Birdwatching Exploration at Tanque Verde Ranch

AZ Nature, At The Ranch

Birdwatching is a common hobby among many cities, states, and countries—and believe it or not, right here at Tanque Verde Ranch. Whether you enjoy taking a leisurely look here and there or tracking birds hardcore with binoculars and a checklist, Tanque Verde Ranch offers the chance to explore these many beautiful, feathered creatures through informative nature hikes and seminars.

Birdwatching, along with many other things, has a fascinating history at the Tanque Verde Ranch. It all started with a man named Charles “Chuck” Corchran in 1970. Corchran and his team members studied population density, migratory movements, aging, and sexing criteria of birds in the surrounding area. Corchran and his team investigated 42 acres of the Ranch and started with 47 feeders and 14 birdbaths which were kept filled. They were a successful birdwatching and branding team for 12 years and have documentation of many bird studies. Throughout the 12 years, over 24,833 birds were studied and documented. The name of TVR’s Gambusi Lake was renamed to Lake Corchran after Chuck. Today, Tucson Audobon conducts surveys five times a year surrounding Tanque Verde Wash and the Cottonwood Grove barbeque area.

At the Ranch:
There are some activities listed on the weekly schedule that are directly ‘birdwatching’ activities called Bird Walks. On the fall schedule, Bird Walks are offered once a week and twice a week on the winter schedule. Also, the daily nature walks include a fair share of birdwatching along with vegetation and wildlife of the desert. However, many of the activities at the ranch may be filled with self-guided birdwatching; like horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, cowboy cookouts, nature center activities, and more. It is up to you to take it on and do the searching! You can find a Field Checklist to guide you on your birdwatch at the Nature Center or you can see it.

What to look for:
There are approximately 180 different variety of birds all year around the vicinity of Tanque Verde Ranch. There are many species of birds that stay all year long while there are also many birds that migrate. Some birds only stop through for a time before continuing to their final destinations. Your eyes are not the only things that can distinguish the birds, as many of the birds’ calls and songs differ. You can often tell the type of bird by the sounds it makes.

Some of the most common birds found at the ranch are the following:

  • Indigenous and Migratory Birds
  • Cactus Wren (Arizona State Bird)
  • Curved-billed Thrasher
  • Cardinal
  • Hummingbirds
  • Roadrunner
  • Pyrrhuloxia
  • Phainopepla
  • Vermillion Flycatcher
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Raptor Varieties
  • Turkey Vultures
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Peregrin Falcon
  • Cooper’s Hawk
    • Harris’ Hawk
  • American Kestrel<
  • Golden Eagle

This, of course, are not all the birds, but it is just to name a few of the most commonly seen at Tanque Verde Ranch.  

“I watched Great-horned baby owls grow. I watched the mother and father of the babies care for them. It wasn’t long after that that I witnessed them fledge and fly off.” Marcia, an informative and experienced Naturalist of the Nature Center at the Ranch, explained her most memorable experience of birdwatching.

Birdwatching is a fun and memorable activity that you can partake in whether self-guided, with an instructor, or both! Be sure to check-in at the Nature Center and grab your own ‘Tanque Verde Ranch Field Checklist of Birds’ and record your findings. Bring your camera, and binoculars to document your experience! You never know what you will come across and see.

Photos provided and taken by Marcia Warwick, Nature Center Manager/Naturalist.