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Bird Watching

Arizona Cactus WrenSome of the best birding in the United States is in the Chiricahua Mountains, Portal, and at Cave Creek Ranch.  According to Richard Cachor Taylor’s Location Checklist to the Birds of the Chiricahua Mountains, “…the Chiricahua checklist presently stands at 375 species, not including 13 species still considered hypothetical — about half of all the birds regularly occurring on this continent north of Mexico.” 

This area is the most biodiverse landmass on the continent of North America, and the bird life reflects that.  Cave Creek Canyon is the largest and best watered canyon in the Chiricahuas, and Cave Creek Ranch sits in the mouth of the canyon. 

As Rick Taylor says in his book Location Checklist to the Birds of the Chiricahua Mountains, “Geographical position accounts for much of the bird wealth of the Chiricahua Mountain Region.  The Chiricahuas are situated near the North American apex of the 1000-mile-long cordillera of the Sierra Madre Occidental, and midway between the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.  Draining the southeast corner of the range, the San Bernardino Valley spills into the Rio Yaqui and provides a 400-mile-long natural corridor for Sinaloan Thorn Forest birds”.

He also says, “The sheer size and topographic diversity of the Chiricahua region make it possible for most birds to find appropriate habitat.  Encompassing approximately 1,000 square miles, elevations vary from 4,000 feet in the San Simon Valley to 9,796 feet at the summit of Chiricahua Peak.  Broadly speaking, there are six basic plant communities, and each supports a unique subset of birds.”

The communities Rick mentions above are Desert, Grassland, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland, Sierra Madrean Pine-Oak Woodland, Ponderosa Pine Forest, and Fir-Spruce Forest. The desert scrub and grasslands provide homes for birds such as the Gambel’s Quail, the Cactus Wren, the Verdin and the Curve-billed Thrasher—residents of both the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts.  The forested slopes serve up accommodations for species as diverse as the Western Screech-Owl, the Virginia Warbler, Scott’s Oriole, the Hairy Woodpecker, the Sulpher-bellied Flycatcher, the Zone-tailed Hawk, the Pygmy Nuthatch and the Greater Pewee.  The mountain crests call to the Golden-crowned Kinglet, the Red Crossbill and the Golden Eagle. 

In the same book, Rick talks about Cave Creek Ranch:  “The yard list for Cave Creek Ranch rivals any in the United States.  It is deservedly famous for its hummingbirds, and has hosted nearly every hummingbird species found in Arizona.”

Birder Map of Portal Area

Click to locate a local Bird or Natural History Guide

 

Ranch Checklist

SPECIES

 

Turkey Vulture

 

Northern Harrier

 

Sharp-shinned Hawk

 

Cooper's Hawk

 

Northern Goshawk

 

Common Black Hawk

 

Short-tailed Hawk

 

Zone-tailed Hawk

 

Red-tailed Hawk

 

Golden Eagle

 

American Kestrel

 

Peregrine Falcon

 

Prairie Falcon

 

Montezuma Quail

 

Scaled Quail  

Gambel's Quail

 

Sandhill Crane

 

Rock Dove

 

Band-tailed Pigeon

 

White-winged Dove

 

Mourning Dove

 

Inca Dove  
Eurasian Collared Dove  

Common Ground-dove

 

Greater Roadrunner

 

Western Screech-owl

 

Great Horned Owl

 

Northern Pygmy Owl

 

Elf Owl

 

Spotted Owl

 

Lesser Nighthawk

 

Common Poorwill

 

Whip-poor-will

 

White-throated Swift

 

Broad-billed Hummingbird

 

White-eared Hummingbird

 

Berylline Hummingbird  

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

 

Blue-throated Hummingbird

 

Magnificent Hummingbird

 

Lucifer Hummingbird

 

Black-chinned Hummingbird

 

Anna's Hummingbird

 

Costa's Hummingbird

 

Calliope Hummingbird

 

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

 

Rufous Hummingbird

 

Allen's Hummingbird

 

Elegant Trogon

 

Eared Trogon

 

Acorn Woodpecker

 

Red-naped Sapsucker

 

Williamson's Sapsucker

 

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

 

Arizona Woodpecker

 

Northern Flicker

 

Olive-sided Flycatcher

 

Western Wood-pewee

 

Willow Flycatcher

 

Hammond 's Flycatcher

 

Cordilleran Flycatcher

 

Black Phoebe

 

Say's Phoebe

 

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

 

Ash-throated Flycatcher

 

Brown-crested Flycatcher

 

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher

 

Cassin's Kingbird

 

Western Kingbird

 

Violet-green Swallow

 

N. Rough-winged Swallow

 

Cliff Swallow

 

Barn Swallow

 

Western Scrub-jay

 

Pinyon Jay  

Mexican Jay

 

Chihuahuan Raven

 

Common Raven

 

Bridled Titmouse

 

Juniper Titmouse

 

Verdin

 

Bushtit

 

White-breasted Nuthatch

 

Brown Creeper

 

Cactus Wren

 

Canyon Wren

 

Bewick's Wren

 

House Wren

 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

 

Townsend's Solitaire

 

Hermit Thrush

 

American Robin

 

Northern Mockingbird

 

Sage Thrasher

 

Curve-billed Thrasher

 

Crissal Thrasher

 

Cedar Waxwing

 

Phainopepla

 

European Starling

 

Bell 's Vireo

 

Plumbeous Vireo

 

Cassin's Vireo

 

Hutton's Vireo

 

Warbling Vireo

 

Yellow-green Vireo

 

Orange-crowned Warbler

 

Nashville Warbler

 

Virginia 's Warbler

 

Lucy's Warbler

 

Yellow Warbler

 

Chestnut-sided Warbler  

Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

Black-throated Gray Warbler

 

Townsend's Warbler

 

Hermit Warbler

 

Prothonotary Warbler

 

Northern Waterthrush

 

MacGillivray's Warbler

 

Wilson's Warbler

 

American Redstart  

Painted Redstart

 

Olive Warbler

 

Hepatic Tanager

 

Summer Tanager

 

Western Tanager

 

Northern Cardinal

 

Pyrrhuloxia

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

 

Black-headed Grosbeak

 

Blue Grosbeak

 

Lazuli Bunting

 

Painted Bunting

 

Green-tailed Towhee

 

Spotted Towhee

 

Canyon Towhee

 

Rufous-crowned Sparrow

 

Chipping Sparrow

 

Brewer's Sparrow

 

Black-chinned Sparrow

 

Vesper Sparrow

 

Lark Sparrow

 

Black-throated Sparrow

 

Lark Bunting

 

Fox Sparrow

 

Song Sparrow

 

Lincoln 's Sparrow

 

White-throated Sparrow

 

Golden-crowned Sparrow

 

White-crowned Sparrow

 

Harris's Sparrow

 

Dark-eyed Junco

 

Yellow-eyed Junco

 

Common Grackle

 

Bronzed Cowbird

 

Brown-headed Cowbird

 

Hooded Oriole

 

Bullock's Oriole

 

Scott's Oriole

 

Cassin's Finch

 

House Finch

 

Red Crossbill

 

Pine Siskin

 

Lesser Goldfinch

 

American Goldfinch

 

House Sparrow

 

Click here for a printer friendly Ranch Checklist of birds

Click here for a printer friendly Chirircahua Checklist of Birds

Click here for spring arrival dates


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