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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Arizona: Owls and Warblers

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES: Non-U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa or visa waiver. Consult your nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy for details. Canadian citizens should carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport or birth certificate. U.S. citizens should bring some form of identification such as a driver’s license. 

COUNTRY INFORMATION: There is no U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information for the USA.  You can access the UK Government Foreign Travel advice for the USA at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on the United States at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html . 

PACE OF THE TOUR: Early mornings are always the best time for birding activity, and we will often be out in the field by 7:00 a.m., sometimes preceded by a drive of 30 minutes or so. Breakfast will usually be 6:00 to 6:30 a.m. When possible, we try to schedule a siesta during the hottest portion of the day. Much of the birding will be on roads and wider trails, and on one day, in search for Spotted Owl, we will hike a rocky trail up hill for about a mile (at above 6000 ft). On some nights, we will have post-dinner outings for owling and nightbirds. We will try to leave about an hour’s leisure time before dinner. 

HEALTH:  Arizona presents no real hazards to the visiting birdwatcher. 

Altitude:  Much of our birding is at elevations between 4000 and 9000 feet, and while we normally do not schedule anything strenuous at the higher altitudes, anyone with known cardiac or respiratory problems should consult his or her doctor before scheduling the trip.   We do one hike of about 1.5 miles round trip starting at an elevation of about 6000 ft and climbing to perhaps 6500ft but we take it at a very slow pace.  

Dehydration:  We urge everyone to bring a water bottle or canteen and to drink lots of water during the tour.  In the intense sun and low relative humidity of Arizona, it is easy to become dehydrated before you are even aware of it with resultant low grade headaches and loss of energy.  Drinking lots of water is the only sure way to avoid this, and fresh water will be provided in the van at all times.

Spiny Plants: The most common injury results from spines penetrating light weight shoes.  Almost every desert plant in Arizona is armed with thorns or spines and we recommend tough canvas or leather shoes of at least ankle height and tough (and preferably cool, light weight) trousers as the best safeguards. 

Smoking:  Smoking is not permitted in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc.  If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room.  If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group. 

Miscellaneous:  Rattlesnakes are not a hazard but one always needs to use common sense and be alert in desert areas.  We actively look for reptiles and feel lucky to see one rattlesnake per trip.  Scorpions are nocturnal and rarely seen, and the tarantulas often seen on the highways are not dangerous.  

Chiggers or biting insects may be encountered occasionally in moist areas, but are generally not an issue on spring trips to AZ.   

CLIMATE:  Temperatures rise steadily from March through June with little rain, although rain and anomalously cool temperatures are possible.  Much of the most interesting late spring birdwatching is in the deep mountain canyons between 4000 and 6000 feet where warm days and cool nights are the rule. At the elevations where we spend most of our time, the daytime highs average in the low 90°s F and nighttime lows average about 60-65° F, although we do spend some time at lower elevations where it can be 10 degrees warmer.  If you have any questions about the climate, please give us a call.  Cold fronts and unseasonable temperatures seem to be more common the last few years, so please prepare for some cool evenings in the mountains, with temperatures in the 40’s possible during owling excursions. 

ACCOMMODATIONS:  We stay at standard motels throughout the tour.  

FOOD:  Food is North American standard with most breakfasts and dinners taken at our accommodation or in in local restaurants. Lunches will be a combination of picnic lunches and local sandwich shop visits. We will include several good “Mexican” restaurants.  

Food Allergies / Restrictions:  We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times. Tour meal times are almost always approximate.  Participant who needs to eat according to a fixed schedule should carry supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION:  We will be traveling by leader-driven 12 or 15 passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size.  Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles.

Updated: 23 May 2017