Birding: Birding on a bike

It is not uncommon for birding and nature festivals in Arizona to offer field trips where you can go birding on a bike, or on a bronco or by kayak. Using different modes of transportation while birding is an enjoyable way of combining two hobbies.

I own both a canoe and a kayak and certainly enjoy bird watching while spending time on the lakes in the Prescott area. I do not own a bronco, but I do enjoy combining hiking, biking and birdwatching.

This past Saturday I rode my bike from the Watson Woods trailhead in Prescott out to Glassford Hill Road in Prescott Valley and back. I enjoy this bike ride as it winds through the dells and skirts Glassford Hill via the Peavine and Iron King trail.

It was a perfect day for bike riding and birdwatching. The air temperature and air quality were amazing. It was as if you could see forever. I went prepared with my 12x50 Swarovski binoculars and had a great time as I made periodic stops along the way to view both birds and wildlife. I loved every minute of my ride. Well, almost. The trip back was uphill and I faced a strong head-wind.

Biking past Watson Lake, I noticed a definite change in the number of birds on the lake. I saw white-faced ibis, American avocets, and black-necked stilts working the shallow water along the shore line.

On the Iron King portion of the trail I encountered two different herds of pronghorns, and I saw a good sized horned lizard on the trail. My recollection from growing up in Tucson is that horned lizards were far more common than they are now. It is an uncommon sight to see one anymore.

I saw many different bird species including both Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawk, American Kestrel, scrub-jays, swallows and a canyon wren in the boulders of the dells.

On another note, this past week there was a juvenile red-tailed hawk sitting in a tree in the Arizona Pioneers’ Home Cemetery behind the store. At the same time, I observed a zone-tailed hawk flying over the Mountain View Cemetery in front of the store. The zone-tailed hawk gradually drifted over the parking lot in front of the store to the point that I could see it was carrying a lizard in its talons, which it would take a bite of from time to time while it was flying!

Last Thursday I was down at the Rio Salado Audubon Center on Central Avenue in Phoenix. The facility straddles both sides of the Salt River and offers good bird watching opportunities in spite of being in such an urban environment. While I didn’t get to spend a lot of time birding, one highlight was seeing a peregrine falcon.

The first meeting of the 2017-2018 season of the Prescott Audubon Society is tonight, Thursday, September 28th at 7:00 pm at Trinity Presbyterian Church, located at 630 Park Avenue. The title of the presentation is “A Love Affair with Hummingbirds.” The presenter is conservation biologist Karen Krebbs, who has been studying hummingbirds for more than 30 years and has worked at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for more than 26 years. The program is free and open to the public.

One final reminder—this Saturday, September 30th is the last day to submit pictures for our 9th annual Wild Bird Photography contest. Photo contest guidelines are on the Jay’s Bird Barn website at www.jaysbirdbarn.com. The exhibit opens to the public on Monday, October 2nd. I encourage you to come and vote for your favorite pictures.

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.