Birding: Celebrating wild birds

A sharp-shinned hawk. (Eric Moore/Courtesy)

A sharp-shinned hawk. (Eric Moore/Courtesy)

On Tuesday of this week, I had a speaking engagement in Phoenix for the Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs at the Valley Garden Center, located less than a mile from the State Fairgrounds.

The garden center has the largest mesquite tree I have ever seen in my life! It was enormous. As I walked beneath its lofty branches, I could not help but think that surely there just had to be a great horned owl roosting somewhere up in that magnificent tree. I searched high and low for an owl — with no success — but I did find a sharp-shinned hawk hiding in the shadows.

In the limited time I had to wander the grounds, I found a variety of birds such as northern mockingbird, verdin, great-tailed grackle, Anna’s hummingbird, gila woodpecker, house finch and rock dock. I suspect the garden center would have an impressive bird list over a period of time if someone chose to bird watch there on a regular basis and keep a record of what they saw.

As part of my talk, I showed a Power Point presentation with a collection of bird pictures that are downright stunning. However, I cannot take credit for any of the pictures, as they all came from customers. While I used to do bird photography (over 40 years ago,) now I just point my binoculars at birds!

Each year, the wild bird photo contest we host at each of the Bird Barn store locations illustrates the talent of local photographers and the quality of modern camera equipment.

Tonight, Thursday, Oct. 26, is the monthly meeting for the Prescott Audubon Society chapter at the Trinity Presbyterian church located at 630 Park Ave. The title for the program is “Mixing Birding and Bird Photography,” and the guest speaker will be Clay Taylor from Swarovski Optiks.

The program will consist of stunning pictures, and an explanation on how you can become an expert photographer of wild birds using digital camera equipment (including the camera in your iPhone) when you take pictures in conjunction with a spotting scope. This method of photography is referred to as “digiscoping,” and is a simple way to getting outstanding pictures of birds. The meeting starts at 7 p.m., and is free and is open to the general public.

Two days later, on Saturday, Oct. 28, as part of the Jay’s Bird Barn 14-year anniversary celebration, Clay Taylor will be leading a free guided field trip and hosting a workshop demonstrating the techniques used to photograph birds that he will be talking about on Thursday night. If you would like to participate in the field trip and workshop, call the store at 928-443-5900 to sign up.

Our annual celebration of wild birds takes place this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Part of the celebration includes live birds of prey on display from Arizona Raptor Experience, a free barbecue lunch, and the announcement of the winners of the 2017 photo contest.

As a small business, we strive to be active in our community supporting community events and local non-profits. This Saturday, as part of our anniversary celebration, we will be hosting a fundraiser for Tyler, a 15-year-old young man who suffers from Type I diabetes.

Tyler is trying to raise $20,000 to get a Diabetic Service Dog, and we want to help him. I invite the community to come to Jay’s Bird Barn on Saturday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to participate in our anniversary celebration and to contribute to the fundraiser for Tyler.

Until next week, Happy Birding!

Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, with three locations in northern Arizona – Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff. Eric has been an avid birder for over 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at eric@jaysbirdbarn.com.