re your question on birding in Arizona/Texas.
I have not been to, but understand that the Big Bend national park in S
Texas is excellent. Would be fabulous in Novemeber, but very much off
The (more accessible) Austin area of Texas is very nice at that time of
year, and is on the junction between the lower, greener east texas and the
higher, drier, West texas. My hunch therefore (I was there before I really
got into birding) is that this would be a neat point to see a wide range of
In Arizona: the thing to remember is that the state is divided across by a
rift -- the Mogollon rim. Upsides (north) is c. 6-7000 feet and by Novmeber
it is damn cold (snow flurries, overnight frost). So go see the Grand
Canyon, but don't expect TOO many birds there (tho' I did see W Bluebirds
there). There are lots of sparrows everywhere, (of which the US seems to
have about 800 species!).
South is around 3000 feet and a lot warmer in the fall -- more birds, tho'
maybe the humming birds will have gone south.
Madera canyon, South of Tucson looks superb -- only had a half day there
and not all of that birding, but it seemed alive with all sorts of
woodpeckers and jays, to name only the obvious ones. Apparently the area is
famous for birders, and I believe it.
If you do go down towards Tucson, the Sonora desert Museum is wonderful.
They have lots of wildlife and flora in natural settings plus a collection
of birds that (sadly) were injured and have not recovered enough to be put
out in the wild but which they take care of -- things you would be hard put
to see unless you spent an age there, such as tiny owls .... They also have
great humming bird aviaries -- incredible creatures. So tiny, so aggro!
We did see some humming birds around Tucson still in November.
Generally the desert areas with the cactus is pretty worth looking (eg
around Phoenix, with lots of hawks, cactus wrens, roadrunners, doves, quail
etc. At L Havais City (where they rebuilt London bridge -- quite surreal)
we saw a road runner take a Mourning Dove in a ground level attack at the
edge of the golf course as we strolled along -- incredible.
Hasayampa reserve just outside Wicksburg (I think that's the town, I've
lent my map) SW of Phoenix is also a beautiful place to walk and bird and I
saw quite a range there.
Hope this is good value for you