Arizonensis --> Sonoran Desert Naturalist --> Sonoran Desert Places --> Rackensack Canyon & Camp Creek --> Birds --> Rackensack Wildflowers

Birds in Rackensack Canyon to Lower Camp Creek

Rackensack Canyon and Camp Creek is a stretch of riparian habitat located a short distance northeast of Carefree, Maricopa Co., Arizona. Rackensack Wash crosses the Seven Springs Road (FR-24) about 8 km north of the Bartlet Dam Road turnoff.

Motor vehicle access to upper Camp Creek is limited to lease holders in the cottage enclave along the wooded creek. Foot access along Rackensack Canyon from Seven Springs Road is easy and offers several kilometers up and down canyon to explore. Upper Camp Creek is a gallery riparian woods dominated by willows, cottonwoods and sycamores and is the main area for migrant and riparian birds.

View of Rackensack Canyon just above its confluence with Camp Creek. Photo © Michael Plagens

View looking southeast from Seven Springs Road above Rackensack Canyon. Verdant green trees are mostly Red Willow (Salix laevigata). Ash and cottonwood are also present.

Map of Rackensack and Camp Creek, Maricopa Co., Arizona

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Camp Creek flows southeast and eventually joins the Verde River. For most of its stretch it is dry most of the year - on the surface that is. Mesquite, Desert Willow and Fremont Cottonwood are indicators of the more-or-less reliable subsurface flow of water.

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Not a complete list, but rather a list of birds likely to be seen. Many uncommon migrants and strays have been seen along Camp Creek over the years. Common species listed first.

  1. Bell's Vireo -- Vireo bellii -- very common from mid spring through early autumn
  2. Gambel's Quail -- common year-round
  3. Gila Woodpecker -- common year-round
  4. Canyon Towhee -- common year round
  5. Black Phoebe -- Sayornis nigricans - Spring through Autumn
  6. House Finch -- Carpodacus mexicanus - year round resident
  7. Mourning Dove -- Zenaida macroura -- year-round
  8. White-winged Dove -- Zenaida asiatica - Late Spring and Summer
  9. Yellow Warbler -- Dendroica petechia - Spring through early Autumn
  10. Verdin -- Auriparus flaviceps -- Year-round
  11. Brown-headed Cowbird -- Molothrus ater -- year-round, more common spring-summer
  12. Common Raven -- fairly common year-round
  13. Northern Mockingbird -- Mimus polyglottos -- year-round resident
  14. Cassin's Kingbird -- Late Spring and Summer
  15. Curve-billed Thrasher -- Toxostoma curvirostre -- year-round resident
  16. Black-tailed Gnatcatcher -- Polioptila melanura -- year-round
  17. Hooded Oriole -- Icterus cucullatus -- Mid Spring and Summer
  18. Lucy's Warbler -- Vermivora luciae -- Spring and Summer
  19. Lesser Goldfinch -- Year-round resident
  20. Ruby-crowned Kinglet -- Regulus calendula - Autumn, Winter, and Spring
  21. Phainopepla -- Phainopepla nitens -- Autumn, Winter and Spring
  22. Ash-throated Flycatcher -- Myiarchus cinerascens Spring and Fall
  23. Cactus Wren -- Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus -- year-round
  24. Greater Roadrunner -- Geococcyx californianus -- year-round
  25. Zone-tailed Hawk -- Late Spring and Summer
  26. Cooper's Hawk -- Year-round resident
  27. Canyon Wren -- a few present year round
  28. Scrub Jay -- year round, but sporadic
photo © Mark Borom

Greater Roadrunners are common along the open stretches of Camp Creek where they dart after lizards and other prey.

photo © Mike Plagens

White-winged Doves time their nesting to the fruiting of the saguaro cactus in late June.

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