A sage thrasher spotted in the Cliff Rose subdivision last week. (Rita Wuehrmann/Courtesy)

A few weeks ago, a customer came up with a unique way to thank me and my store manager, Ryan, for a kindness we had shown him. His thank you included handing me a $100 bill — knowing that we wouldn’t accept the money personally — and asked me to donate the money to our favorite charity.

It is hard to have one favorite charity in Prescott, as there are so many nonprofits in our community that serve us so well. Ryan and I discussed the matter and settled on an appropriate cause that is near and dear to our hearts. We so enjoy helping children create a connection to nature — especially through wild birds.

Because of this, we donated the $100 to the Community Nature Center, or CNC. Not familiar with the CNC? It is located at 1980 Williamson Valley Road, Prescott, and is directly north of Abia Judd and Granite Mountain schools. There are no fees to access the facility, and it is open to the public seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to sunset, and parking is free.

There are about 1.5 miles of trails on the approximately 23-acre site that is now owned by the City of Prescott and is designated as open space. The Prescott Unified School District and the Prescott Recreation Department have teamed up to provide standards-aligned learning opportunities for our public-school students.

On any given week, anywhere from 40 to 200 students spend time at the CNC. Some teachers use the outdoor classrooms at the CNC to teach every day. Other Abia Judd and Granite Mountain teachers come for single-day experiences, bi-weekly or monthly learning programs.

If you would like to donate to the CNC, the easiest way would be to mail a check and write “Community Nature Center” in the memo area. Checks can be mailed to: Greater Prescott Outdoors Fund, c/o Arizona Community Foundation/Yavapai County, 300 E Willis St, Suite B, Prescott, AZ 86301. I hope they get flooded with donations!

In addition to the financial contribution, Jay’s Bird Barn recently donated bird books from our store’s overflowing lending library. Customers frequently donate books to our lending library that are either duplicates of titles already in our collection or books that are “outdated.” Rather than throw them away, we gave them to the director of the youth programs at the CNC.

Children attending the learning programs at the center can use the books however they want to — even to cut out pictures to make posters or collages. I know when I was a kid, I had a scrapbook filled with bird pictures that I cut out of my Ranger Rick magazines.

On another note, this past week customers who live in the Cliff Rose subdivision contacted me to let me know they had what they thought was a sage thrasher in their yard. They sent me pictures so that I could confirm their identification, and they were spot on. I asked if I could come to their home to see it — which I did, and the bird was cooperative!

This is a species of thrasher that is normally out in a natural setting — not in an urban, residential setting. I have seen countless sage thrashers over the years, but I have never seen one in Prescott in someone’s backyard. I appreciated the customer contacting me, and I was glad I could see it. I suspect last week’s heavy snows played a role in the bird coming into an urban setting where human-provided food sources could sustain him.

Until next week, Happy Birding!

Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, with two locations in northern Arizona—Prescott and Flagstaff. 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 eric@jaysbirdbarn.com.