Sonoran Audubon Society


SAS Field Trip – White Tank Mountains Park & Program @ White Tank Mountains Park
Sep 21 @ 7:30 am – 10:00 am

This habitat is dominated by Upper Sonoran vegetation. Species include Palo Verde, Ironwood, Creosote Bush, Jojoba and numerous cactus species, most notably the Teddy Bear Cholla, barrel cactus species, and the dominate Saguaro. Lack of water sources limit bird species. Woodpecker types dominate. Expect to see 15-25 species. Specialties include Rock Wrens, Cactus Wrens, Phainopepla, and Gila Woodpeckers.

Meet at region 4, Ford Canyon Trail

This hike takes an hour to 1.5 to 2 hours and covers  .5 to 1 mile. Some short areas of uphill (less than 35 yards) may be on a trail.

Difficulty Level  (1).

Program to follow at 9:30 or 10:00 “Cryptic Birds of the Night”.

No registration is required, but be sure to check the park website for times and any last minute changes that might have occurred.

SAS Field Trip – Clear Creek Campground (New date) @ Clear Creek Campground
Sep 27 all-day

This campground has been an excellant place to bird in the past because it has all the ingredients that birds love – flowing water, lots of trees, bushes to hid in and seed bearing flowers. I’ve led birding trips here a number of times over the years and its always been fruitful during the late spring and early fall. I was just looking at a trip report from May 4, 2011 and we saw Tanagers(Summer & Western), Warblers(Yellow-rump, Lucy’s, Yellow & Wilson), Hawks(Red-tailed and Common Black), Vireos(Warbling, Bell’s & Plumbeous), Flycatchers(Brown-crested, Vermillion & Ash-throated), Hummingbirds(Black-chinned, Anna’s & Costa’s), Orioles(Hooded & Bullock’s), Black-headed Grosebeak, Lesser Goldfinch, Western Kingbird, Northern Cardinal, Phainopepla, American Kestral, Rock Wren, Pine Siskin, Robin, Northern Flicker and numerous Gila Woodpeckers. There were other more common birds like starlings and cowbirds that we would like to forget that brought the number of species up to 43.

For quite a few years there was a family of 6 Blue Grosebeaks that we would see, but the last few times we couldn’t find them. Also there was a campground host for a number of years that were very friendly toward us and had bird feeders up and invited us to watch the birds with them. They also welcomed us to stroll around the camp and look for all the birds we could find. Also on the east side of camp there is a trail that follows Clear Creek and is very scenic and is loved by the birds.

The meeting places will be at Fry’s Electronics at 31st Avenue and Thunderbird (NE corner of the parking lot at 7:00am) and at the McDonalds at I17 and Carefree HWY ( NE corner east of gas station ) at 7:30am. Please bring a lunch.

Difficulty is a 2 walking around the camp for about a mile.

Bring a lunch so we can eat together.

SAS Field Trip – Cave Creek Regional Park & Program @ Cave Creek Regional Park
Oct 5 @ 7:30 am – 10:30 am

This habitat is dominated by Upper Sonoran vegetation. Species include Palo Verde, Velvet Mesquite, Creosote Bush and numerous cactus species, especially the Saguaro. Lack of water sources limit bird species. Expect to see 15-25 species. Specialties include Phainopepla, numerous woodpecker species, gnatcatchers, Curve-billed Thrashers, Black-throated Sparrows and Cactus Wrens.

The hike begins at the visitor center (unless noted otherwise) and takes approximately 1 hour. The trail does go through some washes, thus some uphill sections are involved, but they are short.

Difficulty Level   (1)

Meet at the Visitor Center.

Program to follow at 10:00 am at the Visitor Center “Owls”

No registration is required, but be sure to check the park website for times and any last minute changes that might have occurred.

SAS Field Trip – Estrella Mountain Park & Program @ Estrella Mountain Park
Oct 12 @ 7:30 am – 10:00 am

Estrella Park is located along the Gila River and adjacent hills. The habitat is diverse, varying from desert scrub flood on the flood plain to riparian vegetation dominated by salt cedar (tamarisk species) and some Gooddings Willow. The park itself has Velvet Mesquite and some large Blue Gum species which support nesting by raptors. Irrigation has increased the number of birds seen. The hills south are made of ancient metamorphic rock, exposed plutons, and produce thermals which are friendly to soaring vultures and other species. Expect a variety of bird species and further diversity during migration. Specialties include Vermilion Flycatcher, Red-tailed Hawks, Osprey, Yellow-rumped Warblers, White Pelicans and shore birds when the river flows. Species numbers can be as high as 65.

The walk is approximately 1 to 1.5 miles in length covering 2.5 hours along level terrain. Meet at the Visitor Center at 7:30 am.

Difficulty Level (2) due to its length.

Program to follow at 10:00 “Vultures and Owls”

No registration is required, but be sure to check the park website for times and any last minute changes that might have occurred.

Chapter Meeting at Horseshoe Ranch @ Horseshoe Ranch
Oct 12 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

For the first Chapter Meeting of the 2019-2020 Season, we will be outdoors and  watching birds! Your SAS Board invites you to go bird-watching at Horseshoe Ranch on Saturday, October 12, 2019, starting at 8 AM and finishing up around noon.

Tice Supplee from Audubon Arizona, who is also a Founding Member of the Chapter, and Bob McCormick (“McBob”), SAS Volunteer Extraordinaire, are scheduled to lead bird walks in the area of the Upper Agua Fria River Important Bird Area. SAS volunteers regularly monitor the birdlife in this beautiful habitat. Over ten years ago, Tice guided the Chapter in documenting the bird diversity that earned the Upper Agua Fria River the National Audubon Important Bird Area designation.

“McBob” and his intrepid volunteer partner and SAS member Tim Flood count birds each year to monitor the habitat. Additionally, they participate in the Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo surveys each year. While walking, you can ask your guides about their experiences with these surveys and about how you can get involved.

SAS Co-Chair Jim Consolloy has scheduled an easy walk on the Horseshoe Ranch property. You can also enjoy a “big sit” at the Cook Shack, SAS’ assigned location.

Great birds could be seen on any and all of these routes. The walks will be finished by 11 AM; of course, if your walk finishes early, you can unfurl your lawn chair and relax.

Bring a Bag Lunch/ smaller cooler for your midday meal. The Chapter will provide coffee and donuts in the morning and all the drinks to accompany your picnic at picturesque Horseshoe Ranch.

YOU MUST RSVP TO SAS IN ORDER TO ATTEND! BY Thursday, October 10, 2019. Reply to Donna Smith at: or Karen LaFrance at

Directions to Horseshoe Ranch: Drive north toward Flagstaff on Route 17 out of Phoenix to the Bloody Basin Road exit #259 about 50-60 miles from Phoenix. Drive EAST on BB Road for 6 miles. The dirt road is probably OK for regular cars; just go slow in some places as there may be rough spots. As you come over the rise at about Mile 6 and see the Upper Agua Fria River/big trees below in the valley you will also see the Ranch complex across the river. Turn LEFT into the Ranch Road, drive OVER (through!) the stream (yes, it is the river) and up into the Ranch yard to park.

Click above to see Audubon Arizona’s Steven Prager’s article on Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Surveys and mention of our Chapter—Sonoran Audubon—which for many years has counted these fantastic birds on the Upper Agua Fria River sections of the Important Bird Area there.