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Mon, May 20

Column: Migratory bird activity is picking up in Prescott area

Male Bullock’s Oriole (Courtesy)

Male Bullock’s Oriole (Courtesy)

When it comes to bird watching activity, this is a great time of year to get out in nature. A few winter residents are still lingering, spring migratory birds are showing up and transient species are passing through. Every day I receive new reports on what customers are seeing in their yards.

In my yard, I am still seeing Cassin's finches, white-crowned sparrows, chipping sparrows, pine siskins and small flocks of cedar waxwings. It is just a matter of days before all of these birds leave and move to their breeding range.

Our wintering birds will soon be replaced by spring arrivals such as black-headed grosbeaks, lazuli buntings, green-tailed towhees and-if you are really lucky-several different kinds of orioles.

Orioles are one of the showiest species to arrive in spring. There are three different species that occur on a regular basis in the Central Highlands of Arizona: Bullock's, Scott's and hooded. Orioles are characterized by having a fairly long, slightly curved beak, with incredibly bright colors. Males are either brilliant orange, black and white, or bright yellow and jet black.

Whether you will be successful in attracting orioles to your yard largely depends on where you live. It seems each species has specific habitat requirements. If you want to try and coax them into your yard, I recommend an oriole feeder-it is a nectar feeder that you fill with sugar water. Orioles can also be attracted by putting out fresh fruit such as citrus, grapes and apples. They also love grape jelly and live meal worms!

With so many different ways to attract orioles, you might consider trying your luck. As many migratory species are just passing through, you might only see them for a few weeks before they settle on a territory where they will breed and rear young. This is true of lazuli buntings, as well. They frequently occur in large numbers for a brief period of time before moving on to their summer range.

On a Jay's Bird Barn-sponsored bird walk to Granite Basin this past week, the group, led by Micah, saw 48 species! In one five-minute period, they saw three different vireo species in the same tree: plumbeous, Cassin's and Hutton's.

A lot is happening in the birding community over the next few weeks. Tonight at 7 p.m. is the Prescott Audubon Society meeting at Trinity Presbyterian Church located at 630 Park Ave. in Prescott. Tonight's presentation will be by Micah Riegner-he will be talking about his latest trip to the jungles of Brazil. This free program is open to the public.

Tomorrow morning at 7 is a free guided bird walk sponsored by Jay's Bird Barn. Store Manager Ryan Crouse will be taking birders on a gentle hike at the Granite Mountain Trailhead off Williamson Valley Road. Call the store at 928-443-5900 to sign up. Field trips are limited to 12 individuals.

A week from today is the beginning of the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood. Field trips, workshops and seminars will take place each day from Thursday through Sunday. For more information, check out the festival website at birdyverde.org.

Two weeks from Saturday, on May 2, is the Highlands Center for Natural History's Native Plant Sale. I will be speaking at 11 a.m. on the topic of creating a bird-friendly yard by landscaping to attract birds to your yard. For more information, visit the Highlands Center website at highlandscenter.org.

Until next week, Happy Birding!

Eric M. Moore is the owner of Jay's Bird Barn, with two locations in northern Arizona - 1046 Willow Creek Road in Prescott, and 2360 State Highway 89A in Sedona. Eric has been an avid birder for 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at eric@jaysbirdbarn.com.

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