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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : features : getting out April 18, 2015

10/24/2012 9:56:00 PM
Wild bird photography takes talent, patience
Bryan Patrick/Courtesy photo
The varied thrush is rarely spotted in Arizona.
Bryan Patrick/Courtesy photo
The varied thrush is rarely spotted in Arizona.

Eric Moore
Courier Columnist

This past Friday I led a guided bird walk for Jay's Bird Barn at Granite Basin. As we birded, I shared with the participants some of the amazing birds I have seen in Granite Basin over the years-birds that shouldn't be there.

I told them of the time I found a golden-crowned sparrow, and the time when a group of us discovered a rose-breasted grosbeak. Then there was the time I found a male black-throated blue warbler when I was scouting out the area for an upcoming Christmas Bird Count. I also shared with them how on two different occasions I had found in Granite Basin a very rare visitor to the state of Arizona - a varied thrush.

We were having a pretty ordinary birding day, seeing a variety of common birds such as red-naped sapsuckers, yellow-rumped warblers and ruby-crowned kinglets. We even saw some uncommon birds such as Cassin's finches and evening grosbeak.

As we birded, our ordinary day suddenly turned into an amazing day. At one point, a bird flew quickly past us into a thickly wooded area. I yelled out, "Varied thrush!" There was no way of knowing whether it had stopped in the forested area or whether it had continued on, so we made our way through the brush and undergrowth. As luck would have it, it had stopped in the trees, and we found it sitting right out in the open on a ponderosa pine branch.

Needless to say, I was very excited. This was a "life" bird for everyone in the group. One of the participants had a camera and got a good picture of it. The old expression "a picture is worth a thousand words" is especially true in the world of bird watching, where documentation is essential when a rare bird is observed. Getting a picture can transform a "possible" or "probable" sighting into a confirmed sighting.

I admire those who are talented at wild bird photography - it takes a lot of patience, good equipment and even a little luck. If you saw our wild bird photo contest exhibit this year, you know that there are a lot of talented photographers in the Prescott area. This Saturday, Oct. 27, at noon we will be announcing the winners of this year's photo contest during our nine-year anniversary event.

We will have a special guest at the Prescott store this Saturday as part of our anniversary open house event-a wild bird photographer. Author and wildlife photographer Jim Burns will be at the store between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to autograph copies of his book "Jim Burns' Arizona Birds." For years, Burns was a columnist in the Arizona Re-

public, and his wonderful bird pictures have graced the pages of the Arizona Audubon Society calendar.

Prescott Audubon Society's monthly membership meeting is tonight at 7 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Noel Fletcher, a Wildlife Biologist with the Bradshaw Ranger District of the Prescott National Forest, will be speaking about raptor management in our National Forest. If you are as captivated by raptors as most folks, you do not want to miss this Saturday's anniversary event as we will have a wonderful collection of live birds of prey on display. This is a tremendous opportunity to see raptors up close.

If you are interested in going on a free guided bird walk, give the store a call at 443-5900 to sign up for a future field trip. I look forward to seeing you this Saturday at our anniversary celebration. Until next week, Happy Birding!

Eric M. Moore is the owner of Jay's Bird Barn, with two locations to serve northern Arizona-1046 Willow Creek Road in Prescott, and 2360 State Highway 89A in Sedona. Eric has been an avid birder for over 45 years. If you have specific questions related to wild birds which you would like discussed in future articles, email Eric at

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