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Wed, Sept. 18

Column: Birding minus the watcher's 'Bible'

For several months I worked on planning a bird watching trip to Southeastern Arizona for Aug. 21-23. I studied. I got on line. I prepared an itinerary and I created a detailed packing list with all of the equipment I wanted to take.

You would think that with all of my preparations that I wouldn't have forgotten anything. Think again. No sooner had I gotten to my destination (hundreds of miles from Prescott) that I realized that I didn't even bring a bird book with me. How in the world did that happen?

My "Sibley Guide to the Birds of North America" is like my security blanket - I don't go anywhere without it. I use this book every day in the store as I talk birds with our customers. I felt lost not being able to refer to my Sibley Guide.

Fortunately, I did bring with me "The National Geographic Hand Held Birds." This electronic bird identification program works in a Palm Pilot using a memory card that has the entire "National Geographic Field Guide to birds of North America," including illustrations, text, range maps, and best of all - vocalizations.

I timed our trip to visit the Huachuca Mountains (near Sierra Vista) during the peak of hummingbird migration. Our first destination was Miller Canyon, where my wife and I camped at Beatty's Guest Ranch. Beatty's is a hummingbird paradise.

The main hummingbird viewing area was within 100 feet of our campsite and it had 15 (yes, 15) 32 oz. Best-1 Brand Hummingbird feeders. The number of hummingbirds was staggering. At any given moment I was probably looking at 100 hummingbirds or more. I saw nine different hummingbird species at Beatty's, including one species I had never seen before - a stunning, beautiful male white-eared hummingbird.

The next day we visited Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast, one canyon south of Miller Canyon. For a $5 donation, you can go onto the property even if you are not a guest there. Their hummingbird viewing area is a beautiful setting and they have 12 32 oz. Best-1 Brand Hummingbird Feeders. Here I saw two additional hummingbird species that I had not seen at Beatty's, including another new species for my life list, a Lucifer's hummingbird.

Birding at these two locations brought me a total of 11 different hummingbird species, a far cry from the two or three that I see in my yard here in Prescott - Anna's, black-chinned, and rufous.

Other canyons we visited in the Huachucas included Garden Canyon, Scheelite Canyon, Carr Canyon, and Ramsey Canyon. If you remember, my column last week was all about migrating warblers. During our two days of birding in the Huachuca Mountain canyons, I saw 13 different warbler species. Migration is definitely under way.

On the way home we made a quick trip over to the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson. I was looking for the famous flame colored tanager that summers in Madera Canyon. Unfortunately it had already migrated - I missed it by about a week. Looks like I'll have to make a trip back to southeastern Arizona next spring in order to see it. Hopefully I will remember to bring my "Sibley's Guide."

Hope you are enjoying an abundance of hummingbirds at your feeders this week. Happy Birding!

If you have specific questions or issues related to wild birds which you would like discussed in future articles, you can submit them to Jay's Bird Barn, 1046 Willow Creek Road, Suite 105, Prescott, AZ 86301 or log onto www.JaysBirdBarn.com and click on Ask Eric, which will link you with my e-mail address Eric@JaysBirdBarn.com.

Eric M. Moore is the owner of Jay's Bird Barn and has been an avid birder for over 40 years.

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