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Mexico Tours

Sonora/Copper Canyon

This is the itinerary for the tour dates:  March 09-March 23, 2024

Day 1: Tour departs from Tucson.  We cross the international border west of Nogales.  Once our tourist visas are in

hand, we head south through the Sonoran foothills and then the low desert on our way to San Carlos.  Roadside birding will include a stop north of Hermosillo in habitat suitable for Bendire's Thrasher and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.  Once we arrive at the coast in San Carlos we will visit a local estuary to take in the shorebird and large wader spectacle.  Night at Hacienda Tetakawi.

DAY 2:  This morning's outing will be on the open ocean in a sport fishing cabin cruiser.  The 3 hour trip will take us beyond Bahia San Francisco into pelagic bird territory.  Typically, we see both Black and Least Storm Petrels, at least one species of shearwater, and opportunities for Craveri's Murrelet, Red-billed Tropicbird, and a passing jaeger.  Following lunch we will check out a stretch of rocky shoreline for Surfbird and Black Turnstone.  Late afternoon will include desert birding at several settlement ponds near town.  Night at Hacienda Tetakawi.
Day 3:  Our birding begins with local birding in and around San Carlos including nearby Miramar Bay     Late morning we will make the 3.5 hour drive to Alamos, the base for our tropical deciduous forest birding for the next three days.  Late afternoon at the lodge may afford us our first looks at foothill regulars such as Thick-billed Kingbird, Streak-backed Oriole, and Social Flycatcher.  Optional owling after dusk. Night at El Pedregal
Day 4: This morning we will hike the nearby Aduana Arroyo.We will encounter some additional tropical deciduous forest denizens such as White-tipped Dove, Elegant Trogon, and Rufous-bellied Chacahlaca and  specialties such as Russet-crowned Motmot, and West Mexican Euphonia.  We have a decent chance for the scarce Lilac-crowned Parrot as well.  Higher up the canyon is our best chance to view Lineated Woodpecker and our only chance to encounter Ivory-billed Woodcreeper.  After lunch we will relax under the palapa at El Pedregal and watch the feeders for Broad-billed and Violet-crowned Hummingbirds and Varied Bunting among others.   After dinner we may try for Western Screech Owl and Buff-collared Nightjar at the lodge.   Night: El Pedregal.
Day 5: Today we head to Las Cabras along Alamos Arroyo east of town.  Bird diversity is usually high in this area.  We will search for White-fronted Parrot, Squirrel Cuckoo, Sinaloa and Happy Wrens, Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater, Ruddy Ground Dove as well as many western North American wintering species.  Mid afternoon we will head west past Minas Nuevas to Arroyo Aguamarina.  This is our opportunity to view the other large tropical woodpecker-Pale-billed, a species at the very northern edge of its range.   In addition, we look for Purplish-backed Jay at this location.  At sunset we head to Canon Cieneguilla south of town to call in Mottled Owl.  Night at El Pedregal. 
Day 6: This morning we depart Alamos, and head south to El Fuerte in the state of Sinaloa. Morning birding hike will be through Arroyo Mentidero to the Rio Cuchujaqui.  This is the western most tributary to the massive Rio Fuerte drainage in northern Sinaloa.  Being well into the dry season, there will just be pools of water at the deepest spots.  And here we will find the towering Sabinos-a member of the cypress family.  This is the haunt of the Bare-throated Tiger Heron, a strictly fresh water species.  In addition we will add to our Myiarchus flycatcher haul (Ash-throated most likely already seen around San Carlos) with Dusky-capped and Nutting's likely and Brown-crested a possibility.  Green Kingfishers will be foraging the shrinking pools.  In 2023 we were surprised by a pair of Wood Storks high in a dead Sabino.  We then embark on a 2.5 hour drive to El Fuerte with a stop, with our to go lunches from El Pedregal, at Centro Recreativo-a riparian oasis.  We have encountered both Virginia Rail and Least Bittern here in the past as well as various waterfowl on the lake.  Late afternoon finds us in the Rio Fuerte valley.  This broad flood plain straddles the impressive Rio Fuerte itself which drains the entire Copper Canyon region.  After dinner on the historic plaza in El Fuerte we will venture nearby to hear, and hopefully see, Common Pauraque.  Night: Hotel El Fuerte
Day 7: 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 8: 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, Blue Mockingbird, and Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush can be found here. Night: Hotel Escondido, Urique.
Day 9: 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 Berylline Hummingbird. 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 do roadside birding for the likes of Band-tailed Pigeon, Black-headed Siskin and possible Pine Flycatcher.  Night: Paraiso del Oso.
Day 10: Following breakfast at the lodge 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, Rusty Sparrow, Rufous-capped Brushfinch, American Dipper, Russet Nightingale Thrush, and the scarce Hooded Grosbeak.  We even have a chance for Eared Quetzal.   After lunch in the field we will return to Paraiso del Oso and bird near the lodge.  Post dinner excursion for Mexican Whip-poor-will.  Night back at Hotel Paraiso del Oso.

Day 11:  Our last morning to bird the pine/oak habitat in nearby El Cajon.  We may add species such as Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Blue-throated Mountain Gem, Slate-throated Redstart, and Red-naped Sapsucker.  After lunch we are on the westbound train to El Fuerte.    Night Hotel El Fuerte.
Day 12: This morning  birding east of town along the Rio Fuerte, we have the chance to see Elegant Quail, Northern Jacana, Great Kiskadee,  and a roost of Mexican Parrotlets.  Then we are heading west  with a stop in the agricultural fields west of El Fuerte for Orchard Oriole, Rose-throated Becard, and a possible encounter with Crane Hawk along the Rio Fuerte.  PM birding will take us to one of the three main reservoirs supplied by the Rio Fuerte.  Night Hotel El Fuerte
Day 13:  Today we head north with our main birding objective being the massive coastal estuary at Yavaros back in Sonora.  The array of shorebirds, gulls, terns, and long-legged waders is truly impressive.  Our shorebird haul alone may include hundreds of Marbled Godwit, dozens of Knot, Wilson's Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Gull-billed Tern, and even flocks of wintering Brant.  Afternoon drive of around 3 hours will bring us back to San Carlos.  Night Hacienda Tetakawi.
Day 14:  Our last full day in Mexico will be highlighted by a visit to Canon Nacapule in the nearby Sierra del Aguaje.  Our focus will be on desert species such as Gray Vireo, Costa's Hummingbird, Rufous-winged Sparrow.  Then we drive to Santa Ana, an hour south of the border, for our night stay at Hotel San Francisco.

Day 15:  We cross the Mexican border early for our drive either to Tucson or back to NM.  Via con dios

Cost:  $3,750 per person double occupancy: $500 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

Copper Canyon, 2015 Triplist

Copper Canyon/Southern Sonora TripList, 2016

Copper Canyon/Southern Sonora Triplist, 2018

Sonora/Copper Canyon Ebird Triplist 2023

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