My brother, Peter, was visiting from New York for a few days and we wanted to do something fun.
I have been thinking about going to southern Arizona to try and see an elegant trogon since I learned about this species earlier this year. Trogons are tropical birds and the elegant trogon is the one species that can regularly be seen in the U.S. (All About Birds). It can be found along canyon streams, especially with sycamores in mountain ranges in southern Arizona. The Sibley Guide to Birds, 2nd edition (2014) and All About Birds
My birding friends, Gordon and Veronica, helped me decide on places to go where we might be able to see the elegant trogon as well as other places to visit in southern Arizona. There have been regular sightings of this bird at Madera Canyon, located in the Santa Rita Mountains about one hour north and a little east of Nogales, Arizona. However, I was told that Madera Canyon would probably be very busy because it is a popular location and it was a holiday weekend. We decided to visit two Nature Conservancy properties: one in Patagonia, Arizona called the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve and one in Sierra Vista, Arizona called the Ramsey Canyon Preserve.
We spent Friday night in Nogales, which is a small town right on the U.S.-Mexico border.
We didn’t get to see the elegant trogon but that is alright because we saw lots of other amazing things including a rare visitor from Mexico, a bird called the northern tufted flycatcher, a ridge-nosed rattlesnake, and some spectacular landscape.
This was my first rattlesnake sighting in Arizona and I asked my friend who knows about Arizona reptiles and he believes it was a ridge-nosed rattlesnake, which happens to be Arizona’s state reptile and quite rare. The landscape in the southern part of Arizona, more specifically along State Route 82 is spectacular; it has vast open areas of plains and great basin grassland and semidesert grassland with mountain ranges in the distance and ranches in the foreground.