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 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.
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.
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
While only somewhat productive in the fall, in the spring it can be Warbler Heaven.
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.
The Trail South of the Parking lot and the Road in
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.
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.
American Crow (rare)
Barn Owl (occational)
Black-chinned Sparrow (occational)
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
House Sparrow (occational)
Juniper Titmouse (occational)
White-breasted Nuthatch (once)
Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay
Common Black Hawk
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Praraire Falcon (occational)
White-throated Swift (once)
Willow Flycatcher (occational)
Cassin’s Vireo (occational)
Gray Catbird (rare)
Indigo Bunting (once)
Nasnville Warbler (occational)
Rufous Hummingbird (once)
Swainson’s Hawk (occational)
Black and White Sparrow (rare)
Canyon Towhee (once)
Cassin’s Finch (occational)
Golden Eagle (occational)
Lawernce’s Goldfinch (occatioanal)
Mountain Chickadee (occational)
Pacific Wren (once)
Pygmy Nuthatch (once)
White-throated Sparrow (occational)
eBird Hotspot: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1997308?yr=all&m=&rank=mrec
Title Photo by Chip Engelmann