This week is when the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival was scheduled to take place at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. It was canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. I will really miss participating in it this year. It has been such a fun tradition to camp at the park and birdwatch each morning and evening before and after our vendor booth hours.
I have been doing a lot of solo birdwatching lately—for me it is the ideal way to spend time while practicing social distancing. I’m out in nature, by myself, enjoying the beauty of the area we live in, and seeing all of the amazing birds. With migration in full swing, it is really interesting to go birding at the same location day after day and see the difference in bird species from one day to the next.
This past week I spent some time bird watching near the airport. On one particular day, I saw seventeen ring-billed gulls and sixteen white-faced ibis. I also spotted two solitary sandpipers, western sandpipers, least sandpipers, spotted sandpipers, long-billed dowitchers and several Wilson’s snipes.
Watson Woods has been especially active with spring migrants showing up, including brown-headed cowbirds, Bullock’s orioles, summer tanagers and several different kinds of warblers. I also found an active hummingbird nest in Watson Woods this past week!
At our home this weekend, I captured still shots and took a video of a baby hummingbird at one of our feeders. When you consider this bird has already fledged from the nest (which is a process that takes up to 19 days) and the incubation period can be as long as 23 days, this means the female Anna’s hummingbird started building her nest around the first week in March.
Thinking about the snowstorm we had last month that did so much damage to the trees in our area, I am amazed that the nest—and the baby hummingbird—survived that experience!
In the past week, I have seen thirteen different warbler species—yellow-rumped, common yellow throat, yellow, Lucy’s, orange-crowned, Townsend’s, Olive, Grace’s, Virginia, Wilson’s, red-faced, painted redstart and black-throated gray. I am still hoping to see at least three additional warbler species as migration continues—hermit, MacGillivray’s and Nashville.
This past week I had a new bird in my yard—an acorn woodpecker. I was sitting outside having dinner one evening after work and heard its unique vocalization. I whipped around and saw it up in one of our cottonwood trees. In the fifteen years we’ve lived at our home off of Rosser Street, I have never before seen an acorn woodpecker in our yard.
We are selling a lot of oriole and hummingbird feeders right now as many people are starting to see these species in their yards. I have also gotten reports of black-headed grosbeaks showing up, along with green-tailed towhees. In addition to the acorn woodpecker a lot of other new birds have shown up in my yard this past week, including lazuli bunting, cedar waxwings and chipping sparrows. I’ve also been hearing broad-billed hummingbirds flying over, but I have yet to see one.
With so much migration activity going on, I encourage you to get out into your yard to hear and see what is passing through your yard each day. If there is ever a ‘best’ time to get out and go birding, it is right now!
Until next week, Happy Birding, and be well!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn. Eric has been an avid birder for over 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org