Chiricahua Mountains Field Trip


Elegant Trogon. Photo courtesy of Jim Burns and Tucson Audubon Society

Sunday, April 8 – Tuesday, April 10

Start and end time:
Sunday, 2 pm – Tuesday, 4 pm


Maximum participants:

All meals will be provided by the Southwestern Research Center.

Trip Leader(s):
John Yerger and one other

Trip Description:
The Chiricahua Mountains comprise the largest “Sky Island” range in southeastern Arizona and we will explore them while based at the Southwestern Research Station of the American Museum of Natural History near Portal, Arizona. Our guide will be John Yerger of Adventure Birding Company whose home base is Portal. The Chiricahua Mountains have the strongest affiliation with biota of the Chihuahuan Desert and the Sierra Madre Occidental, primarily Mexican biomes. En route we’ll visit a true desert oasis at Willcox Twin Lakes, where waterfowl and waders will add variety to the list, and interesting songbirds can be found as well. We’ll explore a huge diversity of habitats within short driving distance of Portal, AZ. Our lowest elevation at 4,000’ starts off with semi-arid Chihuahuan grassland, moving dramatically into montane riparian and Madrean pine-oak woodland at 5,000’, climbing up to 8,500’ in a spruce-fir forest more typical of the Rocky Mountains. A side trip into pinyon-juniper woodland reminiscent of the Great Basin will add several species not easily found elsewhere in southern Arizona. Finally, an optional outing after sunset will introduce us to a wholly different aspect of this region: a nocturnal bird array that is unsurpassed anywhere else in the U.S.

Likely Species:
Scaled Quail, Golden Eagle, Zone-tailed Hawk, Whiskered Screech-Owl, Northern (Mountain) Pygmy-Owl, White-throated Swift, Rivoli’s Hummingbird, Blue-throated Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, Arizona Woodpecker, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Cassin’s Kingbird, Hutton’s Vireo, Plumbeous Vireo, Steller’s Jay, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, Mexican Jay, Chihuahuan Raven, Common Raven, Bridled Titmouse, Canyon Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Crissal Thrasher, Lucy’s Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Painted Redstart, Yellow-eyed Junco, Canyon Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Pyrrhuloxia, Hooded Oriole, Scott’s Oriole. Other possibilities are Red-faced warbler, Mexican Chickadee and Elegant Trogon.

Recommended Gear and Cautions:
Intermediate level. Will involve walking on relatively level trails, although rocky/rooted in places. Bring a water bottle and hat, wear sunscreen, and shoes/boots that are appropriate for hiking trails. Around 2 miles walking each day.

Additional Information:
Housing will be provided at the Southwestern Research Station near Portal, Arizona in simple, double-occupancy dorm rooms.

Southwestern Research Station

Chiricahua Mountains

Cave Creek Canyon


Click here to return to the main field trips page for the complete listing of all excursions being offered.

Yellow-eyed Junco. Photo courtesy of Carol Vleck

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