I continue to receive regular reports from customers regarding flocks of pinyon jays showing up at backyard bird feeders in the Williamson Valley area. Most people are initially thrilled when they show up — but the newness wears off quickly! Pinyon jays are a flocking species and show up in large numbers. It is not unusual for 50 to 75 jays to show up at a backyard bird feeder and empty it in about 10 minutes!
Pinyon jays usually prefer a natural habitat dominated by junipers and pinyons, and are not typically found in urban areas. This species is not the same jay species — the Woodhouse’s scrub-jay — that occurs frequently at backyard bird feeders year-round.
If you are fortunate enough to have pinyon jays frequenting your yard, but you are ready for them to leave (and wipe out someone else’s feeders), one way to make this happen is to stop feeding for a brief period so the flock will move on.
Even if you stop feeding, it is possible they may show up again once you resume feeding. Pinyon jays are highly nomadic, covering hundreds of square miles looking for pine nut crops that will sustain their flock over the winter months.
This week, be on the lookout for dark-eyed juncos. Juncos are small, sparrow-sized birds that feed down on the ground, often with a mixed flock of sparrows. Juncos, like sparrows, prefer white-proso millet. Ever since the white-crowned sparrows arrived in my yard several weeks ago, millet consumption has increased dramatically. Millet consumption will continue to increase over the next few weeks as dark-eyed juncos filter into the area.
In my column last week, I shared a lot of information on our upcoming 19th anniversary celebration, which is this Saturday, the 29th, from 11 to 2. What I didn’t mention is that we are dedicating our anniversary celebration to Brad Newman, and we are hosting a fundraiser to help with his medical expenses. Brad served as the Executive Director at Yavapai Exception Industries (YEI) for over 40 years, but he recently suffered a massive stroke, and he has a long road to recovery.
I am proud of our association with YEI. This charitable organization has been providing meaningful employment to adults with disabilities since 1974. For more than 10 years now, every bag of our proprietary Jay’s Bird Barn bird seed has been mixed by the good folks at YEI, right here in Prescott.
There is still time — call today — if you would like to participate in one of our free digi-scoping photography fieldtrips. One is tomorrow, Friday, Oct.28, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Willow Lake, and the other is Saturday, Oct. 29, from 8 to 11 a.m. at Watson Lake. Pre-registration is required, as we are limiting these fieldtrips to 10 participants. Call the store (928-443-5900) to sign up.
As part of our celebration, we will be offering a wonderful free lunch along with several special activities. Carl and Joan Tomoff, local authors of the “Woody Plants of the Mogollon Highlands” will be doing a book signing from 11:00 to noon. This is a must-have book if you want to know more about the native plants found so abundantly here in the Arizona Central Highlands.
At noon we will be announcing the winners of this year’s 14th annual Wild Bird Photography contest, and at one o’clock, we will be entertained by the Beautiful Signers from Yavapai Exceptional Industries. Please join us as we celebrate the past and look forward to what lies ahead. I look forward to seeing you this Saturday!
Until next week, Happy Birding!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, Arizona Field Optics, and Hallmark in Prescott. 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.