Bird-watching is one of the many reasons people come to Cochise County. If you’re a novice or experienced birdwatcher, explore Cochise County’s birding hot spots, birding events and birding tours. You’ll also find sample birding itineraries and helpful birding resources at the bottom of this page.
- Birding Hot Spots
- Birding Tours and Tour Operators
- Sample Birding Itineraries
- Birding Events
- Birding Resources & Useful Links
Birding Hot Spots
Begin your sightings just west of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and explore Carr Canyon and Miller Canyon in the Coronado National Forest. You'll be astounded by more than 400 species of birds!
The Nature Conservancy's internationally famous Ramsey Canyon near Sierra Vista is home to a rainbow of hummingbirds. Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains and the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge near Douglas are also havens for hummingbirds and many other species.
Birding Tours and Tour Operators
Need a guide? Contact these local resources for expert birding guides in Cochise County.
Mark Pretti Nature Tours, Sierra Vista, Arizona http://www.markprettinaturetours.com/index.htm
Southeast Arizona Bird Observatory, Bisbee, Arizona http://www.sabo.org
High Lonesome Birdtours, Sierra Vista, Arizona http://www.hilonesometours.com/
Naturalist Journeys, Portal, Arizona http://www.naturalistjourneys.com/
You can also visit the gift shop and informaton center at the San Pedro House. The volunteers from the Friends of the San Pedro River staff the center. It is an excellent resource for visitors who want information on the area's hiking and birding opportunities.
The tour operators are listed for informational purposes only. They are not sponsored or endorsed by the Cochise County Tourism Council.
Sample Birding Itineraries
Three Days with the Birds
Begin your birding adventure on the Benson Birding Trail and Waterfowl Viewing Pond. Ask for your free trail map at the Benson Visitor Center. It will give directions to the Birding Trail as well as the Waterfowl Viewing Pond.
Then head south on Route 90 to Sierra Vista, which lies just west of the lush San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area, a popular habitat for many species. You will also find birds aplenty in nearby Ramsey, Miller and Carr Canyons, about six to nine miles south on Arizona Highway 92.
Spend the night at any one of a number of inns located in prime birding habitats or travel to Bisbee (15 miles east on Highway 90, then 10 miles southeast on Arizona Highway 80) to overnight in a unique bed and breakfast inn.
Visit the Southern Arizona Bird Observatory in Bisbee (520-432-1388) for information on top birding spots. Then head out to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area (about 20 miles northeast of Bisbee on Double Adobe Road, 520-642-3763).
Spend the night in Douglas, 25 miles southeast on Arizona Highway 80, and enjoy the ambiance of this captivating border town.
In the morning, pack a lunch and head to the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, just 15 miles east of town (520-364-2104). Natural springs near the trail along Black Draw are riparian magnets for 237 species of Southwestern and migratory birds.
Two Days with the Birds
For "life list" birds, including golden eagles, hepatic tanagers, bridled titmice, elegant trogons and Mexican chickadees, visittheChiricahua Mountains in the Coronado National Forest.
Begin your day at on the east side of the Chiricahuas in Cave Creek Canyon and tour the American Museum of Natural History's Southwest Research Station. Then head off to the "Wonderland of Rocks" at the Chiricahua National Monument for leisurely hiking and bird watching.
Spend the night in the campground or drive to Willcox (38 miles northwest on Arizona 186) for more "developed" accommodations. If you are visiting from May to October, get a list of U-pick farms from the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture and pick fresh fruits and vegetable directly from the fields. In winter thousands of sandhill cranes migrate from as far away as Alaska and Siberia to winter in Cochise County's marshy areas. Willcox celebrates the cranes’ arrival with "Wings OverWillcox," held every year over Martin Luther King holiday weekend in January. View the cranes on the Willcox Playa, the Apache Generating Station Wildlife Observation Area or numerous other locations.
Some rare birds make southeastern Arizona their temporary home in winter and summer. Sandhill cranes and hummingbirds are some of the most notable migratory species. Birding and nature festivals are the perfect opportunity to enjoy birding at its finest or learn from experienced birding tour guides.
The annual Wings Over Willcox Birding and Nature Festival in Willcox takes place each January on the third full weekend (coinciding with the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.
Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista is held the first weekend in August each year.
Birding Resources & Useful Links
Southeastern Arizona Birding Trail map and guide: This map includes 52 bird-rich and birder-friendly locations and is available for purchase online at from the Tucson Audubon Society.
Huachuca Audubon Society-- http://www.huachuca-audubon.org/index.php
The local chapter of the Audubon society holds monthly meetings September through May in Sierra Vista. They have lectures and slide shows on birding and natural history subjects. Frequent birding trips to birding hotspots are offered year round.
Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (www.sabo.org)
National Audubon Society www.audubon.org
The Friends of the San Pedro River is a mostly volunteer organizaton dedicated to the conservation and restoration of the San Pedro River. The Friends of the San Pedro River operates a gift and bookstore, leads guided interpretive walks/hikes along the river and throughout the adjacent area, presents educational programs to schools and community groups, and assists the BLM in a variety of other programs.
More Wildlife Viewing Opportunities
Want to explore more ways to watch wildlife in southern Arizona? Click the Tucson and southern Arizona page to visit the Arizona Watchable Wildlife website.