Sunday, July 21, 2013

Birding Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona, our next objective after departing Tucson, was a 250 mile drive that took us about five hours. On the way, we passed through some breathtaking scenery. The winding road moved along Oak Creek Canyon, which appeared as a lush oasis in an otherwise parched landscape.

Oak Creek Canyon 3-20130617

As we approached Sedona, red rocks began to predominate.

Oak Creek Canyon 2-20130617

Two horizontal formations, the Schnebly Hill Sandstone and the Hermit Shale layers, up to 270 million years old, are rich in iron oxide that imparts the rust color.

Oak Creek Canyon HDR 20130617

We did not attempt to enter the town, as the streets do not safely accommodate a 31 foot RV. This photo was taken through the windshield as we passed by Sedona.

Town of Sedona through the windshield 20130617

Our one-night stay at Rancho Sedona RV Park was brief but restful and quite productive. Our space was shaded by tall Sycamore trees, only about 50 yards from Oak Creek. I could hear Bullock's Orioles singing overhead.

Bullock's Oriole 20130616

Our RV in Rancho Sedona 20130616

Once the RV was hooked up we all headed for the creek.

Oak Creek in Sedona 2-20130616

Although I was intent on finding birds, Graci immediately discovered this (presumed) Long-tailed Brush Lizard, which I happily photographed.

Long-tailed Brush Lizard in Sedona 20130616

I had high hopes of finding an American Dipper, as I had seen them near here during a prior visit. I focused my attention on the rapids, where I waited for one to suddenly surface.

Oak Creek 20130617

The dipper never showed itself, but a pair of frame-filling Common Mergansers shot the rapids right in front of me.

Common Merganser 20130617

Common Mergansers 20130617

An Ash-throated Flycatcher made hunting forays over the water.

Ash-throated Flycatcher 20130617

I was delighted to find a family of five Phainopeplas on a tree in the middle of a wide spot in the creek. Members of the Silky Flycatcher family, they hardly ever sat still as they repeatedly took wing to catch flying insects.

Phainopepla 20130617

American Robins and a Song Sparrow stopped by for a drink...

American Robin at Oak Creek 20130617

Song Sparrow at Oak Creek 2-20130617 did this Gray Squirrel.

Gray Squirrel at Oak Creek 20130617

The lawn next to our RV attracted a Black Phoebe...

Black Phoebe 20130617

...and a female Bullock's Oriole foraged on the bark of a pine tree.

Bullock's Oriole female 2-20130617

An American Robin showed off his prey in great detail.

American Robin 20130617

This female Summer Tanager was hunting spiders under one of the electrical supply outlets...

 Summer Tanager 7-20130616

...and suddenly looked up, spider silk dangling from her substantial beak.

Summer Tanager 9-20130616

She had found a cafeteria full of spiders!

Summer Tanager 2-20130616

Summer Tanager 5-20130616

Summer Tanager 6-20130616

A feeder next to the registration area attracted Lesser Goldfinches and House Finches.

Lesser Goldfinches at Sedona feeder 20130616

House finches 20130616

A Bridled Titmouse provided me with my first-ever photo of this species.

Bridled Titmouse 20130617

One of the staff called me over to see this insect, which looked for all the world like a dead leaf...

Io Moth 2-20130617

...until it opened its wings to show the brilliant "eye spots" of an Io Moth.

Io Moth 20130617

This outcropping came into full view just before we exited the campground on our way to the Grand Canyon. Note the mostly thin white layers of limestone within the red Schnebly Hill sandstone. The latter is said to be entirely devoid of fossils, and there are only few in the limestone, leading to the hypothesis that the limestone layers were mostly windblown as sea levels fluctuated up and down.

Sedona rock formation HDR 20130616


  1. sedona is an area i've wished to see. you got to see some great species there!

  2. A fantastic series of photos, loved all of them. It was the next best thing to going on the same tour. Thank you so much, a very enjoyable visit for me.

  3. What a great place to visit. The scenery is lovely and the birds are awesome. The moth is beautiful, great find! Wonderful post, Ken!

  4. HI that is a wonderful set of varietied shots. The moth near the end is amazing. Margaret

  5. I am adding Sadona to my Bucket List ... what a wonderful varied selection of birds and other in such a short stay. This was an amazing venture for me ... thank you!

    Andrea @ From The Sol

  6. What an amazing collection of birds to see. I'd be happy with even one of those. From Findlay

  7. Wonderful Ken!!! I haven't really birded Sedona so it's nice to see the diversity there. I'm always afraid there are too many people but I'm hoping we both find that Dipper. Greer, AZ where they are hanging out right now:)

  8. A super collection of photos Ken. I can tell what a dedicated birder you are - within minutes of hooking up the RV you were out on the trail looking birds birds and wildlife. I've only seen lansdcapes like that in Western movies but they never showed the wildlife you have.

  9. Great area to visit!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  10. Everytime we ended up in Sedona area, I thought the place was crawling with hippies and druggies...but oh the landscaping sculpture is marvelous. You've managed to share some wonderful, absolutely marvelous bird sightings.

  11. What a stunning landscape... beautiful images and many thanks for sharing the wildlife.

  12. Magnificent scenery and beautiful birds. I especially liked the Mergansers in the rapids.

  13. Ken, wonderful pics and sightings! Too bad you did not see the dipper, a favorite species of mine. There is no other bird like it!

  14. Fabulous Ken. I have always wanted to visit Sedona! Beautiful scenery. Some great bird captures, and that moth is awesome!

  15. amazing scenery and wonderful birds, squirrel and moth ... great photos

  16. Wonderful set of pictures. Did you ever get to see the Dipper?

    The red rock looks very much like the red of central Australia.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  17. Breathtaking scenery and wonderful photos of the wildlife!

  18. Lovely pictures of your area and Sedona. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I would like to take our trailer there. I loved the summer tanager!

  19. Wonderful and interesting post, with beautiful photos!

  20. What a wonderful trip! Those layered rock formations are so beautiful. You captured quite a variety of birds and other critters in your lens.

  21. Very productive spot for birding indeed. Love the spider hunt shots and all the others. I misread the Silky Flycatcher as 'Silly' Flycatcher and his crest does loo a bit funny.
    You are lucky to have family to travel with I'm left on my own and it's a bummer not to be able to take more than just day trips.

  22. The red rocks are gorgeous! I also love the moth and the birds.


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