Maricopa Audubon Society Birds in Maricopa County

Maricopa Audubon Society Field Trips

Useful Field Trip Information

Car Pooling: Please make every effort to organize your own carpool; consolidate vehicles at meeting places and/or contact leaders for car pooling assistance. Be courteous to your driver and help cover their driving expenses. We recommend that passengers reimburse drivers 20 cents per mile.

Limit: Maximum number of participants per field trip. Please call early to make your reservations.

Difficulty Levels 1 through 5: We use a difficulty scale. 1 equals very low level of exertion, short walking distance, considerable birding from vehicle and possible multiple birding stops. 5 equals very high level of difficulty with respect to exertion. Longer hiking distances are expected with possible steep trails. All trips are level 1 unless noted otherwise.

Audubon Society Field Trips

Day Passes Required for National Forests. Many favorite spots in our National Forests now require Day Use Passes. You are responsible to acquire a day pass ($6) in advance of field trips with an asterisk (*). Passes are available by phone or mail, at FS district and ranger offices, Big 5, some Circle K’s, the Shell station at Tom Darlington and Cave Creek Road and elsewhere. Visit for more information.

Facebook Page: MAS member, Michael Plagens, has organized a Facebook page to share information about upcoming field trips and to organize your own trips. Please visit and "like" this page to get announcement sent to your email.


  • Be courteous to the trip leader and help cover their gas costs.
  • Wear neutral colored clothing and sturdy walking shoes.
  • Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, head protection and water.
  • Always bring your binoculars. Bring a scope if recommended.
  • Be quiet so others can bird by ear.
  • Unless stated otherwise, reservations are required.
  • Avoid wearing bright colors.

September/October, date TBA
Stewart Mountain Desert Tortoise Quest
Have you ever seen a Sonoran Desert Tortoise in the wild? Increase your chances of stumbling upon one of these iconic desert creatures by searching in their preferred habitat after a summer monsoon. We are not setting an exact date for this trip near Saguaro Lake until the conditions are right. We will collect email addresses and phone numbers and contact you one day before or possibly the morning of the walk. It could be a weekend or weekday. Learn about the behavior, life cycle, and status of this keystone species. Difficulty: 4 (steep, rocky terrain, and hot, humid weather). Bring snacks, sun protection, hat, sturdy hiking shoes, and plenty of water. Start near daybreak and return by noon. Limit: 10.
Leader: Laurie Nessel, or 480 968-5614 to get on the call list.

Desert Tortoise Field Trip Review: On September 9, three of us went out after a rainstorm. Puddles were still standing as we approached the site. It was overcast and pleasant. There was abundant scat in the area but all burrows were vacant and sightings illusive until hour 4, when a mature male was found in the open. We ended our trip by viewing the abundant odonata and lepidoptera at the mouth of the wash before it empties into Saguaro Lake. Photos and review by Laurie Nessel.

The site, boulder-strewn Sonoran Desert Uplands.                        Red-lined Grasshopper
Bulldog Cliffs (near Water Users Recreation Area)
in background.

Blue-ringed Dancer (female) near Saguaro Lake                           Male desert tortoise

Fatal Metalmarks on Seep Willow                                                 Red-tailed Pennant (immature male)

View from site summit looking east southeast.                             Ceraunus Blue on Boerhavia diffusa l.

Rio Salado Saturdays: September 30 and October 7, 2017
Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center
Great trip for beginning birders but all levels welcome! Meet at the Audubon Arizona Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center west side parking lot 8:00 AM sharp, 3131 S. Central Ave. Phoenix. We will begin with a flat walk along the center’s grounds and head to a trail along the Salt River looking for migrating species and waterfowl and adding to our list of resident desert species along the way. We will spend about 1 hour on mostly unpaved paths. Please wear sturdy shoes and a hat, bring water, snacks and binoculars. Families are welcome. No reservations required. Level: 1.
Leader:  Joy Bell, for questions.   

Western Pondhawk Photo by Laurie Nessel

Saturday, October 7
Santa Cruz Flats
Look for surprises like late shorebirds (Pectoral and Baird's Sandpiper, Golden Plover) and perhaps flocks of Swainson's Hawks moving through. Late summer species and early wintering species all possible. Difficulty: 1. Limit 11 (plus leader) in three vehicles. 
Leader: Dave Pearson. Reservations,

Hot Spot Saturdays (and a Sunday)
MAS will offer a series of trips in and around Maricopa County to discover our bird diversity and see what birds are where throughout the year. For full details, contact the trip leader. Limit 8.
October 15 (Sunday): Base & Meridian Wildlife area
November 18: Santa Cruz Flats
January 20: Arlington Valley 
February 24: A West Valley location (for thrashers and sparrows)
March 24: Jewel of the Creek
April 7: West Valley Buckeye area 
May 19:  Papago Park and Zoo Ponds 
Leader: Veronica Heron,

Tempe Town Lake Saturdays
Saturday, October 28 
Join the First Birding and Biking Trip around Tempe Town Lake and down Mesa Trail from McClintock Road to Dobson Road. Explore habitat newly accessible along Mesa Trail on the south side of the Salt River bed. Bring your own bike or rent one! Access rental bikes at and register ahead for easy access: Hub #8 McClintock Drive/Rio Salado Parkway. 7:00 to 9:30 am. Limit 8.
Saturday, November 18
Search for migrating and wintering waterfowl. Bring a friend who has never birded before. 8:00-10:30 am. Limit 10. 
Saturday, December 16
Bring a small, homemade, hand-me-down, or very inexpensive gift that has something to do with birding to share with another. We will draw numbers, then, as we bird, talk about the many nonmaterialistic gifts of birding that we enjoy. 8:00 to 10:30 am Limit 10.
Leader: Bobbe Taber 

Striped Saddlebags at Gilbert Water Ranch Photo by Laurie Nessel

October 15 (note date change)   
Beginning Butterflies and Dragonflies at Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch
An outstanding area for beautiful butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies. Learn to identify local butterflies including Painted Lady, Queen, and Fiery Skipper as well as common dragonflies and damselflies such as Western Pondhawk, Flame Skimmer, Blue-ringed Dancer, and Familiar Bluet. Suggested $5.00 donation to support the Gilbert Riparian Preserve. Bring binoculars (close-focus preferred), water, and hat. Common Dragonflies of the Southwest by Kathy Biggs on sale for $10.00, color checklists for $1.00. All ages welcome. Easy. Meet 7:00 am May-September, 7:30 am October at Rattlesnake Ramada (south of the parking lot, west of the bathrooms). The preserve is east of Greenfield Rd., south of Guadalupe Rd., just east of Gilbert Public Library (park there if the GRP lot is full).
Leaders: Janet Witzeman and Laurie Nessel

Saturday, October 21
Oak Flat  
Focus on the campground area and the ponds if they have water. Species include Vermilion Flycatcher, Canyon Towhee, Black-throated Sparrow and possible Black-chinned Sparrow. Spectacular rock formations. Proposed site of controversial copper mine. Difficulty: 3. Bring lunch if you wish to picnic at end of visit. Limit 8. 
Leader Myron Scott. Reservations,

Wednesday, October 25 
Prescott Lakes 
Leave the Scottsdale area about 6:00 am, stop at Fain Park in Prescott Valley, head towards Watson Woods, and the Peavine Trail to Watson Lake. Afterwards, go to Goldwater Lake, at higher elevations. While wintering waterfowl are just beginning to arrive in larger numbers in late October, let’s see if they arrive in Prescott earlier! See Acorn Woodpeckers, nuthatches, Bushtits, juncos, and possible wintering sparrows. End in Prescott about noon. Difficulty: 1-2 (lots of walking, some hiking). Limit 7.
Leader: Kathe Anderson,

Sunday, October 29
Lower Salt River
Follow Bush Highway between north Mesa and Saguaro Lake, stopping at recreation areas along the Salt River. Drivers need a Tonto National Forest day-use parking pass. Common resident desert and early wintering birds include Great Blue Heron, Phainopepla, Vermilion Flycatcher, White-crowned Sparrow, Pied-billed Grebe, and Lesser Goldfinch. Sightings of Bald Eagles are reliable. Also possible are Belted Kingfisher, Rock Wren, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and Osprey.  
Difficulty: 1. Limit 15.
Leader:  Richard Kaiser,, 602 276-3312.

Saturday, November 4
LoPiano Bosque Habitat and Tempe Marsh
Ducks, wading birds, and possible raptors at marsh. Desert birds, raptors, and possible migrants in bosque. Difficulty: 1. Limit 8. 
Leader: Myron Scott. Reservations,

Pima Canyon. Photo by Laurie Nessel

Saturday, November 18
Pima Canyon,
South Mountain Park
Desert species, including raptors and possible migrants. Rock Art. Difficulty: 3. Limit 8.
Leader: Myron Scott. Reservations,

Wednesday/Thursday, November 29-30 
Safford/Roper Lake/Mt. Graham

Start early and bird our way to Safford, probably stopping at Boyce Thompson Arboretum and Oak Flat, before heading to Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area and possibly Roper Lake before it gets dark. Explore Mt. Graham the next day, as far as we can get in the time allotted, so that we return to the Phoenix area about 6:00 pm. The variety of habitats should reveal woodpeckers, nuthatches, robins, bluebirds, wintering sparrows, and waterfowl. Expenses include one night at a moderate hotel in Safford, meals, entrance fees and a gas donation. Difficulty: 1-2. Limit 7.
Leader: Kathe Anderson,

Thursday, December 7
Apache Trail and Roosevelt Lake
A long, winding, lovely drive on the Apache Trail, pulling off wherever it looks birdy on the way to Roosevelt Lake. Picnic, stop at viewpoints along the lake to see waterfowl. Expect common desert species including Gila Woodpeckers, Cactus and Rock Wrens, wintering sparrows, and Greater Roadrunner, as well as Western and Eared Grebes, ducks and raptors at the lake. Return via Globe and arrive in the Phoenix area about 5:00 pm. Difficulty: 1-2. Limit 7.
Leader: Kathe Anderson,

December or January
Plume Grass Removal project: either Pima Canyon (South Mountain Park), or Lost Dutchman State Park
To reduce the fire hazard produced by this exotic pest plant, come lend a hand as we dig or pull grass plants out of the washes in this habitat. We will bag the grass and haul it out. Birding for half the field time will likely produce wintering species and desert birds. Future return visits to check our results will be planned. Exact date not yet confirmed.
Please email your willingness to be contacted to help:






Take action to save our birds

Copyright © 2012 Maricopa Audubon. All Rights Reserved

Last updated: September 29, 2017 12:41