your list to March/year and then zoom in to the hot spot lists posted by others. That is a realistic method I often use to see what others have been seeing and how often. And yes, those famous places are famous for really good reasons. As above, field trips are often helpful since there are so many more eyes to notice and more fingers pointing as well as local knowledge of nesting hawks, etc.

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This website was started and expanded by a birder in Ohio (Ken Ostermiller) who now resides in Vermont. It allows birders to add visitor information like maps, trail descriptions, restrooms, etc. to eBird Hot Spot locations.

https://birdinghotspots.org/region/US-AZ

It seems you meant ‘birder’. The idea of a bird starting a website is amusing, though.

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Although, informally, a bird is a person of a specified kind or character (e.g., a tough old bird).

I cannot speak to birding, but the Chicahuas are stunning, even if you never see a bird. Gorgeous land formations and amazing vistas‼️

I think Ramsey Canyon is known for lots of winter migrant hummingbirds.

SE Arizona also has winter Sandhills cranes migrating through.
Sandhill Cranes in Arizona

There is a major roosting area near Sierra Vista, AZ (McNeal). That is relatively close to Ramsey Canyon, too.

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You can use the Explore feature of the iNat website filtered for Birds or specific species to find out what’s been seen, when, and where, e.g.,

Arizona Birds - all
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=40&subview=map&iconic_taxa=Aves

McNeal Birds
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=31.628485890706994&nelng=-109.62486145857918&place_id=any&subview=map&swlat=31.542501849518384&swlng=-109.77935669783699&verifiable=any&iconic_taxa=Aves

Ramsey Canyon Birds
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=31.471585222077838&nelng=-110.27702417952771&place_id=any&subview=map&swlat=31.433071513646386&swlng=-110.32182779891248&iconic_taxa=Aves

What birds were observed in Arizona in the month of March
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?month=3&place_id=40&subview=map&iconic_taxa=Aves

Ramsey Canyon Birds in March
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?iconic_taxa=Aves&month=3&nelat=31.467158398856174&nelng=-110.28639103854925&place_id=any&subview=map&swlat=31.43816339008131&swlng=-110.32810475314886

LOL :duck:

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I just spoke with a friend who is a wildlife biologist/wildlife photographer and has made many spring (and fall) birding trips to Arizona. I’ll try to summarize:

  • the Sierra Vista area is close to many birding hot spots and has places to stay (hotels/motels) whereas the birding lodges are often booked a year or more in advance.
  • all the canyons, (Ramsey, Patagonia, Madera, Battiste, Ash, Cave Creek etc.) have established birding opportunities. Many of the lodges allow day visits and just ask for a small donation. All have hummingbird feeders. Ramsey Canyon is run by the Nature Conservancy.
  • Other birders in these locations are very helpful and often will call out species (which is helpful if you happen to be looking in the other direction).
  • Tucson Audubon Society and Tucson Rare Bird Alert are good sources of info. including good birding opportunities in/close to Tucson in places like city parks. I think he also said there’s a SE Arizona Birding Society.
  • Montezuma Quail are known from Battiste and Ash Canyons but aren’t very predictable.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your adventure!

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Day 1 Mid-day arrival? Drive Box Canyon on the way to Patagonia via Sonoita. RON Day 2 Paton House, to & back Pena Blanca Reservoir (west of Nogales) hawks, 34 miles one way. RON Patagonia, quick re-do Paton House, long day to RON Portal via San Pedro House, Bisbee, Rodeo, NM, (maybe too late for Sagebrush Sparrow - try Carbon Co, MT) 150 mi. Day 3 Portal, Paradise, RON Day 4 Portal, Southwest Research Station, Barfoot Park, Onion Saddle to Chiricahua NM. Back Tucson for a late departure? 150 mi. ML