Guided by Phil Chaon. This was a set-departure birding tour.
The sky islands of Southeastern Arizona are one of the most legendary birding locations in the United States. Teeming with a host of species found nowhere else in the country, these fabled mountains soar high above the desert floor. Etched with spectacular, lush canyons and crowned in towering pines – the lofty peaks are an open door, providing a glimpse of the exotic avifauna of the neotropics. These alluring heights are themselves surrounded by a vast array of habitats – the iconic rocky desert dotted in saguaros, arid grasslands, oak covered foothills and a few verdant oases wreathed in wetlands.
Southeastern Arizona is a destination that is as exciting on the twentieth visit as it is the first. The diversity of plants, insects, reptiles, and mammals has drawn naturalists from all over the world for decades. The landscape is populated by spectacular resident birds but is also one of the best areas for rare Mexican vagrants in the US. Exciting possibilities exist in the deep reaches of every canyon or may appear in a flash at a backyard feeder. Every visit holds something new and it is a place I always relish returning to.
This year was no exception and at the end of the trip, picking a highlight was deemed impossible. Nearly 200 species of birds were seen in 9 days. We enjoyed great looks 11 species of hummingbird including the exceedingly rare Berylline. It was a good season for other wanderers and vagrants like Rose-throated Becard, Buff-collared Nightjar and Rufous-capped Warbler.
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