Have you ever thought that you might enjoy participating more actively in bird-watching activities, such as bird walks, but didn't really know how to get involved? Well, the Prescott Audubon Society chapter is a great group to get involved with if you want to expand your bird-watching endeavors. In addition to hosting a monthly membership meeting (which is open to the public), the chapter sponsors at least two bird walks each month to a variety of locations.
During the month of December, Audubon chapters throughout northern Arizona will be conducting Christmas bird counts. The purpose behind such counts is to identify as many different species as you can and to also count the number of birds of each species identified. Teams of people will be assigned to canvass different sections of the count circle. The Prescott count is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 21. If you would like to participate, call Carl Tomoff at 778-2626 no later than Sunday.
Christmas bird counts are scheduled between Dec. 14 and Jan. 2 at the following locations: Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge, Chino Valley, Hassayampa River, Mormon Lake, Jerome, Flagstaff-Mount Elden, Camp Verde and Sedona. If you would like to participate in any of these counts, please stop by the store to obtain contact information.
In January there will be bird walks in Chino Valley, Skull Valley, Kirkland, Date Creek and Yarnell, as well as a trip to San Diego and the Salton Sea. Also on the calendar is a bird walk at the new Highland Center for Natural History on Walker Road. You don't have to be an Audubon member to participant in any of these activities, but membership has its privileges. (Doesn't that sound familiar?) One advantage to becoming a member is receiving a copy of the semi-monthly newsletter, Wingtips, which provides updates on activities, bird sightings, meetings, and conservation issues.
The Prescott Audubon chapter is actively involved in projects benefiting our community whether it be providing Audubon Adventures – a science-based environmental education program for grades 3-5 – or helping to provide money to create a library for the Highlands Center's new Lynx Creek Learning Center. Prescott Audubon has also adopted one of Prescott's city parks – Stricklin Park. Members of the local chapter have donated money and supplied the physical labor to make improvements to the property.
Stricklin Park, located on Sherwood Drive off of Thumb Butte Road, is an all-natural park with walking trails and interpretive signs, but there are no restrooms and no playground equipment! So if you are looking for a place to relax, someplace where you can be one with nature or maybe a place to enjoy your lunch hour, then pull up a rock (there are no picnic tables) and enjoy!
Another example of how the Prescott Audubon Society has been improving the quality of life for Prescott-area residents is the donation of birdseed to care centers – at no charge to the care centers. For the past 12 years Audubon members have generously donated money that has been used to purchase birdseed, which is then given to care centers for the residents' enjoyment of bird watching.
During the month of December, Jay's Bird Barn will be accepting donations to benefit this program. A bird feeder is being used as the collection pot so you can "feed the feeder" with your spare bills and change. All of the money collected will be donated to the Care Center Bird Feeding project. I invite you to come by Jay's Bird Barn this holiday season and make a contribution.
If you would like to join the Prescott chapter of the Audubon Society, I have forms available here at Jay's Bird Barn, as well as copies of the most recent Wingtips newsletter. Membership is open to all ages, and the fees are very reasonable, with senior, regular and junior rates.
If you have specific questions, or issues related to wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, you can submit them to Jay's Bird Barn, P.O. Box 11471, Prescott, AZ 86304, or log on to www.JaysBirdBarn.com and click on "Ask Eric" which will link you with my e-mail address: Eric@JaysBirdBarn.com. Until next week, happy birding!
Eric M. Moore is the owner of Jay's Bird Barn located at Watters Garden Center. He has been an avid birder for close to 40 years.