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Especially for Bird Lovers

Duncan is a wintering destination for Sandhill Cranes and there are some very nice places from which to view them. You can walk along the Gila River Birding and Wildlife Trail right here in Duncan. Or take a short ride out to rural Virden, New Mexico, where you can park by the bridge, open up a picnic lunch and observe Sandhill Cranes to your heart’s content.

See the data of the eBird "hot spot" at our Gila River Birding and Wildlife Trail.

See the Facebook page of the Gila River Birding and Wildlife Trail.

Learn more about birding in and around Duncan in Tommy DeBardeleben's "Back to The One and Only Greenlee County."

More about the Sandhill Cranes (link)

Premier Bird-watching Sites in Southeastern Arizona

Blue and San Francisco Rivers Ecosystem/Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (an Audubon Society Important Bird Area)

White Mountains Audubon calls the Blue River “one of the most interesting and under-birded areas in east central Arizona” and gives good directions for finding their preferred spot. They report sightings of Greater Pewee, Hepatic Tanager, Common Black-Hawk, Black-chinned Sparrow, Mexican Jay, Painted Redstart, Bridled Titmouse, Purple Martin and Band-tailed Pigeon in the summer with occasional appearances of Montezuma Quail, Gambel's Quail and Wild Turkey.

Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area

There are two Riparian National Conservation Areas in the US and this is one of them. Graced by four perennial streams—the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and Bonita and Eagle Creeks—this desert woodland oasis is home to more than 150 bird species as well as bighorn sheep, javelina, white-tail and mule deer and beaver. Wildlife viewing is good year-round but birding is best during the spring and fall migrations or the summer nesting season. Birders report seeing common Blackhawk, canyon wren, and ladder-backed woodpecker among others. The most accessible viewing station, at Bonita Creek, is a lovely 55-mile drive from Duncan.

Reay Lane Reclamation Ponds and Marsh

This wastewater reclamation facility in the Town of Thatcher on Highway 70 provides excellent waterfowl and shorebird habitat and has yielded numerous rare bird sightings. Close to town and adjacent to the Gila River. Directions: From Highway 70 in Thatcher, turn north on Reay Lane. Ponds are just before river access. About 45 miles from Duncan. For more information, call the Town of Thatcher (928) 428-2290

Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains

The Simpson might be about the nicest place to stay in short driving range of Cave Creek Canyon (90 miles from Duncan to Portal, Arizona), home to animal and plant species found nowhere else on earth. Tropical birds make their way to this range, which contains the largest of Arizona’s legendary “sky islands.” There are said to be some 300 different birds to be seen over the course of a year in the Chiricahuas. Birders are especially excited about the Elegant Trogons and Eared Quetzals. In the hamlet of Portal at the mouth of Cave Creek Canyon, you will find the Southwestern Research Station, a facility of the American Museum of Natural History. Visitors are welcome to observe the station’s hummingbird feeders and to visit the station’s small gift shop. From time to time the station offers programs and even housing facilities to the public, but its mission is to accommodate scientists. So keep quiet!

We also recommend that you peruse their annual newsletters online

Also see the, Southeastern Arizona Birding Trail Map/Guide

News flash – three cheers for the George Walker House, http://www.thegeorgewalkerhouse.com/ in the hamlet of Paradise in the Chiricahua Mountain foothills near Cave Creek Canyon. Proprietor Jackie is an expert birder, and the historic guest house is just as sweet as anyone could want.

On your way to Paradise from Duncan, you can make a stop at the Chiricahua Desert Museum right at the turn-off on NM 80 that takes you to Portal and on to Paradise. This 8000 sq. foot facility celebrates the diversity of wildlife and spectacular beauty of the eastern Chiricahua region. 4 Rattlesnake Canyon Road, at Portal Road & NM 80 28 miles south of I-10.

And over the border in New Mexico:

The Southwest New Mexico Audubon Society has a number of online resources. You can see their Southwestern New Mexico Birding Trail Map here at the Simpson or pick one up at a ranger station or in Silver City, a 90-minute drive from Duncan. The Society will be happy to recommend birding trails that are within two hours’ drive from Duncan, including the following: