1 to November 30, 2014
complete checklist of Madera Canyon birds is available for download
on the Friends web site (link below) and in print at the Visitor
Information Station as you enter the canyon and in some brochure
boxes attached to trail map panels in the canyon. To learn what
unusual species are being seen in the canyon and southeast Arizona
generally, go to the local birding hotline on the web at:http://birding.aba.org/maillist/AZ.
the beginning of the Autumn Season marks the ending of the Monsoon
Season for southeast Arizona. The canyon and surrounding desert
grasslands are lush with fresh growth, flowers, and insects. These
conditions normally signal good bird watching in the canyon through
the fall. Many of the fall migrants have already arrived while
several of the summer breeders have or will soon depart. And
wintering sparrow will begin arriving.
Quail are common in the desert scrub at lower elevations. Scaled
Quail are uncommon in the grasslands below the Canyon though they
can be heard along Madera Canyon Road below milepost 10 and on
occasion may be seen crossing the road. Montezuma Quail may
be seen crossing the road from Proctor Rd all the way to the Mt
Wrightson Picnic Area, they may be found along the quiet trails and
rarely near the feeders at the campground and the lodges. Wild
Turkeys have become common in the canyon, they can be found near
the feeders, on the road, and occasionally along any of the trails.
Turkey Vultures depart by October and are rare later.
Cooper’s Hawks are often seen throughout the
canyon; particularly near concentrations of small birds (near
feeders). A few Northern Goshawks, resident in the higher
elevations, rarely come down into the canyon searching for prey. The
numbers of Red-tailed Hawk swell as northern birds migrant to
winter in the area; most will be found over the mesquite-grasslands.
The few Swainson’s Hawks depart by early-fall. A few
Zone-tailed Hawks or a rare Golden Eagle may be found
hunting over the grasslands or mountains through fall. Gray Hawks,
which nested in the Canyon this past summer, will depart by
mid-October. Northern Harriers return to the grasslands in
early-fall and stay through winter. Harris’s Hawks are
not likely to be found in the Canyon, try Green Valley or Tucson.
Four local falcons may be encountered along the road to the canyon
during fall through winter; American Kestrel (fairly common),
Merlin (rare), and Prairie (rare) & Peregrine
and Mourning Doves are common in the grasslands and lower
portions of the canyon with the bulk of the White-winged
population moving south by mid- to late-September. Individuals and
small flocks of Band-tailed Pigeons wander widely in search of
food (mostly acorns) throughout the canyon, uncommon in early fall,
becoming rare by winter. Inca & Common
Ground-Doves are rare in the canyon (Florida Wash &
Proctor Road). Eurasian Collared-Doves outnumber all other
doves in Continental, the beginning of Whitehouse Canyon Rd; they
have yet to find Madera Canyon. Greater Roadrunners are
common around Proctor Rd and down Whitehouse Canyon Rd towards Green
Valley. The few Yellow-billed Cuckoos that summered around
Proctor Rd will likely leave in early-September.
species of owls occur in the Madera Canyon, they are difficult to
find during the day but can be heard after dusk. Great Horned
Owls are most often encountered (heard) from the lower portion of
the canyon. Western Screech-Owls are common in the desert
washes and along Proctor Rd among the primitive camping area.
Whiskered Screech-Owls, fairly common within the Canyon, they
can be heard from any of the parking/picnic areas from Whitehouse
upwards. Elf Owls, the most common owl in the summer months,
are rare to nonexistent in the fall. Northern Pygmy-Owls
occur throughout the canyon from the Madera Picnic Area up and can
sometimes be heard calling during the daytime. Spotted Owls
inhabit the forests of the upper canyon (beyond the Wrightson Picnic
Area) and are difficult to find because of scarcity and remoteness.
Lesser Nighthawks may be seen at dusk & dawn along
Whitehouse Canyon Rd and around streetlights in Green Valley through
October. Common Poorwills cease calling from the base of the
mountains and most leave as fall progresses. Similarly Mexican
Whip-poor-wills of the upper portions of the Canyon have
departed. Similarly, the Buff-collared Nightjars the summered
near the Proctor Road primitive camping area have probably dispersed.
White-throated Swifts may be seen flying high near rocky
numbers were low early in the summer and picked up nicely at the
beginning of August and moderate numbers should continue around the
feeders through mid-October. The bulk of the south bound migrants
pass through before mid-fall, many of the local breeders also leave
about the same time, a few pass through late in the fall, and fewer
still may winter in the canyon. Hummingbirds normally concentrate
near feeding stations at the Chuparosa B&B, Madera Kubo, Santa
Rita Lodge, and the Bog Spring Campground Host (if occupied). The
few Rufous, a possible Allen’s (rare),
Broad-tailed, and Calliope Hummingbirds passing
through are mostly females & juveniles and will depart by
October. The two most common nesting species, Broad-billed
and Black-chinned are gone by September & October
respectively. Anna’s have arrived, the peak of their
migration is in October and some will remain to winter with a few
Blue-throated and Magnificent Hummingbirds. At the
beginning of September, at least two Plain-capped Starthroats
and a female White-eared Hummingbird are visiting the feeders
at the Santa Rita Lodge. How long will they continue? And will they
be joined one of the other rarer species such as Berylline,
Violet-crowned, or Lucifer Hummingbirds.
Trogons are most reliably found along the Carrie Nation Mine
Trail. For the most part family units will have broken up and mostly
silent individuals may be encountered foraging for caterpillars and
berries in the upper drainages of the canyon. An individual or two
may linger through late fall and into winter; if present they may be
encountered anywhere along Madera Creek above Proctor Rd.
Ladder-backed (lower canyon), Arizona (mid-to-upper),
and Acorn (throughout) Woodpeckers are common
residents. Northern Flickers and Hairy Woodpeckers
(uncommon) are resident in the pine forests of higher elevations in
the canyon with the flicker population moving downhill and
supplemented with wintering birds through the fall. Red-naped
and Williamson’s Sapsuckers begin arriving in September
for a stay through winter; hopefully a Yellow-bellied,
Red-breasted, or some hybrid Sapsucker will also
make a showing.
the numerous species of flycatchers recorded in the canyon, the most
sought after, Sulphur-bellied is the earliest to leave (by
mid-September). A few of the resident species may be found around
Proctor; Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, and Black &
Say’s Phoebes. Most of the breeding and migrant
species are gone by October; Olive-sided (rare), Cordilleran,
Pacific-slope, Dusky-capped, Ash-throated, and
Brown-Crested (usually leave in August) Flycatchers,
Western Wood- & Greater Pewees, and Western
& Cassin’s Kingbirds. A few Hammond's,
Dusky, & Gray Flycatchers may linger through late
fall and into the winter.
Shrikes may be encountered in the grasslands below Proctor Rd.
All the nesting vireo species remain in the canyon through October
including Plumbeous, Hutton’s (resident),
Warbling, & Bell’s and the migrant Cassin’s.
Mexican Jays are a standard feature of Madera Canyon. The
adults can be distinguished from the juveniles as the young birds
have a pinkish bill that darkens with age. Steller's Jays are
in the fir forest higher on the mountains and are not common here.
The Common Ravens are the more common of the two ravens in the
canyon with some flocks of Chihuahuan Ravens in the mesquite
grasslands. Western Scrub-Jays are rare.
few Violet-green Swallows that nested at higher elevations
have moved away. Northern Rough-winged and Barn Swallows
are sometimes encountered on the grasslands near water tanks. Other
swallow species are rare.
are common in the juniper-oak woodlands. Red-breasted
irregular visitors, having been absent for the most part recently;
they may be encountered in the pines at higher elevations. Verdins
are permanent residents; found in mesquites near Proctor.
species of wrens are resident in or near the canyon. Cactus Wrens
inhabits the scrubby desert at and below Proctor. House,
Bewick’s, and Canyon Wrens can be found
throughout the canyon. Rock Wrens are rarely encountered
because their favored habitat is where few birders venture. Though
rarely seen, Winter and Pacific Wrens may inhabit damp
brushy areas in the canyon through fall and winter.
Kinglets return in September, becoming one of the most common
birds seen and an identification challenge for those seeking Hutton’s
Vireos. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, though fairly common on
the oak-savannah hillsides during the summer, their numbers diminish
through fall to be absent by winter. Black-tailed Gnatcatchers
are residents of the mesquite grasslands below Proctor. Black-capped
Gnatcatchers were sporadic this summer along the Proctor Road
Trail, hopefully can be more regularly found throughout the Fall.
local population of Eastern Bluebird, though rare begins to
form flocks and wander throughout the canyon. Flocks of Western
Bluebirds may be found wandering through the grasslands and lower
canyon by mid-October. Townsend’s Solitaires are
uncommon fall transients in the canyon. The resident population of
Hermit Thrushes is supplemented by northern breeders, which
stay for the winter. Swainson’s Thrush is an uncommon
fall migrant in the canyon. Migrant American Robins arrive in
mid-October, forming flocks that search the canyon for berries. Look
in berry producing bushes for the rare Aztec Thrush that
rarely occur in the fall.
Mockingbirds and Curve-billed Thrashers can usually be
found along Whitehouse Canyon Rd. Crissal Thrashers can
sometimes be seen or heard along Proctor Road and at Florida Wash.
Phainopepla are common in the mesquite grassland all year
feeding on mistletoe berries. An occasional flock of Cedar
Waxwings might be found passing through the canyon in search of
species of wood warblers plus the Olive Warbler have been
documented in the canyon. Many are accidentals so don’t expect
to see them all! Migrants that move through the canyon, most depart
by late fall, include Orange-crowned, Nashville, Virginia’s,
Lucy’s, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s,
Hermit, Grace’s, Wilson’s, and MacGillivray’s
Warblers along with Northern Waterthrush (rare) and Yellow-breasted
Chat (rare). Red-faced Warbler will depart by the end of
September. The few warblers that remain to winter include Painted
Redstart, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s, and
few Hepatic, Western, and Summer Tanagers will remain
in the canyon in fall but will then depart south. A few Northern
Cardinals may be found at Proctor and in the mesquite grasslands
below. Pyrrhuloxias can sometimes be found at the Florida
Wash crossing on the way up to the canyon. Black-headed Grosbeak
is abundant throughout the canyon in the fall and rarely a migrant
Rose-breasted Grosbeak stops by as well. Blue Grosbeak
and Varied Bunting wrap up their late breeding season in the
mesquite-grasslands and move south by mid-October. They may be
joined by a rare Indigo or even rarer Painted Bunting.
Green-tailed Towhees arrive in September while Canyon
Towhees are resident around Proctor. Spotted Towhees
perform an altitudinal migration through the fall, from the higher
mountains to the canyon bottom.
can be numerous in the grasslands during fall. Some remain from
summer; most arrive from the north to winter here. Those to find in
fall include Botteri's, Cassin's, Rufous-winged, Rufous-crowned,
Chipping, Brewer’s, Black-chinned (rare), Vesper, Lark,
Black-throated, Savannah, Lincoln’s, and White-crowned
Sparrows from Proctor to the Santa Cruz River. Dark-eyed
Juncos will return in late fall and Yellow-eyed Juncos
will come down the mountain to feeders.
(Lilian’s) Meadowlark is common in the grasslands. A few
Western Meadowlarks may wander to the grasslands in late fall
to winter. Most Hooded and migrant Bullock’s
Orioles leave the area by mid-fall, leaving a few Scott’s
Orioles to overwinter in the canyon. Most Brown-headed &
Bronzed Cowbirds leave the canyon by the end of September.
Lesser Goldfinches, House Finches, and Pine Siskins
dominate the feeders in the canyon through the fall. An early
Cassin’s (rare) or Purple (very rare) Finch
may show up at the feeders. Lawrence’s Goldfinch might
be found in the grasslands but they are very rare and irregular. Red
Crossbills may be present but they are irregular (not every
If you see
an unusual bird or one not on this or the bird checklist please send a note to
learn about hummingbirds in southeastern Arizona and the local monitoring
program visit www.HumMonNet.org
learn what unusual species are being seen in the canyon and Arizona
in general go to http://birding.aba.org/maillist/AZ
of Madera Canyon
you are entering eBird data for Madera Canyon there are a number of
eBird hotspots in Madera Canyon. There are hotspots for each of the
parking & picnic areas, feeding stations, and a number of the
trails. Please use these hotspots when ever possible and try not to
merge a hike or drive through the canyon into one checklist. Also
beware that the Pima – Santa Cruz County line cuts east-west
through Madera Canyon. County boundaries are important for eBird
data collection & reporting. The county line crosses Madera
Canyon Road at the Madera Picnic Area, about at the midpoint of the
big parking area on your left as you head up canyon. If you can see
the Santa Rita Lodge, you are in Santa Cruz County so please use the
“Madera Canyon—Santa Rita Lodge” hotspot. Otherwise
use the “Madera Canyon—Madera Picnic Area” hotspot.
If birding at the Bog Springs Campground, which is bisected by the
county line, use the “Madera Canyon—Bog Springs
campground” unless the birds you are noting are on the north
side of the campground, then create a personal spot that is in Pima
Editor's Note: Additional birding information is available at Laurens' birding and nature guiding site, Desert Harrier.