Birding, Wildlife & Plants

A survey of birders by Birder’s World found that Southeastern Arizona is the number one spot to see birds (October, 2002)

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker & Swallowtail Butterfly

BirdingIn the heart of Cochise Stronghold Canyon… a peaceful mountain retreat awaits you

  • Relax, renew, romance.
  • Walk trails through evergreen oak, juniper, madrone and manzanita woodlands.
  • Watch for wildlife such as deer, javelina, coatimundi, fox, ringtail cats, badger…
  • Stargaze clear night skies far away from any other lights while soaking in the hot tub.
  • Explore sculptured stone formations rising to 7,500 ft, climb world-class ranked granite cliffs and peaks.
  • Birdwatch from the shade of a large tree or your private patio.
  • Enjoy the comforts of sustainable design.
  • Hike to nearby ancient rock art, investigate local ecology, geology, history.
  • Celebrate nature and spirit in a land of immense beauty!

Cochise Stronghold Retreat is…

  • A magical place encircled by mountain peaks and lush native vegetation.
  • Secluded and quiet; surrounded by 64,000 acres of evergreen forest.
  • A wilderness destination in the wild, wild west; off the “beaten path”.
  • Cooler, located at a 5,000 feet elevation in the Dragoon Mountains.
  • A friendly, welcoming, peaceful sanctuary.

The upper-Madrean, manzanita, madrone woodlands in Cochise Stronghold Canyon provide abundant habitat for a plethora of birds. Colorful year round residents (cardinals, acorn woodpecker, Mexican blue jays) along with at least another 100 species of migratory and seasonal birds entertain at bird feeders, watering stations and soaring overhead. Guests are often amazed to watch over a dozen species at a time without even stepping outside.


The sweet, fragrant blossoming of manzanita bushes in February signals the return of the hummingbirds, whose numbers peak in late summer, early fall. The turkey vultures return each March, soaring in the canyon updrafts and roosting in tall Arizona Cypress snags. Some 20,000 sandhill cranes, return to the valley, at the Sulphur Springs playa, as early as late October and remain until late February, marking another special time of the year.

“As a wildlife photographer, there really is no better place to watch and photograph birds than right here at Cochise Stronghold B&B. My wife, Melanie, and I try and get over from Tucson to the B&B every couple of months or so.” Richard Fray, Wildlife Photographer.

See more of Richard’s Arizona Wildlife Photos and in particular, Richard’s scenic shots from Cochise Stronghold, A Canyon Nature Retreat and the Dragoon Mountains.


The abundance of wildlife in this wilderness region is spectacular. Hunting is not allowed in Cochise Stronghold Canyon. Everyday we see deer, mostly white-tail but sometimes mule deer as well. The mammals that regularly visit include javelina (peccaries), two striped skunks, jack-rabbits, ring tailed cats, ground squirrel, gray fox. On rare occasions we have seen mountain lion, ocelot, bobcat, badger, and coatimundi.

In the warmer months, blue collared lizards and a gecko live on the outside walls of the Retreat guest house and on the large rocks. Fortunately, rattle snakes don’t like to burrow in the granite sand which is what composes our soil, but they do live further away amongst the boulders and rocks of the mountain. After the monsoon rains in the summer (July and August) a chorus of frogs and toads is heard every night.


Nestled in an evergreen forest with lots of shade several species of oaks, alligator junipers, pinyon pine, canyon grape, mesquite, manzanita bushes provide abundant food for birds and wildlife. Manzanita berries (spanish for little apple) taste like tart apples, the brilliant burgundy colored bark is extremely attractive. Agave (century plants) were once an important food, fibre and medicine for the Apache, who with a great deal of ceremony, gathered, roasted and pounded their sweet tasting hearts into mescal cakes for drying. Note raw agave is poisonous, do not try even a nibble.

Blooms are seen on numerous and diverse native species of penstemon, salvias, sages, globe mallow, verbena, zauschneria, chocolate flower, evening primrose, poppies (including the white prickly poppy), trumpet vine, yucca, aloe, prickly pear, cane cholla, cacti, silk tassel, desert bluebell, honeysuckle, desert marigold, rabbitbrush, wooly butterfly bush, thistle and gallardia to name but a few.

On the moister canyon floor desert willow, hackberry, arizona ash and sycamore trees grow. Beautiful specimens of madrone, catclaw, mearn’s sumac, rhus yucca, agave, sotol and bear grass are all nearby.

Guide Books

Available for guests’ use are a large number of field-guides and natural history books to help in identification of local birds, mammals, plants and reptiles.