Tucson has a plethora of birding opportunities, both in the city and just outside city limits. Some of the best birding opportunities are just outside of Tucson, and the three best are on government-managed lands. If the idea of seeing a Pygmy Nuthatch during your stay at your Tucson Inn, look no further than the parks, wetlands, and wildlife refuges surrounding Tucson. These three spots will give you the most varied birding experience, but if you still want more don't forget to contact the Tucson Audubon Society. Ready to go? Pack your binoculars, bring your birding guides, camera, and plenty of water and take your pick of these bird watching spots in Tucson.
Saguaro National Park
Rincon Mountain District (also the park headquarters)
3693 South Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730-5601
Tucson Mountain District
2700 North Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743
Just a short drive from your Tucson Bed and Breakfast, the Saguaro National Park has outstanding birding opportunities. The Rincon Mountain District lies on the east side of Tucson, while the Tucson Mountain District borders the west side of the city. The eastern portion of the park (the Rincon Mountain District) has many trails that take birders from the National Park to a National Forest Wilderness. Many birders prefer the Rincon Mountain District, although both districts afford excellent birding opportunities. Make sure you visit the higher elevations to see some more unusual species. Be on the lookout for elf owls, roadrunners, and the threatened Mexican spotted owl, among others. Peregrine falcons and Harris hawks also live in the park, as does the golden eagle.
Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
(520) 823-4251, extension 116
This refuge has no formal address. Instead, follow these directions from your Tucson Bed and Breakfast.
Arivaca Cienega Trail and Arivaca Creek Trail
From Tucson take Highway 286 south from Three Points to milepost 12. Turn left and drive east 12 miles to Arivaca. From Interstate 19, take the Amado/Arivaca exit west, turn right at the T, then left at the Cow Palace onto Arivaca Road. Then drive 23 miles to Arivaca. Arivaca Cienega Trail is ¼ mile east of Arivaca; Arivaca Creek Trail is 2 miles west of town.
A few miles outside Tucson, the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge has over 300 species of birds. It has a captive breeding program for the masked bobwhite and releases the birds into the refuge. Biologists at the refuge also survey the endangered cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl as well as other endangered species.
Sweetwater Wetlands has no numbered address; type "Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Tucson, AZ, 85705" into your GPS or Google Maps.
In the middle of the desert, the Sweetwater Wetlands is a man-made wetlands that uses recycled treated wastewater to keep the wetland thriving. Some of the rare birds sighted at Sweetwater Wetlands include the least grebe and chestnut-sided warbler. Birders can also see Harris hawks and different breed of blackbirds here.