Desert Botanical Gardens

The convenient central location of the Desert Botanical Gardens makes it an ideal place for visitors to Phoenix to see common desert species in a short time. The ease with which many of these birds can be appraoched makes it a good location for bird photography.

The Gardens are located off Galvin Parkway, between Mill and McDowell Streets, next to the Phoenix Zoo and Papago Park. Hours are 8 AM to 8 PM, October through April; 7 AM to 8 PM, May through September. Closed Christmas Day. Phone: 480/941-1217.There is an admission charge, with discounts for seniors and children. This is one of the few places where taxi service from Sky Harbor Airport would be reasonable; it's a mere 15 minutes away. Paved and dirt walks let the visitor stroll about in a leisurely manner. Resident birds include Gambel's Quail, Inca Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Gila and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers (as shown here), Gilded Flicker (if you don't see one around the parking lot walk the Desert Peoples' Trail), Verdin, Cactus Wren, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Curve-billed Thrasher, Abert's Towhee, and occasionally Loggerhead Shrike. Black-chinned Hummingbird and Hooded Oriole are possible March through September, while White-winged Dove is common from April through August. Lesser Nighthawks are active at dusk from April through September (and can sometimes be found nesting just off a trail if you are extremely lucky), and Elf Owls nest in saguaro cavities around the parking lot. In winter, White-crowned Sparrows are common, while Phainopeplas are found October through May, and Costa's Hummingbirds are most often seen November through May. Look in the large trees near the Archer House for migrant warblers and winter vagrants.

Since the Gardens open rather late by bird photoghraphy clocks, I usually just work the small mesquite trees around the parking lots before the gates open. Check the large Saguaro cacti along the main entrance walk for nests - birds here are very tolerant of people and this is always an advantage to photographers.

Official web site: