Arizona Nature

Birding Arizona

Perhaps best known for the mighty Grand Canyon, and often perceived as one big desert, Arizona actually represents the confluence of several major landforms: the Mogollon Rim of the southern Colorado Plateau; the sky islands of the northern Sierra Madre Occidental; and four major deserts. Most birders ignore most of the state and head directly to the southeastern corner, where the Sierra Madre meets the Chihuahuan Desert. The sky islands of southeastern Arizona support an entire suite of Mexican bird species at the northern limits of their ranges. Just a few of the highlights include Arizona Woodpecker, Elegant Trogon, Greater Pewee, and Red-faced Warbler, plus at least 8 hummingbird species that are nearly impossible to find elsewhere in North America. Surrounding the sky islands, the Chihuahuan desert lowlands are the best places in Arizona to find Scaled Quail, Chihuahuan Raven, and Varied Bunting. The Sonoran Desert covers about one-third of the state, across most of the southern tier. Here, the impressive saguaro cactus dominates the landscape, with two keystone bird species: the Gila Woodpecker and the Gilded Flicker. Woodpecker cavities provide nest sites for southwestern populations of the Purple Martin and Eastern Bluebird, among other cavity nesters. The coniferous forests on the Mogollon Rim round out Arizona’s long woodpecker list, hosting Lewis’s and American Three-toed Woodpeckers and Williamson’s Sapsucker near the southern ends of their breeding ranges. And then there’s the Grand Canyon. The north rim of this 6,000-foot chasm, carved by the Colorado River, may be the best place in the West to view the critically endangered California Condor.

What to See in Arizona


Notable Birds in Arizona (click species name to see related articles)

Notable Mammals and Other Wildlife


Other Attractions


Where and When to Go


Nature & Birding Hotspots in Arizona

  • Mt. Lemmon
  • San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area
  • Fort Huachuca
  • Miller Canyon
  • Patagonia
  • Ramsey Canyon Preserve
  • Chiricahua Mountains
  • Sulphur Springs Valley
  • Leslie Canyon


Arizona Birding and Nature Tours


Arizona Ecolodges/Accommodations

  • Casa de San Pedro
  • Ramsey Canyon Inn


Best Time to Go


Visit Arizona