This past weekend, I had the privilege of speaking at the monthly membership meeting for the Las Vegas Red Rock Audubon Society chapter at the Clark County Wetlands Park. My PowerPoint presentation focused on the diversity of bird species found here in Yavapai County.
Birders from all over the country come to Arizona every year to add to their “life list,” their personal list of species observed over the course of their life. Arizona is considered one of the top birding destinations in the United States. Using data collected from eBird, the top five states in terms of species count are California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Oregon.
Interestingly, four of the top five states all have extensive coastline, which is a primary factor for their high species count. While we don’t border an ocean, we do border Mexico, and our proximity to Mexico is the primary reason for the many unique species found in our state. There are a variety of bird species in southern Arizona you won’t see anywhere else in the United States.
The high-elevation mountain ranges southeast of Tucson are frequently referred to as the “Sky Islands,” which include the Chiricahua, Huachuca, and Santa Rita Mountains. When you picture an island in the ocean, it is surrounded by water. In southern Arizona, the Sky Islands are geographically isolated high-elevation mountain ranges surrounded by a “sea” of desert.
These high elevation mountains have unique plants, animals and bird species that are more commonly observed in our sister state of Sonora, south of the border. There are many varieties of birds where the northern-most extension of their range just barely extends north out of Mexico into southern Arizona.
Interestingly, there are similarities between the Sky Island region of southern Arizona and the Arizona Central Highlands in terms of habitat and bird life. Some of the rarer bird species that are more common in Mexico make their way all the way up into the Arizona Central Highlands.
My presentation to the Las Vegas Audubon chapter highlighted some of the similarities between southern Arizona and the Arizona Central Highlands region. It is a much shorter drive from southern Nevada to Yavapai County than it is to get down to southeastern Arizona!
On a different note, we recently took down our wild bird photography contest exhibit here at the store. Our new exhibit for November and December is the incredible artwork of local author, photographer and artist, Walt Anderson. Walt is a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation. His artwork is exquisite—the level of detail in his work leaves me in awe.
I invite you to stop by the store and enjoy his artwork, which is for sale. There are about 70 pieces of art (including some stunning metal prints) on the north wall of the store next to the Hallmark Gold Crown section, as well as high-quality paper prints of some of his images. The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Walt will be hosting an Open House on Saturday, December 3rd, at Jay’s Bird Barn. Come by for some light refreshments and a chance for a direct chat with the artist. If you live too far away, you can contact Walt directly if you would like to inquire about purchasing originals or prints at waltandersonAFC@gmail.com.
Walt will be donating portions of some of the sales to conservation causes—Granite Dells Preservation Foundation, Biocultural Conservation Institute, and Artists for Conservation. This means you can enjoy the pleasure of owning something that pleases you while also contributing to worthy causes.
Until next week, Happy Birding!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, Arizona Field Optics, and Hallmark 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.