Last week, I was in Yuma participating in a Prescott Audubon Society bird watching trip prior to the big snow storm hitting Prescott. I was monitoring the forecast and ended up making the decision to get on the road a day early, fearing I might not make it back to Prescott for several days if I didn’t head home on Wednesday.
I didn’t leave Yuma until 7 p.m., and I feel very fortunate that I was able to get home safely. The drive was fine until I got to Congress, which sits at about 3,000 feet in elevation. The intensity of the storm took me by surprise — I don’t know that I have even seen snow coming down as hard and as fast as it was that night!
February’s rain and snowstorms have certainly created a challenging situation for wild birds. When I shared some tips on winter bird feeding in my column last week, I had no idea how massive the snow storm would be—and how challenging it would be for wild birds.
As the inches of snow just kept piling up this past Thursday, keeping my seed and nectar feeders accessible to the birds in my yard wasn’t an easy task! The rate of the snowfall required me to swap out the lids on my hummingbird feeders every hour.
With our low morning temperatures (it was 8 degrees at my home this past Saturday,) I have been bringing in my nectar feeders each night so they won’t freeze. On more than one occasion when I have taken out a hummingbird feeder at first light, a very hungry hummingbird has landed on the feeder and started drinking before I even had a chance to hang it up!
I had several experiences in my yard this past week where a ruby-crowned kinglet was feeding on a Mr. Bird cylinder feeder only about a foot away from me. The poor birds didn’t seem to even care that I was standing right there, they were so focused on eating!
At one point on Friday, I was standing in the garage, looking out at the snow storm, and a Bewick’s wren flew right into the garage, desperate for food. It started poking around the storage cabinets looking for something—anything—it could eat; an insect or a spider. That same afternoon, I watched both a yellow-rumped warbler and an American pipit on the sidewalk in front of the store, desperately looking for food.
These multiple close encounters with wild birds create within me a sense of admiration for these tiny marvels of nature. These experiences have also provided me with the motivation to try and help them as they struggle just to survive. For most wild birds, finding enough food each day to maintain their metabolism is a daily struggle.
I hope you have enjoyed the snow, and have been able to a witness the adaptability of wild birds and how they are able to eke out an existence. In spite of the monster snowstorm, I have nothing to complain about — other than losing a beloved alligator bark juniper tree in my bird feeding area. To make matters worse, the tree feel on a car in our driveway!
Tonight is the monthly meeting of the Prescott Audubon Society at 7 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church, located at 630 Park Ave. The speaker is Patrick Rappold from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, and the title of his presentation is, “Forest and Tree Health in Yavapai County.” This event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served following the presentation.
Until next week, Happy Birding!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, with two locations in northern Arizona – Prescott and Flagstaff. 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.