The Diverse Maricopa County, About Me, and Acknowledgments
THE DIVERSE MARICOPA COUNTY
Why Maricopa County?
-Maricopa County is diverse, exciting, and full of birds. Some have been discovered, and there are plenty more waiting to be discovered!
-Maricopa County has an array of different habitats. Although much of the County is full of lowland deserts that have scorching heat throughout the year, many different habitats are found. It's amazing looking down on the big city if you are standing in ponderosa pine forest close to 7000' at Mount Ord and Four Peaks!
-Maricopa County is thought of as having two seasons in general, summer and winter. Despite the temperature, the birds aren't phased. For the birds, there is a spring, summer, fall, and winter.
-Maricopa County is the easiest place in the U.S. to see five species of Thrashers in one day. The famous "Thrasher Spot" is the best spot to see the elusive Le Conte's Thrasher. Period.
-Gilbert Water Ranch and Tres Rios Wetlands provide birders with some of the best birding experiences in the state of Arizona. What's cool about it? It's for everybody and both spots are easy to walk along and birds are very cooperative for their viewers.
-We also have Glendale Recharge Ponds. Rarities show up at these huge basins owned by SRP annually. One day we had 21 species of shorebirds in one basin with a group effort. Enough said?
-Maricopa County has the Hassayampa, Verde, Salt, and Gila Rivers to explore and bird. Willow and cottonwood riparian corridors are among the best to bird.
-Between the Lower Sonoran desert and the limited higher elevations within the county are habitats that consist of Sycamore riparian, chaparral, and juniper-filled slopes in the Upper Sonoran desert landscape. Common Black-Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Gray Vireo, Black-chinned Sparrow, and Scott's Oriole are a few of the birds that thrive in this habitat.
-My favorite places in Maricopa County are the limited higher elevations with ponderosa pine, Douglas Fir, and oak. Slate Creek and Mount Ord are my favorites of these two locatons. These hotspots give birders a chance to escape the heat and still stay in Maricopa County during the scorching heat of summer. Unfortunetely, Gila County takes up a lot of these locations and one has to study maps to know what County they are in. These locations have good birding year round, and local rarities are present at times that favor high elevations. Everyone loves to see Painted Redstart, Grace's Warbler, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Acorn Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, and more. Camping out at night may be fun too! One of my best memories in the County was listening to a Spotted Owl calling in Maricopa County under a full moon while I was standing in Gila County.
-We also have many ponds in the County to check during winter, as well as different fields throughout the area to give more of a habitat selection.
-Birding in the desert is fun. As a resident I often take it for granted, but for you visitors, your in for a treat.
-Maricopa County is also home to the established Rosy-faced Lovebird.
-This County has been well explored in many areas, but there are also many areas that are under-explored. Get yourself out there.
-Because Maricopa County has many habitats, one can build a county list very quickly or see a lot of birds very quickly. I did two Big Years in the County, and in both of those Big Years, I got over 300 species each time. Getting a big number was fun, but more importantly, I got to know this County very well. It's awesome, and I wrote this project and website to share with others so they may enjoy Birding in Maricopa County!
I think birding is awesome.
This project has been huge and very time consuming. I wrote this entire project based on many of my own birding experiences and observations. Other than that, there have been amazing people who have increased my knowledge as a birder or who have simply helped me find locations to bird at which have made it on this guide. This includes people I have birded with who have made me a much better birder and have explored places with me, or who have told me of birding locations in Maricopa County. For me to know about a birding hotspot or area, it more often began by somebody else telling me about it.
I wish to give a special thanks to these awesome people: Janet Witzeman, Troy Corman, Jim Kopitzke, Kurt Radamaker, Lauren Harter, David Vander Pluym, Tyler DeBardeleben, T.J. and Trevor Knupp, Christina Smith, Brendon Grice, Melanie Herring, Jay Miller, Magill Weber, Mike Rupp, Steve Ganley, Mark Stevenson, Dominic Sherony, and Richard Crossley. I would also like to thank Lindsay Story, Bill Grossi, Brian Ison, and Matthew Toomey for finding several spots in the county that have turned out to be good for birding.
Birding guides and references that were helpful in doing this project in helping me learn more about birds (especially for the section-What Bird Are You After?) have been: The Sibley Guide to Birds (David Sibley), The National Geographic Guide to Birds of North America (Jon Dunn, Jonathan Alderfer), The Crossley ID Guide to Eastern Birds (Richard Crossley), The Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America (Donald and Lillian Stokes), Smithsonian Birds of North America (Fred J. Alsop 111), ebird.org (extremely helpful in keeping records where it's easy to recognize status of species), and iPhone applications (iBird Pro, Sibley for iPhone).
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