Since opening Jay’s Bird Barn in 2003, there is one question I have been asked more than any other, “Is there a bird book just for this area?” In the past, the answer to this question has been ‘no’.
Over the years we have recommended Stan Tekiela’s book, Birds of Arizona, and Rick Taylor’s Birds of Southeastern Arizona for both casual backyard birders and for individuals new to the Prescott area. For more advanced and serious birders, I recommend The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, written and illustrated by David Allen Sibley
When I was growing up, the Peterson Guide was the standard for bird watchers. Nowadays, there are a lot of choices when it comes to field guides. Some of the more popular birding books available include Sibley, Peterson, Kaufmann, Stokes, Smithsonian, Audubon and Crossley guides. Personally, I have hundreds of bird books in my collection—one can never have too many!
Back in 1974, when I was a teenager, I had the privilege of meeting Roger Tory Peterson at a book-signing event at the University of Arizona in Tucson. To this day, one of my treasured possessions is my autographed copy of his Field Guide to Mexican Birds.
About five years ago, David Allen Sibley was the keynote speaker at the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival in Cottonwood. I had the privilege of meeting him and getting his autograph in my copy of his book, The Sibley Guide to Birds.
For years, customers have been nudging me to write a bird book for the Prescott area. In a sense, I did this when I wrote the text for an online bird guide on the Jay’s Bird Barn website. However, most folks still wanted something they could look at and hold in their hands.
Almost a year ago, I was invited to participate in a collaborative effort to develop a folding guide specific to the birds of the Arizona Central Highlands. Dr. Carl Tomoff, author of the ‘Birds of Prescott’ checklist, Felipe Guerrero, Education Coordinator for the Highlands Center for Natural History, and I teamed up with a company out of New Hampshire called Earth Sky + Water that creates custom natural history guides.
As you have probably gathered, the one and only bird book I carry and take out into the field is the large Sibley Guide to Birds. I like how it provides me with multiple illustrations of the same species—male and female plumage, juvenile plumage, and breeding versus non-breeding plumage. It even provides illustrations showing regional variation in plumage, as birds of the same species can have a slight variation in coloration and markings in different parts of the country.
I am excited to announce that our newly published folding guide uses Sibley images and text! It is laminated, waterproof and tear resistant. The beauty of this guide is that we have distilled 73 of the most common birds that occur in the Arizona Central Highlands out of the 703 species in the western field guide. Now it is easier than ever to quickly locate common backyard birds without having to flip through a book with hundreds of pages and hundreds of bird species.
The guide contains both migratory and year-round species, includes length and wingspan information and has a seasonal occurrence annotation so you know what time of year each species is found in our area. Now I can say “yes,” there is a bird guide just for this area. To obtain a copy, I invite you to visit either Jay’s Bird Barn or the Highlands Center for Natural History.
Until next week, Happy Birding!