The birds of Arizona are diverse and live in amazingly beautiful areas throughout the state from the deserts of southern Arizona to the high country in our famed White Mountains. Many of your Arizona state parks are considered world-class birding destinations, and, depending on migrations, hold literally hundreds of species to watch throughout the year. Come along as we take a tour through some of Arizona State Park's best birding locations and get to know the birds of Arizona. See below for an up to date species identification guide and hit the trail searching for your favorite feathered friends!
Locating birds in Arizona is relatively easy if you set a field with the right tools and mindset. The parks offer great habitat throughout the state in a variety of environments so it may seem like a daunting task to find, identify, and enjoy particular bird species. This short guide is designed to help birders enjoy success in the field on a regular basis by sharing simple birding tactics. It is also particularly helpful to identify desert plant species that Arizona's birds frequent.
Pick a spot and go! With a little research, you can find numerous locations to locate Arizona birds for your enjoyment. Species lists are located on each of the park pages and give birders a preview of what they might encounter on a trip. Simply decide which type of habitat you would like to explore, check out the bird species list, and hit the road!
The right gear could make or break your experience. Good boots and appropriate weather-dependent clothing may seem like a “no brainer” but these easily neglected items could cause would-be birders to retreat to their camp or cabin for more comfortable surroundings. Plan ahead and bring a variety of clothes so you can comfortably stay in the field in search of Arizona’s beautiful bird species.
Optics are a handy item in the field as well, some aficionados even deem them necessary equipment for birders of all levels. Eight power binoculars seem to be a popular size that gives users ample magnification and a large field of view. Wear your optics comfortably on a binocular harness that distributes the weight over a large area. This will ensure your neck and shoulders remain pain-free and keep your binoculars within easy reach for quick access.
A day pack will help stow your creature comfort items like snacks, water, a field guide, and possibly a jacket and or rain gear. Bring enough gear to ensure your stay in the field is as comfortable as possible. If you're comfortable, your birding trip won't be cut short due to negligent planning.
The last piece of the birding equation is totally up to you…Just get out there and enjoy nature. Hike around while peering into the brush, on the water, or in trees for Arizona’s diverse bird species. Stay positive and you will certainly find what you’re looking for. Check out the list below to become familiar with some common Arizona birds that you may encounter during your Arizona State Parks birding adventure.
Long celebrated as a world-class birding destination, Arizona’s Dead Horse Ranch State Park offers varied opportunities for birders of all levels. The riparian zone trails flanking the Verde River give birders a chance to see nesting black hawks, numerous waterfowl species such as wood ducks and mallards, plus the chance of seeing a majestic bald eagle in its native environment. Near the lagoons, blue herons can often be seen snagging a fish lunch near the shore, and seasonally, the hummingbirds buzz around hurriedly in search of sweet nectar. Download the park bird list before your trip and don't forget your binoculars to help see the world come alive around you.
One of Arizona's prime birding locations is in the heart of Sedona's red rock country. Red Rock State Park's incredible trails offer a peek into the habitats of myriad bird species. The riparian area along Oak Creek offers a cool spot for wrens, swallows, and even (if you're lucky) hawks and eagles. There are even some waterfowl species like wood ducks and mallards that use this portion of the park seasonally. House finches and the lesser Goldfinch offer a splash of color for visitors that look closely within the native vegetation. Red Rock State Park also features a feeding area for birds! This is a spot where you can sit quietly with your binoculars or camera as birds come to eat and enjoy the park themselves. The Visitor Center roof is also a great place for spotting birds and offers a gorgeous view of the park. Download the park bird list before you go!
Just off U.S. Highway 191 lies Lyman Lake State Park, an area that offers an ideal habitat for birds that inhabit the northwestern Arizona forest at the foothills of the White Mountains. Catch sight of blue heron, black ibis, and curlew close to the water's edge, or see mallards, geese, and grebe paddling around Lyman Lake. Look in the trees, the brushy vegetation on the lakeshore, or of course on the water to get a glimpse of the many bird species that call Lyman Lake home. Sometimes waterfowl will "raft," or float together in large groups, making them easy to see and appreciate. It's not uncommon for hundreds of ducks and geese to raft on the lake for several days before moving on during their migration.
While Kartchner Caverns State Park is better known for its incredible cave tours, the trails throughout the park take you through the desert and grasslands near the Whetstone Mountains. These areas are home to wildlife of all kinds, including various species of exciting and beautiful birds. Sparrows and hummingbirds are known to this park, as are doves, roadrunners, Gambel's quail, and even owls. The trees and desert foliage provide great natural cover for these birds of southern Arizona, but they're easy to spot if you know where to look! Download the checklist to guide your birding adventure!
Southern Arizona is home to many incredible species of birds, and one of the best places to spot them is close to the water! Patagonia Lake State Park and the adjacent Sonoita Creek State Natural Area hosts vultures, owls, and roadrunners in sight of visitors daily, and that's not all! Occasionally, avid birders at times will experience the Goulds turkeys, white-faced ibis, warblers, and even the somewhat rare elegant trogon! Waterfowl species abound here as well and can often be seen cruising around the lake or flying around looking for a place to land. Check out the full list of recent bird sightings at Patagonia Lake State Park HERE.
Desert birds abound at Picacho Peak State Park, enjoying the cooler weather among the saguaros as winter visitors! Hawks, falcons, quail, and hummingbirds are all very commonly seen at the parks, and if you look closely, you'll catch sight of woodpeckers, curve-billed thrashers, flycatchers, warblers, and more! Ask for a bird list at the park's Visitor Center to guide you as you experience the incredible wildlife within the park!
Great Blue Heron
Tufted Titmouse (juvenile)