Copper Canyon Tour


March 26-April 06, 2017

Day 1: Today we leave Santa Fe on our way to the Arizona/Mexico border. Anyone flying into Tucson should arrive before 1pm local time.  Our nights stay will be on the ocean in San Carlos, Sonora-a six hour drive from the Tucson airport.  Night at Condominios Pilar Day 2:  Our birding begins with a half day in and around San Carlos for both desert and estuary birding.  Desert finds may include wintering Gray Vireo and Cassin's Sparrow as well as residents such as Gilded Flicker and Rufous-winged Sparrow.  Estuary highlights may include Roseate Spoonbill, Elegant Tern, and Ridgeway's Rail while a survey of the bay will likely reveal Magnificent Frigatebird, Blue-footed Booby, and late wintering Pacific Loon.  In the afternoon we will make the 3.5 hour drive to Alamos, the base for our tropical deciduous forest birding for the next three days.  Night at El Pedregal Day 3: This morning we will hike the nearby Aduana Arroyo.We will encounter some foothill regulars such as White-tipped Dove and Rufous-bellied Chacahlaca and add specialties such as Russet-crowned Motmot and Scrub Euphonia.  We have a decent chance for the scarce Lilac-crowned Parrot as well.  After lunch we will relax under the palapa at El Pedregal 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 Alamos arroyo for chances for Purplish-backed Jay, White-fronted Parrot, and Mexican Parrotlet.  After dinner we may try for Western Screech Owl and Buff-collared Nightjar at the lodge.   Night: El Pedregal. Day 4: Today is our long day trip to Reserva Monte Mojino, a preserve east of Alamos owned by Nature and Culture International.  An "'0 Dark 30" (I won't say how early) departure will be needed for this ambitious day.  We will visit two ranches, El Guayabo and Palo Injerto, along the headwaters of the Rio Cuchujaqui.  Numerous foothill species at the extreme north end of their range can be encountered here including Military Macaw, Laughing Falcon, Linneated Woodpecker, Bright-rumped Attila,  and Rusty-crowned Ground Sparrow.  We will certainly find the icon of the foothill forests, Black-throated Magpie Jay, as well as regulars such as Happy Wren and Squirrel Cuckoo.  Night at El Pedregal. Day 5: This morning we depart Alamos, stopping south of town at Arroyo Mentidero for our last birding stop in the area.  Sinaloa Wren, Elegant Trogon, and Lesser Roadrunner may be found here.   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.  Late afternoon birding along the riverwalk here is a pleasant introduction to the area.  Night: Hotel El Fuerte Day 6: This morning we are off to catch the east-bound train into the heart of the Copper Canyon. 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 while the stone wall behind the lodge is home to a family of Spotted Wrens. 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, Crescent-chested Warbler, Painted Redstart and Olive 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 Scott's Oriole, Red-headed Tanager and White-eared Hummingbird. 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, Black-vented Oriole, Colima Pygmy Owl, and White-throated Thrush 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, Gray Silky,  Golden Vireo, Five-striped Sparrow, 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.  In the late afternoon we will explore the nearby El Cajon for Slate-throated Redstart and possible Pine Flycatcher.  Night: Paraiso del Oso. Day 9: 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, Rusty Sparrow, Rufous-capped Brushfinch, American Dipper, Russet Nightingale Thrush, and the scarce Hooded Grosbeak.  We even have a 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 El Fuerte where we can usually call in several Pauraques from the hotel roof. Day 10: This morning  birding east of town along the Rio Fuerte, we have the chance to see Elegant Quail, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Northern Jacana, Great Kiskadee, and Grayish Saltator.  Then we are heading west  with a stop in the agricultural fields west of El Fuerte for Orchard Oriole and White-collared Seadeater.  Our coastal destination is the Yavaros area.  Gulls, shorebirds, and terns abound here offering the chance to see thousands of Marbled Godwits and over a dozen other shorebird species including the declining Red Knot.  Another 3 hour drive brings us back to San Carlos.  We may have time to bird the local  sewage ponds at dusk with the chance for species such as Groove-billed Ani, Least Grebe, Common Gallinule, and Bonaparte's Gull.  Night:  Hotel Tetakawi Day 11:  Today is our only pelagic venture of the trip.  We will head a few miles out into the Sea of Cortez.  In the past, this trip has produced looks at both endemic storm petrels, Least and Black, as well as two shearwaters, Black-vented and Pink-footed.  As migration is in swing, we have chances for other pelagics such as Craveri's Murrelet, Red-necked Phalarope, Sabine's Gull, and Pomarine Jaeger.  Following the boat trip we will hit the road north for the US.  Our night will be at Amado Territory Inn south of Tucson. Day 12:  Before we drop off those flying out of Tucson, we will bird the grounds of Amado Territory Inn seeing local regulars such as Abert's Towhee and Lucy's Warbler.  After our stop at the airport, the remainder of the group will have the 7.5 hour drive back to Santa Fe. $2,950 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