With the Colorado Plateau in the north, including the Grand Canyon; the Mojave Desert in the northwest; and the Sonoran Desert—with its iconic saguaro cacti—in the south, Arizona is one diverse state. The Chihuahuan Desert extends into the southeastern corner, encroaching into grasslands and oak and pine forests that connect it with Mexican topography that draws southern species found nowhere else in the United States.
Southeastern Arizona is legendary among birders for rarities that are almost regulars there: a dozen species of hummingbirds, elegant trogon, red-faced warbler, and painted redstart, to name just a few. Madera Canyon, the Paton Center, Patagonia Lake State Park, the Chiricahuas, the Huachucas—all are in the southeastern corner, and fodder for dreams of a birding adventure. Most of Arizona’s specialties and rarities turn up in that relatively small area, but birding is great in the north, too, where you’ll find high plateaus and coniferous forest, habitat for Clark’s nutcracker, Canada and pinyon jays, mountain chickadee, and other western birds. The official state checklist touts 563 species, but eBird reports 556.