7447
Wickenburg
Birding in the Sonoran Desert: Cactus Wrens to Vermilion Flycatchers
The Sonoran Desert teems with wildlife specially adapted to its harsh environment. Discover the birds that call this place home and learn about their migration and nesting habits.
Rating (4.8)
Program No. 7447RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
999
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Wickenburg, AZ
D
Los Viajeros Inn

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:30-5:15 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar desk located adjacent to the hotel lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: 5:30 p.m. We will gather in our private meeting room where the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Field trips will be conducted by our Program Coordinator who is a trained naturalists and seasoned birder. Transportation for field trips is via university van. Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes on birding field trips. Sack lunches in the field will offer a variety of cold cut sandwiches plus fruit, bag of chips, cookie or granola bar. We’ll fill our personal water bottles each day. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At a local Wickenburg restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with a variety of options (including vegetarian and gluten free for those who requested when registering); beverages include iced tea, soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Birding at Date Creek, Birds of the Sonoran Desert
Wickenburg, AZ
B,L,D
Los Viajeros Inn

Activity note: The drive today is about 30 miles, approximately 40 minutes. Walking 1-2 miles over the day, periods of standing; uneven, unpaved surfaces.

Breakfast: At a local Wickenburg restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served meal with a rotating variety of choices such as scrambled eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, fresh fruit, whole grain toast, orange juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: For our first birding field trip, we’ll ride to Date Creek Ranch, dating from the 1870s. Today, it is a working, holistically managed cattle ranch that strives to be environmentally healthy, diverse, and socially responsible. The ranch is the transition zone between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, with habitat for a variety of flora and fauna. We’ll go birding at the headquarters area situated in a riparian setting of cottonwoods and willows, a walk of 1/2 mile along the sandy edge of the creek. We expect to see varieties of birds such as Vermilion Flycatcher, Phainopepla, Gila Woodpecker, Inca Dove, Gilded Flicker, Harris’ Hawk, and other desert species.

Lunch: In the field, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: Our birding field trip will continue until we return to the hotel in the mid afternoon.

Dinner: Local restaurant plated meal.

Evening: Our Group Leader will give a presentation on birds of the Sonoran Desert.

DAY
3
Birding at Burro Creek, Desert Wildlife Presentation
Wickenburg, AZ
B,L,D
Los Viajeros Inn

Activity note: The drive today is about 36 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking 1-2 miles throughout the day, periods of standing; uneven, unpaved surfaces.

Breakfast: Local restaurant plated meal.

Morning: En route to our birding field trip, we’ll ride along the Joshua Tree Scenic Parkway, where we’ll see one of only three Joshua tree “forests” in Arizona. These exotic looking, tree-like plants (Yucca brevifolia) are members of the lily family that can survive for centuries in spite of extreme temperatures and little rainfall. Reaching our Burro Creek destination, we’ll search out birds among mesquites adjacent to the creek as well as in surrounding desert vegetation. Look for Lucy’s Warbler, Bell’s Vireo, and Black-throated Sparrow, among other species. Swallows, raptors, and White-throated Swifts have been spotted along the high cliffs bordering the waterway.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the field.

Afternoon: Our birding field trip will continue until we return to the hotel in the mid afternoon.

Dinner: Local restaurant plated meal.

Evening: We’ll see a video presentation featuring desert wildlife — “Spring Comes to the Harcuvars” — filmed in the region's nearby mountains.

DAY
4
Birding at Hassayampa River Preserve, Desert Caballeros Mus.
Wickenburg, AZ
B,L,D
Los Viajeros Inn

Activity note: The drive today is a little over 7 miles, approximately 15 minutes. Walking 1-2 miles over the day, periods of standing; uneven, unpaved surfaces.

Breakfast: Local restaurant plated meal.

Morning: We’ll ride to the Nature Conservancy’s Hassayampa River Preserve. According to tradition, “Hassayampa” is an old Indian word that means “the river that flows upside down” — referring to the fact that it is partly below and partly above ground during its course down from the mountains. The river runs free and clear within the preserve. Some 280 species of nesting and migrating birds have been recorded in the Hassayampa Preserve. During our field trip we may see some migrating warblers, vireos, and orioles, as well as the resident Abert’s Towhee, Canyon Wren, Northern Cardinal, Gambel’s Quail, and Anna’s Hummingbird. These and other species of wildlife depend on riparian habitats that have become imperiled in the last century as wet landscapes have been damaged, degraded, or lost entirely.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the field.

Afternoon: We’ll ride to the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenberg for a docent led exploration. Founded in 1960, its collections and exhibitions promote an appreciation and understanding of art, history, and cultural heritage of the Arizona Territory. Fun Fact: Wickenburg is the birthplace of Arizona's official state neckwear, the bola tie.

Dinner: Local restaurant plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Birding at Yarnell & Walnut Grove
Wickenburg, AZ
B,L,D
Los Viajeros Inn

Activity note: The drive today is about 57 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking 1-2 miles throughout the day, periods of standing; uneven, unpaved surfaces. Elevation 4,800 feet.

Breakfast: Local restaurant plated meal.

Morning: We’ll leave the lower desert and take a scenic drive to a higher elevation (4,800 feet) where chaparral vegetation abounds amid granite boulders. While walking narrow paved lanes and a creekside trail in the town of Yarnell, we’ll look for species such as Bridled Titmouse, Bushtit, Western Scrub-Jay, Acorn Woodpecker, and Spotted Towhee. Our field trip will include travel through semi-desert grassland, where Western Meadowlark and Brewer’s Blackbird may be spotted, and a visit to a higher site on the Hassayampa River known as Walnut Grove. We’ll also stop to view water birds at some ranch ponds.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the field.

Afternoon: Our birding field trip will continue until we return to the hotel in the mid afternoon.

Dinner: At a local Wickenburg restaurant, we’ll have plated meals for our farewell dinner and a final night as a group to celebrate the many species added to our life lists. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: We’ll have a session with our naturalists for Q&A and reflections on our program of birding in the Arizona desert.

DAY
6
Birding in Congress, Program Concludes
Departures
B

Activity note: The drive today is about 20 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Walking 1-2 miles throughout the day, periods of standing; uneven, unpaved surfaces. Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. Commercial shuttle to Phoenix airport departs at 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Local restaurant plated meal.

Morning: For our final birding field trip together, we’ll ride to the small community of Congress, a former gold mining town, in search of the sought-after resident Pyrrhuloxia. Easy walking along a neighborhood road and in the local Tenderfoot Hill Park may also reveal species such as as Verdin, Curve-billed Thrasher, Cactus Wren, and other desert birds. We’ll return to the hotel after our field trip. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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