The Sonoran Desert in southeastern Arizona is a real paradise for hummingbird watchers. The area lies on the hummers' flyway between their northern nesting grounds and southern wintering locales and hosts over a dozen species. You could encounter up to 15 types during exceptional years, whereas the U.S. is home to 17. Some of these birds reside in the Grand Canyon State all year round. Yet, the prime time to catch a glimpse of these fascinating creatures is during the hummingbird migration from late April to early October. The population of saberlike beaks swells to tens of thousands between late July and early August.
Most common species
One of the most notable species is costa's hummingbird (Calypte costae), also known as the hummingbird of the desert. The bird breeds in the areas east of Tucson in early spring, but you can observe it year-round in the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Representative summer hummers include black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri) and broad-billed (Cynanthus latirostris) hummingbirds. Both nestle in the woods around Phoenix and winter in Mexico. Also, Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna) is frequently recorded near Phoenix and Tucson in fall and winter, and lately year-round. Finally, late July yields rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) and other rare types on their southbound migration.
High Country Hummers Festival (July 27, 2019)
Instead of making the extra effort to capture elusive hummers in the wild, an excellent alternative would be visiting one of the hummingbird festivals held at the height of migration. Drop by the annual High Country Hummers Festival at the Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area near Eagar, eastern Arizona. You'll be amazed at the swarms of cute wee birds feasting at artificial feeders.
Sedona Hummingbird Festival (July 30–August 1, 2021)
The Hummingbird Society organizes another festival at Sedona Performing Arts Center, 30 mi (50 km) south of Flagstaff, White Mountains. The bird feeders filled with sweet water attract 500 to 2,000 hummers daily. Besides the birding trips and self-guided garden tours, the events feature banding demonstrations, exhibits, presentations, and concessions.
Southeast Arizona Birding Festival (August 11–15, 2021)
Lastly, you'll find another celebration at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel near Reid Park, Tuscon. The festival focuses on different birds rather than hummers only. However, the event also presents a unique chance to see a rare lucifer hummingbird (Calothorax lucifer). The program includes birding field trips, nature expos, workshops, vendors, and kids' activities.
*Find more information on the festivals in the "External Resources" section below.