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Sedona Wildlife and Natural History

Animals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, Insects, and Plants of Sedona and the Verde Valley

Learn all about wildlife, including birds, trees, plants, and flowers, common to Sedona and the surrounding area.  The natural history of the Sedona and the Verde Valley is unique, with the riparian green-belt of Oak Creek attracting a surprising diversity of animals and birds.

Prairie dogs can be found in the high desert of Northern Arizona.

Prairie Dog Towns Among Northern Arizona Roadside Attractions

A short day trip from Sedona, area visitors can venture into the high desert wilds of Northern Arizona to find prairie dog colonies, referred to as "towns." These cuddly-looking little "dogs" peer curiously above their burrows, always on the lookout for danger and signaling their clan through a variety of chirps and calls. Endearing to watch, they love to hug and kiss (literally!), and exhibit a complex yet fascinating lifestyle while benefiting over a hundred other wildlife species.

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Sedona Birding: Ladder-Backed Woodpecker at Bell Rock Pathway

Ladder-back WoodpeckerThere it was. A loud, distinctive, and short “peek” directly overhead. Then another and then several in a row: what birders refer to as the “rattle call.” The glare of the afternoon sun made it a little difficult to look up in the direction of the sound, but after a bit of repositioning, there he was — busy working at a small hole in the skeleton of what appeared to be a pinyon pine.

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The Gambel's quail is a common bird in Sedona, Arizona.

Gambel's Quail, One of Sedona's Favorite Little Desert Friends

If you step out your front door one morning and it sounds like your front-yard prickly pear is talking to itself, no need to check yourself in. The chattering, muttering and burbling that emanates from beneath desert scrub all over the Southwest can usually be attributed to the Gambel's Quail, one of Arizona's favorite little desert friends. If you step closer to that babbling cactus, several quail will probably scurry out to take cover under the next bush, turning up the chatter and bobbing their absurd little topknots on the way. If it's early summer you'll see the fuzzy cotton-ball babies fumbling along after their parents, and you've hit the adorability jackpot.

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This attractive pink-tinged prickly pear cactus blooms at the end of April in Sedona, Arizona.

The Other Famous Cactus of Arizona — The Prickly Pear

While the monolithic saguaro cactus, stretching its arms to the blue desert sky might well be the most popular emblem of the Sonoran desert, you won't see any saguaros around Sedona, at least not in the wild. Most of red rock country is too high in elevation for the saguaro, but not so for Arizona's other well-known cactus, the prickly pear. They're tolerant of many different soils and climates, which is why you'll see it all over the state. Prickly pear flourish in the hot dry Sonoran desert and mingle with the pine trees at up to 9000 feet in the high country.

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