Arizona Wildlife Conservation Strategy

Sonoita Creek TNC Preserve COA

This Important Bird Area (IBA) lies in the floodplain valley between the Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains of southeastern Arizona and contains some of the richest remaining riparian habitat in the region. The Fremont cottonwood-Goodding’s willow forest within the preserve is a rare example of what once dominated Arizona’s river and stream corridors. Sonoita Creek provides for a wide array of diverse species from endangered fishes to butterflies and birds. An exceptionally diverse assemblage of riparian associated bird species have been documented, including nesting gray hawks, yellow warblers, Lucy’s warblers, Abert’s towhees, and Bell’s vireos. The Preserve is visited by thousands of people every year seeking to see and experience its rich natural diversity. Also within this IBA is the Tucson Audubon Society’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, a premier birding destination. The Nature Conservancy actively manages the Preserve for its wildlife and habitat values, and the site serves as an outdoor classroom for several innovative environmental education activities.

Conservation Goals

  • Maintain and enhance habitat integrity and diversity, and unfragmented habitat that provides adequate forage or prey, cover, and water for healthy wildlife populations.
  • Conduct monitoring and targeted removal efforts to limit establishment and spread of invasive species.
  • Maintain and increase surface water quality and quantity to improve rare riparian habitats for wildlife, both common and SGCN.
  • Maintain hydrologic research and monitoring and ensure groundwater pumping does not adversely affect the subflow zone.


Primary Threats

3. Climate Change and Severe Weather

3.2: Droughts

4. Residential and Commercial Development

4.1: Housing and urban areas

6. Energy Production and Mining

6.2: Mining and quarrying

9. Natural System Modifications

9.1: Fire and fire suppression

Potential Conservation Actions

1. Land and Water Protection

1.2: Resource and habitat protection
  • Develop conservation easements on public or private lands in order to maintain and protect wildlife corridors.

2. Land and Water Management

2.1: Site/area management
  • Conserve or improve areas for migratory birds identified as important habitats during any part of their annual life cycle (breeding, stopover, or wintering).
2.3: Habitat and natural process restoration
  • Work with public partners and private landowners to maintain/improve surface water for wildlife.
  • Conduct monitoring and targeted removal efforts to limit establishment and spread of invasive species.

3. Species Management

3.1: Management of specific species of concern
  • Maintain riparian habitats to support populations of western yellow-billed cuckoos and other SGCN.

7. External Capacity Building

7.2: Alliance and partnership development
  • Facilitate and fund collaborative organizations to support coordinated management of the watershed.
  • Partner with the mining industry to ensure environmental responsibility with any potential projects and minimize impacts to surface and subsurface water regimes.

Habitats Present

Strategy Species


Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Lowland Leopard Frog


Abert's Towhee, American Kestrel, Arizona Bell's Vireo, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Bullock's Oriole, Common Black Hawk, Costa's Hummingbird, Harris's Hawk, Hermit Thrush, Hooded Oriole, Lucy's Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Northern Flicker, Pine Siskin, Rose-throated Becard, Thick-billed Kingbird, Townsend's Solitaire, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Western Wood-Pewee


Lesser Long-nosed Bat, Mexican Long-tongued Bat, Ocelot


Gila Spotted Whiptail


See Associated Aquatic COAs for fish species.

Protected Areas and Other Areas of Conservation Value

  • Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve (TNC)

Potential Partners

  • Arizona State Parks
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Tucson Audubon Society
  • Sonoran Joint Venture
  • Arizona Land and Water Trust
  • Desert Fishes Council
  • Friends of Sonoita Creek

Relevant Conservation Plans

Associated Aquatic COAs