Patagonia Lake State Park

Location southeast Arizona
Dates: February 20-21, 2011

Patagonia Lake

Patagonia Lake State Park is in southeastern Arizona about 50 south of Tucson and 10 miles north of Mexico. The park is just south of the Santa Rita Mountains and Madera Canyon.

Black phoebe

What Patagonia Lake is known for, and the reason of my visit, is that in recent years it has been the winter home of a single male elegant trogon.  The elegant trogon is a beautiful bird native to this corner of Arizona and sections of northern Mexico.  Like much of this part of Arizona, the park also regularly has other birds that are a rare sight in the United States.

Northern shovelers

I arrived late on an unusually cold and windy February afternoon, set up camp, and walked around the lake to see what birds I could find.  But because of the weather I was only able to see some waterfowl and grackles.

Say's phoebe

The next morning I went on a guided walk around the upstream end of the lake.  These walks are free and offered weekly for part of the year.  The guide pointed out all of the birds that were active, which were much fewer than usual because it was still quite cold out, but at least it was sunny and calm.

American coot and a mallard

After the walk was over I continued to explore around the area in search of the trogon, but never found it.  My most exciting find of the visit was the vermilion flycatcher.  This section of the park is heavily overgrazed, and cattle roam freely among much of the area.

Ruddy duck

An incomplete list of birds I saw at Patagonia Lake State Park:
  - American coot
  - Bewick's wren
  - Black phoebe
  - Black-throated sparrow
  - Blue-gray gnatcatcher
  - Bridled titmouse
  - Cinnamon teal
  - Common merganser
  - Common yellowthroat
  - Cordilleran flycatcher
  - Double-crested cormorant
  - Gila woodpecker
  - Green-winged teal
  - Great blue heron
  - Great-tailed grackle
  - House wren
  - Ladder-backed woodpecker
  - Lesser scaup
  - Mallard
  - Marsh wren
  - Northern mockingbird
  - Northern shoveler
  - Phainopepla
  - Red-winged blackbird
  - Ruby-crowned kinglet
  - Ruddy duck
  - Say's phoebe
  - Tree swallow
  - Vermilion flycatcher
  - Violet-green swallow
  - Western grebe
  - Yellow-rumped warbler

For more on birding in southeast Arizona see my posts on Madera Canyon and Saguaro National Park as well as the video below.

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.


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