We recently spent a few days birding in the Patagonia and Sierra Vista areas. A friend of Jeff’s sister’s had recommended the areas to us, saying it would make for a long day of birding but we made it into 2.5 days. We left bright and early the first morning and headed towards Patagonia, which is south of Tucson and just north of Mexico. We were just certain we would find some incredible birds since we were driving so closely to the border. Of course we stopped numerous times along side the road to snap photos of birds that may or may not be something we’ve seen before on our way to our first birding hot spot.
Paton Center for Hummingbirds is where we found ourselves first. It was a cute little place nestled in the outskirts of Patagonia dedicated to the education and conservation of Hummingbirds. Trees, flowers, a garden and of course over a dozen of various bird feeders surrounded the tiny home on the lot. A big canopy is set up in the back with benches and chairs which are centered within the feeders for the perfect view of the hundreds of species of birds known to frequent there. Jeff and I found a bench and sat there enjoying the birds for at least an 1.5 hours. We saw a variety of birds while we were there including: Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Inca Doves, Broad-billed Hummingbird and various woodpeckers.
Right down the road from the Hummingbird Center was the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, however it was closed that day due to high winds. We were able to drive up along the dirt road that takes you to the preserve and found Vermilion Flycatchers fluttering in and out of the brush above the creek. We also ran into some other birders whom pointed out a pair of nested Thick-billed Kingbirds. (I doubt we would have seen the birds had they not pointed them out.) After talking a bit with them, they were able to point us to the right direction of the bird we were looking for, the Elegant Trogon. We stayed in Sierra Vista that night ready to get a good nights sleep before another big day of birding.
The birders we met the day before had told us we would be able to find the Trogon at the Huachuca Canyon, which is located in Fort Huachuca. As Fort Huachuca is an military base, we had to sign in and get visitor passes. I thought it was kind of fun to go birding on a base. We finally found our way to the canyon after getting a little lost, and sure enough it was a place for birders! Trucks, cars and bicycles were lined up and down the bumpy dirt road with people clutching their binoculars or cameras. We stopped and asked a couple of people about the Trogon, all stating they were there, just needed to listen for them. As we continued driving down the road and farther into the canyon, we suddenly stop at the sound of birds. Jeff and I were instantly in overload with the many varieties of birds we were seeing and new ones too. We saw birds such as: Painted Redstarts, Red-faced Warblers, Bridled Titmouse, Grey Hawk and Zone-tailed Hawk. After pulling ourselves away and continuing with our search for our Trogon, we finally hear a male calling. He called over and over again at the point we were able to find him, however he was was not impressed with us so we didn’t get the best of views. We got word from some more fellow birders that down at the end would be where we’d find our bird. We made our way down to end of the road, Jeff went one way and I the other to look at different birds until he tells me to come quick. He had spotted a hummingbird on her nest. We kept our distance and watched her settle onto her little eggs, it was such a sweet thing to watch.
Jeff and I sat, waiting patiently and listening to the wind blow through the leaves of the giant sycamore trees at the end of the road, another male Trogon flew in and started calling. We sat there and watched him fly from branch to branch calling away to his mate. Not too long after a female Trogon silently flies in to his calls landing on each branch he just had. They finally met up with each other off into the distance and we could no longer hear his calls. By the end of our birding at Huachuca Canyon we had seen about 4 Trogons and heard a couple others calling. We ended up counting and had seen just over 20 new species of birds by time we were headed back to Tucson. We also met some genuinely nice people, Jeff and I really enjoyed their conversations. Lots of fun!!