Welcome to Audubon’s Arizona Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program!

Upcoming Events:

Bendire’s Thrasher Area Search in Avra Valley Wednesday April 19 – We need about 10 people to help look for Bendire’s Thrashers on a very promising piece of land in Avra Valley that we have special permission to search. When we scouted this area we did find multiple pairs and it would be very exciting to verify a breeding population so close to Tucson! To Sign up please click here.

Group Search for Lucy’s Warblers on 7B near Mammoth – Friday April 21 -  we will be searching for nests and documenting foraging habits in the mesquite trees. This will be lots of fun and very informal, very suitable for all levels of birders. To sign up please click here.

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Lucy’s Warbler Study – You can help us study these amazing birds.

Tucson Audubon is launching an initiative to learn more about Lucy’s Warbler nesting needs as well as study how effective different nestbox designs can be for these charismatic warblers. We need help with three aspects of this study: nestboxes (both building and monitoring), foraging investigation, and searching for natural nests. Find out more about this engaging and fun project at our Lucy’s Warbler Page Here.

Elegant Trogon Surveys May-June 2017 – Sign up to help!

Sign up now for the 2017 Elegant Trogon Surveys in SE Arizona! Form here: www.tinyurl.com/trogon

2017 Elegant Trogon Survey Dates

Elegant Trogon in Corral Canyon Patagonia Mountains by Laurens Halsey May 2014

Elegant Trogon in Corral Canyon Patagonia Mountains by Laurens Halsey May 2014

May 7, Sunday – Atascosa Highlands Count

May 27, Saturday – Patagonia Mountains Count

May 28, Sunday – Santa Rita Mountains Count

June 3, Saturday – Huachuca Mountains Count

June 4, Sunday – Chiricahua Mountains Count

There is an abundance of evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, that the ecological influence of tropical Mexico has grown over the last century in Southeastern Arizona. Mammals such as Javalina and White-nosed Coati have both extended their range out the tropics into southern Arizona as part of this larger ecological system expansion. The expansion continues even today with the birding community noting the recent increase in prevalence of Gray Hawks and rarities in general including the recent first ever US nesting record of Tufted Flycatcher this past spring. Elegant Trogons are also part of this story with their United States range expanding over the last century which can be tracked with mainly anecdotal evidence and isolated incidents of collecting.  To further our understanding of how many Elegant Trogons there are in the US organized surveys have been ongoing in the Chiricahuas and Huachucas led by Rick Taylor for many years and beginning in 2013 Jennie MacFarland and Tucson Audubon assisted Rick and helped expand the surveys to three more ranges. The new areas we surveyed the last three years are the Atascosa Highlands, Santa Rita Mountains and Patagonia Mountains.

Eastern “Azure” Bluebirds Nest Box Program

Azure Bluebird in nest hole by Richard Thompson
Azure Bluebird in nest hole by Richard Thompson

Tucson Audubon needs you help to monitor and maintain nest boxes in SE Arizona for the Azure sub-species of Eastern Bluebirds that nest in the grasslands and oak foothills of our Sky Islands.

These birds are special as they are a distinct sub-species of Eastern Bluebird that occurs in southeast Arizona known as Azure Bluebird or Mexican Bluebird and they are quite different from the “regular” Eastern Bluebirds. The Azure Bluebirds that love the meadows and grasslands of southeast Arizona are smaller and paler than their eastern cousins and stay in this habitat year-round instead of migrating. It is tempting to think of these birds as pioneers from the eastern population that have made it out west, but in reality the situation is more complex and international. The range of Eastern Bluebirds extends significantly into Mexico and our Azure Bluebirds are a northern extension of the birds that inhabit the Sierra Madre mountain chain. This means that the Azure Bluebird that helped to make the Patagonia Mountains an Important Bird Area are one more “Mexican specialty” bird that makes Southeast Arizona such a great place for birders.

For information on the Azure Bluebird Nest Box program and for information on joining the monitoring team please visit this link.


Audubon Launches Multistate Grassroots Network to Protect Rivers

Join the Effort to Save Critical Habitat for Birds and Other Wildlife

Audubon is taking a major step to address threats to rivers in the arid west, launching the Western Rivers Action Network, a multistate grassroots coalition to advocate for rivers and the birds and other wildlife that depend on them.

To find out how you can help restore and protect our rivers and to be invited to our upcoming advocacy workshops in Tucson and Phoenix, sign on at http://az.audubon.org/rivers-and-water-0

The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water for tens of millions of people, including twenty-two Native American tribes and the populations of Denver, Phoenix, Albuquerque and Tucson. In Arizona, millions of migrating birds representing over 250 species depend on these waterways for their survival. Over 100 species, including the Southwest Willow Flycatcher, Bell’s Vireo and Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, breed in Arizona’s riparian forests. Some 80% of Arizona’s vertebrates spend some portion of their life cycle in riparian areas. Many of these species are now threatened or endangered.

Years of drought, invasive species, over-allocation and unsustainable management have resulted in loss of riparian habitat and significantly reduced flows. Audubon’s Western Rivers Action Network will work across the intermountain west to raise awareness of threats to rivers, promote conservation actions to increase flows and improve habitat, and advocate for sensible water management policies that benefit communities and wildlife.


Check out the online interactive National IBA map here

Take the IBA volunteer/participant survey here and let us know what you think!


Checkout our new booklet on Arizona’s Important Bird Areas. This booklet features each of Arizona’s 42 IBAs with information on how to best visit each IBA, site information, the birds that make each area special and conservation issues that each IBA is facing.

A PDF of the booklet suitable for online viewing here

If you have comments and edits for this second draft booklet, you can download this PDF file and make corrections/suggestions right in the PDF. If you could then add your name to the end of the file name and send it to jmacfarland@tucsonaudubon.org and we will make those changes. Thank you so much for helping us to make this booklet the best it can be!

The Arizona Important Bird Areas Program is co-administered by:
Audubon Arizona (Tice Supplee, Director of Bird Conservation) and Tucson Audubon Society (Jennie MacFarland, AZ IBA Program Conservation Biologist).

The Arizona IBA Program, Avian Science Initiative is led by the Arizona IBA Program at Tucson Audubon Society. This website and the AZ IBA Bird Survey Database linked within it are administered by Tucson Audubon Society.

To participate in science-based IBA bird surveys managed by Audubon’s IBA Program in Arizona, including surveys at potential IBAs, existing IBAs, or at sites of interest to Audubon chapters in AZ, please contact Jennie MacFarland, AZ IBA Program Conservation Biologist at Tucson Audubon Society (520) 209-1804.

To inquire about the AZ IBA Program in general, including the IBA nomination and review process, the AZ IBA Science Committee, IBAs identified to date, and IBA recognition & publicity, as well as Audubon state policy issues, please contact Tice Supplee, Director of Bird Conservation at Audubon Arizona (620) 468-6470 x106.

Additionally, both IBA Program offices in Arizona work on issues and specific projects for the conservation of Important Bird Areas in Arizona . The IBA Program works with people to promote win-win-win objectives for people, wildlife, communities, and sustainable economies.

The AZ IBA Program also works in partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (through the Arizona Bird Conservation Initiative), the Sonoran Joint Venture, the Intermountain West Joint Venture, Arizona State Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, BLM, land trusts, and various non-governmental organizations, colleges, and universities.

Other Citizen Science and Birding Opportunities:

  • Hummingbird Monitoring Network – This organization primarily uses volunteer hummingbird banders, data recorders and trappers to track movements and abundance of hummingbirds. There are several trapping sites within or very near Important Bird Areas. The sites in southern Arizona are: Sabino Canyon, Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, Florida Canyon (Santa Ritas), Harshaw Creek (Patagonia), Garden Canyon (Huachuca Mountains), Ft Huachuca Public Affairs Office, Mt Lemmon, El Coronado Ranch (Turkey Canyon, Chiricahua Mtns), George Walker House (Paradise, Chiricahua Mtns), South Western Research Station (Chiricahua Mtns). Information about how you can volunteer with the HMN can be found at www.hummonnet.org and information about the Sabino Canyon site specifically can be found at www.humbander.net

2016 Tucson Bird Count

The spring count of the Tucson Bird Count is coming up! Any birder that can readily identify the birds of Tucson is invited to adopt a route to survey. It only takes one morning of your choice between April 15 …

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View from the Jesus Goudy Trail in the Piñaleno Mountains

IBA of the Month

Pinlaeño Mountains IBA The Pinaleño Mountains are one of the most northern of the Coronado Forest “Sky Islands”. Located in Graham County and south of the agricultural community of Safford, this mountain has provided resources for settlers in the region. …

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Upcoming Events


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