In the tiny enclave of the human population that calls themselves birders it is well known that the Southern Arizona high desert provides some of the most numerous and diverse species in the United States. Sierra Vista, the largest of the impossibly small towns in this region that make up Cochise County, is often credited as the Hummingbird Capital of the USA. However, birders are sticklers for facts, and it is time that this classification is clarified. The truth is that the real Hummingbird Capital of the United States is the unincorporated community of Hereford, AZ. Like the birds that frequent this enclave near the Mexican border, it is preposterously small and wonderfully beautiful.
Within its borders reside the hummingbird meccas that avian aficionados make a pilgrimage to each year. Here is where you will find the Ramsey Canyon Preserve, a mountainside conservatory with a persistent running stream that is a sanctuary for migrating Hummingbirds, such as the Violet-crowned, and other rare species. The conservatory is often the temporary home to summering Flame-coloured Tanger, Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and other rarities.
It is in this small geographic arena where you can visit the Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary (formerly Ash Canyon B&B). Nestled in the Madrean Oak Woodland of the Huachuca mountains proprietor Mary Jo Ballator has created an oasis for rare birds, including the elusive Lucifer Hummingingbird which can be found feeding and foraging in the picturesque native plant garden. Montezuma Quail have also taken to stopping by the Sanctuary daily.
Hereford is home to Beatty's Guest Ranch and Orchard, one of the most reliable places in the country to find the Blue-throated and White-eared Hummingbirds. The Guest Ranch is a great base camp to begin an adventurous hike up Miller Mountain to see Spotted Owls and Red-faced Warblers. It is also home to a Northern Goshawk. Visitors can come for the day or, with its numerous cabins to rent, stay for a few.
And, it is in Hereford where one can find my favorite Hummingbird refuge; Battiste Bed, Breakfast and Birds. Located on a small private road, proprietors Tony and Julie Battiste have created here a hillside sanctum for both humans and birds. With its comfortable rooms, knowledgeable hosts and serene bubbling pond the B&B is a destination where a nature lover can unwind and relax while viewing a constant stream of winged wonders. At any time during migration any of the above-referenced species may stop by here, as well as Calliope, Rivoli and other montane favoring hummers. It is at the B&B where one can also see the worlds smallest owl, the Elf Owl.
I shot this image of a female Calliope Hummingbird feeding on a local plant at Battiste Bed, Breakfast and Birds. I was amazed at how tolerant the hummingbirds here are of viewers. Although I was using an 800mm lens, I was afforded a close range to view and shoot from.
My goal is not to start a controversy with this post. Instead, it is to promote the truth about the town of Hereford, a great places to bird in Southern Arizona AZ.
Keywords: Arizona, Birds, High Desert, Hummingbird, Nature, Wildlife
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