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San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area
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San Pedro Riparian NCA
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Highway 90 at Entrance Road

Overview

The San Pedro riparian corridor runs north-south through the dry desert region north of the Mexican border, providing a well-vegetated corridor for breeding birds and migrants passing through on their annual journeys. Cottonwood trees grow densely along the river, a 40-mile stretch of which is in the San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area, and grasslands beyond the trees provide additional habitat. Some 350 species of birds have been seen in the area.

Link to Map.

San Pedro Riparian NCA
Parking at San Pedro House

Description

The San Pedro River flows north from the Mexican border to the Gila River through the broad San Pedro Valley between the Mule and Huachuca Mountains. The riparian corridor is quite narrow, but it is densely vegetated with cottonwood and other trees and stands in stark contrast to the grasslands beyond the river and the desert scrub on the hills. This north-south oriented band of prime habitat provides a migratory corridor for birds moving north and south during their annual journeys between breeding and wintering grounds. Over 100 species breed in the riparian corridor, and others winter here using the trees and grasslands for food and shelter.

There are several places to access the riparian areas. Two good places are the San Pedro House and Hereford Crossing. In addition, the Sierra Vista sewage treatment plant offers opportunities to find waterfowl and other birds associated with ponds and cattail marshes.

San Pedro Riparian NCA
San Pedro House Visitor Center

San Pedro House, an historic ranch house, has been restored by the Friends of the San Pedro River and is used as a bookstore and visitor center. Trails lead from the house through grasslands to the river, and then along the river to abandoned agricultural fields, intersecting washes, and several ponds.

Hereford Crossing is a bridge over the river near Hereford. There is a parking area on the east side of the river with trails to the river. The riparian area here is narrower than at the San Pedro House. There are grasslands northwest of the bridge where Cassin's and Botteri's Sparrow can be found during the summer monsoon season (July to September). The fields are good during winter for finches and sparrows too.

Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park is a typical sewage treatment plant with secondary and tertiary ponds with marsh vegetation. Shade structures and picnic tables on an elevated ridge provide an overview of the area.

San Pedro Riparian NCA
Desert Grasslands

Location

San Pedro House. The San Pedro House is located on the south side of Highway 90, about 7 miles east of Sierra Vista and just west of the river. Watch for signs to the parking area near the house.

Hereford Crossing. Hereford Crossing is a bridge over the river, about 20 miles southeast of Sierra Vista. From Sierra Vista, drive south on Highway 92 to Nicksville. In Nicksville, turn east on Hereford Road and drive out to the river. The parking area is just across the bridge on the south side of the road.

Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park (EOP). The sewage treatment plant is located north of Highway 90 at Kino Rd (watch for Animal Shelter signs). Driving north, the road becomes dirt for a few yards, then it is paved again. Follow the paved road signs around to the right and into the parking area.

San Pedro Riparian NCA
Verdant riparian corridor along San Pedro River

Hours

San Pedro House and Hereford Crossing: Always open. Trails in the riparian areas are always open.

Sierra Vista EOP: Seems to be open daily, Monday through Friday, during normal working hours. Vandalism has caused a reduction in hours.

Fees

None.

San Pedro Riparian NCA
Kingfisher Pond

Specialties

Gray Hawk and neotropical migrants. Thirty-six species of raptors (including Mississippi Kite, Common Black Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, and Crested Caracara) have be seen here. Other species include Green Kingfisher, Northern-beardless Tyrannulet, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Neotropic Cormorant, Wild Turkey, Montezuma Quail, Scaled Quail, Gambel's Quail, Black Swift, Plain-capped Starthroat, Elegant Trogon, Thick-billed Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Rufous-backed Robin, Baird's Sparrow, Cassins's Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, Orchard Oriole, and lots of warblers.

Watch for rattlesnakes too.

San Pedro Riparian NCA
Rattlesnake under feeder at San Pedro House

For More Information

Visitor information is available at San Pedro House or call the Sierra Vista Convention & Visitors Bureau (800) 288-3861, (520) 458-6940 for to a free Birding Guide. The BLM maintains an informative website.

San Pedro Riparian NCA
Entrance sign at San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Grounds at San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Bird feeders at San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Hiking trail along San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Hiking trail along San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Beaver dam along San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Cottonwood trees above San Pedro River near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Kingfisher Pond near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Kingfisher Pond near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Kingfisher Pond near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Kingfisher Pond near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Kingfisher Pond near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Desert Grasslands near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Desert Grasslands near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Desert Grasslands near San Pedro House
San Pedro Riparian NCA
Desert Grasslands near San Pedro House
more to come ...
  Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park
Entrance Sign at Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park (EOP)
  Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park
Entrance to parking at Sierra Vista EOP
  Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park
Walking up to wildlife-viewing platform at Sierra Vista EOP
  Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park
Shade and picnic tables on viewing platform at Sierra Vista EOP
  Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park
Cattails and open water seen from platform at Sierra Vista EOP
  Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park
Cattails and open water seen from platform at Sierra Vista EOP
  Sierra Vista Environmental Operation Park
Cattails seen from platform at Sierra Vista EOP
more to come ...

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120509

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