On Thursday, Oct. 30, I led a bird walk to Granite Basin to commemorate the 11th anniversary of Jay’s Bird Barn. We had an absolutely perfect day weather wise – I don’t know how it could have been any better.
Our bird walk started at the Wekuvde parking lot, and we slowly made our way down to the “lake.” The only water birds observed were a few American wigeons, mallards and coots. From the lake, we headed up Mint Creek Wash until we ran into Trail 261 and continued west until we reached the Wilderness Area boundary.
There were two separate occasions – one near the Wekuvde parking lot, and the other near the Wilderness Area boundary – where we witnessed the animated mobbing behavior of a mixed flock of song birds, indicating they had discovered the daytime roosting location of, presumably, a small owl.
The first example of this behavior was up high in a tall ponderosa pine near the crown of the tree. In spite of our best efforts to see what had all of the birds riled up, we came away empty handed and disappointed. I was really hoping to see whatever it was that had all of the birds worked up. I assume it was either a northern pygmy owl or possibly a saw whet owl, but the foliage blocked our view into the interior of the tree, making it impossible to see anything.
The next time we witnessed this same behavior was a few hours later and about a mile from the first location. This time we witnessed a flock of small song birds vocalizing and flitting about a very old, gnarly-looking oak tree. I felt confident we’d be able to find what was roosting in the tree, but, again, in spite of diligent searching, we again came away empty handed. It was very disappointing to not find whatever it was that had the flock of kinglets, hermit thrushes and nuthatches all in a tizzy.
Granite Basin is a great area to observe wintering migrants. On this particular day, we saw a good number of red-breasted nuthatches, Cassin’s finches and pine siskins. Some people in our group also saw evening grosbeaks. The very next day there was a report of red crossbills and golden-crowned kinglets at Granite Basin.
It is no secret that Granite Basin is one of my favorite places to go bird watching. This time of year it is possible to see three species of nuthatches and six species of woodpeckers: acorn, hairy, ladder-backed, red-naped sapsucker, Williamson’s sapsucker and northern flicker. On this particular day, we even saw a late Townsend’s warbler, which really surprised me.
This Saturday, Nov. 8, at 8 a.m., the Prescott Audubon Society will be leading a free, guided bird walk at the Highlands Center for Natural History on Walker Road. You do not need to register in advance; just show up a few minutes before 8 a.m. Bring a hat, water, snacks, dress in layers, and don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
On Monday, Nov. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. in room 4-102 at the Yavapai College campus in Prescott, there will be a special presentation from Fallen Feathers, a non-profit organization focusing on Rescue, Rehabilitation and Education. They will present information about what to do if you find an injured or orphaned bird, or perhaps even an escaped exotic bird. Representatives from Fallen Feathers plan to bring five different bird species to the program so that you may learn more about them and ask questions. I hope to see you there.
Until next week, Happy Birding!