Birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park – Patagonia, AZ

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For bird lovers, being able to spot 90+ species from the same place in a few days’ time is an exciting experience. It’s especially rewarding if some are species you rarely see, or are perhaps, even a first time sighting. Birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park in southeastern Arizona provides exactly this type of exceptional birdwatching opportunity. Greg and I have camped there twice now, and even though we’re both fair weather birders, we still got an exhilarating rush of adrenaline from some of the birds we saw.

birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park

The late afternoon sun showed off the beautiful coloring on this Greater Roadrunner. Image credit: Greg Todd

A Little About Patagonia Lake State Park

Patagonia Lake State Park is located in Patagonia, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Tucson, just north of the Mexico border. It lies adjacent to the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, which is situated within a transition zone between the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. The area is home to seven distinct vegetative communities, which provide habitat for dozens of avian species. It is this varied environment within such a small geographical area that makes birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park such a worthwhile activity.

birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park

This Pyrrhuloxia was one of several that liked to hang out on the platform feeder at the end of the birding trail in Patagonia Lake State Park. Image credit: Greg Todd

birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park

Although relatively common, this Curve-Billed Thrasher made quite an impression perching on a nearby Prickly Pear cactus. Image credit: Greg Todd

Birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park

Birdwatching is excellent almost anywhere within the Park or Natural Area. However, there is a short birding trail that terminates at a spot on the southeastern bank of Patagonia Lake. The Park Service has installed multiple bird feeders of various types which attract a wide variety of seed-eating and nectar-feeding birds. There is plenty of room to set up your tripod and even a bench to relax while enjoying the wildlife.

birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park

If you’re lucky you just might catch a glimpse of a Vermilion Flycatcher while birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park. Image credit: Greg Todd

Birding Programs Hosted by the State Park Service

Bird walks and avian boat tours are offered at various times on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The bird walks are led by a State Park Ranger and are free of charge. Boat tours have a small fee of $5 per person. Check with the Park office for the current tour schedule to make the experience of birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park even more special for you and your family.

Do you enjoy birdwatching? What is the most interesting bird you have ever seen in the wild?

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103 thoughts on “Birdwatching in Patagonia Lake State Park – Patagonia, AZ

  1. Greg Todd

    Patagonia State Park was a wonderful discovery for us! It is relatively unknown and, therefore, quiet and peaceful. The trail continues on outside of park boundaries and follows the lake shore and Sonoita Creek. I ran into numerous different species of duck and other water fowl, as well as land-based birds.

    It’s well worth an extended day stay or just a day trip.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I should have let you write this one since you were the one who did all the leg work. But I agree – it is a very peaceful place to camp, especially this time of year.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Stacie – I became a “backyard birdwatcher” after I had cancer surgery several years ago. I wasn’t supposed to exert myself in any way, so we set up my bed in the living room (rather than upstairs). My husband hung a bird feeder in my line of sight so I could watch the birds as I lay in bed. That feeder became two … and then three. We’ve had as many as 17 at a time!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I know! Greg saw several Vermilion Flycatchers the first day we were camping but he didn’t have his camera with him. So the next day he went out fully equipped, tripod and all, and didn’t see a one! On the third day he hit pay dirt though. They are gorgeous birds!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Jordan – Roadrunners are awesome! I will never forget the first one I saw in the wild. By my reaction you would have thought it was a black rhino or similar!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      We have a home in AZ as well. I don’t see many birds at home either (just what some birders refer to as “junk birds”). But when we get out to areas that have decent cover, we see a lot.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Lisa – We love Arizona. Most people don’t typically think of AZ for wildlife viewing, but if you know where to look it can be quite plentiful

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Victoria – Taking the photos is generally Greg’s job – I’m really terrible at it! He took all these and did quite well, I think!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Annemarie – Thank you on behalf of Greg – he took all those photos. This was actually a camping trip that we added birdwatching to. That’s one of the great things about birdwatching … you can do it from just about anywhere.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Jennifer – I don’t know how it is the rest of the year, but we went twice in the wintertime and it was really nice. It wasn’t crowded at all and everything was very peaceful.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I got my grandson a window bird feeder and beginner’s birding field guide for his second birthday. He loves it!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Nicole – I think you would be surprised how quickly you learn the common species in your area. After a while you can recognize them by the way they fly, perch, or sound.

  2. Maggie Branch

    Patagonia State Park seems like a wonderful place to visit! Those birds are beautiful and it seems like they would be very fun to watch in their habitat.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, Maggie, was when we lived in Spokane, WA. A female quail had been visiting our yard and eating the seed dropped on the ground by other birds. Then one day in the spring, we saw that she had several chicks when she brought them all to our yard to eat!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Because we live in Arizona, I see them fairly often. But until I saw Greg’s photos, I never realized how colorful they are!

  3. Kelli @ 3 Boys and a Dog

    This would be a great hobby and would love to do it when I have more time on my hands! It’s hard to be still and search for them when you have little ones running about and pulling on your arms! lol Enjoy seeing the pictures, thank you for sharing!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Kelli – I can totally relate. I have two toddler grandsons and I can’t imagine taking them both birdwatching at the same time. I’d be having to use my binoculars to look for my two-year old!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      They are really neat birds, Bonnie. They truly do “run on the roads.” If you approach one, it will likely run away from you rather than fly, like most birds.

  4. Kathy

    Those are some beautiful birds. Your photos are amazing!! I would love to visit this place sometime. I love watching all kinds of birds. I take photos all the time of birds. They’re so beautiful to see.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I’m not a very good photographer, but I have taken hundreds of pictures of birds … just trying to get that one perfect shot! (Greg took the photos in this post.)

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      That’s another good thing about birdwatching, Rose … if you travel far enough, you’ll have an entirely new variety to view.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Ann – I’ve never been on an actual birdwatching trip before, but I often do some birdwatching when I’m at a birding-worthy location.

  5. CourtneyLynne

    Omg what a beautiful place to visit!!! I would love to go to a park and be able to spot all these birds. Incredible

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      CourtneyLynne – Depending on where you live, you can probably spot several species from your own yard!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Jenny – Have you ever spent any time observing birds? It’s actually quite an interesting activity. Give it a try!

  6. Lisa Rios

    I am just loving those cute & beautiful birds so much. Both me & my husband loves bird watching & he used to shoot some amazing photographs when ever we had a chance to visit such parks. Would love to visit this beautiful place with him.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Ed – We didn’t see any hummers at all when we were there, but they had several feeders out. Also, in the list on their website that shows all the species spotted from the previous few days, I know at least the ruby-throated was on there. And I think there may have been at least one other hummer species, too.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Clara – I agree. We actually just stumbled onto it. We went there to go camping and while there saw that it was regionally famous for its variety of birds.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      They are so gorgeous! You can identify them immediately, too, as they fly by because they are so brilliant!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      The good thing abut birding, Agnes, is that you don’t have to spend a long time to get pleasure from it. Even a simple walk in the park can produce several species in just a few minutes.

  7. Patrice M Foster

    Bird watching seems like an interesting pass time. Unfortunately I don’t have the time. A great hobby a walking in the park or woods so peaceful I can imagine all the beautiful birds passing by daily. Love your images!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Terri – I LOVE birdwatching with my grandsons! As a matter of fact, for my first grandson’s second birthday I got him a window-mount bird feeder. He always gets so excited when he sees a bird eating from it. And that was at 2 years old.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I love to hear stories about kids who enjoy nature activities! And birdwatching is something even young children can excel at!

  8. Elizabeth O.

    That’s something fun to do with the kids or a simple date with the hubby! The birds are all fascinating, my favorite would be the vermillion flycatcher!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I love watching birds with my grandsons, Elizabeth. They learn so fast and have such a natural curiosity!

  9. K. Lee Banks

    Thanks for sharing the great pics to accompany the post – love that vermillion flycatcher -so pretty! Yes, we love watching birds coming to our feeders – we have some in our back yard that we can see from our den window, and more off the livingroom, that we see through the picture window.

    Our cats love to watch birds, too! We especially love seeing the cardinals and goldfinches, and we also get hummingbirds during warm weather – so fascinating!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I love springtime when the male goldfinches first start showing their breeding plumage. They are so bright and beautiful!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Debbie – I think the specific joy in Patagonia State Park is the massive variety of species they have. There are times that in just a couple of days you can see nearly 100 different birds!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I agree, Sabrina. Even birds that locals often call “junk” birds are beautiful to me. For instance, I just love pigeons – they can be so beautiful!

  10. Colette S

    I love bird watching and listening to their tunes.
    I find when I look at these creatures that I think about how awesome God is.

    These photos are lovely!
    Thanks for sharing

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Their songs are lovely, aren’t they, Colette? I’m in Fiji right now and these birds are not shy at all about singing in public. They are quite vocal.

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