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Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Wray Area - Yuma County
Aliases: Rainbow Park, Stalker Lake State Wildlife Area, Sandsage State Wildlife Area
Ownership: None Listed
Description: The area around Wray has great birding potential and really should be more of a destination than it is. Eastern specialties like Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird and sometimes Northern Cardinal can be found here year-round, Bell's Vireo breeds, and migrant land- and waterbirds can be numerous.

The best birding in Wray is in Rainbow Park and along the river nearby. Rainbow Park contains a small but dense cluster of coniferous and deciduous trees that has hosted wintering sapsuckers and could attract migrants. The park also provides access to a small patch of beautiful riparian habitat along the North Fork Republican River. To get to it from the northeast corner of the park, cross the ditch on the metal plank and follow the signs that say "No Vehicles." Look along the next seventy-five yards of the river for Red-bellied Woodpecker and almost any migrating warbler. Respect "No Trespassing" signs when you encounter them. The accessible riparian habitat continues on the other side of the highway, albeit in somewhat skimpier form.

Other parts of town can also be good for landbirds. In summer, keep an eye out for Mississippi Kite, which has bred. The cemetery just southeast of town is fairly mediocre, but its numerous small conifers (mostly junipers) might be worth a check especially in winter.

Although Wray is very nice, the best birding in the area is northwest of town. In particular, the hedgerows at Wray State Fishing Unit are a terrifically underbirded migrant trap. Driving into the unit, be sure to check out the large hedgerow and cottonwood trees along the entrance road (which could have roosting owls in the winter, breeding Bell's Vireos in the summer, and Northern Cardinal at any season), as well as the small cement-lined containment ponds (which usually only have swallows flying over them). Upon reaching the houses near the end of the road, check out the brushy habitat for sparrows (a Golden-crowned was seen here once). On your way back out, the pond across from the fishing unit entrance is also worth a check.

Just south of the Wray State Fishing Unit is Stalker Lake State Wildlife Area. The lake is larger than its neighbor across the street and more likely to attract diving ducks, grebes and other waterbirds. Below the dam are weedy fields good for sparrows, including diverse winter flocks of Zonotrichia. The small marshes here may harbor rails in summer and Swamp Sparrows or other goodies in winter, and during migration the riparian Russian-olive tangles might divulge a vagrant or two.

Southwest of Wray is the Sandsage State Wildlife Area, which consists mostly of weedy grassland but has a few trees along a minor creek and an intermittent marsh. Keep an eye out for Eastern Bluebird and flocks of sparrows.

Habitat: Urban/Suburban, Lowland Riparian, Stream, Hedgerow/Shelterbelt, Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Grassland/Prairie, Marsh
Directions: Wray is at the junction of US 34 and US 385. Rainbow Park is in the northwest corner of town, on the south side of US 34 just where it enters town. To get to the cemetery, continue east through town on US 34 to Cemetery Road and turn south, going about a mile. To get to Stalker Lake SWA and the Wray SFU, head west from town on US 34 about a mile and a half to CR FF and turn north. The entrance road to Stalker Lake is on the left (west) about a mile north of 34. The entrance road to the State Fishing Unit is just a little farther north, on the other side of the draw.
Other Wildlife:
Other Attractions:

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