Santa Rita Lodge is a popular destination for birding enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. We offer a serene getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Many visitors ask us about local guides who are experienced in birding and in navigating Southern Arizona’s unique desert habitat.

We offer guiding information for your convenience: guides are not affiliated with Santa Rita Lodge; their services are offered independently from and in addition to our lodging.

Laurens Halsey, Bird Guide

Laurens Halsey began identifying birds at age twelve. He first visited Madera Canyon in 1982, moved to the area in 1999, and has birded here ever since. For more than thirty years, he has birded coast to coast throughout the United States, led field trips, taught hawk identification seminars, authored/coauthored seasonal reports and articles, offered personalized tours throughout southeast Arizona, and shared his photography of birds and other wildlife. Guiding is a natural extension of his passion for birdwatching. In fact, his guiding career began right here in Madera Canyon, and he considers the canyon to be his backyard. Contact Laurens for your local guiding needs.

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Birds and Wildlife

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Melody Kehl, Bird Guide

A long time Tucson resident, Melody is an avid birder and has led hundreds of professional birding and nature tours throughout Arizona since 1991. As an amateur naturalist, she has intimate knowledge about Arizona’s flora and fauna and current environmental issues. Southeast Arizona is her backyard – Melody is a truly LOCAL guide who knows how and where to look for the birds. Whether you need one day in the field to locate your nemesis bird or wish to spend several days to enjoy a more comprehensive tour, Melody’s Birding Adventures will customize your tour to meet your needs.

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Richard Fray

Richard Fray, Birding Guide

Originally from England where he grew up in a wildlife-mad household, Richard has been birding all his life. He moved to Southeast Arizona in 2002, and formed Fun Birding Tours in 2010, guiding individuals and groups on a full-time basis ever since, for his own business and other birding tour companies. Richard lives in Rio Rico, 15 miles north of the Mexican border in the Santa Cruz Valley, but guides anywhere in SE Arizona. He’s a keen all-round naturalist, specializing in birds but with a knowledge of most wildlife topics. He has provided articles, photos and illustrations for various books and magazines in Europe and North America. Richard served on the board of directors of Tucson Audubon Society, among many volunteer positions, and is administrator for the Arizona Birding and Santa Cruz County Wildlife groups on Facebook.

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Ken Blankenship

Ken Blankenship, Bird Guide

Ken has been birding across the southern tier of the United States for over a decade, from New Mexico to SoCal, south Texas around the Gulf of Mexico to the Florida Keys. Like many North American birders, for years Ken has been fascinated by the unique birds and habitats of Southeastern Arizona. In 2015, he decided to pursue a dream of living full-time among the “Sky Island” mountains of Cochise, Santa Cruz, and Pima counties. Ken has spent countless hours in the field in all seasons, learning the ebb and flow of our special migrants, breeding birds, and wintering species of the deserts, high elevation canyons, grasslands, and riparian corridors. Ken’s other greatest area of expertise is the status and distribution of the birds of the Southeast – particularly Georgia, his native state – where he works for the Department of Natural Resources in early summer performing various types of breeding bird surveys. Ken is a self-admitted “ear-birding addict,” and has obsessively studied bird vocalizations for years, both in the field and using CDs; this includes anything from songs, to chips, to flight calls, to scolds, and every “seet ” and “tsip” in between.

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