Birders have long made pilgrimages to the southernmost parts of the American Southwest in search of birds at the northernmost edges of their ranges. In particular, southeastern Arizona is situated at the convergence of the Mexican Sierra Madre and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. Because of its unique location, the area has remarkable biological diversity.
Many southwestern specialty bird species that have specific habitat and elevation requirements can be found at the renowned Ramsey Canyon Preserve. The canyon is in the Huachuca Mountains, part of the “Sky Islands” — isolated mountains surrounded by lowlands — just north of Mexico. A spring-fed creek sustains a riparian area that hosts Painted Redstart, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Bridled Titmouse, Arizona Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, and Rivoli’s Hummingbird, among others.
The main Hamburg Trail connects with others in the Miller Creek Wilderness of Coronado National Forest, where you may catch a glimpse of the sought-after Elegant Trogon. Although trogons can also be seen within the preserve, they have eluded me. But the other birds more than made up for it, and I have a good reason to return.
Jason A. Crotty is an attorney from Portland, Oregon. He also wrote about El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, Hotspot Near You No. 247, and Virgin Islands National Park, No. 255. For BirdWatchingDaily.com, he has written about warblers that winter in Puerto Rico, the designation of Elfin-woods Warbler as endangered, bird populations in western Great Lakes forests, what the greatly expanded Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument means for birds, and plans to re-introduce condors to the Pacific Northwest.