Maybe you've had enough hiking, biking and touring; now it's time to really relax, to listen to beautiful birds that whistle while they work. Sedona is situated at an elevation of 4,500 feet, at the upper margin of the Sonoran Desert. According to the Northern Arizona Audubon Society, this elevation, combined with a distinct change of seasons and rich riparian areas, results in a varied population of birds and thus, good birding any time of the year.
Although birders have discovered southeastern Arizona, the bird-watching paradise in Sedona and the Verde Valley is still a well-kept secret. The area, which encompasses the communities of Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cornville, Cottonwood, Page Springs, Jerome and Sedona, offers abundant year-round opportunities for bird watching. This area attracts nearly a third of the 900 species of birds in the United States and Canada--from the miniature hummingbird to broad-winged raptors.
The Northern Arizona Audubon Society has identified two "important birding areas," the 76 acres of prime wildlife habitat at Lower Oak Creek in Page Springs and Tavasci Marsh, one of the few fresh-water marshes in Arizona. The marsh adjoins Tuzigoot National Monument and Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
Other excellent birding sites in the area include:
Adobe Village Graham Inn: On our back patio we have bird feeders and hummingbird feeders. So far we have observed Gambel's Quail (very fun to watch when their babies are young and chasing behind them), Cooper's Hawk, Scrub Jay, Bluebirds, Robins, Phainopepla, Western Tanager, Norther Cardinal, black-headed Grosbeak, Oriole, lots of House finchs', and lots of hummingbirs (especially in August). In August we go though a gallon of humming bird food a day...that's alot of humming birds!
Beasley Flat, a lush riparian area just a few miles south of the town of Camp Verde.
Camp Verde Riparian Preserve.125 acres owned and managed by the Salt River Project "to provide habitat for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and the yellow-billed cuckoo." Many other species also flock to the site.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a 423-acre park, which is an oasis for wildlife and includes the Verde River Greenway with its cottonwood-willow habitat along the Verde River.
Mingus Mountain, an easily accessible high-altitude home for bluebirds, white-breasted nuthatches, olive warblers and other species.
Montezuma Well, a riparian habitat that attracts water birds and open-country species, such as flycatchers, vireos and thrashers. It is a nesting home for hawks, cuckoos and canyon and rock wrens
Oak Creek Canyon, a diverse riparian area and the state's second most popular canyon. Possible sightings range from the black-chinned sparrow and bridled titmouse to peregrine falcons, hummingbirds, tanagers, towhees, vireos and other species.
Red Rock State Park,Meet up with other bird lovers at the visitors center every Wednesday and Saturday morning and enjoy a leisurely stroll through one of the most popular parks in Northern Arizona . Bird enthusiasts can join a naturalist for a “Guided Bird Walk”. Beginning as well as advanced birders are welcome. Rangers recommend that visitors being their own binoculars. A limited number are available for loan from the Park. To contact the park about schedules, or reservations for some of their most popular hikes, call 928.282.6907 or visit http://azstateparks.com/Parks/RERO/
Sycamore Canyon, where black-hawk and bald eagles nest and there are possible sightings of other birds such as hawks, doves, herons and migrating sparrows. The canyon is accessible by hiking and the Verde Canyon Railroad.
The first Sedona Hummingbird Festival will take place August 3-4-5, 2012, with presentations and a "Hummingbird Mall" at the new Sedona Performing Arts Center. There will also be an opening night Gala Thursday evening, August 2, at Sedona Rouge.
Ticket sales will begin approximately May 1.
The Festival features three full days of presentations at the new Sedona Performing Arts Center. The Society is inviting hummingbird experts in many interest areas: science, gardening, photography, conservation, regional species studies, etc. The program will be 80-90% about hummingbirds. There may be some related topics, like butterflies, but the theme will truly be hummingbird-centered. Other festivals are usually 50% hummingbird-related or less. Plans are being made to organize "Hummingbird Hotspot Tours," bus trips to visit different locations where visitors can see hundreds of hummers. Plans also include "Hummingbird Garden Tours" to personal gardens whose owners have focused on attracting hummingbirds.
A licensed hummingbird banding group is currently being sought to hold public banding demonstrations. They will show how tiny hummingbirds are fitted with even tinier numbered leg bands for scientific research. Banded birds are typically placed in a child's hand for release—an unforgettable experience for them.
The annual Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival takes place at Dead Horse Ranch Park in Cottonwood, Arizona, during the last weekend in April. It is an easy way to begin bird watching or to deepen one's appreciation of the Verde Valley's resident birds and visiting migrants. It is common to see more than 150 species of birds during the weekend, including grebes, tanagers, flycatchers, shrikes, warblers, egrets, herons, orioles, cardinals, woodpeckers, quails, sparrows and hawks. In addition to seeing, identifying and learning about birds in on-site programs, the festival offers field trips and tours by expert guides who take festival attendees to the area's birding hot spots. Participants can also sign up for other nature-oriented workshops, hikes, field trips and activities--from biking and canoeing to archeology and nature photography. All the programs are organized around small groups. New trips and programs are added every year. An exhibit tent is staffed by vendors who offer an assortment of birding merchandise. For more information, go to http://www.birdyverde.org