Clear Creek Campground

Clear Creek Campground is part of the new Camp Verde IBA (Important Birding Area). This eBird Hotspot ranges from riparian to grassland with a little mesquite bosque thrown in for variety. It’s also great place to go to find not so uncommon birds that may be eluding you like, Green-tailed Towhee, Rock Wren, Virginia’s Warbler, Dusky Flycatcher, and if you are lucky Golden Eagle. I have seen a Golden Eagle at this location more years than any other–most often in January or February. In early summer, Clear Creek Campground can be the easiest place to find a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Unfortunately, the 2019 floods wiped out a lot topsoil, and walking the trails can be like walking in a river bed, so hiking boots are recommended.

Between the Campground and Day-use Parking

The area between the campground and the day-use parking lot can be full of mixed flocks of birds–especially in fall. Photo by Chip Engelmann
Green-tailed Towhee - Photo by Chip Engelmann

The area between the Clear Creek Campground and the Day-Use Parking Lot can be overlooked because, well, the trail is the other way. There are a maze of trails through this area and often you can find mixed flocks. Fall and early winter are the best times to find these flocks. You might find Lesser and American Goldfinches (the latter in non-breeding dull plumage), Pine Siskins, Western Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, Bridled Titmice, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Spotted, Green, and Abert’s Towhees, and Northern Cardinals.

The Grasslands

The Clear Creek Grassland area. You’ve probably guessed by now that these pictures have been taken in the fall. – Photo by Chip Engelmann
Some of the members of a recent Audubon Field Trip – Photo by Chip Engelmann

In the fall and early winter, the grassland area out the trail from the parking lot can be one of the most productive areas for birders, because the washes in the area provide enough water to foster cottonwood and sycamore trees.

Summer Tanager female – Photo by Chip Engelmann

Not only is it a good area for wintering sparrows, just up the corner from the first photo in this section is an area where House Finches live year round. So about now you are wondering why in the heck you should care about House Finches. Well, in the fall, they will be flocking with White-crowned Sparrows Western Bluebirds, American Robins, and Cedar Waxwings. In the winter, they will be flocking with Yellow-rumped Warblers and Lesser Goldfinches. In the spring, you will find them with Western and Summer Tanagers.

Along the rocks, I have a relationship with a Rock Wren. This particular bird always seems to either acts un-wren-like be or out of context for me, because I always have trouble figuring out what it is. Lately, I’ve been quicker to realize that it’s just that stupid Rock-wren again. I mean, it should be easy enough to identify with that super short tail and the way it bounces up and down.

The Riparian Area

Is this giant Arizona Sycamore one tree or two? Maybe I should start a Go-fund Me page to pay for DNA testing. – Photo by Chip Engelmann

While only somewhat productive in the fall, in the spring it can be Warbler Heaven.

Yellow-breasted Chat – Photo by Chip Engelmann

You can see Yellow Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, Townshend’s Warblers. Virginia’s Warblers, Lucy’s Warbler’s, MacGilliray’s Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow-breasted Chat. In addition, you can see may colorful birds including, but not limited to Summer and Western Tanagers, Lazuli and Indigo Buntings, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Northern Cardinals. The Clear Creek itself is home to Mallards and Wood Ducks.

Wood Duck -Photo by Chip Engelmann


The Trail South of the Parking lot and the Road in

The riparian area directly south of the parking area.

The reason I separated this area from the previous section is that it is here that the Yellow-billed Cuckoo nest. In the early summer they can be found high up in the canopy. You’d think such a distinctively colored bird would be easier to see.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Photos by Sam Hough

The road into Clear Creek Campground was pat of the IBA survey and for good reason. Three of the four target birds were found along the road, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the Bell’s Vireo, and the Common Black Hawk. Also seen in this area are the Blue Grosbeak, Verdin, lots of Lesser Goldfinch and a grumpy old Western Screech Owl.

This Western Screech Owl wasn’t too happy I woke him up. Unfortunately, the limb he lived in broke off the sycamore tree a couple years ago. – Photo by Chip Engelmann

Species Seen

Year Round




Abert’s Towhee

American Crow (rare)

American Kestral

American Robin

Anna’s Hummingbird

Barn Owl (occational)

Belted Kingfisher

Bewick’s Wren

Black-chinned Sparrow (occational)

Black Phoebe

Black-throated Sparrow

Bridled Titmouse

Brown Creeper

Bushtit (once)

Canyon Wren

Chipping Sparrow

Common Raven

Cooper’s Hawk

Crissal Thrasher

Eurasian Collared Dove

Gambel’s Quail

Gila Woodpecker

Great Blue Heron

Great Horned Owl

Great-tailed Grackle

Greater Roadrunner

House Finch

House Sparrow (occational)

House Wren

Juniper Titmouse (occational)

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Lesser Goldfinch

Mourning Dove

Northern Cardnal

Northern Flicker

Northern Mockingbird


Plumbeous Vireo

Red-tailed Hawk

Rock Pigeon

Rock Wren

Say’s Phoebe

Song Sparrow

White-breasted Nuthatch (once)

White-winged Dove

Wood Duck

Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay


Ash-throated Flycatcher

Bell’s Vireo

Black-chinned HUmmingbird

Blue Grosbeak

Brown-crested Flycatcher

Brown-headed Cowbird

Bullock’s Oriole

Cassin’s Kingbird

Cliff Swallow

Common Black Hawk

Common Yellowthroat

European Starling

Gray Vireo

Hooded Oriole

Lucy’s Warbler

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Perigrine Falcon

Praraire Falcon (occational)

Scott’s Oriole

Summer Tanager

Turkey Vulture

Warbling Vireo

Western Kingbird

Western Screech-owl

Western Wood-peewee

White-throated Swift (once)

Willow Flycatcher (occational)

Violet-green Swallow

Virginia’s Warbler

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-breasted Chat

Black-headed Grosbeak

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Cassin’s Vireo (occational)

Costa’s Hummingbird

Dusky Flycatcher

Gray Catbird (rare)

Gray Flycatcher

Hammond’s Flycatcher

Indigo Bunting (once)

Lark Sparrow

Lazuli Bunting

MacGillivray’s Warbler

Nasnville Warbler (occational)

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Rufous Hummingbird (once)

Sharpshinned Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk (occational)

Townsend’s Solitaire

Townsend’s Warbler

Vermilion Flycatcher

Western Tanager

Wilson’s Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Zone-tailed Hawk

American Goldfinch

Bald Eagle

Black and White Sparrow (rare)

Brewer’s Sparrow

Canada Goose

Canvasback (once)

Canyon Towhee (once)

Cassin’s Finch (occational)

Cedar Waxwing

Dark-eyed Junco

Gadwall (occational)

Green-tailed Towhee

Golden Eagle (occational)

Harry Woodpecker

Hermit thrush

Hutton’s Vireo

Lawernce’s Goldfinch (occatioanal)

Lincoln’s Sparrow

Loggerhead Shrike

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Chickadee (occational)

Northern Harrier

Orange-crowned Warbler

Osprey (occational)

Pacific Wren (once)

Pine Siskin

Pygmy Nuthatch (once)

Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-winged Blackbird

Ring-necked Duck

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Savannah Sparrow

Spotted Towhee

Townsend’s Solitaire

Vesper Sparrow

Western Bluebird

Western Meadowlark

White-crowned Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow (occational)

Yellow-rumped Warbler

eBird Hotspot:

Title Photo by Chip Engelmann

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