all is a stunning time to visit Southeast Arizona’s Sky Island mountain ranges, when fall color decorates the stunning Chiricahua and Huachuca Mountains’ canyons. As other parts of the continent turn towards winter, November here boasts perfect warm days as maples turn red, cottonwoods and ash yellow, and sycamores shine burnt sienna. Nights are crisp and host dark skies with inspiring star views. This tour takes in time at two premier birding lodges.
Southeast Arizona is home terrain for Naturalist Journeys and we're excited to share our favorite places. This year we’ve invited Hugh Simmons, an accomplished photographer specializing in landscapes to join us. We plan to set the pace of this one to let you work on photo composition, or simply to marvel at beauty. Hugh provides photo tips for those that want to improve their skills; you can then practice on fall color landscapes and especially at feeders - brilliant birds. We have two nights at the delightful Casa de San Pedro and five nights in Cave Creek Canyon at Portal, truly one of the most scenic canyons in the state. This is home turf for guide Peg Abbott and she’s eager to share her beloved terrain.
Throughout our travels, we enjoy delicious, catered meals and dining at our favorite local restaurants.
This is not “normal” winter birding. Hummingbirds still linger at several popular feeder sites—sit awhile and let the birds come to you! Fruiting trees and shrubs attract thrashers, robins and sometimes, rarities, like the Eared Quetzal in the fall of 2020.
Wintering Sandhill Cranes number in the tens of thousands; we watch them fly-in at sunset to Whitewater Draw. Sparrows and allies winter in profusion, many from the Great Plains region. Southwestern mammals such as Coati, Javelina and even Ring-tailed Cat can be found. Raptors abound: Red-tailed Hawks of varied color phases, Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Peregrine, Merlin and more.
- Visit two famous birding lodges of Southeast Arizona.
- Find great fall birding at hotspots like Ramsey and Ash Canyons, local feeders along the San Pedro River, and more
- Marvel at the spectacle of tens of thousands of overwintering Sandhill Cranes! Watch them fly-in to roost at sunset and also observe them feeding during the day
- Experience prime time for wintering raptors in the Sulphur Springs Valley.
- Let an expert teach you ID skills for sparrows which abound; last year a small pond had three species of longspurs!
- Spend time in the tiny village of Portal, a birding Mecca and home to Naturalist Journeys.
- Immerse yourself in color at Cave Creek Canyon
- Find winter hummingbirds, Vermilion Flycatcher and several species of quail.
- Explore Bisbee, a colorful, historic mining town; enjoy lunch and the chance to shop or check out the Smithsonian-affiliated museum
- Find camaraderie at catered meals and dining at our favorite local restaurants (save room for homemade pie at the Casa)
Photo credits: Banners: Cave Creek Canyon by Steve Wolfe; Sandhill Cranes by Peg Abbott; Fall group, Hugh Simmons; Great Horned Owl by Greg Smith; Canyon Wren, Peg Abbott; Fall Colors, Peg Abbott; Rufous-collared Sparrow, Peg Abbott; Roadrunner by Peg Abbott; Coati by Peg Abbott; Red-naped Sapsucker, Peg Abbott; Fall colors, Peg Abbott; Bisbee Town, Hugh Simmons Photography; Coronado, Hugh Simmons Photography; Sandhill Cranes, Hugh Simmons Photography; Canyon Wren, Peg Abbott; Fall AZ, Peg Abbott; Red-naped Sapsucker, Peg Abbott; Rufous-collared Sparrow, Peg Abbott;