B I R D I N G A D V E N T U R E S
Southern Arizona is a year-round birder's paradise, but for a first-time birding visit to the southwest, a fall or winter visit is great for both birds and people due to warm winter temperatures! Gila Bend is ideally located to be your staging camp for birding excursions in any direction. To help you plan an amazing experience, we have detailed which birds are best seen during which months, beginning with September:
SEPTEMBER (EARLY FALL)
As rains settle down from our monsoon season, an abundance of migrant bird species and shore birds continue to arrive and flock toward our newly hydrated canyon riparian areas like those found along the Gila River at the base of the Gila Bend Mountains, or over at Gillespie Dam. Shore birds to look for: Kildeer Plover, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Spotted Sandpiper, Willet, Most Sandpipers, and the rare migrant Dunlin.
As our temperatures begin to steadily drop, increased numbers of ducks, goose, hawks and more can be sighted! Birders may also catch an elusive Lawrence's Goldfinch or spy a migrant warbler variety or two. Possible hawk sightings could include the Red-Tailed, Harris Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, and the Ferruginous Hawk, to name a few. Ducks and goose varieties include the Wood Duck, American Wigeon, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Canvasback, Redhead, Ringed-neck Duck, Lesser Scaup, Snow Goose, Ross's Goose and the Canada Goose. Places to check out include Robbin's Butte Wildlife Area, Old U.S. Hwy 80 and Painted Rock Resevoir.
Riparian habitats throughout the Gila River valley continue to attract waterfowl such as ducks like the Red-necked Grebe, and cranes like Sandhill Cranes, and also Thrashers and Mountain Plovers. Hot birding spots around Gila Bend include the ponds at the Gila Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant. The fields around the area are good for spotting Lark Sparrows and Western Kingbirds!
Cooler temperatures and plenty of sunshine attract scores of sparrows. Upon close inspection, rarities like the Golden-crowned Sparrow or the Harris's could prove successful! Other possible bird species include longspurs and even Sprague's Pipit!
Raptors and sparrows are plentiful in January, along with singing Thrashers and an abundance of waterfowl. Common raptors in the area are the Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, the uncommon Common Black Hawk, Harris's Hawk, American Kestrel (Sparrow Hawk), Barn Owls, the uncommon Short-eared Owl, Great Horned Owl, Western Screech Owl, Elf Owl, and the Burrowing Owl.
As Spring migration begins, ducks begin to show their more colorful plumage and the Gila River Valley and the Sonoran Desert are bustling with flycatchers and owls.
Breeding season has arrived! Birders can expect to see Warblers, Bell's Vireos, and as the wildflowers emerge, so do the swallows.