Sonoita Creek Birding Sites

Patagonia Lake State Park

Down the highway from the Roadside Rest is Patagonia Lake State Park and Sonoita Creek Natural Area, both good locations for many species of desert scrub and lower canyon species. Broad-billed Hummingbirds and Verdins here, often visiting feeders put out by campers. Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets, Bell's Vireos and Lucy's Warblers are fairly common in these mesquite thickets and Zone-tailed Hawks can be seen soaring overhead in spring and summer. Rarities include a Nutting's Flycatcher that spent several months at the park in the winter of 1997-98, and Arizona's third known Northern Jacana seen here for several days in October 1998. A trail following the lake shore through desert scrub, mesquite bosque and lakeside cattails will get you into some nice habitat. A visitor center opened in February of 2000, and new trails within the recently acquired Sonoita - Creek Natural Area are now open.  Visitors can take part in one-hour pontoon boat birding tours of the lake.  Patagonia Lake State Park is located off Hwy 82 3.3 miles south of Roadside Rest Area and only 10 minutes from Patagonia, AZ. For tour reservations or more information, call the visitor center at 520-287-2791.

Sonoita Creek Preserve

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is one of Santa Cruz County's most sought out birding hot spots. Owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, it is actually one of the best bird watching havens in the Southwest. This lush riparian area provides habitat for over 200 species of birds. Gray Hawks nest in the large Fremont Cottonwoods and occasionally, Zone-tailed Hawks and Common Black-Hawks can be seen. 20+ species of flycatchers including Thick-billed Kingbirds and Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets can also be seen in this protected habitat. The Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is located in Patagonia, AZ and can be easily accessed from Sonoita and Nogales via HWY 82. Visiting hours are 6:30am – 4pm Wednesday thru Sunday (closed Mondays and Tuesdays). The Preserve charges a small fee of $5.00 per person, and $3.00 for members of The Nature Conservancy. All admission fees are good for 7 days from the date of purchase. Children under 16 and Patagonia residents are admitted free and annual passes are available. For more information, please call the preserve directly at (520) 394-2400.

Southwest of Patagonia, AZ is the famous Roadside Rest Area. Many hard-to-find birds can be seen here, the most famous of which are the Rose-throated Becards. Broad-billed Hummingbirds also visit flowering shrubs at the base of this rocky slope, Canyon Wrens sing from the cliffs and Bell's Vireos nest in the thickets of Hackberry and Mexican Elderberry. Across the highway, the flowing water attracts species such as the Thick-billed Kingbird (summer), Varied and Lazuli buntings (summer-fall), Lesser Goldfinch, and a variety of sparrows. It has been reported that a singing Fan-tailed Warbler was found close by to these sites in the Spring of ‘97.



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