Tommy J. DeBardeleben

McCormick Ranch Area

Fast Flight Facts

Target Species:  Wintering waterfowl

Elevation: 1300'

Habitat:  Lakes and ponds in midst of golf courses and restaurants

Overall Birding Rating: 3

Difficulty: 1 (Easy)

Birding Type: Simple Walking, Get Out and Scan, Walking and Scanning

Facilities:  Parking

Fees/Ownership:  None/McCormick Ranch

Closest Town or City/How far from Phoenix:  Scottsdale /11 miles northeast of Phoenix

Getting there:  Several parking areas throughout the ranch provide access to the many ponds in the area

Overview:  The McCormick Ranch Area in Scottsdale offers some of the best winter waterfowl viewing opportunities in the Valley.  A lot of this area is on private property or in midst of golf courses, but the views of the the ponds and lakes can be looked at easily from several locations.  Two large ponds can be viewed in the area from sidewalks along Indian Bend Road, and a large lake north of these two ponds can be viewed from the parking lot at the Charthouse Restaurant.  Both of these spots annually hold large numbers of waterbird variety, and are always worth a check.

One of the main annual highlights in this area would be the regular occurrence of wintering Ross's and Snow Geese.  These two look alikes are often seen here together, which provides perfect in the field comparisons between the two species.  Canada Geese are usually seen in very large numbers here, and the birder shall carefully scan the Canada's in search of that possible Cackling Goose.  Other waterfowl here that are commonly present in large numbers include American Wigeon (be sure to scan for Eurasians!), Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser, Canvasback, Ruddy Duck, and American Coot.  Other waterbirds to watch for include different herons, grebes, cormorants, Spotted Sandpipers, and Belted Kingfishers.  Sometimes birds like Bald Eagles, Osprey, or an occasional pelican may stop by the ponds and lakes.

Birding Tip:  A scope is often needed to scan these lakes and ponds.  Not a lot of walking is needed here, some of the ponds do require a short walking distance for viewing opportunities.  A lot of this area is on private property and golf courses.  Be sure to stay on paths and parking lots while birding.

Directions:  The easiest freeway route in accessing the McCormick Ranch Area would be the Loop 101 East (Pima Freeway).  From the 101, take the Indian Bend Road exit.  Head west on Indian Bend Road for about two miles to reach this area.  McCormick Ranch's ponds are very extensive beyond this page on this guide, but this guide covers more of the easier to access and popular ponds.  The area described here is bordered four ways:  Scottsdale Road on the west, McCormick Parkway on the north, Hayden Road on the east, and Indian Bend Road on the south.  Driving around this border is 3.5 miles in length.  Often a good route to start with would be to continue west on Indian Bend Road after exiting off the 101.  Go west past Hayden Road and continue a short distance west.  Keep an eye out while crossing a bridge on the north side of the road.  Two large ponds are noticeable from the road, which are on the north side of Indian Bend Road.  Just west of these ponds are a business area where parking access is good.  This business parking lot will be your first right turn (north) into the business parking lot.  Park here and walk to the ponds on the concrete paths, and also avoid the golf course by staying on the public path.  After searching these ponds, from Indian Bend Road, head west until Scottsdale Road is reached.  Head north on Scottsdale Road for about a mile until McCormick Parkway is reached.  Turn right and head east on McCormick Parkway for a very short distance 0.1 miles where the parking lot to the Charthouse Restaurant will be on the south side of the road.  Park here and scan the big lake for waterfowl.  Scan only from the parking lot here, as it is private property.  An additional parking area to view this lake is south of the Charthouse Restaurant, and can be accessed along the east side of Scottsdale Road, 0.2 miles south of McCormick Parkway.  For better overviews of this area, see the maps page under the "Pages" section on this page.


McCormick Ranch Area Maps

McCormick Ranch Area eBird Data


Scenes and Sights from the McCormick Ranch Area:

Views of the lake from Indian Bend Road..

Views from the Charthouse Restaurant...

Birdlife of the McCormick Ranch Area:

Snow Goose

Ross's Goose


Back to Area 5-South Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe

Birding in Maricopa County

An online guide to the birds and birding locations of Maricopa County


Birding in Greenlee County

An online guide to Greenlee County Birding


Birding in Arizona's White Mountains

An online guide to Birding in Arizona's White Mountains