northern_waterthrushThe 2012 Centennial Birding Challenge is officially over now that we are in the New Year. As the year was winding down, I was still trying to add species to my 2012 state list. On Dec. 26, I added my final new species of the year – a Northern Waterthrush – finishing the year with 239 species in the state of Arizona.

I am pleased with the number of species I saw, but there were certainly gaps in my bird list. There were a few species that I should have seen, but missed. Most notably would be Pinyon Jays – I should have seen this species at some point during the year, but I didn’t. I also missed out on Sage Sparrows, not that I didn’t put a lot of effort into finding them. I just struck out on each occasion. Sometimes running a business gets in the way of bird watching!

The waterthrush was discovered by an excellent local birder on the day of the Prescott Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. I really wanted to add this species to my state list, and it proved to be a very cooperative bird. I drove out to the old 89A bridge over Granite Creek, parked the car, walked onto the bridge, looked down onto the creek, and it was right there in plain sight. I was grateful to find it so easily.

What do you think the wife of a guy who owns a backyard wild bird store would give her husband for Christmas? After all, he probably already has everything he needs to enjoy the hobby of feeding and watching birds, at home and in the field. My wife gave me a No/No brand black-oil sunflower feeder. I promptly put up the feeder and on Sunday of this week, the new feeder resulted in a new bird in my yard – an American Goldfinch! Needless to say, I was very happy!

I enjoyed being at home on Christmas day watching the bird activity in my yard. Of interest was a flock of more than 20 Pine Siskins taking full advantage of my bird feeding area. They were on the finch feeder eating the nyjer/thistle seed, they were on the platform feeder that had mixed seed and many of them were feeding down on the ground below the feeders.

Other birds in the yard included several yellow-rumped warblers at suet feeders and at the Mr. Bird Wild Bird Feast cylinder. A Bewick’s Wren was really going to town on the Wild Bird Feast block. It is so interesting to observe how different species prefer specific feeders and certain types of food.

I know that a lot of individuals set goals at the beginning of each year. If one of your goals this year is to spend more time in nature and learn more about the wild birds in the area, I encourage you to take advantage of the free guided bird walks that we offer each week here at the store. These guided bird walks are a great way to expand your knowledge of the birds in the Prescott area, and are open to beginners as well as those who are more advanced in their birding skills.

Our first bird walk of the year will be this Saturday, Jan. 5, at 8 a.m. at Willow Lake. On Jan. 12, we will be sponsoring two teams participating in a Bald Eagle survey. Upcoming bird walks are listed on our website. Please call the store at 443-5900 to sign up, as we limit the group size to 12 people.