Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Birding the Chiricahuas
Offered exclusively to Museum members! Membership information can be found in FEE section below.
Day 1   Monday, June 3rd
Upon leaving the Desert Museum, we travel east toward the magnificent Chiricahua Mountains.  Our first birding stop will be at Lake Cochise in Willcox to survey for lingering waterfowl and shorebirds. We will also try for sparrows and longspurs in the grasslands surrounding the lake.  We then make our way to the Chiricahuas, entering the range from the west, up Forest Road 42, (Pinery Canyon Road).  At Onion Saddle we will head up to the high elevation conifer forest of Rustler and Barfoot Parks, where we will be on the lookout for Mexican Chickadee, Red-faced Warbler, Olive Warbler, Yellow-eyed Junco, three nuthatch species, Short-tailed Hawk, and more.  We will then head down to the Southwestern Research Station, Portal (520/558-2396), where we can expect to see Blue-throated Mountain-gem and Rivoli’s Hummingbird. (D)

DAY 2   Tuesday, June 4th
We will begin before breakfast with a short trip to watch feeders for Lucifer and Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Hooded, Scott’s, and Bullock’s Orioles, and more.  After breakfast, we head to the South Fork of Cave Creek, a spot famous for Elegant Trogon.  Other birds we will see include Hepatic Tanager, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, vireos, and more warblers.  We will travel Herb Martyr Road to find Montezuma Quail, Arizona and Acorn Woodpeckers, Greater Pewee, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, and warblers.  In the evening, we will go out to search for owls, including Whiskered and Western Screech-Owls, and nightjars. (B, L, D)

Day 3   Wednesday, June 5th
We will again begin the day by birding around the Southwestern Research Station.  After breakfast and packing up, we will visit more feeders in Portal, where Crissal and the eastern subspecies (which might actually be a distinct species) of Curve-billed Thrasher are our targets.  We will also head to Willow Tank, an artificial wetland where, depending on water levels, Sora and Virginia Rails are possible.  On the way to Willow Tank we will travel on Stateline Road, where Scaled Quail and numerous sparrows are possible.  On our way back to the Desert Museum we will pass through some outstanding Chihuahuan Desert habitat and be on the lookout for gnatcatchers, sparrows, and other birds. (B, L)

Jeff Babson has worked at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) in the Department of Mammalogy and Ornithology, and has taught courses at the University of Arizona, Cochise College, Pima Community College, and Tucson Botanical Gardens. He has conducted fieldwork in Arizona on the importance of saguaros to the avian community. In Mexico, he assisted on hummingbird migration studies, concentrating on the Rufous Hummingbird. Jeff currently operates Sky Island Tours, a private tour company and leads field trips for ASDM, Tucson Audubon Society, Tucson Botanical Gardens, and several birding festivals. He is also part of the Environmental Education team of Pima County’s Department of Natural Resources, Parks, and Recreation.  He is an expert birder, lepidopterist, and herpetologist.

Transportation to and from Tucson to Portal, Arizona will be provided in rental vans or SUVs.  All meals will be included beginning the evening of first day as denoted by (B, L, D).
We will meet and leave cars at the Museum. We may be able to pick people up along I-10 on the east side if prior arrangements are made.

This trip is limited to 16 guests.

Pack a sack lunch for the first day and bring water in a reusable bottle, binoculars and walking stick (optional). Dress in layers, bring rain gear, and a jacket for evenings.
Be prepared for the sun. Viewing areas are in direct sun at different times of day. There is some easy walking over uneven terrain. Wear comfortable clothing and footwear for walking outdoors, sunglasses and hat. The swimming pool should be open.

This special travel opportunity is offered exclusively to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum members. If you currently are not a member, but would like to join us, you can purchase a membership online here. The trip price is $900 for a shared dorm room; $950 for a private dorm room; $1000 for a shared room with private bathroom; and $1300 for a private room with private bathroom.

The base price is for a shared dorm room. With the dorm rooms there is a shared bathroom which is outside of, but close to, the bedroom. If you are paying for either a shared dorm or shared room with private bath and do not have a roommate, we will attempt to find you a match. If one cannot be found, then the single supplement will need to be paid.

We strongly recommend that participants be vaccinated against Covid-19. You will be asked to refrain from attending if you are exhibiting symptoms consistent with Covid and have not yet tested, or if you are testing positive for Covid. If you develop symptoms during a trip, you will be asked to let the staff lead know, and to isolate as much as possible and wear a mask. After 5 days and no fever, you may resume group activities. We will also adhere to the most up-to-date Covid-19 protocols of any tribal lands, foreign countries or institutions we are visiting, and these may change over time.

We certainly hope that you do not need to cancel your trip, as we have a wonderful itinerary planned, however, if the occasion arises, the following describes refunds available. If the cancellation is made 60 days before the departure date, then a $100 administrative fee will be retained. If it is made 30 to 59 days before the departure date, then 50% of the registration fee will be retained. If it is made less than 30 days before the departure date, then no refund can be made. Cancellations must be received in writing or by email.

For inquiries regarding logistics and itinerary please contact Sonya Norman, Public Programs Coordinator at For those regarding registration, please contact the Reservations Coordinator at 520-883-3025 or at