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Welcome to the Birding Feathers information page.


From time to time a significant birding article, website, or other information may become available. An introductory presentation about this material along with links to the information will be presented below. Readers are encouraged to submit appropriate information about important information that they would like to see posted on this page. Please e-mail us with your suggestions.

Where we have produced pictures for this page, extensive information about the subject, the camera settings, and geographic coordinates are provided in the properties of each picture. Download pictures to see this information.

First Three Birds - 2014-2019

Start out the New year the right way – go birding! Then share a list of the first three birds that you saw with your friends. Here we provide a way to share what birds you saw. We think that this special birding effort will be great fun.

Compiled here for your enjoyment are the lists of the first three bird species seen each year by many of you who have been kind enough to share your sightings with us.
The guidelines for this First Three Birds birding effort are simple.
  1. Observations are to be made by individual birders.
  2. Note the first three different wild bird species that you really saw. Here is a tip. If you get up early and go to a favorite location in the dark, you can have some control over the first three birds that you see. We used this method to see CANG, GRHE, AMCO, MALL, and GREG on January 1, 2018.
  3. Note the nearest town or city and the state/province and/or country where the birds were observed.
  4. Honorable Mentions will be allowed for those really special birds that may have been seen among your first ten birds for the new year.
  5. Email your first three birds list to us no later than January 4. Send them to blueheron64@gmail.com or simply Reply to to your invitation email.
Within the first few days of the new year we will publish the complete First Three Birds observations on the DBG-Birdwalks website on the Birding Feathers page.

Please join us again (or for the first time) for the fun of next year's First Three Birds activity.

We sincerely hope that you will have great fun birding all year long.


A Stunning and Beyond Cool Bird!

Just as Birding is an international pastime, Plane Spotting is also an exciting world wide activity. Please use the link below to see breathtaking views of the Air France Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (F-HRBE) in flight over France:

You are encouraged to make Plane Spotting and identification a regular part of your birding activities.


Introducing Butterflies to the DBG-Birdwalks:

Butterfly watching is now an official activity of the DBG-Birdwalks. Please read the article provided with the link below to find out more about this interesting addition to the birdwalks:

You are encouraged to make butterfly sighting and identification a regular part of your birding activities.


The Third Annual Flagstaff Birding and Wildflower Adventure – August 9 and 10, 2018

This year the Third Annual Flagstaff Birding and Wildflower Adventure was held on Thursday, August 9, and Friday, August 10, 2018, in Flagstaff, Arizona.
    William and Diana hosted these two days of birding in Flagstaff for regular DBG-Birdwalks participants. 
    These sixteen birders joined us as we looked for birds, mammals, wildflowers, and other plants:

Andree T.
Beth W.
Carol M. 
Catherine M. 
Cindy U. 
Dawn K. 
Dee L. 
Don W. 
 Judy O. 
Linda H. 
Lucy R. 
Merle L. 
Morry M. 
Peter M. 
Sandra B. 
Stephanie A.

Don did an excellent job of entering our bird sightings into eBird. Here are links to the checklists:
  1. Museum of Northern Arizona - View this checklist online at: Rio de Flag--Museum of Northern Arizona -- 19 species
  2. Picture Canyon - View this checklist online at: Rio de Flag--Picture Canyon -- 23 species
  3. Walnut Canyon National Monument - View this checklist online at: Walnut Canyon National Monument -- 8 species
  4. Raymond County Park - View this checklist online at: Raymond County Park/Pumphouse County Natural Area -- 19 species
  5. Kachina Wetlands - View this checklist online at: Kachina Wetlands -- 36 species

Thursday, August 9:

Eighteen of us met at the Museum of Northern Arizona early in the morning and birded along the Museum’s nature trail. We especially enjoyed watching feeders which attracted some of the typical forest birds such as Rufous and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches. Western Tanagers provided a colorful highlight of our visit to that location. Then we were off to the east side of Flagstaff where we spent two delightful hours birding at the Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Area. This green area along the Rio de Flag harbored a rich variety of grassland, riparian, and Ponderosa Pine/Gambel’s Oak forest birds, including swallows and Red-winged Blackbirds. The highlight here was the sighting of a Northern Pygmy-Owl which was roosting high in a Ponderosa Pine tree. Its rest was being interrupted by several different nervous birds. This owl was a life bird for most participants. The final site we visited on Thursday was Walnut Canyon National Monument where we had a picnic lunch among the Pinyon Pines and junipers. A heavy thunderstorm interrupted our birding, but we waited it out in the visitor center. After the rain stopped, we walked the nature trail along the rim above the canyon where Western Bluebirds of all ages were the highlight.

Friday, August 10:

Those of us who were still in Flagstaff met at Raymond County Park in Kachina Village which is a few miles south of Flagstaff just off of I-17. We enjoyed early morning birding at the park and the adjoining Pumphouse County Natural Area. Swallows presented identification challenges, and Lesser Goldfinches and Pine Siskins were beautiful in the morning light as they fed on Penstemon flower seeds. We then drove about a mile north to the Kachina Wetlands where we spent the rest of the morning birding along the sunflower bordered trails. Bluebirds, sparrows, goldfinches, and blackbirds were abundant here. Ospreys flying overhead and calling provided one of the morning’s highlights. Soras, heard but not seen, were another special treat. To top off an enjoyable morning several of us drove to the Flagstaff airport where we had a very nice lunch in the Air Café.

Presented with this link are 32 pictures that William took during our adventures:


A memory of our friend and fellow birder Tillie Chew:

Tillie Chew, along with Lynn Vogel and Nancy Swanson, began conducting birdwalks at the Desert Botanical Garden in the mid-1980s. Along with her husband, Matt, she was a regular on the walks until about 2014. Tillie died on October 6, 2016, her 85th birthday.
A memorial tile in her honor has been placed on a wall of the Exhibits Building in the Center for Desert Living.

You are encouraged to go to see this tile and the many other beautiful tiles that commemorate the lives of many others who have also given so much to the people of the Desert Botanical Garden.


Bird Names - "Alpha Codes" - February 12, 2017

Rufous Herron is a famous birder. This is his current birdlist (18 species): GAQU; ROPI; EUCD, WWDO, MODO; ANHU; GIWO; RSFL; GIFL; RFLO; SAPH; CBTH; NOMO; WCSP; LISP; GTGR; HOFI; LEGO; + Lynx rufus
Although Rufous is a cat, he is not recording the birds that he sees using cat talk.
These four letter abbreviations are widely used by birders and are known as “Alpha Codes.”
The Institute for Bird Populations organization currently maintains the accepted list of these abbreviations.
You might find it useful to use some of these Alpha Codes when you record your own bird sightings.

Here is a link to a PDF file that you can download and print that presents some of these bird species Alpha codes:
Species Alpha Codes and Names in Taxonomic and Alphabetical order from DBG Birdwalks Birding Checklist of Birds


The Second Annual Flagstaff Bird and Wildflower Adventure – August 18 & 19, 2016

This year the Second Annual Flagstaff Bird and Wildflower Adventure was held on Thursday, August 18, and Friday, August 19, 2016, in Flagstaff, Arizona. William and Diana hosted these two days of birding in Flagstaff for regular DBG-Birdwalks participants. Andree, Don, Joyce, and Judy joined us as we looked for birds, wildflowers, Gambel's Oaks, and Abert's Squirrels. All of us enjoyed a break from the summer heat.

Don did an excellent job of entering our bird sightings into eBird. Here are links to the checklists:
  1. Rio de Flag-Museum of Northern Arizona - View this checklist online at: Rio de Flag - Museum of Northern Arizona Checklist
  2. Elden Spring - View this checklist online at: Elden Spring Checklist
  3. Walnut Canyon National Monument - View this checklist online at: Walnut Canyon National Monument Checklist
  4. Kachina Wetlands - View this checklist online at: Kachina Wetlands Checklist
  5. HH1, Flagstaff - View this checklist online at: HH1, Flagstaff Checklist
Thursday, August 18: At the Rio de Flag-Museum of Northern Arizona we enjoyed excellent views of both Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds, and the White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches were fun to watch. The highlight at the Museum location was a fresh-plumaged Cassin’s Vireo. At Elden Spring we looked for warblers without success, but we did see some typical Flagstaff resident birds, such as Acorn Woodpecker and Steller’s Jay. We were surprised to see White-winged Doves near Elden Spring, but we later learned that there is a small resident population there. We enjoyed a picnic lunch at Walnut Canyon National Monument before the afternoon thunder showers came. Bird highlights at Walnut Canyon were Canyon Wrens (seen and heard), Juniper Titmice, and a Townsend’s solitaire.

Friday, August 19: We had an excellent morning of birding at the Kachina Wetlands. We heard both Virginia Rails and Soras. Western Bluebirds, sparrows, blackbirds, and Lesser Goldfinches were abundant. A pair of Purple Martins was the favorite sighting for some of us. In the afternoon Andree, Bill, and Diana enjoyed watching feeder birds in the Herrons’ yard. A Red-faced Warbler there provided a high note at the end of two wonderful days of birding. Nearly 60 species of birds were seen during those two days.

The mammals that we saw were Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Gray-collared Chipmunk, Rock Squirrel, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel, Abert's Squirrel, Gray Fox, and Mule Deer.

Presented with this link are the great pictures that William took during our adventures:

Unfortunately there are no bird pictures. We think that you will enjoy the images of the wonderful people and the plants and flowers. William even got a close up image of "Rocky."


Spring Visit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park - March 18, 2015

Diana and I had a very nice spring visit to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park.
Here is a link to the introductory text describing some information about our visit: BTA-Visit_20150318


Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) - February 13, 2015

This year the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was held on the weekend of February 13th through the 16th. On lucky Friday the 13th Diana and I conducted a GBBC survey at the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, which is about 5 miles from our house. Salt River Fields is a baseball spring training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. The landscaping in this area is quite appropriate for this Sonoran desert region. There is a water feature which feeds the water for a nearby reservoir along a short stream. Of course, there are many perfectly maintained baseball fields at this facility.

We had a nice time in very pleasant weather and saw 20 species of birds from Canada Goose to Great-tailed Grackle. We saw both aquatic birds and some typical Arizona desert birds. Great-tailed Grackles were the most numerous with Verdins a close second. Early spring nesting activity was evident. We saw three pairs of Verdins building nests in Desert Ironwood and Palo Verde trees and a pair of Say’s Phoebes building a nest on top of a light fixture above a drinking fountain next to a set of restrooms. See this link for Diana’s eBird checklist for a complete list of birds that we saw.

Here is a link SaltRiveFields-GBBC_20150213 that presents two annotated pictures which show details about this area with the track lines where we walked during this survey.


First Three Birds - 2015

Many birders start the new year right by birding on New Year’s Day and by sharing a list of their first three birds of the new year with other birders. Several friends have shared their first three birds list with me, and I have written a presentation about these sightings for your enjoyment.

Here is a link to this document: First Three Birds - 2015


Cormorant Identification Tips

Troy Corman with the Arizona Game and Fish Department was kind enough to share with us a diagram showing the important points to look for when identifying the two species of cormorants that are seen here in Arizona.

Here is a link to this diagram: Cormorant Identification Tips
     This PDF file can be viewed, printed, or downloaded for your own use.


Salt Verde River Christmas Bird Count - December 12 and 15, 2014

This years Salt Verde River Christmas Bird Count took place on December 15, 2014.
Here is a link to the introductory text about this event and our teams efforts during the count: Salt Verde River Christmas Bird Count - 2014
Photographs of our count team and the three areas where we counted birds are presented in four picture sets.


Submitting a Rare Bird Photograph to the AZFO

Diana and I submitted a rare bird photograph to the Arizona Field Ornithologists.
Here is a link to a short presentation about how the picture file was prepared: AZFO-Submitting a Rare Bird Photograph 
This presentation also provides interesting information about our scouting efforts for the 2014 Salt Verde River Christmas Bird Count.


Fall Visits to Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park - November 20, 2014 and December 10, 2014

Diana and I had two very nice fall visits to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park.
Here is a link to the introductory text describing some information about our visits: BTA-Visits_20141120+1210


AZFO 2014 Annual Meeting in Globe-Miami, Arizona - October 3-5, 2014

The Arizona Field Ornithologist held its eighth annual meeting in Globe-Miami, Arizona from October 3 through October 5, 2014.
Here is a link to the introductory text describing some information about this event: AZFO-2014 Meeting


Friend and fellow birder, Bob Witzeman - August 30, 2014

In memory of our friend and fellow birder, Bob Witzeman, this link leads to a Flickr Album, AZFO - San Pedro River Birding. This Album shows pictures that represent fond memories of birding with Bob and Janet Witzeman. Bob directed me to the bird of the day, a Green Kingfisher.

Please see the Introduction text that is with the "See more" title line. Also please do not miss the descriptive text and map information that is below each pictures. The Map tab shows mapping data for all of the pictures.


Gambel's Quail Family-2 - June 10, 2014

A Gambel's Quail family, two adults and two youngsters, were active in The Island, Scottsdale Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona on June 3, 2014.
Click this link, Gambel's Quail Family-2, to see a sequence of pictures of these birds resting and moving on top of wall and roof areas. The parents were very attentive to the young birds. The parents appeared to be training the young birds to move about high places. 


Gambel's Quail Family-1 - June 3, 2014

A Gambel's Quail family, two adults and eight tiny youngsters, were seen foraging about in The Island, Scottsdale Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona on June 3, 2014.
Click this link, Gambel's Quail Family-1, to see a sequence of pictures of these birds moving in the front yard area of a house. These birds are very cautious and they move really fast, so getting pictures of them was not easy. The male -dad- perched above the photographer and signaled the others to stay hidden. Patience won out, but it is a humbling experience to be outsmarted by a quail.


Magnolia Warbler - May 19, 2014

An adult male Magnolia Warbler (Setophaga magnolia) was seen during the Monday morning birdwalk at the Desert Botanical Garden. This bird was last seen on May 22, 2014. 
Click this link, Magnolia Warbler, to see the location where this bird was seen and two very good pictures of this bird. 


Verdin Nest - May 11, 2014

Click this link, Verdin Nest, to see a good image of a Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) nest. A young Verdin was seen taking pieces of this nest to build a new nest somewhere else. These nests have a distinctive 6 to 8 inch diameter oval shape with a small, about 1 inch, opening. This nest was in a Palo Verde tree in an area just south of the Camelback Golf Club in Paradise Valley, Arizona.


Snow Goose - May 10, 2014

A lone Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) was seen at Camelback Lake at McCormick Ranch near Scottsdale Road in Phoenix, Arizona. This goose was seen with its friend, a Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) who lives in the area. 
Click this link, Snow Goose, to see several pictures of this bird.

This was the day for the North American Migration Count for Maricopa County. This bird was included with this count. 


First Three Birds - 2014

Many birders start the new year right by birding on New Year’s Day and by sharing a list of their first three birds of the new year with other birders. Several friends have shared their first three birds list with me, and I have written a presentation about these sightings for your enjoyment.

Here is a link to this document: First Three Birds - 2014


Arizona Creekbed Birding, November 2013

On Wednesday, November 13, Diana and I took advantage of some beautiful fall weather to explore Red Tank Draw near the town of Rimrock in Yavapai County, Arizona. We accessed the draw at a single-lane bridge on Coconino Forest Road 618 about two miles east of Interstate 17 Exit 298.

A draw is a terrain feature formed by two parallel ridges with low ground in between them. The bottom of the draw in Red Tank Draw is a rocky creekbed which had some standing water at a few scattered locations. In the spring this creek will have lots of flowing water. Most of the sides of Red Tank Draw are red sandstone similar to that found in the Sedona area. The habitat in the draw is Riparian woodland with Arizona Sycamore as the dominant tree. Although birding in Riparian areas is very difficult, these areas always provide excellent birding opportunities. This time of year, lots of Leaf Birds are seen.

At the single-lane Red Tank Draw bridge there was easy access into the draw. From there we hiked nearly a mile south along the rocky creekbed. The Arizona Sycamore trees still had their leaves, but they were changing from green to brown and gold. Many birds were seen and heard. American Robins were frequently seen in the draw. It is not practical to climb out of the draw where the high vertical red sandstone sides are present. Between sections of sandstone, we found a wildlife trail that led up to the rim of the draw. We used this trail to exit the draw to the flat area along the rim. The habitat above the draw is juniper woodland with prickly pear and other cacti and thorny plants such as Crucifixion Thorn. The view of Red Tank Draw from above was magnificent. We hiked around the area above the draw and then made our way back to the starting point by walking along forest roads. We hiked about 2 miles total during this adventure.

Presented in a Flickr picture set are some pictures showing some impressive scenes from this day's birding adventure.

Our birdlist for this birding day totaled 22 species of birds and is included with this picture set. Click this link to see this Flickr picture set:

When viewing the first page of the Set, hover your mouse over
      "See more" and you can read the introduction text.
Click on the first small picture to begin a presentation of the pictures.
      Descriptions are below each picture.
Click on the Map function to see the locations where all of the pictures were taken.
      Click on the location name to see a map of where a picture was taken.
(The new trend with Flickr is to hide prompts - Good luck!)


Diana Herron's 2013 Birthday Birdwalk

Every year on her birthday, Diana gets to choose what she wants to do for the day. This year her choice was to have three birdwalks. This was the day for the regular Monday morning birdwalk at the Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) in Phoenix. She really enjoys birding at the DBG with her many birding friends. Also, for different birding experiences, she wanted to bird at the Phoenix Papago Park Pond and Picnic Area and at the Phoenix Zoo. Diana said that this year's birthday birdwalk would be a very special event. Click this link to see a Flickr picture set about Diana's Birthday Birdwalks:

When viewing the first page of the Set, hover your mouse over
      "See more" and you can read the introduction text.
Click on the first small picture to begin a presentation of the pictures.
      Descriptions are below each picture.
Click on the Map function to see the locations where all of the pictures were taken.
      Click on the location name to see a map of where a picture was taken.
(The new trend with Flickr is to hide prompts - Good luck!)


The Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Census for 2013:

Troy Corman with the Arizona Game and Fish Department coordinated this years Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Census.
Click here to view: "Selected Totals from the Greater Phoenix Area Waterbird Census - 2013"


American Birding Association - Recent News:



Arizona Field Ornithologists - Recent News:

Kurt Radamaker and Troy Corman recently published an excellent article titled "Status of the Rosy-faced Lovebird in Phoenix Arizona" on the  Arizona Field Ornithologists website . At the 28 December 2011 annual meeting of the Arizona Bird Committee, the Rosy-faced Lovebird was officially accepted to the Arizona State List, bringing the official Arizona Checklist total to 551 species. Kurt Radamaker will submit an official proposal to the American Birding Association (ABA) Checklist Committee requesting them to consider adding Rosy-faced Lovebird to the official ABA Checklist.


Press Articles:

Not only is birding interesting and fun, it is also good for your health and well being. Here is a link to a recent Wall Street Journal article titled Coffee Break? Walk in the Park? Why Unwinding is Hard . "Taking in the sights and sound of nature appears to be especially beneficial for our minds, researchers say."


Movies:

We take birding seriously. The recently released movie The Big Year offers a light-hearted and entertaining view about birding. We think that you will giggle and laugh and enjoy great photography of birds and beautiful scenery if you watch this movie. We give this film a rating of 4 out of 5 feathers.
Click on this link, 
Movie: The Big Year to read a short review of this fun movie.

___________________________________
William and Diana Herron, February, 2012
Icons by VisualPharm