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Murmurate with the the Southeast Arizona Birding Festival

Your guide to the Southeast Arizona Birding Festival, and birding hotspots in and around Marana!

The Southeast Arizona Birding Festival, hosted by Tucson Audubon, takes place August 10–14, and is back fully in-person for 2022! The festival is headquartered at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tucson - Reid Park. The festival features:

  • Guided field trips, led by expert bird guides
  • Photography and art workshops
  • Free talks
  • Vendor expos

For more information on the birding festival, click here

Southeastern Arizona has wide swathes of pristine nature, with a variety of habitats including sky island mountains, the Sonoran Desert and lowland riparian areas, grasslands, and mountain foothills that result in great bird diversity.

Southern Arizona is home to birds you can't find anywhere else in the U.S.!

  • Elegant Trogon
  • Lucifer Hummingbird
  • Red-faced Warbler
  • Arizona Woodpecker
  • Montezuma Quail
  • Many more! 

For more information visit the Festival Website.

A beautiful green bird with a long red beak sits on a branch in southeast Arizona

Marana Birding Hotspots

There are many excellent places to view birds in Marana.

  1. El Rio Preserve is a fairly easy walking area where one can see riparian and grassland species, as well as views of raptors soaring above the nearby Tucson Mountains.
  2. The Crossroads and Silverbell District Park River Walk along the Santa Cruz River is great for spotting riparian species, including many warblers, and during summer evenings bats emerge in vast numbers near the Ina Road Bridge.
  3. The Tortolita Mountains and Tortolita Preserve offer opportunities to see hawks, eagles, and many other species.
  4. The irrigated farm fields in upper Marana (west of the I-10 between Tangerine and Marana Road exits) are especially of interest for locating raptor species.​

El Rio Preserve

While you’re out and about, don’t miss the newest riparian bird-watching spot just off Interstate 10, toward the Tucson Mountains (west) from the Twin Peaks Road exit. 

El Rio Preserve is a 104-acre riparian area owned by the Town of Marana. It’s located on the west side of the Santa Cruz River and it is one of the top birding spots in the Tucson area, with a list of 227 species recorded. El Rio Preserve is also accessible by bike or foot via The Loop Shared-Use Path.

For more information click here.

A few highlights recently observed at El Rio Preserve include the following: a Barn owl, Snowy egrets, Black-necked stilts, Bell’s vireo, Great blue herons, Neotropic cormorants, Killdeer, Yellow warblers, Bell’s vireos, Yellow-breasted chats, Abert’s towhees, Lark sparrows, Mallards, Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds, Northern rough-winged swallows, Cliff swallows, Curve-billed thrashers, Cassin’s kingbirds, White-winged doves and a Cooper’s hawk.

Also, don't miss the Tucson Audubon Society’s Mason Nature Center, near Marana, which offers bird walks during the fall, winter, and spring, November through April.

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