Saturday, May 6th, Team Jay’s Bird Barn set out at 5:00 a.m. to begin our Bird-a-thon.  We started in the Verde Valley birding Page Springs Road, Bubbling Ponds, Page Springs Fish Hatchery, Sedona Wetlands and Dead Horse Ranch State Park.  We then went over Mingus Mountain and birded in the Prescott area—Granite Creek at the old 89a bridge, Willow Lake south shore, Watson Woods, Watson Lake, Ruth Street, a private residence, and finally Willow Lake north shore before calling it a day a few minutes shy of 8:00 p.m. 

Fifteen glorious hours of birding, with some of my dearest Jay’s Bird Barn associates. 

The day started out pleasant enough, but by the time we got to Sedona Wetlands, it was obvious that the wind was picking up—and by the end of the day, it was oftentimes difficult just to keep our balance or hold still as we were buffeted by the high winds.

We chose our route to maximize the total number of species we could potentially see—visiting different habitats and elevations.  The collective knowledge of our group was very beneficial as someone in the group knew of a species we might be able to add to our list by visiting a certain place. 

Our early morning birding was extremely productive as we checked off one species after another in the early going.  However, by afternoon, time of day and high winds took their toll on our numbers despite our never stopping or giving up. 

Some of the highlights included seeing ten different species of flycatchers and thirteen species of warblers!  In spite of all of the amazing birds we saw, I sometimes get hung on the birds we didn’t see—birds that were a ‘given’, that we should have seen.  For example, in spite of our best efforts, we never saw a juniper titmouse, or a Steller’s jay, or a canyon towhee.  These are a few examples of some of the birds we missed.

At the end of the day, when we tallied up all of the bird species we either saw, or heard our total was 128 species, 125 were observed and three we heard but never saw.  It was certainly a very successful day taking into consideration the impact of the wind on bird activity.  We set a very high bar for ourselves.  It will be difficult to beat 128 species next year. 

It is not too late to make a donation toward the Bird-a-thon fundraiser—checks should be made out to the Prescott Audubon Society and can be either mailed to or dropped off at Jay’s Bird Barn. 

On a completely different note I added a new bird to my life list this week!  For the past several days a common crane has been at Mormon Lake, southeast of Flagstaff.  On Monday I was able to go see it—what a beautiful bird.  This is the first record of a common crane in Arizona.  How it got here would be fascinating to know.  This species of crane is typically found in northern Europe and in Russia! 

On Wednesday, May 17th at 7:00 p.m. the documentary film, “GROUNDWATER To enact a law for the common good” makes its northern Arizona debut at the historic Elks Theater.  Following the film, a diverse panel of prominent water experts and the filmmakers will take questions from the audience. 

Tickets are $10 and the doors open at 6:00 p.m.  If you are interested in going we have a limited number of complementary tickets available here at the store.  Please call the store to reserve a free ticket. (443-5900) 

Until next week, Happy Birding!