Sunday, April 7, 2013

Birding Oak Creek Canyon's awesome West Fork!

Hi everyone,

Today on April 7th, 2013, I joined my sister Tiffany and brother-in-law Josh and we went up just north of Sedona to the west fork of Oak Creek Canyon in Coconino County.  For Tiffany and Josh, it was a half-day trip to go fishing at Oak Creek, and they let me join them for the ride and I spent my 3.5 hours of time birding in the canyon.  I birded the first two miles of the West Fork Trail.  This is a beautiful and scenic area, one I hope to visit more and more.  A combination of different trees (including oak, sycamore, cottonwood, ponderosa pine, and Douglas fir) line the creek in this shady canyon.  And the birds were plentiful too!

Oak Creek Canyon

My favorite highlight from the hike came when I was about two miles along the trail.  I heard a PACIFIC WREN calling and I was able to track the bird down and it was cooperative and let me view it well a few times and get photographs.  Pacific Wrens are rare and local breeders in this part of Arizona, does anyone know if they have bred here in the Oak Creek area?

Pacific Wren

Other bird highlights during the 3.5 hours of birding included a soaring COMMON BLACK-HAWK, RED-TAILED HAWK, 2 WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS, plenty of ACORN WOODPECKERS (especially in the parking area), a HAIRY WOODPECKER, a calling CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER, STELLER'S JAYS, NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, 2 WHITE-BREASTED and 1 RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, abundant HOUSE WRENS and 4 singing CANYON WRENS, many singing LUCY'S WARBLERS in the parking area, 5 VIRGINIA'S WARBLERS, YELLOW WARBLERS, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS, 15 PAINTED REDSTARTS (everywhere in the canyon!), and a few calling RED CROSSBILLS.

Common Black-Hawk

Painted Redstart

Acorn Woodpecker

Steller's Jay

Spotted Towhee

I recorded 29 species in this area in the time I spent.  To bird here, one has to pay a 9 dollar parking fee at the trailhead.  This is a day use area open from 9 A.M. to dusk.  If you come on weekends, I recommend to be there early.  We had to wait until several people left due to a full parking lot.  But this area and trail is highly recommended and is an awesome hike.  Thank you Tiffany and Josh for the trip!

More of Oak Creek Canyon

Josh and Tiffany!


  1. Another great day of birding and the Pacific Wren photos are top-notch! Looks like a another cool place to visit!
    Thanks for the post!

  2. Sweet spot Tommy!

    I was up there last year and had some similarly enjoyable birding and hiking. It really is beautiful, especially at the end of the trail.
    I had what I thought was a Winter Wren up there, but now I'm wondering if it was the same bird as you saw, and was in fact Pacific...

    Super series of photos; you rocked these birds!

  3. Great blog! Question, do the AZ Stellar's Jays always look like that? It's very different from what we see in SEA. The blue is more solid looking and the head is all black.