Tommy J. DeBardeleben

Springerville and Eagar Area

The area of Springerville and Eagar hold several good birding locations.  More of them need to be explored in the future to be added to this guide.  Two of the best locations are the River Walk Trail along the Little Colorado River and Becker Lake.  The River Walk Trail is a good location for finding Gray Catbird and other riparian breeding birds within the White Mountan region.  It is also a good place to check for interesting migrants.  Becker Lake is an excellent location to view waterbirds throughout the year.

Getting to the Springerville and Eagar Area:  The towns of Springerville and Eagar are separated by about two miles away from each other.  Springerville is north of Eager.  They can be reached by taking Highway 260 east from Show Low and Pinetop/Lakeside, by taking Highway 60 east from Vernon, by taking Highway 180/191 north from Alpine, by taking Highway 60 west from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and by taking Highway 180/191 south from St. Johns.  Both towns have singular traffic lights in them, which are good for describing directions as starting points to getting to the birding locations.

Becker Lake Wildlife Area-River Walk Trail:  From the traffic light in Springerville on Highway 60, head west in the northwest direction for 0.9 mile on Highway 60.  The turnoff for the River Walk Trail will be on the west side of Highway 60 at a small parking area that is unmarked from the Highway.  If the Little Colorado River crossing with Highway 60 is reached, which is 0.1 mile north of the trailhead for the River Walk Trail, then one has gone too far.  The River Walk Trail is a pleasant hike in the Springerville area.  It is an easy hike that is about a mile long in length.  Excellent riparian habitat is found along this stretch of the Little Colorado River.  Tall groves of trees line the river in places, making it a good place to stop and look for breeding birds in the area or to search for migrants in spring and fall.  The area is surrounded by grassland habitat and Becker Lake just to the north.  This is another area in the White Mountains that is productive for viewing Gray Catbird.  Other birds one may find here in summer include Virginia Rail and Sora, Barn Swallow, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Vesper Sparrow, Black-headed and Blue Grosbeaks, Western Meadowlark, Bullock's Oriole, and more.  Birding along this trail holds a lot of potential throughout the year, especially during spring and fall migration periods.  American Redstart (Eric Hough) and Hooded Merganser (Steve Hosmer) have even been found recently in the summer time frame.  For pictures of this location, a link for the hotspot on eBird, and a location map overview, a separate page with these listed items is available by clicking on the link here- Becker Lake Wildlife Area-River Walk Trail

Becker Lake Wildlife Area:  Becker Lake is a very productive lake for birding in the Springerville area, especially in spring and fall migrations, and winter.  From the traffic light in Springerville on Highway 60, take Highway 60 west in the northwest direction for about two miles before the turnoff for Becker Lake is located on the west side of Highway 60.  Becker Lake is situated at an elevation of 6,900', and it is surrounded mainly by high elevation grassland as well as riparian and weedy areas.  This lake is known for having it's share of rarities.  Recent rarities at Becker Lake have included Parasitic Jaeger (Sarah Fish) and a few Neotropic Cormorant observations (Eric Hough).  Other notable birds that have shown up here in the past have included Trumpeter and Tundra Swans, Barrow's Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Herring Gull, Common Tern, McCown's Longspur, Mourning Warbler American Tree Sparrow, and Dickcissel.  Osprey, Bald Eagle, and other raptors utilize the lake with regularity, and Yellow-headed Blackbird is found in the marshy areas of the lake.  In fall and winter, look for Chestnut-collared and other Longspurs in the grasslands surrounding the lake.  Other birds seen here during the year include a variety of waterfowl, five different grebes, White-faced Ibis (in migration), Northern Harrier, Spotted Sandpiper, Common Nighthawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Black Phoebe, Horned Lark, Blue Grosbeak, Eastern and Western Meadowlarks, and Bullock's Oriole.  From the parking area, there is an easy loop trail that goes along the western side of Becker Lake.  Scanning the lake is rather easy from this trail and the trail offers good higher level views of Becker Lake in some spots.  There is a path that also goes along the eastern side of Becker Lake.  Large snags in the area provide perching spots for raptors and for roosting cormorants and herons.  Groves of cottonwoods trees along the nearby Becker Lake and Airport Roads are worth searching for migrants.  For a separate page with more information on Becker Lake that contains photographs of birds and scenes at the lake, a link to the hotspot page on eBird, and a map for the location, click on the link here- Becker Lake Wildlife Area


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