Posts Tagged ‘Prescott Audubon Society’

  • Bird of the Month: Peregrine Falcon January 2019

      Peregrine Falcon By Russ Chappell The word “peregrine” means “wanderer” or “pilgrim,” and Peregrine Falcons reside world-wide. Thanks to captive breeding and a 1972 ban on DDT, this species has risen from near extinction in the 20th century to now populate every continent except Antarctica. The United States-Canada Stewardship rates peregrines as 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, but it is no longer on the State of North America’s Birds Watch List. However, their breeding areas, especially in the Prescott area, are monitored and protected during certain times of the year, and you should check with the Prescott National Forest Service before entering a Peregrine Falcon breeding area to avoid issues. Considered the fastest animal on earth, at least in a dive or “stoop” the Peregrine Falcon is capable of speeds of over 200 MPH, able to withstand 18G, and possesses exceptional vision which is protected by special membranes at high speed. They are capable of bringing down prey twice their size with their powerful talons and a unique beak. Adaptable to almost any habitat some Peregrines migrate over 15,000 miles a year, while other choose to call a selected region home year-round. In coastal areas nests are usually built on cliffs in “eyries” however being extremely adaptable many reside in cities with high skyscrapers that provide both elevation and a variety of birds to hunt

  • Bird of the Month: Northern Cardinal

    By Sue Drown Ah, December – time for sending and receiving those beautiful Christmas cards. So let’s try a quick free association trivia: What do you think of when you imagine a classic Christmas card? Santa? Perhaps. Tree? Likely. How about the Northern Cardinal? Very likely, indeed! It will be there somewhere, on the tree, atop Santa’s hat, in the snow by his feet. Early colonists named this bird after the red color of Catholic cardinals’ birettas (hats), a reasonable ID for folks who were not ornithologists and had many new birds to sort out. I am happy the name stuck, since the male Northern Cardinal is decidedly red. Stunningly, richly, regally red. Although the female is mostly brown, red adorns her bill, wings, crest, and tail, so she too glows red, though with more reserve. All Cardinals sport a splashy bit of black at the base of their red bills, something their closest relatives, the Pyrrhuloxia, do not. Since these similar species are both found in Arizona, even with overlapping territories, the black surrounding the red bill is a handy field mark. Cardinals do not migrate. They maintain year-round territories in many habitats throughout the U.S., primarily east of the Mississippi. They don’t mind the cold of winter in northern Wisconsin, proving their qualifications for snowy holiday greeting cards. You can find them in Cottonwood, Sedona, Skull Valley, and

  • Bird of the Month: Black-crowned Night Heron

    By Russ Chappell Normally considered nocturnal birds, the beautiful Black-crowned Night Heron may move about during the daytime while feeding, primarily in the evening or after nightfall. During twilight hours, they may be seen flying toward one of their favorite foraging spots, sounding their loud and harsh quawk from which they received one of their popular names, the “Qua-bird.” The preferred hunting grounds of the Black-crowned Night Heron are shallow creeks, edges of ponds, and swamps which may include pools. They usually hunt alone and at some distance from their breeding location, so feeding their young involves lengthy flights back to the nest. Rather than stand rigidly, knee-deep in the water, like Great Blue Herons, night-herons move stealthily, head lowered, neck curved, ready for the quick stroke that brings demise to whatever frog, fish, or other prey they locate. Sociable birds, night herons often reside in large colonies during the nesting season. These heronries are usually in secluded wooded areas and may include hundreds of pairs plus four or five youngsters per family. The parents frequently raise two broods a season, so it’s common to find the adult birds feeding two sets of young simultaneously: fledglings in the nest and older juveniles scrambling around in the branches near the nest. Slightly over two feet in length, adult Black-crowned Night Herons are black and ash-gray with white below, and they display

  • Bird of the Month: Killdeer

    By Doug Iverson The Killdeer (Charadrius Vociferous) is a relatively easy bird to identify — especially when it moves! It’s found in open areas, generally in agricultural fields and near the shoreline at Willow Lake here in Prescott — especially in the winter and spring — but they occur all year. Killdeer belong to the plover family. While chicks only have one black breast band, adults are distinguished by having two black bands and a distinct reddish-orange ring around a large black eye. The underside is completely white except for those two black bands. Killdeer have a loud, high-pitched, piercing kill-dee, kill-deer, dee-dee-dee call, heard both night and day, uttered repeatedly. Killdeer place eggs in a shallow depression on the ground. Eggs are difficult for predators to see due to a broken color pattern that mimics the ground surface. Hatchlings can forage with adults as soon as their downy feathers dry (precocial). If these defenses are insufficient, the Killdeer parent will use a distraction display, such as feigning injury by dragging a wing across the ground, limping, or flattening its tail, drawing a predator away from the nest, as is shown in the photograph above. Male and female parents raise the young and have even been observed flying in the face of would-be poachers. They react quickly and vociferously to any perceived threat. Killdeer often nest where they winter —

  • Bird of the Month: Black-chinned Sparrow

    By Maxine Tinney On a warm summer afternoon, an adult male Black-chinned Sparrow appears at one of the groundwater pans to quench its thirst with a refreshing drink of cool, clear water. Normally this sparrow is inconspicuous with retiring habits; now it bravely emerges from the chaparral of tangled shrubs and thorny bushes. This male Black-chinned Sparrow (Spizella atrogularis) is a breeding adult songbird and has a black chin patch, throat, and lores, highlighted by a grey torso saddled with reddish brown back and brown wings, light gray underparts, long brownish tail, and a thick, bright orangy-pink bill. The male arrives in Prescott during the spring breeding season and sometime sings for a mate from conspicuous perches, but otherwise tends to seek discreet cover in dense shrubs. Both sexes may be located by voice and song with a series of slurred notes, ssip/ssip/ssip, running together and accelerating into a rapid trill. In the nearby underbrush, a female with feathers of more restricted greys and brownish tones answers the male’s song, chooses him as a mate, and builds a shallow, open cup nest near the ground in dense shrub. The nest is made of dry grass, weed stems, and yucca fibers, and lined with fine grass, plant fibers, sometimes feathers or animal hair. The “mate-guarding” male stays close to the female during the laying of two to four pale blue eggs,

  • Bird of the Month: Long-billed Curlew

    By Russ Chappell Long-billed Curlews (aka “candlestick birds”) are a migratory species that spend summers in western North America and winters in southern wetlands, tidal estuaries, mudflats, flooded fields, and beaches. These long-legged shorebirds are the size of crows. With wingspans of almost three feet, these birds have long, thin, down-curved bills. The females are slightly longer than the males. They have heavy spheroid bodies, long necks, and small heads. In terms of color, they’re brown with bars and speckles above and have plain cinnamon bellies and wings of brilliant cinnamon, visible during flight. Long-billed Curlews strut with heads moving back and forth while walking or running. When they leap into the air to take flight, they thrust their legs behind them and retract their necks. During landings, they flap their wings upward, hover briefly before touching down, and often run a few feet following the landing. These birds forage on shores and mud flats using their long bills to catch worms and burrowing shrimp and crabs. In grasslands, they feast on grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, spiders, and occasionally eggs and nestlings. Monogamous during the breeding season, Long-billed Curlews often remaining paired in subsequent seasons. Nests are on the ground where the male and female form a shallow depression with their bills and chests, then line it with pebbles, tree bark, grass, and other shrubbery. These birds have one brood per season

  • (It’s) For the Birds: Central Arizona Land Trust campaigns for Coldwater Farm

    Jun 29, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, FeatureNo CommentsRead More »

    By Robert Blood [Editor’s note: The following interview was culled from conversations between the reporter and Jeanne Trupiano, Coldwater Farm project manager with Central Arizona Land Trust. Find out more at CentralAZLandTrust.Org.] So what is Coldwater Farm and how did it get involved with the Central Arizona Land Trust? It’s 20 acres of land along the Agua Fria River in Dewey-Humboldt owned by Garry and Denise Rogers. They approached the Central Arizona Land Trust in 2017 with the desire to permanently protect their acreage, which spans the river there. The property contains a major Cottonwood-Willow gallery forest and perennial water, so it’s very lush, like an oasis, with very dense vegetation. They also have two large ponds that waterfowl like to use. Also in 2017, the Arizona Game and Fish Department observed two threatened or endangered bird species nesting and breeding there: the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. This is private property, though. Why does it need protection? The property has zoning that would allow for one unit for every two acres. So, whoever has the land, down the line, could develop it to that density. Eventually everything sells, and this is a way for property owners to protect sensitive areas. … Typically, it’s the landowners who approach us about this. We do some outreach and education, but typically it’s such a big decision that landowners think it

  • Bird of the Month: Blue Grosbeak

    By Russ Chappell Blue Grosbeak males are large, brilliant blue buntings with a thick silver bill and chestnut wing bars, and their mates are cinnamon-colored. Widespread but not abundant across the southern U.S., their range is expanding. In fact, in Carl Tomoff’s checklist, “Birds of Prescott, Arizona,” they’re given the “transient – Summer” classification. Prescott is a breeding area of choice. Later in the year, they migrate to shrubby habitats in Mexico and Central America, and as far south as Panama for winter. Blue Grosbeaks feed largely on insects but also enjoy invertebrates, grains, and seeds, and hunt for food in the air and on the ground. Monogamous parents, these birds build cup-shaped nests from natural and man-made debris, low in small trees, brush, vines, and vegetation and often near open areas or roads. The nests are two to three inches across and two inches deep. Parents raise two clutches per season, each consisting of three to five pale blue to white eggs about 1 inch in length. Incubation lasts 12 to 13 days, and nesting lasts 9 to 10 days. Young Blue Grosbeaks are born with gray to brownish down and closed eyes. Prior to feeding insects to their young, the parents remove the prey’ head, wings, and legs. The openness of their habitat and the male’s habit of singing from high, exposed perches breed success, especially in late

  • Bird of the Month: White-breasted Nuthatch

    By Russell Chappell Common in our region, the White-breasted Nuthatch is a perennial favorite among backyard birders because of its unique body, active demeanor, and gravity-defying, effortless walking on trees. They’re the only species that can walk both up and down a tree while depending solely on the strength of their legs and not using their tails. Although their movement looks like walking, they’re actually hanging off the tree bark by their number one toe, called the hallux, and a backward-pointing toe. Black and gray with brilliant white markings, the agile White-breasted Nuthatches satisfy their voracious appetites with a diet of insects, spiders, and large, meaty seeds. They’re easy to locate because of their loud and insistent nasal chattering as they frequent large deciduous trees or bird feeders. White-breasted Nuthatches nest in cavities, often abandoned woodpecker nests. They prefer large natural cavities 15’ to 60′ above ground, but occasionally use a birdhouse. These birds hatch one brood per year of five to nine white eggs with reddish-brown spots. The female remains on the nest during incubation while the male brings her food. Until they leave the nest, both parents feed the young a diet consisting solely of insects and spiders. Many young do not make it to adulthood because of predators like squirrels, chipmunks, and raptors. Occasionally, when a predator is near, the female can be seen acting a bit

  • Bird of the Month: Horned Lark

    By Russ Chappell One fine day you forgo our beautiful lakes and wooded habitats and decide to bird a local open area — and are shocked to see small brown creatures, the size of rats, creeping through a barren field. When you look closer, you notice these “rats” have bright yellow faces, black masks, and tiny “horns” waving in the wind. You’ve spotted one of our native, local, year-round residents: Horned Larks. Their habitats include prairies, deserts, tundra, beaches, dunes, and heavily grazed pastures from sea level to 13,000 feet. They’re frequently seen in cleared areas, such as plowed fields and mowed areas around airstrips, and flying above open country in flocks that number into the hundreds. At 6-8 inches long with wingspans of 12-13 inches, these tiny birds eat seeds and insects and sing a high “tinkling” song. They are the only larks native to North America. They forage in pairs or small groups during breeding season and form large flocks in winter. Nests are built on bare ground in natural depressions or areas excavated by the female, who uses her bill to loosen the dirt and fling it aside, though she occasionally uses her feet, too. The nest is a woven basket of fine grass and plants lined with soft material — down, fur, feathers, lint, and even string — 3-4 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches deep

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