This past week our son, Merritt, and his family, who reside in Oklahoma, visited us for a week. He and his wife have three of our five grandchildren, and we wanted to do different outdoor activities every day while they were here. One of the beautiful things about living in Prescott is that you don’t have to go very far to get out into nature — you can even be right in town.
As you might imagine, I wore my binoculars everywhere we went, whether it was Kayla’s Hands playground at Pioneer Park, or the Highlands Center for Natural History off of Walker Road.
On Tuesday of last week, we camped overnight at the Hilltop Campground at Lynx Lake. Tuesday night — and again on Wednesday morning — we hiked down to Lynx Lake and took in some of the bird life. We saw two bald eagles — an adult and one of the juveniles that had yet to leave the nest. We also saw an osprey, which was being mercilessly harassed by the adult bald eagle. Other common birds were bushtits, dark-eyed juncos and violet-green swallows.
On another day, we hiked the Greenways Trail System that parallels Granite Creek from Granite Creek Park to Leroux Street. We hiked the trail down and back, and I was delighted with all of the different bird species we saw and heard, including blue grosbeak, common yellowthroat, yellow warbler, Lucy’s Warbler, American robin, lesser goldfinches, black phoebe and more.
The trail goes directly under several major streets in the down town area, including Gurley Street. The creek wasn’t flowing. In fact, some areas were bone dry, and yet other stretches of the creek had standing water. I have to say, I loved how lush the habitat was in spite of all of the human development hemming in the creek.
On another day, we went to the new splash pad on North Montezuma Street right next to the new Hilton Garden Inn. While sitting on the grass, I watched a common black hawk soaring over the cottonwood trees lining Granite Creek. A few minutes later a Cooper’s hawk flew in and landed in a cottonwood tree and stayed for 10 to 15 minutes, while in the distance I watched a turkey vulture floating effortlessly on a thermal. We also watched a hummingbird that was attracted to one of the streams of water spraying high into the air. It kept flying into the water, perhaps drinking, or even aerial bathing.
We spent more time at Granite Creek Park and again I witnessed a good variety of birds even though we were right in town. I saw a male western bluebird, white-breasted nuthatches, bridled titmouse, American robins, and several warblers. The cottonwood trees at Granite Creek Park are very impressive—they are massive trees, and are bird magnets in spite of it being in a high-use urban environment.
We also spent time in the Forest Play area in the Discovery Gardens at the Highlands Center for Natural History. Just like all of the other areas we visited, there were birds to be seen in this lovely setting.
We are blessed to live in a community surrounded by amazing habitat that supports a variety of bird species. The Birds of Prescott, Arizona checklist that we sell in the store shows that over 360 different species of birds have been observed within a 10-mile radius of the courthouse plaza!
One of the things I love about the hobby of bird watching is that you can participate in this hobby anywhere and everywhere you go. I encourage you to get outdoors and partake of the beauty of the area.
Until next week, Happy Birding!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn in Prescott, Arizona. 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 email@example.com.