Arizona is a large state with many different habitats.
Arizona, the warm and sunny southwestern state is known for bright days. In fact, Arizona enjoys more sunny days than any other place in the country. Yuma, AZ, for instance, averages approximately 313 days with the sun every year. Because of the weather, many people in colder climates flock here when the winter winds begin to blow. When they arrive, one of the most favorite activities is, in fact, birding. Breathtaking locations such as Ramsey Canyon Preserve and Havasu National Wildlife Preserve offer bird watching enthusiasts more than enough reason to make the trip. It is a unique location adjacent to the Sierra Madre Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, and deserts including the Sonoran and the Chihuahuan which offer a vast range of flora and fauna to be sighted. Over 500 different species are waiting for you to find them there.
Birding Location Highlight - Arizona
Along with the state bird, the Cactus Wren, Arizona is home to many species not easily seen elsewhere. Southern Arizona features rare finds including the Berylline Hummingbird and the Elegant Trogan. In the west, among the many lakes and rivers, you may see a Ruddy Duck or a Great Egret. Central Arizona, surrounding Phoenix, often hosts rare birds such as the Phainopepla. In the North, the majesty of Bald Eagles and the California Condor soar overhead. In nearly every region of the state, you can also find fantastic places that are either well suited, or specially designed for the bird watcher. For example, in Gilbert, AZ, a water reclamation area owned by the city called the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch allows bird watching at its finest right inside the city. Farther south at Patagonia Lake State Park, you can find many rarities that only barely cross the Mexican border such as the Black-tailed and Black-capped Gnatcatchers. Whether your birding adventure is focused on one particular area, or if you plan to canvas the state, you will not be disappointed.
On a recent trip to Arizona in January 2016, I found 80 species of birds! See the complete list here.
Planning your Arizona Trip
Because there is so much sunshine, Arizona gets warm. This is especially true if you plan to go birding there in the summer months. Depending on where you are, improper planning can not only hamper your enjoyment, it can be dangerous. It is critical to plan for your trip to ensure your safety. First, be sure that you have ample amounts of fresh water with you. Be sure to pay attention to any signs of dehydration or heat stroke and take them seriously. Wear sunblock and lightweight clothing, and wear sunglasses when possible to protect your eyes. Along with the actual field considerations, mapping out your route, advising others to where you will be and when you should be expected back, and having maps or GPS with you are also necessary. Finally, before you make a trip, take the time to plan your routes, where you plan to stay, which parks or preserves you will visit, as well as what expenses you can expect. With proper planning, your likelihood of capturing those rare birds and checking them off your list are much greater, and your safety is highly improved.
Black-capped Gnatcatcher at Patagonia Lake SP
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