Thursday, September 19, 2019

Photographing Birds in Madera Canyon, Arizona

Madera Canyon is located in the Coronado National Forest, about a 90-minute drive south from where I live in Tucson.  It is a world famous location for bird sightings and is especially known for its varieties of hummingbirds.  There are hiking trails and picnic areas but only rudimentary facilities, and there is a daily use fee.  It’s an easy day trip from Tucson.

Since Madera Canyon is at an elevation of almost 5,000 feet, it is particularly nice to go there during the summer as an escape from the heat of Tucson.  I recently went to Madera Canyon with the local photo club I belong to.  They have done outings to Madera Canyon in the past but this was the first time I was able to go.  We drove down and arrived around 9:30am at the Santa Rita Lodge’s Bird Viewing Area.  This is a great place for photographing hummingbirds because a series of hummingbird feeders is lined up and it is easy to set up a tripod.  There are also a few benches and a covered area that make it comfortable for when you want to get out of the sun or take a break from using your tripod. 

I set up my gear and started shooting.  I won’t go into the details of what settings and lenses I used because that is not the purpose of this post.  But I will say that since this was the first time I’d ever tried to photograph hummingbirds, and I am still learning how to use my new camera, I was very glad there were experienced photographers who could help me when I had questions.

I am not a birder so I have no idea what kind of hummingbirds I saw.  I just tried to get photos of different varieties of birds and of birds in different positions.  These photos show some of the many images I took.  While they may not be professional quality, I am happy with them.

In addition to hummingbirds, we also saw turkeys.  At one point, I counted 13 of them!  I also saw a woodpecker, which was nice.  Here are a few photos of those birds.

Now that I’ve gotten a taste of photographing hummingbirds, I want to keep trying so I can improve my images.  I will definitely return to Madera Canyon to photograph hummingbirds again.

You can see a few more of my hummingbird photos on my Instagram account HERE.

To find out more about Madera Canyon, please click on the links below: 

Visiting Madera Canyon
Information from the USDA Department of Agriculture: Forest Service, which oversees the area

Friends of Madera Canyon
Detailed information for visitors

Types of Birds Seen in Madera Canyon
Info provided on Santa Rita Lodge website

Santa Rita Lodge's Bird viewing Area
Scroll down the page to see the location of the viewing area