BIRDING IN GLOBE AND THE PINAL MOUNTAINS
Globe’s scenic Pinal Mountains form the most northern ‘sky island’ range in Arizona – and also the closest, for bird-loving visitors arriving from Mesa and East Valley cities. Watch for Chihuahuan Ravens during winter in the foothills and circling above Russell Gulch; then Fox Sparrow and Crissal Thrasher on the slopes above the paved road - and Yellow-eyed Juncos once you ascend from chaparral to Ponderosa Pine forests. Wintertime notables can include Olive Warbler and Red Crossbill.
Drivers from Mesa and East Valley cities can reach the mountaintop in less than 2.5 hours; enjoying a scenic 12 miles of well-graded dirt roads maintained by the US Forest Service, once you turn from pavement onto Forest Road 651 -- passing several different campsites (yes, with Forest Service primitive toilets) enroute; hiking trails -- and ending at prominent radio towers at Pinal Peak. Located within the Tonto National Forest, the Pinal Recreation Area includes 45,760 acres.
To get to the Pinal Recreation Area, you must first get to Globe, Arizona along US 60/70 in Gila County east of Phoenix. Just west of the old downtown the highway is heading to the south-southeast (SSE) and bends sharply to east-northeast to cross over Pinal Creek; turn right (SSE) at Hill St. immediately on the east side of the bridge. If coming from the east, this will be a left turn just before crossing the bridge. At the stop sign in 0.2 mile turn right, then almost immediately left again to cross over the railroad tracks and to the south side of Pinal Creek; there should be signs directing you to the recreation area. In another 0.9 mile turn right on Sixshooter Road, just past a small bridge. In another 1.8 miles, turn right at a stop sign to head up Kellner Canyon. Once on Tonto National Forest, you can pull over at any wide spot and begin birding almost anywhere. One productive spot is Kellner Campground. Below are some of the more common birds that are regularly seen in this area.