Some of the Best Birding in the World

Tohono Chul, a desert oasis in the heart of Tucson, AZ, offers guided bird tours year-round. Beginners will feel comfortably at ease with our small groups that afford the personal attention often lacking on larger organized birding tours. More experienced birders will find the compact gardens, with its varied mini-ecosystems, an ideal introduction to the birdlife of the Arizona desert. Bird lovers of all levels of experience will love our beautiful surroundings and enjoy watching the “regulars” as well as seasonal migrants.

Want to learn more about the birds in your backyard?

Visit our Birds in Our Backyard page to see and hear birds you’re likely to find in your neck of the woods!

Docent Led Birding Tours

Birds of Tohono Chul

Oct. – Apr. | Mon., Wed., Fri. & Sat. at 8:30 a.m.

Learn to identify residents and those just passing through, plus information on habits and habitat.

  • Perfect for beginning or experienced birders
  • Easy to walk paths
  • Compact
  • 140 species visit the gardens through the year
  • Native and seasonal migrants
  • Best birding in Tucson

For visitors and those new to the Sonoran Desert, our easy-walking trails and gardens provide close-up looks at many of the desert specialties. Of the more than 500 bird species that spend time in Arizona during the year, 140 are known to have visited the gardens, and on any given morning you might see up to 20 or 30 species here. All year long you can watch our state bird, the cactus wren, flit from cactus to tree and back again, chattering as he goes. Observe the curved-bill thrasher, with its saucy two-part whistle, scrabbling on the ground or nesting in cholla cactus. In spring, you might spot a pair of Gila woodpeckers nurturing their young inside a saguaro cactus hole, or a family of quail, the handsome adults leading a dozen fuzzy, thimble-sized babies through the desert floor.

Everywhere in the gardens enjoy our two year-round resident hummingbird species, Anna’s and Costa’s, as they dart about, feeding among the many colorful flowers. In late spring and summer, observe other hummers, such as black-chins, and migrants including the minuscule Calliope and tiny, but fierce, Rufous as they try their luck in our gardens. And be sure to look upward for a glance of our majestic Cooper’s hawks, a pair of which has nested in the gardens for each of the last four years.

In spring, winter, and fall, thrill to the profile of the shiny black Phainopepla and his mate, perched among the mistletoe on the desert trees. You may be close enough to see this bird’s brilliant red eye even without binoculars. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot one of our road runners hurrying along a desert trail. Keep an eye on the underbrush for Abert’s and Green-tailed towhees, both of which have been spotted here in all seasons. Regular warm-weather visitors include the white-winged dove, ash-throated flycatcher, and western tanager, as well as Bell’s vireo, while winter brings white-crowned and other sparrows.

Several migrant warblers visit the gardens, sometimes for weeks at a time. Those you might see in the spring or fall include Wilson’s, Townsend’s, black-throated gray, orange-crowned, yellow, yellow-rumped, and, most of the year Lucy’s. Our bird tours are free with the price of admission and last approximately an hour. Our knowledgeable docent guides can answer your questions about other birding venues in the area, and will do all they can to help make sure that your visit to the gardens is an enjoyable birding experience. Birding in Tucson doesn’t get much better than this.