One of my favorite places to take people birdwatching near Sedona is the Page Springs Fish Hatchery, which is an excellent example of the cooperation that exists between state government and private groups like the Audubon Society. The Fish Hatchery is an 82 acre facility managed by the Arizona Department of Fish and Game, which grows nearly 700,000 Rainbow Trout to stock ponds, creeks, and streams throughout Arizona. In addition to Arizona’s largest coldwater fish production facility, there are several warm water ponds for producing sport fish like largemouth bass and walleye, and fish species of special concern such as razorback suckers.
The Bubbling Ponds portion of the hatchery has been designated an IBA, or Important Bird Area in Arizona (http://aziba.org/). Funded entirely by members of Northern Arizona Audubon, there are 2 wildlife viewing platforms, a large ramada, and the 1.8 mile Black-hawk trail complete with pleasant sitting areas throughout. The number of possible bird species is extensive, and birding is good year round. Within the last month I’ve seen Common Black-hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Redhead, American Widgeon, Green-winged Teal, Wilson’s Snipe, Kildeer, Black Phoebe, Abert’s Towhee, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Great Blue Heron, Gila Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, and Bald Eagle. In the summer you can count on Green Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron, Belted Kingfisher and Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Western and Summer Tanagers along the riparian area of Oak Creek. Just inland from the creek, we can find Plumbeous and Bell’s Vireos, Cassin’s Kingbirds and Brown-crested Flycatchers, Verdins and several species of wood warblers. Also, there are Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Yellowthroat, and Marsh Wren in the reeds, and sieges of Great Blue Heron roosting in the Cottonwoods. For more information, please visit: (http://northernarizonaaudubon.org/NAAS/bubbling-ponds-preserve/)