Copper Canyon Tour


April 5-April 16, 2015

Day 1: Today we leave Santa Fe on our way to the Arizona/Mexico border. We’ll have a lunch and birding stop at Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch, a 250,000 acre property in southwest New Mexico. Our nights stay will be at a bed and breakfast in Tubac.  Early evening birding along the Anza Trail will give us a chance to see some early migrants and permanent residents such as Abert's Towhee. Day 2: We are on the road early again today  on our way to the border crossing west of Nogales. After procuring our tourist visas at the 21 kilometer checkpoint, we are off to the beach. Lunch will be at the Sea of Cortez in San Carlos where we will be treated to the likes of Magnificent Frigatebird, Blue-footed Booby, and Elegant Tern. Our afternoon drive culminates with our arrival in the tropical deciduous forest habitat surrounding Alamos, Sonora. Night: Cabanas at El Pedregal ( Day 3: Today we begin our birding in earnest with our morning spent along the Rio Cuchujaqui at Rancho El Guayabo, a property owned and managed by Nature and Culture International. Here we may encounter Sinaloa Wren, White-tipped Dove, Elegant Trogon,  Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, and the icon of the foothill forests-Black-throated Magpie Jay.. Following lunch in the field, we return to El Pedregal to rest under the palapa and watch the feeders for Streak-backed Oriole, Varied Bunting and Plain-capped Starthroat among others.  In the late afternoon, we head to the outskirts of town, to the Aduana arroyo for some late afternoon birding and chances for Red-billed Pigeon, Elegant Quail, and Mexican Parrotlet.  After dinner we may try for Western Screech Owl and Buff-collared Nightjar at the lodge.   Night: El Pedregal. Day 4: Before heading south from Alamos, we will bird Alamos arroyo where species such as Blue Mockingbird, Happy Wren and Squirrel Cuckoo regularly occur. Our destination is Rancho San Jose at the south end of the Sierra de Alamos.  After arriving, we will venture into one of the lush arroyos on the ranch  in an area where Purplish-backed Jay is known to occur.  We  will also have chances to see Lineated Woodpecker, Rufous-capped Warbler,  and possibly Lilac-crowned Parrot.  In the late afternoon we will drive on to the coast and our nights stay on Estero Agiabampo at the Navopatia Field Station.  We will look for Elf Owl in the nearby pitahaya cactus forest after dinner. Day 5: This morning we will cross the estuary to look for Mangrove Vireo on a nearby island.  The estuary itself is home to a diverse array of waterbirds and shorebirds.  Among many possibilities here we hope to find Gull-billed Tern and Roseate Spoonbill.   A two hour afternoon drive,  through desert habitat with the chance to see Bendire's Thrasher and Harris Hawk, will bring us to another Spanish colonial town, El Fuerte, which serves as our jumping off point for the Copper Canyon. Night: Hotel Rio Vista ( Day 6: This morning we are off to catch the east-bound train into the heart of the Copper Canyon. While we wait for the train to arrive at the station, 6 km outside of town, we have the chance to see several thorn scrub species including Rufous-winged Sparrow and Ruddy Ground Dove. The four and a half hour train ride gradually ascends through some of the most spectacular canyon country on the planet. Early afternoon finds us at the Bahuichivo Station at an elevation of 5500 feet. Following lunch at nearby Hotel Paraiso del Oso, we will explore the pine oak habitat adjacent to the lodge. Species such as Brown-backed Solitaire and White-striped Woodcreeper occur regularly a short walk from the lodge. Following dinner at the lodge, there will be an optional excursion to look for Whiskered Screech Owl. Night: Hotel Paraiso del Oso ( Day 7: Today we board the lodge’s van for an adventure that will take us to the bottom of the nearby Barranca de Urique. First we must climb over the 7500’ Mesa del Arturo. In the high pine forest there we expect to have close views of Mountain Trogon and Crescent-chested Warbler. As we descend into the canyon itself, the vegetation quickly changes. In the pine oak zone that we will first pass through, we may see Spotted Wren, Red-headed Tanager and White-eared Hummingbird. Further down in the canyon, Lesser Roadrunner and Berylline Hummingbird are possibilities. Following lunch in Urique (elevation 1900’) we will head north of town into a lush canyon along the Naranjo Road.  Species such as Flame-colored Tanager, Five-striped Sparrow, Black-vented Oriole, Colima Pygmy Owl, and Rufous-backed Robin can be found here. Night: Hostal Entre Amigos, Urique. Day 8: Today’s morning excursion takes us 20 minutes south of town to the nearby village of Guapalaina. There we will hike into a dramatic side canyon called Arroyo Hacienda. In recent years, we have had some remarkable sightings in this area including Military Macaw, Eared Quetzal,  Golden Vireo, and Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush. With canyon walls rising steeply hundreds of feet above us, this is surely one of the most visually stunning stops on the tour. After lunch back in Urique, we begin our mile vertical ascent up out of the canyon. Night: Paraiso del Oso. Day 9:  We will hike several side canyons in the Cerocahui area today.  Slate-throated Redstart, Russet Nightingale Thrush, White-throated Robin,  Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Mexican Jay, Bridled Titmouse, and Rufous-capped Brushfinch are among the many species we hope to encounter today.  Night:  Paraiso del Oso Day 10: Following breakfast at the lodge and a farewell to the Magnificent Hummingbirds at the courtyard feeders, we are off to the Rio Cuiteco, a lush side canyon near the town of Bahuichivo. During our morning birding, we have an opportunity to see Gray-collared Becard, Gray-crowned Woodpecker, Black-headed Siskin, and the scarce Hooded Grosbeak.  We even have another chance for Eared Quetzal.   Lunch will be in the field as we will use all of our time up to the departure of the west-bound train for birding. Our descent back to the coastal plain through the western slope of the Sierra Madre will look very different to us because of the afternoon light. Rolling back into El Fuerte at sunset, we often see Crested Caracaras settling in for the night on the giant cacti near the train tracks. Night: Hotel Rio Vista.where we can usually call in several Pauraques from the hotel balcony. Day 11: This morning we will do a morning float on the Rio Fuerte, the river that drains the entire Copper Canyon region. At our boat put-in, east of town, we have the chance to see White-fronted Parrot, Bare-throated Tiger Heron and Grayish Saltator . The gentle river takes us past numerous Common Black Hawks and the ever-vocal Great Kiskadee.  Various heron and egret nests are visible in the towering cottonwoods along the shore.  As we drift by the slower side channels, we will be scanning the lily pads for Northern Jacana.  After bidding our friends at Hotel Rio Vista farewell, we are heading north to San Carlos.  We may stop at the Rio Mayo ponds in Navojoa to scan for Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.  Late afternoon finds us back at the ocean for our final experience at the Sea of Cortez.  The nearby sewage ponds at dusk can have surprises such as Groove-billed Ani, Least Grebe, and Bonaparte's Gull.  Night:  Best Western San Carlos Day 12:  We have our earliest wake-up call of the trip today-4:30am as we have 13 hours of driving to get back to Santa Fe.   Desert birding  north of Hermosillo and an hour of afternoon birding at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, NM.  with be our only birding stops on this big travel day.  For those flying out of Albuquerque, we will drop you at your hotel before we continue on to Santa Fe. $2,795 per person double occupancy: $300 single supplement
Copper Canyon Triplist March 2007
Copper Canyon Triplist March 2008
Copper Canyon Triplist March 2009
Copper Canyon/Alamos/El Fuerte Trip List  March, 2011