Birding in Flagstaff, during the winter, can be challenging. Many bird species have moved south, and those that tough it out tend to be quiet and reclusive. So where do you go to find birds? Where there’s water! Especially this year due to the past years being so dry.
You will see more birds on a sunny day without much wind (or in a spot out of the wind). In winter I find the birds seem to be most active in the morning, once the sun has been out for a while. Flagstaff has a number of places with year-round water that are frequented by our resident birds, such as Steller’s Jay, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted, Red-breasted & Pigmy Nuthatches and a variety of Woodpeckers, to name just a few.
Try visiting any of our local springs.
Little Elden Springs: My personal favorite is Little Elden Spring. The reason I love this area so much is the incredible diversity of trees along the AZ Trail here – I haven’t seen so many different kinds of trees, all in one place, anywhere else in Flagstaff. There are Oaks, Junipers, Ponderosa, Aspens, Spruce and others I haven’t identified. It’s also the only place I’ve encountered Elderberry bushes growing wild. The rocks along the trail are fun too! Many have vugs of crystals in them. Take Hwy 89 to Elden Springs road, at the junction of FR 556A there’s a parking area. Walk across the road and up a short trail to the spring. More info and directions here.
You will see a small sign, and once across the bridge, pull over and park on the right. You’ll see a trail that leads down to the stream bed, walk a short distance south, and even as dry as it is right now, you’ll find small pools of water, perfect for perching birds to drink and bathe in. Find a comfy rock to sit on and wait 5 to 10 minutes for the birds to return. I found lots of Robins, a few warblers, several phoebes, a sapsucker and numerous ruby-crowned kinglets enjoying this area. The geology here is wonderous, as is the peace and quiet, if you hike a bit further down the streambed and away from the road.
Other good birding spots in Flagstaff include: Griffith Springs, Picture Canyon, Francis Short Pond, I-40 Wetlands , Elden Springs (& the Elden Homestead site), Sinclair Wash below Willow Bend
Other good birding spots in the Verde Valley include: Montezuma’s Well, Verde River & Ponds at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, West Fork of Oak Creek, in Oak Creek Canyon, West Clear Creek Campground and Day Use Area
Post written by Willow Bend member, volunteer and avid birder Kathleen Satterfield.