Arizona's Signature Birds

Arizona’s Signature Birds

Finding Arizona’s Signature Birds 

By Peg Abbott, Dodie Logue & Lynn Tennefoss, Portal, AZ

Arizona's Signature Birds
Portal, Arizona by Peg Abbott

Southeast Arizona in the spring is a birder’s paradise. Mexican species flow across the border in April and May to court and nest in the stunning, mountainous sky islands, lush riparian zones, and remnant grasslands of Southeast Arizona, alongside resident species not seen further north. Complementing Arizona’s signature birds are lovely weather, nationally acclaimed lodges, and delicious food!

To help birders focus on specialty species of the area, Naturalist Journeys has recently updated a popular handout listing the 25 signature species by habitat, targeted by birders visiting the region. Additionally, a dozen more species seen a bit more broadly in Arizona and Texas and five highly-prized (though infrequent) specialties are listed along with five widely-recognized sub-species seen in the region. Enjoy our handy list of Arizona’s signature birds below.

Arizona's signature birds
Montezuma Quail by Peg Abbott

Naturalist Journeys still has space available on a comprehensive tour of Southeast Arizona hotspots, from April 20 – 28, 2017. Find and observe the area’s avian specialties while you explore the spectacular landscape, and enjoy the fascinating cultural history of the area.

All accommodations, meals, guide services, and transportation are included for this nine-day, eight-night tour with guide Pat Lueders. Contact us today to share some of our most favorite birding hotspots and scenic vistas: or 866-900-1146.

Arizona's Signature Birds
Elegant Trogon by Tom Dove


These species are top attractions to birders in our area.


***      Within the U.S., species generally limited in range to the Sky Islands of SE Arizona and for some, adjacent SW New Mexico.  A few of these species are rare or local in West Texas.

**        Within the U.S. these species may have a wider range than Signature designated species but still share a strong affinity with the Sky Islands or adjacent riparian or scrub habitats.  Many are at the northern edge of their range.

+ TX   These species are also regular breeders in the Sky Islands of West Texas.

Arizona's Signature Birds
Olive Warbler by Peg Abbott

Main Occurrence: Pine Oak Woodland & Sycamore Canyons

 1)         Whiskered Screech-Owl                     ***

2)         Broad-billed Hummingbird                 ***

3)         Magnificent Hummingbird                  ***      + TX

4)         White-eared Hummingbird                 ***      + TX, RARE

5)         Berylline Hummingbird                         ***      RARE

6)         Elegant Trogon                                            ***      Sycamore canyons

7)         Arizona Woodpecker                              ***

8)         Greater Pewee                                            **

9)         Buff-breasted Flycatcher                      ***      Open pine/grass

10)       Dusky-capped Flycatcher                    **

11)       Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher                  ***      Sycamore riparian

12)       Mexican Jay                                                  ***      +TX

13)       Mexican Chickadee                                  ***      Chiricahuas, Animas, Peloncillos

14)       Bridled Titmouse                                       ***

15)       Olive Warbler                                              ***

16)       Red-faced Warbler                                   ***

17)       Yellow-eyed Junco                                    ***

Arizona's Signature Birds
Mexican Jay by Barry Ramdass

Main Occurrence: Drier & Lower Elevation Habitat

18)       Buff-collared Nightjar                            ***     LOCAL in SEAZ, scrub

19)       Violet-crowned Hummingbird          ***      Scrub, riparian

20)       Tropical Kingbird                                       **        Riparian, often by ponds

21)       Thick-billed Kingbird                              ***      Sycamore riparian & scrub

22)       Rose-throated Becard                           **        Sycamore Riparian

23)       Black-capped Gnatcatcher                 ***      LOCAL IN SEAZ, scrub

24)       Rufous-winged Sparrow                       ***      Scrub, grasslands

25)       Five-striped Sparrow                              ***      LOCAL in SEAZ, scrub

Arizona's Signature Birds
Rose-throated Becard by Tom Dove

These species also attract birders to our region, but are not as limited within the USA to Southeast Arizona and Southwest New Mexico. They are generally as common in Madrean Oak Woodland of the Sky Islands of West Texas and their associated habitats: riparian, grassland or scrub.

 Pine Oak Woodland

1)         Zone-tailed Hawk                                 **        +TX Mountain Canyons

2)         Montezuma Quail                                 **        +TX

3)         Mexican Whip-poor-will                   **        +TX

4)         Blue-throated Hummingbird         **        +TX

5)         Painted Redstart                                   **        +TX

Grasslands, Scrub & Associated Riparian & Aquatic Habitats

6)         Black-bellied Whistling-Duck             **        + TX, aquatic

7)         Common Black-Hawk                              **        + TX, riparian

8)         Gray Hawk                                                      **        + TX, riparian

9)         Lucifer Hummingbird                               **        + TX, scrub

10)         Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet      **        + So. TX, scrub

11)         Botteri’s Sparrow                                    **        + TX, scrub, grasslands

12)       Baird’s Sparrow                                          **        winter only, grasslands

13)       Varied Bunting                                            **        + TX, scrub

Arizona's Signature Birds
Lucifer Hummingbird by Bob Behrstock

1)         Eared (Trogon) Quetzal                      VERY RARE

2)         Blue Mockingbird                                  VERY RARE

3)         Crescent-chested Warbler              VERY RARE

4)         Yellow Grosbeak                                    VERY RARE

WATCH FOR THESE Widely-recognized Subspecies:

1)         (Mexican) Mallard

2)          (Apache) Goshawk

3)          Mexican Brown Creeper

4)          (Brown-throated) House Wren

Arizona's Signature Birds
Painted Redstart by Peg Abbott

Naturalist Journeys, LLC also offers Guide Services in the Portal & Rodeo area.

Arizona's Signature Birds
Portal, Arizona by Steve Wolfe

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