Arizona is a region marked by spectacular scenery and sharp contrasts. Towering saguaro cactus, sandy washes, and granite outcroppings typify the Sonoran Desert, while creosote and yucca dominate the Chihuahuan Desert landscape. These beautiful deserts are home to iconic desert species such as Greater Roadrunner, Cactus Wren, and Verdin. Rising from the desert like green islands, mountain ranges clad in Madrean pine-oak woodlands provide a habitat unique within the United States; between these fault-block mountain ranges expansive valleys provide prime winter habitat for sparrows and numerous birds of prey. Lakes and ponds attract wintering waterfowl, hummingbirds are present at feeders while woodpeckers delight in tall saguaro cactus forests as well as cottonwood groves where local rivers wind through the valleys. From two comfortable lodges we enjoy winter birding highlights of the region, taking in sunshine and scenic beauty. Where else in the United States can you take a time out from watching so many dazzling birds to simply enjoy the scenery? All of these factors contribute to Arizona being one of the most exciting regions for birding in the United States! All four seasons are good here, and different.

January hosts excellent winter birding, the mix of habitats we visit provide food and shelter for resident and overwintering species. Sandhill Cranes occur in the tens of thousands and a high diversity of raptors gather for fine viewing on power lines, ranch tree plantings and irrigation equipment in the agriculturally rich Sulphur Springs Valley. Enjoy a wonderful escape from cold weather that’s timed for you to relax after the holidays.

What could be more rejuvenating than a stay at the welcoming Casa de San Pedro and the Amado Territory Inn? These two small, boutique hotels feature great hospitality and birding.

In addition to birding, learn a bit of history in the mining towns of Bisbee and Tubac. Sample regional wines as we enjoy fun local restaurants. While we can’t promise to be back for the Casa’s famous pies every afternoon, it is certainly our intention! We aim for great birding days afield, but this tour is paced so you can enjoy the inn and all its charms.

You can do as much or as little as you wish! If you would like a longer vacation, we suggest you add on some extra time in Tucson to continue to enjoy the area’s saguaros, sunshine, Mexican restaurants, art galleries, and museums.

Tour Highlights

  • Visit hotspots like Ramsey and Miller Canyons, the feeders at Ash Canyon, 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 finding a good number and variety of wintering raptors in the Sulphur Springs Valley around Whitewater Draw, including Ferruginous Hawk and up to four species of falcons
  • Sparrows abound; once a small pond had three species of longspurs!
  • Find hummingbirds, including Rivoli’s, Costa’s, Broad-billed, Anna’s, Blue-throated Mountain Gem and hopes for the Violet-crowned Hummingbird that often overwinters at Audubon’s Paton Center for Birds
  • Meet local experts from the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory and learn about their research
  • 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
  • Extend your stay in Tucson among sunshine and saguaros

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sat., Jan. 18      Arrival in Tucson | South to Tubac

Our tour starts at 1:00 PM in Tucson where we can pick you up at the airport or a nearby airport hotel. We head south along the Santa Cruz River, a renowned birding corridor. We leave the city behind, and immediately the shapes of multiple Sky Islands appear—we are surrounded by a series of small, but fascinating mountain ranges. Most prominent are the Santa Rita Mountains which hold legendary birding hotspots like Madera Canyon.

Have your binoculars handy! We swing into the beautiful San Xavier de Bac mission, where some Sonoran Desert species dwell in the riverbed. It’s a striking site of historical note we think you’ll enjoy. We make a couple of other stops as well—guide’s choice today depending on recent sightings in the Tucson area.

We reach the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa in time to settle into our rooms, and then enjoy some social time with refreshments before heading to a local restaurant. Those driving may wish to just meet us at the Inn or at our first chosen birding location today.
Accommodations at the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa (D)

Sun., Jan 19      Santa Cruz Valley Birding Hotspots: Canoa Ranch, Madera and Other Canyons | The Santa Cruz River Trail

Ponds at Canoa Ranch Conservation Park are a magnet for wintering waterfowl and we should find a good mix of them here today. The backdrop views of the Santa Rita Mountains are grand in scale and we watch the sky for raptors as well.

Florida, Montosa, and Madera Canyons are carved out of the Santa Rita Mountains. Florida Canyon gives us the chance to look for Broad-tailed, Broad-billed, and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Cactus Wren, Greater Roadrunner and Black-headed Grosbeak.

Madera Canyon, one of the most famous birding areas in the United States, is a north-facing valley in the Santa Rita Mountains with riparian woodland along an intermittent stream, bordered by mesquite, juniper-oak woodlands, and pine forests. Madera Canyon is home to over 250 species of birds, and in berry years a good spot to find wintering Elegant Trogon, possibly wintering Painted Redstart. Arizona Gray Squirrel can be found here, and Black-tailed Jackrabbit occur in the grasslands surrounding the peaks. Acorn Woodpecker call from their food-storage trees and Arizona Woodpecker may visit local feeders to join the array of hummingbirds. We may also see Common Bushtit and Hutton’s Vireo and certainly Mexican Jay. Depending on what we find here, we may also venture in to Montosa Canyon, another productive birding hotspot.

We want to save time for the river trail near Tubac, where recent winters have had some great birds, Rose-throated Becard, Sinaloa Wren — who knows what we find! Every day birding here is a true adventure. Tubac also has some fun dining and artisan shops, as well as a historic presidio.

Lunch and dinner are at local restaurants.
Accommodations at the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa (B,L,D)

Mon., Jan. 20     Patagonia Lake & Hummingbirds | Sonoita Grasslands | San Pedro River

After a great breakfast at the resort, we pack up our gear, and head towards the Huachuca Mountains and our next lodgings at the Casa de San Pedro. We make this a full day, as we pass through prime birding areas along the way.

Our first stop is at Patagonia Lake, where the inlet to the lake often shelters an overwintering Elegant Trogon. They like to feed on Giant Water Bugs! A variety of ducks may be on the water, and in the shrubby vegetation rimming the lake we can find wintering warblers, vireos, and gnatcatchers. Then it’s on to the hamlet of Patagonia. We enjoy lunch here at a favorite café and then check out what’s happening at feeders at Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds and other sites of interest. There is a nature trail winding through mesquite woodlands and riparian areas that connects to the local Nature Conservancy Reserve for those that wish to wander. Species we may see here include Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Cassin’s Finch, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Canyon Towhee, and Lazuli Bunting.

From here it’s about an hour and a half to our lodgings, and we stop at a couple of water features in lush grasslands that often attract a mix of sparrows and longspurs and pipits. Watch for Pronghorn, Prairie Falcon, and Golden Eagle that all live in this expansive terrain. A line of large cottonwoods along the San Pedro River and mountain views in three directions frames our backyard for the next three days.

Our wonderful hosts Patrick Dome and Karl Schmitt are waiting for us at the Casa de San Pedro.
Accommodations at Casa de San Pedro, Hereford (B,L,D)

Tues., Jan. 21      Sulphur Springs Valley | Whitewater Draw

Our focus today is on the grassland habitats of the Sulphur Springs Valley and the low wetland area of Whitewater Draw. After breakfast, we depart to explore areas productive for sparrows, longspurs, and raptors around Elfrida and north to Kansas Settlement. The entire valley is a major wintering ground for raptors, including Prairie Falcon, Ferruginous Hawk, and Golden Eagle — we may see ten or so raptor species today, with hundreds of individuals. With searching we could also find Long-billed Curlew feeding in agricultural fields and perhaps Mountain Plover, though over the years their numbers have declined — we will be watching!

Within this expansive valley is a wildlife area that wintering cranes use extensively called Whitewater Draw. We stop mid-morning when they come back in from feeding to take in the spectacle of seeing them by the thousands and to watch their behavior. There is a good variety of waterfowl here, shorebirds such as Wilson’s Snipe, Long-billed Dowitcher, Least Sandpiper, and other species. There is often a Vermilion Flycatcher perched up for inspection, perhaps a Say’s Phoebe and with luck a covey of Scaled Quail.

The valley is large, and in some years we go all the way up to Willcox Playa if we hear of species there that warrant the drive. Either way we aim to find a mix of wintering sparrows and longspurs, a good variety of raptors and always a few surprises. Plan for a long day, but this should be an excellent birding day on all accounts.

Tonight, enjoy dinner at the Casa, and for those that wish, a chance to catch up our species list around the fireplace. Casa de San Pedro is a nationally acclaimed inn; they say it is 90 miles from Tucson and inches from heaven. We agree! We find it the ideal location for our group, with meeting space, incredible hospitality, active bird feeders, a pond, and the San Pedro River right outside our door.
Accommodations at Casa de San Pedro (B,L,D)

Wed., Jan. 22        San Pedro River | Local Feeders of the Huachuca Mountains

Enjoy a lovely breakfast at the Inn today. Mid-morning, we drive a short way downriver to the Bureau of Land Management’s San Pedro House, a visitor center with walking trails north of the Inn on the San Pedro River. Here we search for birds of the cottonwood riparian areas, adjacent mesquite woodlands and grasslands —Northern Harrier, Loggerhead Shrike, Crissal Thrasher, Lark Bunting, Lark Sparrow, Abert’s Towhee, and other species occur here. Some years a Western Screech Owl likes to sunbath from his cottonwood-tree home.

We enjoy our lunch with the birds at some local feeders, then continue to the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory’s Ash Canyon property to meet some of their staff and to look for hummingbirds such as Rivoli’s, Anna’s, and Broad-billed, as well as other specialties of the pine-oak woodlands. With luck Arizona Woodpecker come in, and Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay. Our photographers are always happy here!

Tonight, enjoy dinner at a favorite local restaurant. Those that wish can tally up sightings of the day with your guide once back at the Casa.
Accommodations at the Casa de San Pedro (B,L,D)

Thurs., Jan. 23     Ramsey Canyon | Bisbee | Sunset with Cranes

Our early birds can check the Casa’s backyard of riparian cottonwoods and mesquite grassland for species like Scaled Quail, Gila Woodpecker, Pyrrhuloxia and Abert’s Towhee, while others can enjoy a more leisurely sleep in.

We have breakfast at 8:00 AM and then head off to The Nature Conservancy Preserve at Ramsey Canyon—one of the first well-known birding sites in Southeast Arizona. Here, Ramsey Creek descends through oak woodlands, its banks lined with massive sculptured trunks of Arizona Sycamores. We hope to see Wild Turkey, some wintering warblers such as Townsend’s and Painted Redstart, perhaps Red-naped Sapsucker and Hutton’s Vireo. Hummingbird feeders may delight us with a sighting of Blue-throated Mountain-gem, the largest hummingbird species in the United States. Walk the trails, browse the bookstore and gift shop, or park yourself under a tall, bending sycamore to wait for the birds to come to you! We may also stop at another favorite spot nearby if we know of good bird activity there in shrubs that can be loaded with berries.

This afternoon, after a nice break back at the Inn (they always have fresh-baked pies...) we return to the historic town of Bisbee and continue on to Whitewater Draw for sunset with Sandhill Cranes pouring in to roost in the ponds there — an unforgettable sight! If some want some “town time” we can send one van on ahead early.

It is your vacation and a bit of a splurge is in order! As we pass through Bisbee coming back from the cranes, we have reservations at Café Roka, one of Arizona’s most well-loved restaurants. Luckily while the food is fine there is no need to dress up, which is a good thing as we’ll be in crane-viewing clothes, celebrating a wonderful week in the wilds.
Accommodations at Casa de San Pedro (B,L,D)

Fri., Jan. 25      Birding & Breakfast | Departures from Tucson

Our plan is to offer optional birding along the river early, enjoy a nice breakfast, pack and to return to the airport by 10:30 for flights out after NOON. If some have flights a bit later and there’s a bird calling to us at a nearby stop in Tucson, we give it a try! (B)

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Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is $3190 DBL / $3940 SGL from Tucson, AZ. This cost includes accommodations for six nights, meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner), professional guide services, other park and program entrance fees and miscellaneous program expenses. Cost does not include: round-trip airfare to and from Tucson, items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, or gratuities for luggage handling or personal services.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Tucson International Airport (TUS)

Arrive: January 18, no later than 1:00 PM

Depart: January 24, after 12:30 PM

Hotel Recommendations: If you want to relax and stay near the airport after arrival (we can pick you up at these hotels), we recommend: Courtyard by Marriott Tucson Airport (520) 573-0000. Does staying downtown and exploring the many shops and restaurants sound interesting? We would recommend: Home 2 Suites by Hilton (520) 274-7400 The Leo Kent Hotel by Marriott (520) 549-5330. If you have a rental vehicle and plan on visiting Tohono Chul, a great hotel in that area is La Posada. There are many restaurants in this area as well. La Posada Lodge & Casitas (520) 492-6637

Travel Tip: If you want to arrive a day or two early, Tucson is a great city to explore. The world-renowned Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a fun place to spend part of a day with a zoo, natural history museum, and botanical gardens all in one location. Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens offers easy nature trails through a variety of gardens and Saguaro National Park is a great place to visit for scenery, hiking, and to see the iconic saguaro cactus. The downtown area, which is close to the University of Arizona campus, offers many restaurants and shops. Downtown Tucson is about 8 miles from the airport and can be reached by a taxi, Uber/Lyft, or renting a car. You will need to return to the airport by 1 pm on January 18, if you are not staying at an airport hotel.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.


Monsoon Madness

Sunshine & Saguaros

  • Chris Harbard

    Chris Harbard is a well-known British ornithologist and conservationist who now lives in SE Arizona. After 24 years working with the world’s largest bird conservation organisation, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, he moved to the Austrian optics company Swarovski and managed their birdwatching website for several years. He is now a freelance author, editor, broadcaster and lecturer, as well as an occasional bird guide in SE Arizona where he and his wife help to run the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival. He is on the board of the Arizona Field Ornithologists.

    Chris writes for Birdwatch magazine and was editor of the Birdwatchers' Guides series of books. His own books include Birdwatch, Songbirds, A Birdwatcher's Quizbook, A First Guide to Birdwatching.

    Working as a naturalist lecturer on board expedition cruise ships for the last eighteen years has taken him to remote areas of the Arctic, Antarctic, Atlantic and Pacific. Although his main area of interest is birds, especially seabirds, he also enjoys a range of other wildlife such as cetaceans, butterflies, dragonflies and plants.

    Other trips with Chris Harbard

  • Sharon Goldwasser

    Sharon became an avid birder and naturalist while a student at UC-Santa Cruz. After working as a field biologist for several years, she moved to Tucson for graduate school in ecology where she studied song mimicry by Lesser Goldfinches. In 1987, she rerouted her career into education, bringing her love of science to thousands of middle school students. Since retiring from the classroom in 2020, she has renewed her birding passion and is excited to share knowledge of birds and ecology with tour participants.

    Other trips with Sharon Goldwasser

Map for Arizona: Sky Island Winter Birding

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
  • Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please send a copy of your travel itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office at
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Remember to pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Health Information

We will share a copy of your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency. In addition to bringing any prescription medications with you, we recommend that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of loss.

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.  

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Food & Drink

We carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable. Protective clothing is essential, whether it be from sun, rain, cold, insects, or vegetation. You need closed toe shoes, and wear comfortable walking shoes with good tread. Hiking boots with good support for hiking and on rocky terrain can work well.

Spending Money

Many people ask how much to plan to bring as spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Most shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books.  You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.


Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this amount can be split among them.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available in most US destinations, although there are some exceptions in remote locations. Wi-Fi is generally provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas. Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers unless it appears to be an emergency as this disrupts other guests – please plan cell phone calls on your own time.


Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.


For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask all attendees to please rotate your seating, so you ride with different drivers and alternate between front and back seats.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives permission to record photos and/or video of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochures, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.


Packing List +

Please pack light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please pack light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds.  Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

In general, the weather should be mostly chilly, with highs in the low-60°s and lows sometimes dipping down to the low 30°s or even 20°s. We suggest packing a medium/heavy jacket and layers. Check your favorite weather website like,, closer to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure.

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation.  But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy. Note on clothing colors: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended.

Clothing & Gear

  • Long pants, 2 pairs
  • Shorts (1 pair or use a pair of zip-offs that give you both short and long)
  • Long-sleeved shirts (2)
  • T-shirts or equivalent (remember you may be buying some there anyway)
  • Lightweight raincoat or poncho (rain not likely, but possible)
  • Windbreaker type jacket (can be same as above)
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Personal underclothing
  • Socks, long enough to tuck in your pants – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
  • Comfortable walking shoes and lightweight hiking boots – good tread is essential!
  • Medium to heavy weight jacket
  • Warm fleece/sweater/sweatshirt
  • Gloves, warm hat, scarf for mornings and evenings
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field cloths or a skirt, etc.)

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • Airline ticket
  • Photo identification
  • Toiletry articles
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Walking stick (optional but recommended if you usually use sticks when hiking)
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Alarm clock (if you use your phone, be sure to turn off data roaming)
  • Sunscreen/lip balm
  • Gel bandana for cooling (optional)
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent
  • Sulphur powder for possible chiggers (found at garden store)
  • Umbrella, compact and not brightly colored (optional, but useful for protection from rain if not windy)
  • Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Binoculars (a clear shower cap works well to keep off rain and mist)
  • Camera and extra batteries, battery chargers, film or digital chips, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional, guide will have one)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Earplugs (optional) 
  • Portable packages of facial tissues
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
  • Small bottle of antibacterial soap
    Rechargeable power bank (optional)

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing, and your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Personal medication
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van, drives, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (including tweezers for spines)
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, medical prescriptions, vaccination records, and any medical alerts
  • Health insurance information
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Antibacterial soap in small container for quick handwashing


Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Arizona; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Arizona; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Top Picks

Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Download it for free here.

General Reading

Mountain Islands and Desert Seas:  A Natural History of the U.S./Mexico Borderlands

The Deserts of the Southwest: A Sierra Club Naturalist’s Guide

Natural Environments of Arizona: From Desert to Mountains

Roadside Geology of Arizona

Field Guides

Birds of Southeastern Arizona

Sibley Guide to Birds

Hummingbirds of North America: The Photographic Guide

A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America (Peterson Field Guides)

Butterflies of North America; Kaufman Field Guides

Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Southwest

A Birder’s Guide to Southeastern Arizona

Tucson Audubon’s Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona

Please note that your guide will have a full set of local identification guides for plants, reptiles and amphibians, mammals and butterflies. For those who would like further detail: 

A Guide to the Identification and Natural History of the Sparrows of the United States and Canada  

Hawks in Flight

A Field Guide to Warblers of North America

Natural History

Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding: Understanding What You See and Hear

 The Birder’s Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds

 The Complete Birder: A Guide to Better Birding

 Lives of North American Birds

Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion: A Comprehensive Resource for Identifying North American Birds

There is a good selection of books available for sale at visitors’ centers, and your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.


Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more





Sulphur Springs Valley

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Tucson Audubon Society

Birding Lake Patagonia

Birding Amado WTP – eBird Sightings

A fun Traveling Tales blog post about the exciting race to see a Brown Pelican at Amado WTP

Hotspots in the Huachuca Mountains and the San Pedro River (

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area – Birding Hotspot

Canoa Ranch Conservation Park – eBird Hotspot Sightings

Desert Adaptation of Birds & Mammals (AZ-Sonora Desert Museum)

Birding Madera Canyon

Birding Sulphur Springs Valley and Mule Mountains – Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Friends of Madera Canyon – Conservation Efforts

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area – Sandhill Cranes

Ramsey Canyon Preserve – The Nature Conservancy

San Pedro River

Geology & Geography

Geology of Arizona

Geologic History of the Sonoran Desert

Geography of Southern Arizona

History & Culture

Tucson’s History and Culture

Culture History of Southern Arizona – American Era

Canoa Ranch: THEN AND NOW - A Historic View

Tucson – City of Gastronomy (UNESCO)

Sonoran Food in Southern Arizona

Helpful Travel Websites

Tucson International Airport

Homeland Security Real ID Act

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

ATM Locator

Date & Time - Tucson

Photo credits: Banners: Cave Creek Canyon by Steve Wolfe; Naturalist Journeys Stock; Montezuma Quail by Greg Smith; Patagonia, Arizona by Kathy Pasierb; Sandhill Cranes by Peg Abbott; Great Horned Owl by Greg Smith; Long-eared Owl by Greg Smith; Gila Woodpecker by Sandy Sorkin; Pyrrhuloxia by Terry Peterson; Roadrunner by Peg Abbott; Coati by Peg Abbott; Dull Firetip by Pat Owens; Mountains, Pat Lueders; Snow Geese & Sandhill Cranes, Peg Abbott; Canyon Wren, Peg Abbott; Sandhill Crane, Hugh Simmons Photography; Gila Woodpecker, Janice Petko; Broad-billed Hummingbird, Hugh Simmons Photography; Western Meadowlark, Hugh Simmons; Sandhill Cranes, Hugh Simmons; Sandhill Crane, Hugh Simmons; Broad-billed Hummingbird, Hugh Simmons; Canyon Wren, Peg Abbott; Eared Quetzal, Peg Abbott; Landscape, Hugh Simmons; Arizona Group, Hugh Simmons; Pronghorn, Hugh Simmons; Red-naped Sapsucker, Hugh Simmons;


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