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Madera Canyon–Santa Rita Lodge

1218 South Madera Canyon Road
Madera Canyon, Arizona 85614
Santa Rita Lodge website
Friends of Madera Canyon website
Birds of Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon map

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eBird Hotspot

Santa Cruz County

Madera Canyon–Santa Rita Lodge
Coordinates: 31.7251514, -110.8801067
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Birding in Arizona

About Santa Rita Lodge
Located in the heart of Madera Canyon, in the beautiful Coronado National Forest, we invite you to visit for world-renowned bird watching, a rejuvenating hike or a quiet get-away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Just a short 13 miles southeast of Green Valley, Arizona, and at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the Lodge is more than 10 degrees cooler than Tucson on any given day – a treasured getaway that attracts visitors year after year.

Join us and experience all that Madera Canyon has to offer.

Madera Canyon is a rich, protected habitat which provides an ideal breeding ground for about 200 species of birds. Birders from all over the world come to view the rare species such as Elegant Trogon, Painted Redstart, and various Hummingbirds (up to 15 different species). The Elf Owls and Whiskered Screech Owls call the Madera Canyon their home in the migrating months. Feeders are abundant on the 4 ½ acres to attract the wide variety of birds.

We offer sitting areas for visitors and lodge guests to view the birds and enjoy the wonderful surroundings. Lodge guests have use of the grounds and private picnic areas. Flowers and rose bushes are abundant under the covered sitting areas. Madera Canyon is also known for the ideal hiking with well-maintained trails ranging from easy to a challenging all day trek up Mount Wrightson near 10,000 feet. Madera Canyon is also a haven for insect enthusiasts that come and see the many different varieties of butterflies, moths, and beetles.

We invite you to visit our gift shop and browse our selections of books, t-shirts, hats, hummingbird feeders and a variety of Madera Canyon souvenirs. We also offer cool refreshments, sandwiches, and snacks.

Come by for a tour of our cabins and casitas. You will be surprised by the peaceful surroundings and natural beauty of the Santa Rita Lodge.
From Santa Rita Lodge website

Tips for birding Madera Canyon
If you are entering eBird data for Madera Canyon there are a number of eBird hotspots in Madera Canyon. There are hotspots for each of the parking and picnic areas, feeding stations, and a number of the trails. Please use these hotspots whenever possible and try not to merge a hike or drive through the canyon into one checklist. Also beware that the Pima – Santa Cruz County line cuts east-west through Madera Canyon. County boundaries are important for eBird data collection and reporting. The county line crosses Madera Canyon Road at the Madera Picnic Area, about at the midpoint of the big parking area on your left as you head up the canyon. If you can see the Santa Rita Lodge, you are in Santa Cruz County so please use the “Madera Canyon—Santa Rita Lodge” hotspot. Otherwise, use the “Madera Canyon—Madera Picnic Area” hotspot. If birding at the Bog Springs Campground, which is bisected by the county line, use the “Madera Canyon—Bog Springs Campground” unless the birds you are noting are on the north side of the campground, then create a personal spot that is in Pima County.

About Madera Canyon
Madera Canyon is nestled in the northern slopes of the Santa Rita Mountain range east of Green Valley and south of Tucson, Arizona. The flora along with the streams that carved out this canyon help to sustain the many bird, mammal, and insect species that breed and visit here. Visitors from all over the world arrive in search of such avian specialties as the Elegant Trogon, Elf Owl, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and Painted Redstart. Over 230 species of birds have been recorded in the Canyon with 15 hummingbird species among them.

Thousands of birders, hikers, photographers, artists, and those simply seeking a place to enjoy a picnic under the shade of a sycamore tree—next to the cool water of a creek—have fallen in love with Madera Canyon.

Madera Canyon, one of the most famous birding areas in the United States, is a north-facing valley in the Santa Rita Mountains with riparian woodland along an intermittent stream, bordered by mesquite, juniper-oak woodlands, and pine forests. Madera Canyon is home to over 250 species of birds, including 15 hummingbird species. Visitors from all over the world arrive in search of such avian specialties as the Elegant Trogon, Elf Owl, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and Painted Redstart.

The road to Madera Canyon enters through desert grasslands and ends in juniper-oak woodland, where hiking trails lead up in the “sky island” through pine-oak woodland to montane conifer forest and the top of Mt. Wrightson (elevation 9,453 feet). The spectrum of birds found in these varied habitats includes four species of tanagers: Summer at Proctor Road, Hepatic starting at Madera Picnic Area, Western up the trails in the conifers, and Flame-colored as an occasional breeder. Hummingbirds, owls, and flycatchers are also very well represented in this area. Montezuma Quail are inconspicuous but present near grassy oak-dotted slopes.

In the Santa Rita Experimental Range below Madera Canyon can be found birds of the desert grasslands and brush, including Costa’s Hummingbird, Varied Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Scaled Quail, Phainopepla, Botteri’s, Cassin’s, Black-throated, Brewer’s, and Rufous-winged Sparrows.

At Proctor Road, most birders walk the productive first section of the trail to Whitehouse Picnic Area to find Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Bell’s Vireo, Lucy’s Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, Varied Bunting, Summer Tanager, and sometimes Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The dirt road shortly above the parking lot may have Western Scrub-Jays and a Crissal Thrasher.

Farther up the road, the Madera Picnic Area has Acorn and Arizona Woodpeckers, Mexican Jay, Bridled Titmouse, Painted Redstart, and Dark-eyed Junco. Three Myiarchus flycatchers , Western Wood-Pewee, and Hepatic Tanager can be found here in season. Watch overhead for Zone-tailed Hawk among the Turkey Vultures.

At the end of the road at the parking lot, the trailhead leads to Old Baldy. Elegant Trogons are most often found along the first mile of either the Super Trail of the Carrie Nation Trail. Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Plumbeous Vireo, Painted Redstart, and Dusky-capped Flycatcher are common along the trails. Yellow-eyed Juncos breed higher up towards Josephine Saddle.

Night birding is a Madera Canyon highlight, especially in May. Listen for Western and Whiskered Screech-Owls, Elf Owls and the much rarer Flammulated and Spotted Owls. Whip-poor-wills are in the forest and Common Poorwills can be heard near Proctor and below. Lesser Nighthawks, Barn, and Great Horned Owls often fly across the road through the beam of your headlights as you approach the canyon.

Friends of Madera Canyon publishes a comprehensive “Birds of Madera Canyon” checklist that is available at the Visitor Information Station, trailheads, and website.
From Friends of Madera Canyon website