My Top 5 Favorite Tucson Birds

Ash Throated Flycatcher


This bird is on this list not because it is the most beautiful, not the most’s here because it cracks me up! We had a breeding pair in our Saguaro in the backyard this Spring, and every morning, the birds would flutter themselves against our bedroom windows to startle insects off the screens. They caused a huge racket (at 5am!), and looked ridiculous doing it! They are quite lovely, and have a sweet song.

Northern Cardinal


You might be surprised to know that the Northern Cardinal lives year-round in Southeastern Arizona. The males can be seen by flashes of red amongst the green mesquite trees, and the songs of both males and females bubble out of the tree tops in the early mornings. Mated pairs stay close together, and if you put a seed block in your yard, you’re likely to see them. Cardinals defend their territory aggressively, and will attack their reflections in windows. Be sure to place bird deterrents around large windows if you have cardinals in the area.

Black Chinned Hummingbird


Almost every day, I see at least one of these on my morning walk. This is the most common hummingbird found in Southeastern Arizona, and can bee seen flitting from flower to flower, or sitting high up in the treetops. Their nests look like little bundles of cobwebs and can be mistaken for such, so be careful when pruning plants and trees in the springtime! This past April-May, we had a nest in our bouganvilla for the second year in a row:

Lesser Nighthawk


Neither a hawk, nor strictly nocturnal, Nighthawks are some really unusual birds! The first time I came across these was on a mountain bike ride through Sweetwater Preserve, shortly after moving back to Tucson. The sun was setting, and we were running out of light...then I heard this weird sound! Not long after, I saw at least a dozen of these birds with their small, graceful silhouettes swooping with white-striped wings, low over the treetops. 

Western Screech-Owl


This is one of my favorite birds to encounter. Not nearly as big or easily spotted as the Great-Horned Owl, this little bird is difficult to see unless you have adequate nesting available in your yard or you have very sharp eyes! The “bouncing ball” sound of its call coming in through a window in Spring or Fall is one of the most soothing sounds I can imagine.