Marana, AZ – Birdwatching

This article authored by: Catherine Hallberg


The Town of Marana  extends along Interstate 10 from the line between Pinal and Pima County to the Tucson city line, except the area around the  community of Rillito. The town has a history of farming and ranching. The Tucson Mountains and the western half of Saguaro National Park are located to the south. Phoenix is approximately 90 minutes north via Interstate 10. Population is over 38,000

Though relatively small, you won’t be bored. For instance, there are several excellent sites for birdwatching.

El Rio Preserve (also known as El Rio Open Space and Marana Lake) is a great place to see riparian and grassland species plus raptors near the Tucson Mountains. During the rainy season, waterfowl and shorebirds are easy to spot. Great Blue Heron, Black-necked Stilt, Pied-billed Grebe and several duck species are just a few of the examples. During the dry summer months, Bell’s Vireos, Gilded Flickers, Lazuli Buntings, Gambel’s Quail, Roadrunners and even an Eastern Phoebe may be seen. Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Peregrine and Prairie Falcons inhabit the area near the Tucson Mountains where they can be spotted soaring near the ridge.

The Crossroads Park River Walk along the Santa Cruz River is a great place to see riparian species including warblers and during the summer evenings, hundreds of bats fly from under the Ina Road Bridge. It’s also a popular spot for cycling and taking leisurely walks.

Another opportunity to bird-watch is by the Tortilita mountains, a small rocky range near the Pima/Pinal County border. With elevations ranging from 2500’-4200’ you will be greeted by Junipers and Crested Saguaros. Several species of wrens, Cardinals, Brown-crested Flycatchers, Roadrunners, Gila Woodpeckers, Mockingbirds, Ruby- crowned Kinglets, Ravens, Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks inhabit this area. You may also be lucky enough to see the wild horses which run free as well as Sonoran Desert Tortoises and Gila Monsters.

Marana is well-suited to farming and this provides further opportunities to see Burrowing Owls which live in burrows along the irrigation ditches. You may even spot a youngster peeking out from the hole. Hawks abound in this area too. Hawk

Birdwatching is just one of the fun pastimes to enjoy. In my next segment, I’ll introduce you to some of the local Dude Ranches.

Rob and Catherine Hallberg are Associate Brokers with Long Realty, a Berkshire-Hathaway Affiliate and Southern Arizona’s largest Brokerage. Since 2008, they have been ranked in the top 5% to 8% of all U.S. REALTORS®. Send Rob and Catherine an email for a fast response to your questions; for an even faster response, Call (520) 407-8667

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