screech-owlIf you read my weekly column on a regular basis, you may remember a story I shared back in August of going ‘owling’ in the Huachuca Mountains. I was in Sierra Vista participating at the Southwest Wings Birding Festival when a chance encounter with strangers provided me with a unique and fun bird watching experience.

While in Sierra Vista, I met a group of serous birders, and we went owling together two nights in a row – searching for Elf Owls and Whiskered Screech Owls. Our time birding together forged a friendship – and an invitation was extended.

My new friends created a birding tour company in 2012 called ‘Birding Research and Nature Tours,’ or ‘Brant.’ The acronym ‘Brant’ might sound familiar to birders, as there is a species of goose called a Brant. They lead national and international guided birding trips to destinations such as Costa Rica and Belize – places I would love to visit someday.

As with any new business, it is really important to advertise, market, and promote the business. While we were birding together, the thought occurred to me that I could help promote their business through my business by inviting them to lead bird walks as part of our 10-year anniversary celebration at both store locations.

On Friday, Oct. 25, Brant will be leading a free guided bird walk at the Sedona Wetlands. On Saturday, Oct. 26, they will be leading a free guided bird walk at Willow Lake here in Prescott. If you would like to go on one of these bird walks, please call the store to sign up as space is limited.

This time of year, birding at the wetlands in Sedona and at Willow Lake, seems to get better every day as more winter migrants arrive. There is a high probability that we will see Pintail, Shoveler, Gadwall, Ring-necked, Wigeon, Redhead, Canvasback, Mallard and perhaps several other species of ducks on these walks.

Both of these areas are also great for a variety of wintering sparrows such as White-crowned, Lincoln’s, Savannah, Vesper, Lark, and perhaps others. There is also the possibility of seeing a good variety of birds of prey including falcons, hawks and eagles.

If you are fascinated by birds of prey, we will have several birds of prey on display on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Bird Barn between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. as part of our anniversary open house. Bring your camera – you will be able to get very close to the birds, and photography is allowed.

As always, we will provide a wonderful free lunch. Also, Brad Newman, the Executive Director at Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!), will provide live music. The event is always free and open to the public. Grab a friend or neighbor and please come join us.

Monday, Oct. 21 is the last day to vote in the wild bird photography contest. We will then have a few days to tally up the votes so we can announce the winners on Saturday, Oct. 26, at noon. The exhibit is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Sunday.