This past week was a whirlwind. Here’s a brief recap. My last day of guiding the group of birders from Las Vegas was on Wednesday. We visited the Environmental Operations Park in Sierra Vista and birded the San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area.
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Hummingbird Festival hosted by the International Hummingbird Society, in Sedona, Arizona. This week I have been watching hummingbirds!
Over ten years ago we started our own seed mixing operation, making custom seed blends that are habitat-specific to the Arizona Central Highlands.
We are currently experiencing a high call volume at the Bird Barn with questions related to baby birds. In fact, one of my employees recently asked me if I had written a column this year on the topic of what to do if one finds a baby bird out of the nest.
Feeding hummingbirds is probably one of the easiest ways to attract birds to your yard. Despite how easy it is to put out a hummingbird feeder, it is likely you will experience some challenges. Below are some solutions for challenges you may experience.
Now that it is “officially” summer, you may wonder if you can expect any changes in terms of the wild bird activity in your yard. If you look at the totality of summer (it extends from June 21 to September 22this year), there will be a tremendous amount of change in bird activity.
Growing up as a young birder in Tucson, I remember being included in a calling tree when a rare bird showed up in the area. The person who discovered the rare bird would call and report their sighting to the individual in charge of the calling tree.
Last Friday I led a Jay’s Bird Barn-sponsored bird walk to Watson Woods and Watson Lake. It was a productive morning in terms of the varieties of bird species observed — we saw more than 40 different species in less than three hours.
I got home on Monday from our trip to Germany and Austria. While in Austria we had the opportunity to visit the Swarovski Optiks factory.
My wife, Gayla, served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Munich, Germany Mission from December of 1981 to June of 1983. Later, when we married, she wanted to share her love of Germany with me by taking a trip there together.
This past Saturday I led a free Jay’s Bird Barn guided bird walk to Granite Basin. This is one of my favorite places to go birding locally. I’ve had a lot of amazing discoveries there — birds that “shouldn’t” be in the Prescott area, yet somehow end up in this unique confluence of habitats.
Arizona has the reputation for the greatest variety of hummingbird species in North America, although Texas would dispute this fact. The majority of Arizona’s hummingbird species occur close to the Mexico border; the further north you go, the fewer the varieties. Here is a rundown on the various hummingbirds that have been observed in Prescott.
Nesting season has already been underway for several months for many early nesting bird species such as bald eagles and great-horned owls. Even some of our smaller song birds start nesting in February and March.
At this point, spring migration is still just a trickle, but the number of bird species on the move will grow every week until it reaches its peak in early May. As the days continue to get longer, the Arizona Central Highlands will experience a tremendous change in the variety and quantity of bird species at backyard feeders.
While COVID is not necessarily in our rearview mirror, I am excited to announce that for the first time since 2019, several of the annual birding festivals are going to be in-person this year. If you have never attended a birding festival, I strongly recommend participating! Here are some upcoming events over the next few months...
Hummingbird sightings continue to come in. Since last week, I’ve had reports of four different species at backyard bird feeders — Anna’s, rufous, broad-tailed and black-chinned. If you haven’t put out a hummingbird feeder yet, I’d suggest getting at least one feeder up right away, if not more.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As I was thinking of a topic to write about this week, my mind settled on the thought of how there are so few songbirds with green plumage.
Over the last two weeks, my column has provided helpful tips on how to improve your bird identification skills. Today’s column will continue in the same vein. Another key piece of knowledge that can be helpful when identifying wild birds is to observe what the bird in question is eating.
In my column last week, I shared bird identification tips. Some of my recommendations had to do with such field markings as color and beak structure. Other recommendations included behavior, size and foraging techniques. I also made the suggestion to pay attention to the habitat where the bird is observed.
As an avid bird watcher, I try to keep a record of every bird species I see. This means I need to be able to put a name on every bird I observe. Developing the skill of identifying birds is critical to good record keeping.
This past week I attended the Oasis Gift Show at the Phoenix Convention Center. As you might imagine, a trip to Phoenix was the perfect opportunity to do some bird watching.
I was making a birdseed delivery to a customer who lives in the Dells. As I was leaving her home, I heard the unmistakable sound of vocalizing white-throated swifts, flying overhead.
This past Saturday I led a Jay’s Bird Barn-sponsored bird walk to the city-owned-and-operated recharge ponds, by the Prescott Airport. Historically this area was off limits to the public, but recently the city has taken several steps (and has plans for several additional actions) to make the facility more accessible for recreational use.
Recently I started receiving verbal communication from customers reporting they were seeing an unusually large brown bird in the area of Prescott High School, off Ruth Street.
We wrapped up our visit to our son, Jeremy, and his family in Virginia this past week. While we were back East, we swung through Maryland and spent a little time in both Delaware and New Jersey.
Last week, as 2021 drew to a close, Gayla and I flew to Virginia to visit our son Jeremy and his family. Fortunately, in spite of all of the COVID-related-flight cancellations, we were able to travel to see our newest grandchild, Jethro.
As I review the past year —from a birding perspective — I am so grateful for the birding trips I was able to participate in this year!
Last Wednesday, Dec. 15, was the Prescott Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count. I have participated in Christmas Bird Counts since I was a teenager.
On Sunday we were having a discussion at home as to whether anyone had seen a hummingbird in the last two weeks on either of the two feeders we still have out.
I was driving eastbound on Rosser Street earlier this week, and just before I got to the community center, I saw a small bird perched atop a street sign in the median. Since I was driving, I only had a brief look with the naked eye, but I was pretty confident that what I saw was a mountain bluebird.
We have had such a lovely fall! Our daytime temperatures have consistently been running slightly above normal, and our morning low temperatures have been fairly mild. While it has been dry, our lack of precipitation is not unusual for this time of year, as October and November are generally dry months.
As we get closer and closer to winter solstice, the days continue to get shorter as the nights get longer. While this change in day length does not affect us directly, it has a big impact on wild birds.
Earlier this week, I was both surprised and thrilled to see an Abert’s squirrel sitting in my platform bird feeding tray, getting its fill of bird seed. In the 16 years we’ve lived at this house, I have never seen an Abert’s squirrel in my yard!
About two weeks ago, I was on my way to the mailbox when a couple of ravens flew into the area and starting raising a ruckus.
I received a text last week from a customer who lives in Montezuma Well (in the Verde Valley) reporting a rufous-backed robin in his yard. This is really an incredible find.
This past week, Gayla and I visited our son, Merritt, and his family in Edmond, Oklahoma enroute to Mexico, Missouri to attend the Wild Bird Expo trade show. I’ve attended this annual trade show since 2005 to do buying for our store, and as you might imagine, I always manage to work in some bird watching along the way.
I was recently asked by a customer how likely it would be to see a curve-billed thrasher in Prescott. If I had been asked this question a few years ago, I would have said it was pretty unlikely. However,...
There is no question that what we eat affects our health. Better health is a natural byproduct of eating foods that have a higher nutritional value. This is true for all living organisms, not just humans.
Now that fall is upon us, you can expect to see changes in the variety of birds frequenting your feeders. There has already been limited reports of white-crowned sparrows.
Our 14-day ‘Northern Tanzania Wildlife Safari’ ended on Sept. 5. Leaving our group, Gayla and I transferred to a different safari vehicle with a new driver and a birding guide.
Arriving in Serengeti National Park, we spent our first night at a tented camp — Embalakai Authentic Camp. I did not realize that all of our camps would be open — they were not inside a fenced enclosure.
We just wrapped up our first full week here in Tanzania. Our travels have been both fruitful and fulfilling. There are eight participants in our group, and we are divided into a ‘photography’ group in one safari vehicle and a ‘birder’ group in another safari vehicle.
As crazy as it sounds (it is hard for even me to believe,) I am in Tanzania right now! Gayla and I flew here late last week to join Prescott resident, Walt Anderson, a naturalist, photographer, artist and former professor at Prescott College. We have only been here a few days, and, so far, it has been magical!
Our summer monsoons have been such a blessing. However, sometimes our blessings can also result in challenges. What kinds of challenges can an abundance of rain bring? Weeds — and lots of them!
Over the last two weeks, I have been on two really enjoyable trips. The first was a driving trip from Prescott to southwestern Colorado, about 15 miles north of Dolores. What an absolutely beautiful area — it was so green, and there was water everywhere!!