Birding Blog Archives

Richard's Guiding Prices & Fees

Birding Guide Services in Southeastern Arizona

Many thanks for visiting! I’d be delighted to be your birding guide in southeast Arizona. I offer half day (Rio Rico area only), full day and multiple day birding guide services in SE Arizona.

Please see my calendar for availability, then contact me to make a booking.

  • A $100 deposit per day is required to secure your booking
  • If you hire me, you agree to my terms and conditions (below)

I’ve tried to keep my pricing as simple as possible, but there are so many variables that inevitably it can get a bit complicated. I want you to be confident that there are no hidden extras when you hire me as your birding guide. I’m a full-time, professional birding guide and tour leader; this is my livelihood so I charge fairly and appropriately.

There are potentially three fees payable to me (plus entrance fees where required) when you hire me as your birding guide, as follows:

1. Guiding Fee

My wages. This also covers my business expenses: guiding permit fees, training and certification costs, insurance, etc. You’ll find that I offer the best value in Arizona!

in group
Half day (local
area only, up
to 5 hrs) *
Full day
(up to
10 hrs)

Per hour
10 hrs)

Night birding
(up to
5 hrs) **
1-2 $220 $380 $40 $220
3-4 $235 $410 $40 $235
5+ $250 $440 $40 $250

* Half day price ONLY available in the Rio Rico/Tubac area. I’m willing to travel for a half day, but I have to charge for a full day if we meet outside of my immediate area.

** Price for night birding in Santa Cruz County ONLY, or elsewhere when added to a full day. For stand-alone night birding outside Santa Cruz County, I charge for a full day.

2. Meeting Point Fee

I live in Rio Rico, which is an hour south of Tucson along I-19. I’m happy to meet you anywhere in SE Arizona, but it’s a big place and I have to cover my travel costs. I charge the following flat fees and I don’t charge additional hours for my travel, leaving you free to enjoy your half day or full day of birding.

Meeting Point Meeting Point Fee
Tumacacori NO CHARGE
Nogales $20
Amado $25
Patagonia $35
Green Valley $35
Sonoita $40
Madera Canyon $40
Arivaca $40
Tucson (most) $45
Marana/Oro Valley/Catalina/Vail, etc. $50
Benson/St. David $50
Sasabe $55
Sierra Vista $55
Hereford/Huachuca Canyons $60
Arizona City (Santa Cruz Flats) $60
Willcox $60
Bisbee $60
Douglas * $70 *
Portal/Chiricahuas * $90 *

* While I enjoy guiding in the Portal area and the Chiricahua Mountains, it’s so far from where I live that it’s not really practical. It’s a seven-hour round trip for me and an early start is unrealistic in terms of me having to leave home three-and-a-half hours before we meet. In almost all circumstances, you’ll be better off seeking a guide in that area, rather than having to pay me to drive halfway across the state and arrive an hour or two after sunrise. Please see my list of alternative guides, some in the Portal area or much closer than I am (eg: Sierra Vista, Willcox).

3. Vehicle Fee

From our meeting point, if we take your vehicle, there is no further charge. If we take my vehicle (4×4 SUV) I charge a Vehicle Fee per mile of travel, which covers gas, vehicle maintenance, and comprehensive passenger insurance.

Vehicle fee per mile 55c
  • Note: the government/IRS rate for vehicle usage is 65.5c/mile for 2023, so I’m offering a significant discount.
  • Please see the mileage charts below to help plan your day.


  • Bonus # 1: I’ll email a PDF field checklist for planning, printing, use in the field, or for later reference. By prior request, I can provide printed checklists on the day.
  • Bonus # 2: I always carry my camera and sneak a few photos in, so I’ll email my best digital photos from your trip, free of charge.
  • Bonus # 3: I’ll log everything we see on eBird as we go, and share those lists with you via eBird (if you have an account) or by email if you don’t have an eBird account (free at
  • Bonus # 4: I’ll produce an eBird Trip Report, a neat way to tie up all the birds, numbers, places, checklists, and photos from the trip!

Example Pricing

Example #1:
Your group of four wants to spend two really full days birding, starting in Tucson both days and taking my vehicle. The first day we do 180 miles, the second day we travel 70 miles. The first day we go 13 hours, the second day 12 hours. The cost would be: Guiding Fee for four people, Full Days (10 hrs) 2 x $440 = $880; Extra Hours, 5 x $40 = $200;  Meeting Point Fee, 2 x $45 = $90; Vehicle Fee, 250 miles in total x 55c/mile = $137.50; Total: $1307.50.

Example #2:
You come down to Rio Rico on your own, pick me up at the truck stop on I-19, and we spend five hours birding locally using your vehicle. The cost would be: Guiding Fee for one person for a half day, $220; Meeting Point Fee, none; Vehicle Fee, none; Total: $220.


Additional Information

  • I am certified in first aid, CPR, and defibrillator use. My vehicle is equipped with a comprehensive first aid kit. Please advise me in advance of any medical conditions or special requirements you may have.
  • My vehicle is regularly maintained and equipped with a new spare tire, tire pump, heavy duty jack, battery charger pack, jumper cables, basic tools, extra water, etc. I also have AAA breakdown and emergency coverage.
  • Filtered water refills and snacks (granola bars, crackers, etc) will be available at all times. Please bring your own refillable water bottle, electrolyte/energy drinks, and additional snacks should you want them.
  • There are many lunch options in SE Arizona, although some birding areas are remote and without facilities. usually, we can stop at a restaurant, pick something up as we go, or you can bring your own lunch. It’s your call.
  • I always carry a spotting scope and tripod, for your use.
  • A spare pair of binoculars is available on request.
  • I have spare hats, sunscreen, bug spray, etc, should you need them.
  • Tips are not necessarily expected but are gratefully accepted and much appreciated.

Terms and Conditions

IMPORTANT! Please read carefully. I hate to be a rule maker and you’ll find that I’m a very laid back guy, but experience has taught me that some things need to be said and understood before we go, to make everyone’s lives simpler and safer. So, if you book my services as a birding guide, you agree to the following terms and conditions:

  • The Guiding Fee you pay is the price quoted for the year your booking falls in, which may differ from the time you make your booking. I only alter my prices on January 1st, and not every year. I advertise price changes several months in advance. Please check if you are unsure.
  • Vehicle Fees and Meeting Point Fees are subject to change at any time due to wild fluctuations in fuel costs (unlikely).
  • All prices are in US Dollars.
  • Payments are accepted in US Dollars only, by cash, US check, Zelle, Venmo, money order, or wire transfer. I can take PayPal, or credit card payments (via PayPal) for an additional fee of 5%. So, for example, a $100 deposit payment becomes $105, and a $300 balance payment becomes $315, and so forth.
  • A $100 deposit per day is required at time of booking to secure your reservation, with the balance payable at the conclusion of your tour. In the case of a cancellation, deposits will be returned in full, but only if I can re-book the day/s. Reservations are not confirmed until a deposit has been received. Please note that, at certain times of the year, I am very busy and could book myself out multiple times per day, so it’s strictly a case of the first deposit received secures that date. Please don’t leave it until the last minute, for my sake and yours.
  • Prices quoted are for guiding and other fees only, as described above. All other expenses remain your responsibility, such as meals, lodging, etc. See our Arizona birding tours for all-inclusive trips.
  • If we visit fee areas (eg: State and National Parks, National Forest, Nature Conservancy) you are responsible for paying fees for all members of the group, including your guide. I can advise you of the current fees for areas we may visit, although these are subject to change without notice. We may visit areas (such as feeder sites) that accept and indeed rely upon donations; at these important birding sites, your generous donations are strongly encouraged.
  • If we use my car (medium 4×4 SUV, 3 passengers is comfortable, 4 passengers max), some dirt roads are realistically out of bounds, even for a relatively high clearance 4×4. However, I will go to most, if not all the well-known birding sites in my vehicle, given suitable conditions (please bear monsoon season in mind) and the limitations of my vehicle.
  • If you provide the vehicle, please note that while most of Arizona’s birding sites are perfectly accessible in any car, even ones along dirt roads, a few locations absolutely require high clearance. Four-wheel drive is preferable, especially in the monsoon or winter rains, but in practice is rarely necessary. I will advise you as best I can, but I take no responsibility for any damage done to your vehicle by attempting to drive on unsuitable roads or in unsuitable conditions for your vehicle. If you would like me to drive your vehicle and can name me on your insurance in advance, I will be glad to do so.Lincolns-Sparrow-Madera-Canyon
  • I employ and encourage the sensible use of pishing, owl imitations and playback at times, but only if I feel comfortable doing so under the circumstances. I want to show you as many birds as I can, but first and foremost I’m a conservationist. I never use playback for certain species or at certain times of the year and will prevent you from doing so if I feel it has the potential to cause disturbance to sensitive species. I feel that I have a sensible, balanced approach to this loaded issue, and I’m always willing to listen to your opinion and work with you to reach our mutual goals.
  • Arizona can have many hazards! Your safety is my number one priority. I will take the necessary precautions with my vehicle, if we use it, and do my best to advise you and keep you safe. However, you must appreciate that, while always safe in my experience, southern Arizona does have snakes, smugglers, flash floods, mountain lions, extreme heat, tarantulas, monsoon storms, biting insects, remote, rugged country and various other potential dangers far from the control of a humble birding guide. You are ultimately responsible for your own well-being and are expected to prepare, dress and behave accordingly. I advise that you get travel insurance for a longer visit.

Mileage Chart from Rio Rico

All miles and times are according to Google Maps and measured from exit 25 of I-19, Palo Parado Rd in Rio Rico, Arizona.

Google Maps sometimes overestimates the time taken to travel on well-graded dirt roads, so actual travel times can be slightly quicker.

MILEAGE CHART FROM RIO RICO Miles from Rio Rico Hours from Rio Rico
Going North and West    
Santa Gertrudis Ln (Anza Tr) Tumacacori 3.1 5 mins
Rock Corral Canyon, Tumacacori Mts 3.7 8 mins
Bridge Road (De Anza Trail) Tubac 7.4 11 mins
Green Valley (Continental Rd) 23.8 22 mins
Montosa Canyon 25.1 40 mins
Madera Canyon (Santa Rita Lodge) 37.3 54 mins
Florida Canyon 35.6 55 mins
Arivaca Cienega (via Arivaca Rd) 37.4 56 mins
Buenos Airies 56.4 1 hr 33 mins *
Organ Pipe National Park 187.0 3 hr 11 mins *
Going South and West    
Peck Canyon, Rio Rico 3.6 8 mins
Guy Tobin Trailhead (Anza Trail) Rio Rico 5.3 7 mins
Rio Rico Pond, Rico 5.9 9 mins
Esplendor Resort, Rio Rico 5.9 9 mins
Nogales 10.3 10 mins
Kino Springs 16.0 28 mins
Pena Blanca Lake 18.3 24 mins *
Sycamore Canyon 26.7 58 mins *
California Gulch / Oro Blanco Mine 36.5 1 hr 35 mins *
Arivaca Cienega (via Ruby Rd) 44.2 1 hr 57 mins *
Going East    
Patagonia Roadside Rest 24.5 36 mins
Patagonia Lake State Park 24.9 43 mins
Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve 27.0 39 mins *
Paton’s in Patagonia 28.7 43 mins
Harshaw Canyon, Patagonia Mountains 34.8 57 mins *
San Rafael Valley 39.1 1 hr 14 mins *
Sonoita 41.0 56 mins
Las Cienegas / Empire Gulch 50.8 1 hr 18 mins *
Tucson (midtown) 52.8 58 mins
Tucson (downtown) 50.0 47 mins
Sweetwater Wetlands 54.8 51 mins
Saguaro National Park East 66.7 1 hr 15 mins
Saguaro National Park West 61.9 1 hr 09 mins
Santa Catalinas, Mt Lemmon (bottom) 67.2 1 hr 23 mins
Santa Catalinas, Mt Lemmon (top) 92.0 2 hr 07 mins
Catalina State Park 67.7 1 hr 13 mins
Santa Cruz Flats 108 1 hr 55 mins
Phoenix (airport) 159 2 hr 23 mins
Buckeye Thrasher Spot 221 3 hr 13 mins
Boyce Thompson Arboretum 145 2 hr 29 mins
Aravaipa Canyon 118 2 hr 31 mins
Sierra Vista 77.3 1 hr 37 mins
San Pedro House 83.9 1 hr 44 mins
Ramsey Canyon 86.8 1 hr 49 mins
Miller Canyon 88.8 1 hr 53 mins *
Ash Canyon B&B 89.3 1 hr 49 mins
Casa de San Pedro B&B 90.2 1 hr 48 mins
Benson 93.1 1 hr 24 mins
St. David 101.0 1 hr 35 mins
Willcox 128 1 hr 54 mins
Bisbee 95.6 1 hr 50 mins
Whitewater Draw (nr McNeal) 122.0 2 hr 43 mins *
Douglas 122 2 hr 19 mins
Portal (via Douglas) 185 3 hr 41 mins
Portal (via I-10) 198 3 hr 58 mins
Portal (via mountain roads) 187 4 hr 03 mins *

Mileage Chart from Tucson

Staying in Tucson? If you want your day to begin in or around Tucson, I have a special flat rate of $35 to meet you in Tucson

midtown Tucson
Hours from
midtown Tucson
Saguaro National Park East 18.2 43 mins
Saguaro National Park West 24 57 mins
Mt Lemmon (Summerhaven) 37.6 1 hr 12 mins
Santa Cruz Flats 58.4 1 hr 18 mins
Phoenix 115 2 hr 4 mins
Buckeye Thrasher Spot 164 2 hr 55 mins
Boyce Thompson Arboretum 94 1 hr 59 mins
Aravaipa Canyon 61.9 1 hr 35 mins
Madera Canyon 46.5 1 hr 18 mins
Tubac 51.1 1 hr 3 mins
Nogales 72.5 1 hr 22 mins
California Gulch 77.3 2 hr 13 mins
Arivaca Cienega 60.5 1 hr 25 mins
Sonoita 50.2 1 hr 7 mins
Patagonia 62.7 1 hr 22 mins
San Rafael Valley 74.7 2 hr 1 min
Benson 48.7 58 mins
St. David 56.8 1 hr 9 mins
Willcox 84 1 hr 30 mins
Elfrida (Whitewater Draw) 118 2 hr 4 mins
Sierra Vista 77 1 hr 41 mins
Miller Canyon 87.7 2 hr 1 mins
Portal (via NM) 175 3 hr 4 mins