Southwest Wings

Each year several people ask the best way to select from among the many field trips we offer. Here are some suggestions.

Think in terms of Elevation, Ecosystems and Habitats
We have eight habitats, with in the Southwest Wings area. Close in to town we have the San Pedro River Valley, Semidesert Grassland, Sonoran and Chiuahuan Desertscrub, Madrean Woodland, Canyons and Montane Conifer Forest. Most of our individual trips visit several habitats which are aggregated according to elevation. A trip to the San Pedro will see a different mix of species than a trip up to Carr Canyon. Try to get a mix of habitats in your trip selection. Plan more than one trip to a habitat, a different day can mean different birds or better views of a favorite. 

Look at Last Years' Sightings.
We offer trips to most of the commonly birded canyons in the Huachucas in addition to Patagonia, Saint David and Wilcox and the Santa Ritas. It would be difficult to cover all these areas comprehensively at one festival. Last year Montezuma Quail, which are typically next to impossible to see anywhere, were everywhere and seen on multiple trips each day. We also have posted a list of birds seen by Field Trip during our 2016 Summer Festival.  Summer Checklist .

Seeing Rarities.
Plan your trips to see as many different birds as possible or to coincide with your life list. Tell your guide if you have a special species you are looking for. Don't worry about duplicating areas. A trip on Wednesday can produce many different birds than a trip on Friday. In a few cases a species is only regularly seen in one location, i.e. Spotted Owl in Miller Canyon, Rufus Capped Warbler in Hunter Canyon or Five Stripped Sparrow in California Gulch. Check the ABA listserve or eBird for recent sightings and historical data on what is where. The Chasing Rarities trips have no scheduled destination. Those trips agenda are decided on the tarmac just prior to departure by the group and guide. 

Overnight Trips.
Overnight trips offer extended time and exposure to specific areas and guides. We do overnights east and west from Sierra Vista. For example, the overnight trip to the Chiricahua Mountains gives you the opportunity to see one of the best Sky Island complexes in the United States and stay overnight in Portal near Cave Creek. The overnight trips may also offer summer owling at night. Additionally one species, Mexican Chickadee, is found only in the Chiricahua Mountains. The summer trip to California Gulch is targeted at a small breeding population of Five Stripped Sparrows. Buff Collarded Night jar may also be seen at California Gulch along with many lower elevation species such as Varied and Painted Buntings. Our overnight trips average about the same species per day as our day trips.

Read the Trip Descriptions Carefully. 
The base elevation here is over 5,000 feet. Please take this elevation into account. Most of you live in areas that are less 1,000 feet msl. Many mountain trips will end up near 7,000 feet and a few near 9,000. Each trip has a "Difficulty Number" that describes the level of hiking required. The Field Trip General Info tab on the registration website is a must read about what to bring and expect. Be realistic about your physical abilities. The guides will tailor the trip based on what the group can do. But also know that the guides are also there to insure that you safely see as many species as possible. Most of the mountain trips are up and back on the same trail, so people can linger and get picked up on the way back. Trips may be extended or altered by the guide to reach birds desired by the group.

Read the Guide Biographies. 
We have developed a roster of excellent bird guides during the last 27 years. Many of these folks make their living as bird guides or nature professionals. Pick trips that use a variety of guides. Some of you will fall in love with a particular guide. Tell your friends about them and plan to come back and take other trips with them.

Ask Questions.
If you cannot find the information you need on either of our websites please feel free to ask me questions. I can describe the trips and guides. If you want to contact an particular guide contact me and I can usually get you the information. I can also help with registration. What I can't tell you is what the weather will be like on a specific trip or what birds you will see. All I can provide is a range of birds and weather. You can contact me directly at 520-two six six-0149.

Use The Wait list 
The wait list is a handy tool to let you know if a desired trip opens up after you register. It costs nothing to put your name in the queue. If something opens you will be sent an email asking if you want in. Be sure to have your cell phone on so I can reach you if a trip opens up.

Please Click Here for Festival Information on our Southwest Wings website or here for the registration site. Registration will open April 1.