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Canyon Notes

Watching Birds in Madera Canyon - 2005

By Karen McBride

Did you know that watching birds has recently overtaken fishing and hunting as America's top outdoor “sport”; that there are more than 60 million people watching birds (at varying levels of intensity); that Southeastern Arizona is the #2 birding destination in the country, second only to south Texas; and that visiting birders pour a lot of dollars into the local economy? And did you realize that Madera Canyon is one of the “must see” destinations on a birder's wish list? Eventually every serious birder will make the pilgrimage here, and some, like me, will stay.

Two important guide books available world-wide at book stores and online book sites are Finding Birds in Southeastern Arizona published by the Tucson Audubon Society and A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona by Richard Cachor Taylor.

In the former, it is written that “MaderaCanyon (is) one of the most famous birding areas in Southeast Arizona...” and that “...there are no hot spots to compare with MaderaCanyon ...

The latter book states that “MaderaCanyon in the SantaRitaMountains is, perhaps, the best-known and most-often visited birding spot in Arizona, with good reason. You can find most of the species of Southeastern Arizona within 15 linear miles. Only an hour south of Tucson, MaderaCanyon is the nearest and easiest place to see the full panoply of Sierra Madrean hummingbirds, Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and other pine/oak woodland specialties confined to the border ranges. If you have time to bird only a single location in spring or summer, visit Madera Canyon.”

There you have it, folks. Our canyon is famous the world over. Uncounted numbers of birders make the journey here, sometimes from great distances and at great personal expense. We are fortunate to LIVE here with this unique and wonderful place in our backyards. Visit the canyon during the week to soak up its peace and tranquility. Listen to the bird sounds; watch the squirrels, deer, and coatimundi play; have a picnic; commune with nature. And please be sure to park only in designated parking areas, respect private property, and pay your fee or put your Golden Age Pass on your dashboard.


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