14 September 2007

Madera Canyon, AZ

Madera Canyon is located about 30 minutes south of Tucson, Arizona. Southeast Arizona is known for it's habitat diversity, largely due to the small mountain ranges that create "sky islands" in the desert. Madera Canyon is part of one such sky island in the Santa Rita Mountains.

As an example, Green Valley, a large town just outside Madera Canyon, is at an elevation of 2900', and has a typical AZ summer climate (average highs in the low 100's). Madera Canyon starts around 3500', and goes up to about 6000' before turning into a mountain side, and rising to 9500' at the peak of Mt Wrightson. Within this area, landscape starts arid with Saguaros and other desert plants. It slowly turns into more dense 'scrub', then Junipers and Oak, then pines, firs, and spruce. All of this habitat means that in a matter of a few miles of each other live lizards, snakes, mountain lions, deer, bear, tropical birds, and northern/temperate birds.

Below are a few of the animals and insects seen on a September trip to Madera.

Black Bear

Yarrow's Spiny Lizard

Orange Sulphur Butterfly

Horse Lubber Grasshopper - This was Giant!

Elegant Trogon

California Sister Butterfly

And here are a few other photos from my May trip to Madera Canyon.

Elegant Trogon

Painted Redstart

Brown Crested Flycatcher

Black-Headed Grosbeak

Magnificent Hummingbird

Flame-Colored Tanager


  1. Mike,
    Your pictures are wonderful! I was especially interested in the peach faced love birds: are they native there? They have them at the localpet store and I would love to have some, but they're really expensive.
    Sue in Boulder

  2. The Peach-Faced Lovebirds are not native, but they are breeding here. There have been documented populations (originally started from escapees) for a few decades, according to local sources.