As 2015 draws to a close, I want to express my gratitude. I am so appreciative of the support our family business enjoys from all of the bird and nature lovers throughout Yavapai County and beyond. Without you, our business would not be as successful as it is.

I am also very grateful for the national recognition we received earlier this year at the Wild Bird Expo in Missouri, where Jay’s Bird Barn was awarded the Best Birding Retailer of the Year Award out of all of the backyard wild bird stores in the nation!

2015 was another great year in terms of bird watching. I did not add a lot of new birds to my life list, but I thoroughly enjoyed the birds that I saw. Here is a list of my top ten bird sightings in 2015 –

10. Green-tailed towhee, March 26, Yarnell. Not a rare bird, but always a good find. A species I never tire of seeing.

9. Lewis’s woodpecker, March 26, Walnut Grove. A good find, as this is a species I did not anticipate seeing in this location.

8. Pyrrhuloxia, March 27, Congress. Each year, while leading Road Scholar Birding trips for Northern Arizona University, we travel to Congress

just to see this particular species. What a beautiful bird!

7. Lawrence’s goldfinch, March 25, Hassayampa River Preserve, Wickenburg. Not an easy bird to see, always a good find.

6. Brown thrasher, Dec. 8, Page Springs Bubbling Ponds. Only the second time I have seen a brown thrasher in the state of Arizona.

5. Purple Finch, Dec. 10, Prescott National Forest. First time I have ever seen this species in the state of Arizona.

4. Painted Bunting, Nov. 12, Rio Salado, Phoenix. First time I have ever seen this species in the State of Arizona.

3. Broad-billed hummingbird, Oct. 14, in my yard. Stayed for about two weeks! What a tremendous find.

2. Purple Gallinule, Sept. 18, Granite Basin Lake. A life bird! One of the few ‘new’ birds I added to my life list in 2015.

1. Red-cockaded woodpecker, September 4, Piney Grove, Virginia. By far the most exciting find for me, a life bird and the last woodpecker species in North America to add to my life list.

As I look ahead to the New Year, I am really excited to think about all of the birds I will see! In February, Jay’s Bird Barn will be hosting our first ever International birding trip-to Belize! I am filled with anticipation for the Belize trip! I have to think I can easily see two to three hundred new species on this trip.

I will also be attending the San Diego Birding and Nature Festival in March-as a participant, which is a first for me. I have attended countless birding festivals over the years, but always as a vendor, never as a participant. I look forward to the field trips and all of the amazing birds I will see in San Diego.

I am looking forward to the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood April 21-24. I encourage you to put this on your calendar and register as soon as registration opens up on February 1st!

In July, I plan to attend the Hummingbird Festival in Sedona from the 29-31. I encourage you to put this on your calendar as well as the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival, which takes place from Aug. 3-6 in Sierra Vista.

Until next week (next year!), Happy Birding!