Spring 2019 IBA Survey Opportunities

2019 Spring IBA Survey Season

Join us for this year’s exciting Spring Surveys

We have quite the spring survey season forming for this year! We will be investigating the Patagonia Mountains near Nogales, an underbirded Sky Island gem. We are also planning some Gilded Flicker surveys and some general IBA route surveys as well. Looking a bit ahead we also have the Elegant Trogon Sky Island survey dates sorted out and will have opportunities for volunteers to help with Yellow-billed Cuckoo surveys in July and August. Those dates will be announced soon. There’s a lot going on and I hope you can join us!

Patagonia Mountains Expedition – April 26-28Patagonia Mountains Vista by Matt Griffiths

A Partnership of Arizona IBA and AZFO

It will be peak spring migration in southeastern AZ and even though it is part of an Important Bird Area, the southern Patagonia Mountains are not high on the radar as a birding destination. The general area has much to offer those who enjoy exploring little known and infrequently visited locations. There are actually very few April visits to this areas reported in eBird. Quite near the Mexico border, the Duquesne Road crosses through this section of the range and will be our primary access for exploration and our base camp. The region boasts seldom visited oak-covered slopes, sycamore-lined drainages, and stands of pines in cooler canyons. Who knew there was a peak here (Mount Washington) that surpasses 7200 ft. in elevation. Expedition teams may encounter some very local nesting species, unusual migrants, and maybe even unknown pairs of rarities such as Rufous-capped Warblers, Black-capped Gnatcatchers, or something even more exciting. With many eyes and ears, something good is bound to be discovered. The more participants we have, the more locations can be explored.

To sign up please email  both of the trip co-leaders: Jennie MacFarland (jmacfarland AT tucsonaudubon.org) and Josh Stewart (joshvireo AT gmail.com)

More information about this survey expedition of the Patagonia Mountains here

Do Lucy’s Warblers Prefer Native or Non-native Mesquite Trees?http://aziba.org/?page_id=2601

We need your help finding locations with both native and non-native mesquite trees present to help us look into the foraging activities of Lucy’s Warblers. We also need people to time how long Lucy’s Warblers are foraging in a particular tree and identify the type of tree. Volunteers need to know how to tell the different types of mesquite trees apart and be able to recognize Lucy’s Warblers on sight and by sound

Data sheet packets will be available for pickup in the Nature Shop and there is also the option of submitting your data online or using the Survey123 free app for smartphones. More information on this effort and how to tell a native mesquite from a non-native at this page.

Gilded Flicker Transect Surveys

Gilded Flicker by Richard Fray

Gilded Flicker by Richard Fray

Gilded Flicker is a Continental qualifying species for IBAs for the IBA program. Our main goal is to determine if the new IBAs in the Tucson area qualify for Continetal status for this species – that is accomplished by documenting 30 pairs or 90 individuals. Last spring a few volunteers did Gilded Flicker call-back surveys in the Tucson Mountains and did document enough pairs to qualify the new Tucson Mountains IBA as Continental for Gilded Flicker. Now Arizona IBA is hoping to do the same for the Tucson Sky Islands IBA which includes Saguaro National Park East (Rincon Mountain District) and the Santa Catalinas and Rincon Mountains. The best habitat for this species for the IBA is in the Saguaro National Park portion so our surveys will focus on these areas. If you would like to survey in Catalina State park or another area in the IBA or in the Tucson Mountains contact the coordinator.

Join the Gilded Flicker Survey Team Here

More information on this survey effort including protocol and data forms is here. 

See a Google Map of where we found Gilded Flickers in 2018 Here - the 2019 sightings will be added to this map after this spring’s surveys.

Elf Owl Surveys – Hiking in the MoonlightElf Owl Hunting

Tucson Audubon is doing night time hiking surveys for the second time ever. Saguaro National Park is partnering with us for these surveys and a ranger or two may even be joining us. We will be hiking along moonlit trails in teams of two or three and listening for Elf Owls and periodically playing their calls to try and goad them into calling back to us. You must have reasonably good hearing and be comfortable walking a trail at night while using a headlamp or flashlight. These two surveys are scheduled during the full moon to try and have as much light as possible but it will still be quite dark out there! This is something new for Tucson Audubon and we may encounter other owl species, cool reptiles and who knows what else!

Saguaro Nat Park – Rincon Mountain District (east side of Tucson) - Wednesday April 17   Sign up

Saguaro National Park – Tucson Mountain District (west side of Tucson) – Thursday April 18  Sign up

Information about the surveys including protocol and data forms on this page. 

Elegant Trogon Surveys in Sky Islands

Elegant Trogon male by Julio Mulero

Elegant Trogon male by Julio Mulero

There is an abundance of evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, that the ecological influence of tropical Mexico has grown over the last century in Southeastern Arizona. Mammals such as Javalina and White-nosed Coati have both extended their range out the tropics into southern Arizona as part of this larger ecological system expansion. The expansion continues even today with the birding community noting the recent increase in prevalence of Gray Hawks and rarities in general including the recent first ever US nesting record of Tufted Flycatcher this past spring. Elegant Trogons are also part of this story with their United States range expanding over the last century which can be tracked with mainly anecdotal evidence and isolated incidents of collecting.

To further our understanding of how many Elegant Trogons there are in the US organized surveys have been ongoing in the Chiricahuas and Huachucas led by Rick Taylor for many years and beginning in 2013 Jennie MacFarland and Tucson Audubon assisted Rick and helped expand the surveys to three more ranges. The new areas we surveyed the last four years are the Atascosa Highlands, Santa Rita Mountains and Patagonia Mountains.

  • Saturday May 18 - Atascosas (near Nogales)
  • Saturday May 25 – Patagonias (near Patagonia)
  • Sunday May 26 - Santa Ritas (near Green Valley)
  • Saturday June 1 – Huachucas (near Sierra Vista)
  • Sunday June 2 – Chiricahuas (near Portal)

To sign up for any or all of these survey dates please fill out this survey

We always need more people for these surveys! The more the better so please tell your friends. These surveys are suitable for beginning birders and more info about these surveys including results for the 2018 survey can be found here

Sign up to get our Arizona IBA News Emails here! 

About the author


Jennie is the Coordinating Biologist for the Arizona Important Bird Area program and an employee of the Tucson Audubon Society. She likes birding and other cool nerdy activities.