It’s a splendid season for watching waterfowl at urban wetlands around Tucson and taking in some brilliant autumn color as well — never mind that it’s winter.

Ducks, egrets and other water-loving birds float and fly over ponds at the Kino Environmental Restoration Project on the south side, where cottonwood trees were still showing brilliant autumn hues this week.

Other good sites for spotting waterfowl include the Sweetwater Wetlands near Prince Road and Interstate 10.


“Snowy egrets are not uncommon this time of year at sites like the Kino Environmental Restoration Project and Sweetwater, along with others in their family like great egret, great blue heron and black-crowned night-heron,” said Kendall Kroesen, urban program manager with the Tucson Audubon Society.

“Some of the commonest ducks (seen at the sites) are probably northern shovelers, American wigeons, ruddy ducks, mallards and ring-necked ducks,” Kroesen said. “Also numerous are American coots and common gallinules.”

In addition to waterfowl, he said, other birds often seen around urban wetlands include yellow-headed blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, Brewer’s blackbirds and great-tailed grackles.

“Of course there are many more, but those are some of the numerous ones,” Kroesen said. “It’s a very nice time of year to be out birding.”


Even though most autumn color disappeared from mountains around Tucson by early November, cottonwoods continued to display leaves of yellow and gold at the Kino Restoration site as of Wednesday morning. It’s not certain how the leaves might fare in the cold snap that has hit the area since then.

Remnants of autumn color also lingered this week on some trees along rivers and washes around the Tucson metro area.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz