Arizona Field Ornithologist








Carefree Christmas Bird Count.  This count circle is centered three miles north of the SkyRanch at Carefree Airport. The count includes the towns of Carefree and Cave Creek as well as the north end of the City of Scottsdale. This upland desert count is situated in northeast Maricopa County and it was organized in 1992. 

The largest drainages are Cave Creek and Camp Creek, both of which are flowing streams in their northerly reaches near Seven Springs. The Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, Cave Creek Regional Park and several Desert Foothills Land Trust preserves are found here, and roughly 40 percent of the circle lies within the Tonto National Forest. Elevations range from approximately 1800-5000 feet. This count typically records about 100 species.

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Gila River Christmas Bird Count.  The Gila River circle is centered three miles east of Powers Butte and about the same distance south of Palo Verde. The count encompasses unincorporated Arlington and Palo Verde as well as part of the Town of Buckeye. This western Maricopa County count dates from 1981. 

The Gila River winds through the middle of the count circle and provides excellent birding habitat. The Hassayampa River empties into the Gila upstream from Powers Butte. An added feature is the presence of the Robbins Butte Wildlife Area. Elevations range from approximately 700-1900 feet. This count typically records about 140 species. 

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Hassayampa River Christmas Bird Count.  This northwest Maricopa County count reaches into Yavapai County as well. The count circle is centered five miles northeast of Wickenburg on Constellation Road. There is considerable public land here and little urban development; the only significant population center is the Town of Wickenburg. This upland desert count has been held annually since 1989. 

The Hassayampa River affords good birding opportunities, especially south of town at the Hassayampa River Preserve. This property is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. The Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness can be birded as well. Elevations range from approximately 2000-4400 feet. This count typically records about 100 species. 

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Phoenix-Tres Rios Christmas Bird Count.  The center of this count circle lies about one mile south of the confluence of the Gila and Agua Fria rivers in central Maricopa County. Portions of the City of Avondale and the City of Goodyear are included.  The count was held continuously from 1954-1984 during which time it was known as the Phoenix Christmas Bird Count. The count was reinstated in 2001. 

This count takes the second part of its name from the three major rivers found here—the Gila, the Salt and the Agua Fria. Excellent birding is available along the rivers as well as at the Estrella Mountain Regional Park, Tres Rios Wetlands, Cobble Ponds, Buckeye canals and Jackie Meck Lake. Elevations range from approximately 900-3200 feet. This count typically records about 140 species.

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Salt-Verde Rivers Christmas Bird Count.  This count circle is centered near Adams Mesa in eastern Maricopa County. The count encompasses the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation along with portions of the Town of Fountain Hills, the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Tonto National Forest. The first count was held in 1950, followed by a second count in 1954 and annual counts since 1985. 

The Verde River empties into the Salt River here and the mature riparian habitat along both waterways appeals to a wide range of birds. Saguaro Lake and the Phon D. Sutton Recreation Site, both located within the Lower Salt River Recreation Area, are birding hotspots. Elevations range from approximately 1300-3300 feet. This count typically records about 140 species. 

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Superior Christmas Bird Count. The center of this count circle is about two miles northeast of Queens Station in the northeast corner of Pinal County. The count lies mainly within the Tonto National Forest but there is other public land as well. Urban development is concentrated in the Town of Superior and Queen Valley. An early Superior count took place in 1922, with annual counts beginning in 2003.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located here. This lush property supports numerous desert birds and acts as a magnet for rarities. The count circle also takes in the Oak Flat Recreation Area and part of the Superstition Wilderness. Elevations range from approximately 2000-5600 feet. This count typically records about 100 species.

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