The Top 10 Birding Hotspots in Maricopa County
1. Gilbert Water Ranch-Gilbert Water Ranch, officially known as the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, is the best birding location overall in Maricopa County. It has seven recharge basins which can change by the day as well as a fishing lake. Riparian habitat is planted around each pond to correspond with different riparian zones found throughout Arizona. The Water Ranch attracts an amazing variety of birds annually, both common and rare. This location is very easy to walk and bird for all age groups. Growth and vegetation around each pond provides cover and almost a "viewing blind" atmosphere for birders to get in for up close views of the different birds present. For bird photographers, this location is a classic example of an excellent location for wild bird photography. Birding outings at Gilbert Water Ranch commonly produce anywhere from 50 to 70 different species. The Water Ranch holds habitats for almost a little bit of everything that may be seen in the area. The ponds provide habitat for shorebirds, waterfowl, and other waterbirds. If dry, they may be grassy and hold grassland species. Riparian plantings around each pond are an annual migrant trap for an abundance of different passerines on the move. Gilbert Water Ranch is the most recommended stop if one has a single day to bird in the area. Spring, Fall and Winter are always very productive. There are almost always a few birders present at Gilbert Water Ranch daily.
2. Tres Rios Overflow Wetlands-The Tres Rios Wetlands Project in recent years have expanded their projects to an impressive section of their wastewater treatment plant.
3. Granite Reef Recreation Site
4. Glendale Recharge Ponds
5. Hassayampa River Preserve
6. Mount Ord
7. Sunflower (Old Beeline Highway)
8. The "Thrasher" Spot at Baseline Road/Salome Highway
9. Morgan City Wash
10. Desert Botanical Gardens