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, including 15 hummingbird species. Visitors from all over the world arrive in search of such avian specialties as the Elegant Trogon, Elf Owl, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and Painted Redstart.
The road to Madera Canyon enters through desert grasslands and ends in juniper-oak woodland, where hiking trails lead up in the "sky island" through pine-oak woodland to montane conifer forest and the top of Mt. Wrightson (elevation 9,453 feet). The spectrum of birds found in these varied habitats includes four species of tanagers: Summer at Proctor Road, Hepatic starting at Madera Picnic Area, Western up the trails in the conifers, and Flame-colored as an occasional breeder. Hummingbirds, owls and flycatchers are also very well represented in this area. Montezuma Quail are inconspicuous but present near grassy oak-dotted slopes.
In the Santa Rita Experimental Range below Madera Canyon can be found birds of the desert grasslands and brush, including Costa's Hummingbird, Varied Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Scaled Quail, Phainopepla, Botteri’s, Cassin’s, Black-throated, Brewer’s, and Rufous-winged Sparrows.
At Proctor Road, most birders walk the productive first section of the trail to Whitehouse Picnic Area to find Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Bell's Vireo, Lucy's Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Varied Bunting, Summer Tanager, and sometimes Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The dirt road shortly above the parking lot may have Western Scrub-Jays and a Crissal Thrasher.
Farther up the road, the Madera Picnic Area has Acorn and Arizona Woodpeckers, Mexican Jay, Bridled Titmouse, Painted Redstart, and Dark-eyed Junco. Three Myiarchus flycatchers , Western Wood-Pewee and Hepatic Tanager can be found here in season. Watch overhead for Zone-tailed Hawk among the Turkey Vultures.
At the end of the road at the parking lot, the trailhead leads to Old Baldy. Elegant Trogons are most often found along the first mile of either the Super Trail of the Carrie Nation trail. Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Plumbeous Vireo, Painted Redstart, and Dusky-capped Flycatcher are common along the trails. Yellow-eyed Juncos breed higher up towards Josephine Saddle.
Night birding is a Madera canyon highlight, especially in May. Listen for Western and Whiskered Screech-Owls, Elf Owls and the much rarer Flammulated and Spotted Owls. Whip-poor-wills are in the forest and Common Poorwills can be heard near Proctor and below. Lesser Nighthawks, Barn and Great Horned Owls often fly across the road through the beam of your headlights as you approach the canyon.
Friends of Madera Canyon publishes a comprehensive "Birds of Madera Canyon" checklist that is available at the Visitor Information Station, trailheads, and website (link).
NOTE: Playing recordings of bird vocalizations is discouraged in Madera Canyon.
For a listing of current bird sightings in Madera Canyon, Click Here
To Download or Print a copy of the Check List of Madera Canyon Birds, Click Here
HUMMINGBIRD MONITORING NETWORK
Banding Dates for Madera Canyon at the Chuparosa Inn. Drive up Madera Canyon Road past the Chuparosa Inn and park in the Mt. Wrightson parking area, then walk back to the Inn. You can stop and drop people off before you park if you wish. There is no parkiing at the Inn.
Please be quiet and do not move around suddenly near the traps or banding table. You may observe and see the birds up close, take photographs, and ask questions. You may be able to release a bird from your hand.
The bander is Elissa Fazio. If you would like to be a volunteer assistant, please contact Elissa at: firstname.lastname@example.org
All dates are on Monday
Banding Dates 2011
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