Birding along the Anza Trail in Arizona

February 15, 2018 Posted by: John O'Neill

Serious birders from sea to shining sea and beyond are familiar with the Anza Trail in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, for the beauty, diversity and rarity of birds seen there. As Arizona has been developed there are fewer streams and riparian areas that provide food and cover for nesting birds and for neotropical migrants on their journeys from Mexico to their breeding grounds and back. The Santa Cruz River, which flows north from the border, supports a beautiful cottonwood corridor that teems with birds and is a lure for those who watch birds.

A small brown and grey bird sits camouflaged on fallen leaves.
 

On the 22 miles that the Anza Trail Coalition maintains from Rio Rico north to Pima County and the Tucson area, volunteers have mowed, plowed, trimmed limbs, removed downed trees and provided parking and access points to the trail.

Birding has been stupendous. Early this winter, for instance, a Sinaloa wren was identified, probably the only one of its species in the United States, attracting hundreds of birders once its location was revealed on websites. While looking for the wren, a rose-throated becard was photographed in the area. This was important news to birders because the becards, exceedingly rare visitors from Mexico, nested along the Anza Trail near the Tumacacori Mission last year, the only reliable site in the country to see these tropical beauties.

In March, the annual month-long hawk watch in Tubac, will entice over 1,000 people to the artsy village to observe black hawks, gray hawks and zone-tailed hawks as they migrate north to raise young. A significant percentage of these birds that nest in the United States will migrate north along the Santa Cruz River near the Anza Trail. It is the easiest and most reliable place in the nation to see any or all of these raptors, which are observed in limited areas of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

 In April, at the peak of migration, the trees and deserts in Santa Cruz County are alive with migrating orioles, tanagers, waxwings, grosbeaks, bluebirds, flycatchers, phainopeplas, kingbirds, and many others. Nearby deserts are home to Botteri’s, rufous-winged and Cassin’s sparrows, birds of limited geographical distribution in the U.S.

Resident birds, migrants and the possibility of rarities like green kingfisher and streak-backed oriole make Santa Cruz County, and its crown jewel, the Anza Trail, an irresistible attraction to birders from around the nation and around the world.

A small black and white bird with a red throat sits above their nest in a tree.



The Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona is a Non-Profit organization 501(c)(3) dedicated to the restoration and maintenance, protection and interpretation of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Membership driven corporation was founded August, 1992 in Santa Cruz County, Arizona. The Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona (ATCA) is re-establishing a contiguous segment of the Anza Trail through Arizona on land and by car.

Learn more about the Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona by visiting their Webpage

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Last updated: February 15, 2018

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