RFI Arizona, April 2013

Hi all

In late April I plan to visit Arizona for two weeks. The first week will be split between the Portal area and Medera Canyon in the SE of the state. I’ll then drive up to Seligman for a stab at Black-footed Ferret before returning to Phoenix for 4-5 nights.

There is already some fantastic information on mammalwatching.com, however I have several questions that I would appreciate some help with. I should mention that I’ve already visited the Grand Canyon so would prefer to see my targets in other places if possible.

Firstly, does anyone know any reliable sites for Abert’s Squirrel in the Flagstaff area other than the Arboretum (which will be closed to visitors at the time of my visit). Presumably they occur in any areas adjacent to the Arboretum? Any particular city parks I should check out?

 Secondly, any good sites for Bighorn Sheep within striking distance of Phoenix?

As I’m spending time in Phoenix (not all of it mammal watching, unfortunately!), I would appreciate suggestions for any local sites that are good for mammals and herps. I already plan to visit the Gilbert Water Ranch and the Botanical Gardens. 

I understand there is a large roost of Mexican Free-tails in Phoenix that can be watched emerging in the summer months. Are they likely to be back in late April?

Any other information on recent bat roosts/mammal sites in the Phoenix/SE Arizona/Flagstaff area greatly appreciated.

Kind regards

Mike Richardson         


  • Jon Hall

    Hi Mike, I’ve been told that Abert’s Squirrels are not uncommon in suburban Flagstaff. You could cruise around some of the leafier suburbs in the early morning and you might well see one (check out bird feeders too). Can’t help much with the other stuff I’m afraid.

  • Curtis Hart

    For Phoenix, I had better luck in the White Tanks and South Mountain than Estrella Mountains. I visited the Estrellas RP many times with VERY LITTLE luck. There is a small park of sorts on the Gila River, right next to Phoenix International Raceway. It’s the same driveway as one of the main gates. Woodrats of some sort and bats can be seen there at dusk. I saw Kit Foxes 2 nights in a row on back roads SW of Buckeye. I may be able to dig up exact locals, I’d have to look over some maps. All my info for Hidalgo County is in Jon’s AZ report. Good luck,


  • Alan

    Mike, where are you staying in Madera and Portal? We had good luck with bats at the humming bird feeders at night at Santa Rita Lodge in the canyon. Also, collared peccary are common at the cottage where we have stayed in portal (Quailway cottage) a great bird guide manages that cabin and may be able to provide you with other leads. I thought I saw someone post on here once that one of the small roads out of portal was good for cougar in the AM. It might have been Foothills Rd. We haven’t been back since I read that. Do stop at the desert museum in Portal if you are at all interested in seeing herps.

  • charleswhood

    According to a friend of mine in Tucson, for Bighorn Sheep,”People see them at Roosevelt Lake, which is just northeast of Phoenix.” How good this information is, I am not sure. / Charles Hood

  • Mike Richardson

    Thanks for the help everyone – it’s all very useful.

    Curtis – so long as it’s not too much trouble, I would appreciate a little more information on the Kit Fox sightings. Just a rough location/road name would be great. Also, what time did you see them?

    Alan – Nothing booked yet but we’re hoping to stay at Cave Creek Ranch and Chuparosa Inn. However, your suggestions also look like good choices. Should get our accommodation sorted over the next day or two. The desert museum sounds like a must see!

    Thanks again for all the advice


    • Curtis Hart

      Ok, I did some looking, one was on Agua Caliente Rd. I can’t find this name on Google Earth, but here’s a coordinate from it.
      N33 17’30.80″
      W112 57’51.90″

      This is not exactly where the fox was but close. I saw it twice once on the way in, and once on the way out. Around 8:00 pm on 11/8/10.

      The other was near Rainbow Valley Dairy.
      N 33 19 19 .67
      W 112 30 06.12 This is a rough estimate. It was somewhere on these back roads. I was on my way out when I saw this one, so most likely, shortly after dark.

      Your a herper as well right? I saw several Sidewinders and a Western Diamondback on Agua Caliente Rd.

      • Mike Richardson

        Thanks Curtis, much appreciated. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to check out those directions. And yes, I’m a herper too. A Sidewinder would be fantastic!

  • Paul Carter

    Hi Mike
    In late March I will be visiting some of the sites you mention and might have some updated info for you.

  • Mike Richardson

    Hi Paul. Updated info would be great! Good luck with your trip.

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