With no shortage of scenic overlooks, wildlife, and, of course, birds, Madera Canyon is a popular destination for both amateur and professional photographers. The Santa Rita Lodge is an ideal location to capture treasured shots of native and migrating species of birds such as Broad Billed, Black-chinned, Magnificent, and Blue-throated hummingbirds, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Cassin’s Finches, Bronzed Cowbirds, and the spectacular Elegant Trogon. The Santa Rita Lodge Gift Shop maintains a current bird checklist and seasonal information.
Near the main parking area of the Lodge is our ‘Wildlife Area’ with varied feeders-seed feeders, platform feeders, nectar, and suet-to attract the greatest variety of birds. There is also a water feature which is not only popular among canyon birds, but also deer, coati, and ring-tailed cats. Due to the abundance of shade and the late sunrises and early sunsets in the canyon, come prepared with a flash for optimal photo-ops.
The infamous Elf-Owl is a favorite visitor to the lodge. For years, this owl has chosen the utility pole across the street from the lodge viewing area to nest through the spring birding season. She makes an appearance almost nightly at dusk. However, flash photography is discouraged as it stuns and confuses the owl, often causing her to retreat. The utility pole is in the Lodge owner’s driveway, so please be respectful of privacy. That being said, the owner, Steve, is more than happy to entertain lodge guests with the history and behaviors of the Elf Owl and generally treats photographers to a properly placed beam of light which allows a less disruptive opportunity to get the desired photograph.
Many photography groups stay at the lodge annually, and you may consider joining a tour to enhance your stay and maximize your photography experience.