Birding Madera Canyon

hermit thrush

I spent the night camping along Proctor rd, but made sure I was up early enough to once again hear the Buff-collared Nightjar. It was 3:30am Common Poorwill’s also adornded the hills will their weeping calls. As the sun began to rise Varied Buntings, Northern Cardinals and others began to sing. It was time to head up into the canyon and start the search for Elegant Trogon.

madera canyon

I decided to start at Proctor rd and hike all the way to the top. There is a trail from the parking lot that is paved for a while then transitions into dirt. The hike all the way up is quite daunting and in retrospect added much unneeded walking and time to my trip. Nevertheless I started hiking up the trail around 5:15am. There were many species, many which I expected to see such as; Mexican Jay, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Verdins, Hutton’s Vireo and others. Some of the nice finds includes Sulpher-bellied flycatchers, a single pair of Montezuma Quail, White-breasted Nuthatches, Black-throated Gray Warblers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Broad-billed Hummingbirds. All in all I added many species to my year list, but the real reason I came to madera canyon was Elegant Trogon.

I made it to the Mt Wrightson Picnic Area and trail head around 9am tried and carrying over 20 pounds in gear (I really wanted a nice shot of that Trogon) I started heading up the canyon further along the Carrie Mine Trail. This trail alone has produced many sightings of these beautiful birds. Working my way up the canyon i came across; American Robin, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper, Western Tanager, Western Wood-Pewee, and other. After about 2 miles up into the canyon and no sighting or even hearing the bird. I headed back down…disappointed. Later I noted that the majority of sightings have taken place first thing in the morning. Next time I will drive to the top at first light…next time.

western tanager

pewee

mexican jay

brown creeper

If you plan on birding at Madera Canyon you can easily park all the way up the canyon instead of hike. There is great birding at each of the parking areas, although get there early enough, as many of the lots will fill up especially during the hot summer months. Parking at the santa Rita lodge is free and does not require a National Forest Pass. The Santa Rita lodge wildlife viewing area boasts a regular list of species that are common along the canyon. You can learn more by visiting the Santa Rita lodge website.

Other Birds to see this time of year:

Black-throated Sparrow, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Botteri’s Sparrow, Cassin’s Sparrow, Scaled Quail, Summer Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Golden Eagle, Common Poorwill, Whiskered Screech Owl, Broad-billed hummingbird Brown Creeper, Common Raven, Turkey Vulture, Hairy Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Black-headed grosbeak, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch and more
As always you use use the Arizona Hotspot birding summary report to check for recent sightings near Madera Canyon

About Arizona Birding at Madera Canyond

There are parking lots all up the canyon at Madera Picnic area, Amphitheater, Mt. Wrightson Picnic area among others. Each one requires a day pass ($5) or a National Forest Pass ($20) daily passes are sold at self-serve stations at each parking lot. Day passes expire at midnight each day. You can purchase a year pass at the Santa Rita lodge for $20. Bring all food and water you will want for the trip as there are no stores in the canyon.

Find my birding map here

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