Wildlife Viewing in March
Phoenix and Central Arizona
Desert wildflowers typically peak during March-April, which is also the season for wildlife festivals! Gilbert’s man-made wetlands have grown famous lately for attracting a streak-backed oriole, and the annual Feathered Friends Festival at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve offers a chance to look for it. This is a great family event, also an opportunity to visit Audubon chapter booths to pick up event calendars, bird checklists and field trip info. While you’re there walk the trails around the percolation ponds and scan the shallow waters for stilts, phalaropes and herons.
Another worthy event is the Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festival, a weekend-long outdoor event that showcases the wildlife and habitat of the Gila River drainage in Avondale, west of downtown Phoenix. Beginner birding tours and nature walks are among the activities, and onthe-water tours allow a chance to see a heron rookery close-up.
Migratory waterfowl stop over to forage on their way north, crowding open water as ice begins to recede on high country lakes. Look for cinnamon teal and other waterfowl at Rogers Lake and the chain of Anderson Mesa lakes. Grand Canyon visitors can be rewarded with views of a California Condor (Navajo Bridge is among the best places to see these majestic giants in flight).
Tucson and Southern Arizona
Large numbers of singing Lucy's and yellow warblers mark the onset of spring as the cottonwoods begin leafing out. Gray, zone-tailed and common black-hawks begin to arrive along the large riparian corridors of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro Rivers. Bell's vireos are common and sing from mesquite bosques. Northbound swallow flocks congregate over ponds and early shorebirds begin moving through. Hummingbird numbers begin to increase and violet-crowns are reliable at feeders in Patagonia. Butterflies follow the wildflower blooms and begin to appear where nectar plants can sustain them – drive highways 181 and 191 and check the fields along the Sulphur Springs valley for the season’s first emergent queen and bluish-black pipevine swallowtails – or the delicate yellow jittery trail of a sleepy orange butterfly making the rounds… or maybe the elegant two-tailed swallowtail, our state butterfly. Southeast Arizona Butterfly Association offers field trips to Box Canyon in Pima County, Portal and Fort Huachuca’s famous Garden Canyon.