To Sunday, May 21, 2017
As sunset wraps the stupendous cliffs and monoliths of the canyons with purple, we'll sample the most incredible nocturnal birding available in all the United States. Great Horned Owls, Barn Owls, and Burrowing Owls live in the unspoiled desert at the mountain’s base where literally miles separate the lights of isolated ranch buildings. In the canyon sycamore strands that mark the course of subterranean water, we'll make the acquaintance of the world's smallest owl. Elf Owls—weighing in at little more than an ounce—and also Western Screech-Owls are common and usually easily seen in the newly-leafed trees. Working our way upstream into oaks, junipers, and Chihuahua pines derived from the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Morse code-like tooting of Whiskered Screech-Owls is the most characteristic night-time sound. Here, too, live both Northern Pygmy- and Flammulated Owls. Naturally we'll investigate reports of Northern Saw-whet or Long-eared Owls, should any be around, and encounters with Common Poorwills, Mexican Whip-poor-wills, and Lesser Nighthawks are probable on our evening forays. Even the rare Buff-collared Nightjar is a real possibility. Most years we actually see a handful of our owls, such as “Mexican” Spotted Owl, snoozing on their days roosts. While we’ll place a premium on night birding, we'll not overlook Arizona's fabulous diurnal bird community. This is the best time of year to see Elegant Trogons, period. Hummingbirds are numerous, and handsome Mexican warblers like Grace's, Olive, Red-faced, and Painted Redstarts are in full tune. The pre-tour features a visit to the Atascosa Highlands where Mexican specialties such as Montezuma Quail, Gray Hawk, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Five-striped Sparrow, and Varied Bunting are likely, and the high Catalina Mountains where Magnificent Hummingbird, Arizona Woodpecker, Greater Pewee, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Mountain Chickadee, Virginia’s Warbler, Yellow-eyed Junco, and even the rare Short-tailed Hawk are all possible. Throughout the trip, transiting between the border ranges, we may see strikingly patterned Zone-tailed Hawks, as well as Peregrine Falcons, Swainson’s Hawks, and majestic Golden Eagles—just more reaffirmation of Arizona's reputation as a birder's paradise.
We are pleased to offer both a condensed and an unabridged option for our popular spring southeastern Arizona tour. The Owling Run takes place from Wednesday to Sunday, with a concentration in the Chiricahua Mountains and a focus on owls and nightjars. Owling Run with Tucson Pre-Tour offers a more traditional 8-day itinerary with a wider array of species.
Leaders: John Yerger
Cost of an "Arizona Owling Run" (May 17-21, 2017) includes all meals, accommodations, entrance fees, and transportation beginning and ending in Tucson, Arizona—$1595.
Cost of an "Arizona Owling Run with Tucson Pre-Tour" (May 14-21, 2017) includes all meals, accommodations, entrance fees, and transportation beginning and ending in Tucson, Arizona—$2395.
Photo: Flammulated Owl
Photo by: Pete Grube