Birding, Wildlife & Plants
Birder’s World found that Southeastern Arizona is a number one place to see birds
The upper-Madrean, oak, juniper, manzanita, madrone woodlands 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. You might be amazed to view over a dozen species without even stepping outside.
- blossoming manzanita bushes in February signal the return of the hummingbirds, whose numbers peak in late summer, early fall.
- turkey vultures return each March, soaring in the canyon updrafts and roosting in tall Arizona Cypress snags.
- Thousands of sandhill cranes, return to the Sulphur Springs Valley, as early as late October, remaining until February.
“As a wildlife photographer, there really is no better place to watch and photograph birds than right here at Cochise Stronghold Retreat. ” Richard Fray, Wildlife Photographer.
The Sky Islands are famous for their abundant and diverse wildlife. Hunting is not allowed in the Canyon. Everyday we see deer, mostly white-tail but sometimes mule deer. 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 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. Agave (century plants) were once an important food, fibre and medicine for the Apache, who gathered, roasted them. 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.
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.