Madera Canyon is a well-known birding hotspot in the nationally renowned birding area of Southeast Arizona. Madera Canyon is, without a doubt, unparalleled in its collection of specialty night-birding. If you want to be surrounded by Mexican Whip-poor-will’s in no time at all, go to Madera Canyon come nightfall. It became downright creepy how many birds we heard calling, some seemingly feet away. It’s even creepier when they all stop calling at once, and whatever predator they saw or heard, you haven’t because your puny human senses have lulled you into a false security thousands of feet up a mountain in the pitch of night.
You’re also bound to catch a Whiskered Screech Owl as well. We heard three owl species while hanging out in the canyon’s upper parking areas. The canyon roads are wide, well-paved and (unlike Carr Canyon) safe. I highly recommend Madera Canyon as your first stop on your Elegant Trogon quest, as well as your whip-poor-will and Whiskered Screech Owl searches. It’s easy to knock all the specialties out in one day (or even a couple hours). The surrounding area is also well-equipped with decent food (we had some great Vietnamese while waiting for the sun to set!), a movie theater (seriously, we found the trogon, then had a long time to wait until dark, so Iron Man 3 killed the time) and other civilized amenities you might not find near other birding hotspots of the area.