General Information 2020

Birding on fort huachuca: security and access information ​


If you are going onto Fort Huachuca, you will need to get an access badge in person from the Fort Security prior to getting on your van for your field trip. A reminder email will be sent when you register for a trip that goes onto the Fort.

The Visitor Control Center is open 24/7. It is on Hatfield Street at the Deman Gate. Park in the parking lot on the right and walk into the security building. In a few cases where your state drivers license is not Real ID compliant you will need to bring two government issued photo IDs, a drivers licence and passport will do. They will issue you a 30 day pass which allows you access into the Fort.  See Google map of the Center on Hatfield Street. Each registrant that signs up for a trip that goes onto the Fort will get a notification email. If you are not going onto the Fort you do not need this clearance. 


• Neither smoking nor the uses of sound equipment (except by the trip leader) are allowed on field trips.

• Each trip has a ‘Difficulty Number’ that describes the level of hiking required as follows: 

   1 – easy walking, no hills, or birding mostly by vehicle 
   2 - a little more vigorous, for example: a walk down a narrow path along the river 
   3 - more demanding physically, steeper grades - recommended that you are in good physical condition 

   4 - very steep, possible slippery hills to hike, for example: Miller Canyon, or big elevation changes we recommended that you are in good physical condition.

• Please remember you will be hiking at an elevation of 5 to 6,000 feet. Some of our trips will be looking for birds at over 7,500 feet. Please consider the altitude when you sign up for a trip. 

• Recommended equipment for all the field trips: hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable summer clothing, walking shoes (not sandals), and binoculars. For trips with difficulty 4, sturdy hiking shoes/boots are recommended. Brings shoes that can be used in the wet.

• Each van will carry extra water. Bring a refillable bottle and drink plenty of water, especially in summer.

•  Box lunch is provided on all overnight trips and on all day trips ending after 1:00 pm. Overnight trip prices includes lodging and all meals. During online registration you will be asked a lunch preference.

• We use “15” passenger vans, not buses, and limit the occupancy to 10 registrants plus one or occasionally two guides. These small groups ensure that people have exceptional access to our guides and that there is adequate space for food water and personal belongings such as scopes, tripods and cameras.

• Please respect the directions given by your guide. They are there not only to help find and identify birds but they are also there to keep you safe.

• Tipping the guides is allowed and encouraged. Guides work hard to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time. They act as both guides and drivers and they deserve credit and remuneration.

• Others in the Van. Plan on meeting Birders from all over the country. This is one of the best parts of the Festival. But please keep conversations to a minimum when looking for birds or when the guide is waxing on about some minutia.


We strive to provide exciting, challenging birding tours for all levels of birders.  Very often there will be several different “types” of birders on a tour.  To meet the desires of every person on the trip it is important for everyone to understand the following “rules of the road”. 

1. Come Prepared:

  • Acquaint yourself with the species of birds that might be present. This is especially true if you are a beginning or intermediate birder. There are many, many excellent field guides that can help you on your way. Birds of Southeastern Arizona by Richard Cachor Taylor is an easily packable book with good photos that features the birds of this region only. Birds of Arizona by Rick Wright, in the ABA field guide series is also very good. Sibley Birds West: Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America by David Sibley is also recommended, and is available as a smart phone app, but do not use the bird calls of trips. 

  • Know your physical limitations. The tours are not spent entirely in vehicles, there will be walking involved.Terrain varies by tour. We try very hard to accurately access the conditions of the trails and the physical ability required to be comfortable on the tour. Know your physical limitations. Sign up for appropriate tours so you don’t risk injuring yourself or delaying the rest of the tour group. If you have questions about the tour please contact us before registration so we can get more specific information to you.

  • Dress appropriately. Spring weather is not too hot but the weather in August can be very warm (in the 90’s). This is the monsoon season, so it may rain and thunder like crazy for a brief time, while cooling down. Despite warm temperatures, shorts are not the order of the day. As the saying goes everything in the desert bites, stings or scratches. When walking through grassland there are insects, thorns and rocks. Visitors are especially good at finding poison ivey and chiggers. Sturdy walking shoes or boots, long pants and comfortable cotton long sleeved shirts are recommended. You should wear a hat.

2. What to Bring:

  • Binoculars. You won’t have much luck seeing birds at a distance without them.

  • On overnight tours luggage space is very limited. A small backpack or satchel for your essentials is all you will need. Formal attire is not needed. 

  • Your Manners. Our tour guides are tops in their field and deserve your respect and attention. Limit your conversations to dulcet tones. Know when to be quiet. Turn off your cell phone once you get to the first stop. Take turns riding in the front of the van, Establish a rotation so everyone gets to experience the back and the front.

  • Eats and Drinks. We provide lunches and you can bring snacks and each van carries ice water.  Drink lots…Please.

We hope the above will answer most questions you might have. Please contact us if you have further questions.  We want you to have a very enjoyable time experiencing the beauty and birds of southeastern Arizona.

Thanks! We look forward to meeting you!


Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival is Arizona's oldest birding festival. We began offering trips in 1991. This is the premiere nature festival in Arizona, consistently voted one of the top 5 birding and nature festivals in the country. Southwest Wings Spring Fling is held in May each year. The Spring Fling offers guided trips to the many nearby birding hotspots in southeast Arizona. The Summer festival held in August is our big event with free programs, wildlife exhibits, vendors, guided trips and a keynote buffet. Southwest Wings is an educational celebration of the diversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects, in their environment; the sky islands in southern Arizona. The unique confluence of three climate zones ensures that the species count is high and many are only found in this area of the United States. We average about 200 species each festival. Our high elevation location guarantees moderate temperatures during our field trips.  

We offer small group trips limited to a maximum of ten people plus a guide. Our roster of guides include many professional bird guides from the area who know the birds and where to find them. 

Southwest Wings Birding Festival is a nonprofit educational organization, chartered as a 501(c)(3) under IRS guidelines. There are no members, only a board of directors, and therefore no membership dues to provide income. The two festivals are the major events put on by the group. Additional tax deductible donations to support the organization's goals are always welcome. The Southwest Wings mission is to promote nature-based tourism and environmental awareness in southeastern Arizona.Here are some of the projects we have funded.

Below is a list of some of our past supportive and educational gifting:

  • Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary (Mary Jo Ballator's)

  • $1,000 College Scholarship to local students interested in Natural Science.

  • Trail grooming equipment for the BLM maintenance of birding trails along the San Pedro River.

  • Fishing line recycle containers at Parker Lake State Park

  • Signage at Las Cienegas National Conservation Area near Sonita.

  • The Nature Conservancy Ramsey Canyon Kids Camp

  • Supported Student Hydroponics projects at Sierra Vista, Douglas and Wilcox

  • Supported Master Naturalist Program for Cochise County.

  • Carr House Video System

  • San Pedro House Bird Food Fund

  • Whitewater Draw Water Pumping 

jays bird barn logo.jpg
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Donors: Dutch Nagle, Angel Rutherford and Katherine Zellerbach

Susan Pearson, Joan Powell, Nasrun Mazuli

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Southwest Wings

Birding Festival

Sierra Vista, Arizona

© 2020

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