Read a sampling of our Leaders' trip reports here and see photos from a few of our past Monthly Program events at the bottom of the page
Chapter Pot Luck - May 20, 2023
Just under 20 people enjoyed food, fun and good birds at Montezuma Well Picnic Area. Guides - Lisa Grubbs, Kay Hawklee and Kristen Rothrock birded the path with groups. Rich Armstrong held a Big Sit in the shade near the picnic tables where he pointed out Lucy's Warblers visiting a probable nest site. Over 37 species were observed. The food was great as always and the shade trees made it a very pleasant morning.
Picture Canyon - May 20, 2023
I was joined by 12 birders on a 4 hour bird walk into Picture Canyon on 5/20. We enjoyed pleasant weather while tallying 53 species. Highlights included Northern Waterthrush and Swamp Sparrow as well as great views of colorful Hepatic Tanager and Blue Grosbeak. Life birds were had by many in the group. I continued on with 3 people to a spot that I knew had nesting Lewis’ Woodpecker where we weren’t disappointed. It was a fun outing with fun people. By Tom Linda
Sedona Wetlands - May 7, 2023
I was joined by 8 folks for the last Sedona Wetlands trip of the season on May 7th. Highlights were scope views of adult & immature Black-crowned Night Herons, Barn & Cliff & Northern Rough-winged Swallows lined up on a fence, Summer Tanager, Spotted Sandpiper, male Ruddy Duck with blue bill, and ducks that have not left yet - male Redhead & Cinnamon Teal & female American Wigeon. By Rich Armstrong
Elden Springs - May 6, 2023
I was joined by 7 birders for the May 6 th bird walk to Elden Spring in Flagstaff. It was a bit breezy, but we found 20 species and enjoyed good looks at several of them. Highlights were a Bald Eagle, a pair of Peregrine Falcon, and a Red-faced Warbler. The warbler was spotted by Jeremy Mizel, and he tracked them down for fine looks. The scenery was awesome, and most people got life birds. It was a fun day with fun people. By Tom Linda
Let's Bird Kachina Wetlands - May 6, 2023
Fifteen participants gathered on Saturday morning for a field trip around Kachina Wetlands. It was cool and turned windy, but we had a fun trip with pretty good birding overall. Special guest Christina Vojta joined us and shared some information about the management of the Wetlands with our group as we walked from the forested edge, past the grassy basins, and out to the various ponds. The birding highlights included a total of 36 species seen. Some favorites were a Bald Eagle flyover, anda surprise Black-crowned Night-heron snoozing in a pack pond. Several of us got a good look at a Sora, which is always a treat! A couple Purple Martins and nice views of Common Yellowthroats rounded out the morning. By Tom Hedwall
Big Sit - Mingus Lake - May 5, 2023
I was joined by 4 folks for a Big Sit at Mingus Lake on May 5th. Not included in the Big Sit was a stop at the Jerome Overlook where we had fantastic looks at MacGillivray's Warbler in a sparse bush 5' away. Here we heard and saw the season's first Western Wood-Pewees and many other warbler species. At Mingus Lake we had 13 species with House Wrens continually singing their "rapid, harsh and squeaky chatter, churr and rattle" song. Our thought was that we are a little ahead of the main migration period for warblers and with abundant water resources, they were not as focused at the drip coming off Mingus Lake. But it was a beautiful morning nevertheless! By Kay Hawklee
Big Sit - Armstrong house, April 25, 2023
We were joined by 15 people in our yard on April 25th for a 1 hour sit. The stars were Evening Grosbeaks which were uncooperative for the 1st 45 minutes before all coming to feeders. The colorful were Summer & Western Tanagers and Hooded & Bullock's Orioles. The surprises were a 1st of season male Black-headed Grosbeak, an American Goldfinch (we had not had one in over 10 days), and a very late Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The cutest were Bridled Titmice. The misses were no Red-winged Blackbird or Eurasian-collared Dove or Red-tailed hawk or Brown-crested Flycatcher (heard earlier in day) or Spotted Towhee (at feeder earlier). We still had a respectable 26 species! By Nanette & Rich Armstrong
Sedona Wetlands - April 22, 2023
I was joined by 9 Prescott birders for a special request full tour of the Sedona Wetlands on April 22nd. Highlights were close scope looks for everyone at White-faced Ibis, Willet, Baird's & Least & Spotted Sandpipers, all 3 teal, male Redhead & Lesser Scaup & Eared Grebes, Black-crowned Night Heron, Virginia's Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Ladderback Woodpecker, Savannah Sparrow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Western Kingbird, Lucy's Warbler, and Brewer's Blackbird. We added 5 species in the parking lot doing a countdown to get to 64 species! By Rich Armstrong
Sedona Wetlands - April 20, 2023
I was joined by only 4 birders, 3 from CA, on April 20th for a 75 minute walk of the Sedona Wetlands. Highlights were 5 swallow species lined up on the fence next to the big pond including Bank Swallows, a close Solitary Sandpiper, a Virginia Rail out in the open for 10 seconds, a male Bullock's Oriole, and close looks at Yellow Warblers. The California folks loved a close male Northern Cardinal singing. By Rich Armstrong
The Jail Trail - April 18, 2023
I was joined by 9 others on Tuesday April 18th for a Bird Walk at The Jail Trail in Cottonwood. The Verde River has experienced a huge runoff of water this year and the habitat has changed quite a bit. It was somewhat windy but we still managed to see 25 species. Great looks at our always special Common Black Hawk, which was calling and soaring in all its glory. We had the Great Horned Owl sitting on a nest. Gorgeous Summer Tanagers have arrived. We saw a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks still here in the valley, perched for everyone to see. Also Cassin's Finches, an Osprey hovering over the river, Bridled Titmouse foraging in the trees, and everyone heard the Common Yellowthroat singing witchety-witchety-witch. A fun bird walk down the Jail Trail. By Janie Ward-Langley
Sedona Wetlands - April 16, 2023
I was joined by 9 folks including people from PA, FL, and CO on April 16th for a 75 minute walk at the Sedona Wetlands. Highlights were breeding plumage Eared Grebe, a preening male Cinnamon Teal, decent looks at both Sora & Virginia Rail, and a decent variety of ducks. The only migrant was a fairly cooperative Cassin's Vireo, but other than Yellow & Yellow-rumped Warblers, passerines were disappointing. Weather was great and some got life birds! By Rich Armstrong
Clear Creek Campground - April 13, 2023
I was joined by 10 others on Thursday April 13th at the Clear Creek Campground for a bird walk in this diverse habitat, first along the flowing creek and then in the more dry desert section. It started out a little slow and quiet, but had some hotspots of groups of birds coming through. Our total was 32 species. The highlights were the beautiful Black-throated Sparrow, Bell's Vireo, Hooded Oriole, Bald Eagle, Common Black Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Hammond's Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Common Raven on a nest. For some in the group many of the birds were Lifer birds and it's exciting to be a part of sharing that joy with others. By Janie Ward-Langley
Bubbling Ponds - April 11, 2023
I was joined by 2 other birders on April 11th on a warm weather day at the Bubbling Ponds. We had 49 species which included the bright neon Vermillion Flycatcher, many Bell's Vireo's singing, Cassin's Vireo, Plumbeous Vireo, lots of Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and several Townsend's Solitaires. It was a great bird walk as migration has begun. By Janie Ward-Langley
Sedona Wetlands - April 8, 2023
I was joined by 15 folks including people from PA, CO, OR, and my Birding 101 class on April 8th for a 1 hour walk around the Sedona Wetlands. Highlights were scope views for all of a posing Loggerhead Shrike, a posing Black-crowned Night Heron, and our 1st Western Kingbird. We also had very close cooperative Lucy's Warbler and Northern Cardinal. A large flock of Violet-green Swallows came and drank and left in what seemed like 2 minutes. We still had 9 duck species. Spring seemed to arrive the last 15 minutes of the walk. By Rich Armstrong
Big Sit - Bubbling Ponds Preserve - April 6, 2023
I was joined by 11 folks at Bubbling Ponds Preserve (BPP) for the Big Sit on April 6th from 9-10:00. This trip would have been the perfect “Trick or Treat” day – because we were treated to surprise Painted Redstarts flitting around the trees to the West of the first pond. And we were tricked by the absence of usual species: Abert’s Towhee, Lucy’s Warbler, Mallards and Red-tailed Hawks. We were joined by three Prescott birders and we all had a lovely “shortest hour in all of history” as we sat under the large Cottonwood and saw 28 species. Fun species left over from the winter months were Ring-necked and Redhead ducks. However, it was the migrating warblers that stole the show. Bright yellow warblers just arriving were joined by bright Yellow-rumped Warblers who will be leaving for Flagstaff and beyond soon enough. Migrating swallows were plentiful and we got good looks at the vibrant green of Violet-green Swallows. It just means that another Big Sit at BPP needs to happen in order to break the tie! By Kay Hawklee
Birding 101 with Dr. Rich Armstrong - Camp Verde Library - March 31, 2023
I taught 30 folks a 2 hour Birding 101 class on March 31st at the Camp Verde library. Then on April 1st I had 10 of them bird Rezzonico Park and the Camp Verde STP. Then on April 2nd I had another 12 of them bird Rezzonico Park and the Camp Verde STP. Highlights were singing Lucy's Warbler, Abert's Towhee, close views of both male & female Vermillion Flycatchers, a very cooperative Hutton's Vireo, Cliff Swallows going in and out of nests, Great Horned Owls on a nest and next to it, and scope views of all 3 male teal species, Greater Yellowlegs, and Wilson's Snipe. By Dr. Rich Armstrong
Big Sit at Red Rock Ranger Station (VOC) - April 2, 2023
I was joined by 3 people for the Red Rock Ranger Station Big Sit on April 2nd. Unfortunately, we didn't observe any of the expected sparrow species. We had nice views of Northern Flicker, Gila Woodpecker, Bewick's Wren, Say's Phoebe, Lucy's Warbler, Turkey Vulture, Anna's Hummingbird, etc. Overall it was not a very birdy morning, but we did end up with a total of 20 species. By Mark Philippart
Brown Bag & Fun Facts: Montezuma Well Picnic Area - April 1, 2023
10 inquisitive birders joined me for a beautiful morning at Montezuma Well Picnic Area. We had three ladies from Flagstaff and several from Cornville. So there was a variation of birders' home habitats. This led to a good discussion about the elevational migration of many species that leave the Verde Valley and head to higher elevation near Flagstaff at some point in the spring. We gathered our questions during the walk and delved into the books at the picnic tables where we learned:
Highlights during the field portion were a calling Cooper's Hawk and Verdin. It was a successful, fun first BB&FF experience.
by Kay Hawklee
Sedona Wetlands - March 29, 2023
I was joined by 10 people on a finally decent weather March 29th for a 1 hour walk around the Sedona Wetlands. Highlights were breeding plumage Eared Grebe, Lucy's Warbler, Marsh Wren, Juniper Titmice, and close looks at Rock Wren and American Pipit. By Rich Armstrong
Beaver Creek Day Use and V Bar V Heritage - March 18, 2023
14 birders came out to Forest Service Road (FSR) 618 East of Sedona to see birds and Petroglyphs. The Flagstaff participants outnumbered the Verde Valley ones and the couple from San Diego were a great addition. It was a quiet birding day. Except the participants had a lot to discuss when presented with a couple of distant looks at Hammond's Flycatcher and Hutton's Vireo. We discussed how to tell the difference between Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Hutton's Vireos. The Hammond's Flycatcher with its "no neck" look showed us its long primaries. We moved on to V Bar V Ranch where we were disappointed not to have a troupe of Coatimundi, but were still rewarded by scope views of a Merlin. Whit Manter gave us his thoughts on what to look for between a Sharp-shinned Hawk and Merlin. The weather was perfect and the group was very engaged! By Kay Hawklee
Bubbling Ponds Preserve - March 14, 2023
I was joined by 13 folks at the Bubbling Ponds Preserve March 14th on a lovely morning where we were treated to lots of singing. Most of our winter waterfowl have left the area with the exception of some stunning Redheads, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Ducks and one Green-winged Teal. All the ponds have water, so there was no muddy habitat for those birds who specialize in foraging there. One lone Canada Goose flew over chatting loudly. A lot of winter migrants have left but there were still a few Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-crowned Sparrows, Townsend’s Solitaires and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Summer birds are here and arriving - Common Black Hawks, Osprey, Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a real show of White-throated Swifts feeding and drinking low over the ponds. Love is in the air with residents exhibiting courtship and visiting nest sites including Abert’s Towhees, Black Phoebes, Bewick’s Wrens, and Verdin. A nice raptor show with the Black Hawk, Osprey, Sharp-shined and Cooper’s Hawks, and of course some Red-tailed Hawks. Total of 42 species.
Big Sit at the Stransky's - March 13, 2023
On March 13th we hosted our 2nd 1-hour Stransky backyard BIG SIT. We were joined by 9 birders and spotted a total of 26 species. Highlights were 3 Turkey Vultures (1st for our yard for this year), a female Common Merganser on the creek, and 10 Cassin’s Finches. Other species included 2 Lincoln’s Sparrow, and a Chipping Sparrow. People enjoyed our backyard adjacent to Wet Beaver Creek and sharing the bright sunny morning birding time together. We even gratefully used our neighbor’s back patio for watching his huge Cottonwood trees. Some folks enjoyed still-warm fritters as surprise treats with their coffee thanks to Sue Meyer!
Laura & Kip Stransky
Sedona Wetlands - full trip - March 8, 2023
I was joined by 17 people on March 8th for a trip around the entire Sedona Wetlands area. The group included a dozen locals and birders from Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio, and Ontario. Unfortunately, there were no birds of interest on the helicopter & back ponds; but we did have a very nice collection of ducks on the big pond: numerous Common Mergansers, Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Gadwalls, and Cinnamon Teals. We also had two Lesser Scaup, a Redhead, a Canvasback, and an Eared Grebe. We ended up with 36 species in all. By Mark Philippart
The Jail Trail Cottonwood - March 5, 2023
I was joined by 17 folks on Sunday March 5th to walk the Jail Trail in Cottonwood. We had local birders along with others from Flagstaff, Connecticut, and visitors from Spain. Spring was in the air and birds were singing. We had 29 species of birds on the walk including up close great views of the local female Great Horned Owl perched in a tree over the Verde River and a pair of swimming Hooded Mergansers. Even though we had a large group, the more eyes made it better. Canada Geese did a flyover. We had great looks at a Red-tail Hawk and a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks. A male Anna's Hummingbird was showing courtship display as it went up in the air 100 feet and then dive bombed down to impress the female. He then flew all around the area landing on top of different bushes flashing his iridescent head and throat impressing all 18 of us. At one point a bird was sighted perched high in a tree at a far distance. We first thought it was a hawk, but the closer I got I could definitely see it was a rare bird to this location, a Band-tailed Pigeon. Everyone had great looks and someone was able to get a photo. Keep looking up, you never know what you may come upon. By Janie Ward-Langley
The Northern Arizona Audubon Fun Day held at the Sedona Wetlands Preserve on Feb. 25 was a big success. The weather cooperated with sunny skies, and the ducks showed up at the ponds. About 100 people, adults and children, visited the preserve and partook in the festivities. Michael Erb made you answer bird trivia questions to ‘win’ one of the coloring books he drew. Tracy and pals from Friends of the Verde River gave a lesson on BioBlitz and encouraged all to get outside and look around! Tony and his group from Yavapai County Flood Control talked about, you guessed it, water and how it flows. Northern AZ Audubon's art table was very popular where participants learned to draw a bird. The NAAS bird identification and migration games taught participants that they know more birds than they first thought they did. Rich pointed out ducks from the viewing platform giving everyone an opportunity to use the spotting scope. We want to thank our sponsors of this event; Jason Vargo, Events & Rentals Technician from the Sedona Parks & Recreation Department; Roxanne Holland and the Sedona Sewage Treatment Plant; and the City of Cottonwood. Thanks to all the NAAS volunteers-- Nanette & Rich Armstrong, Kay Hawklee, Denae Dearden, Becky Hardy, Sally Reynolds, Susan Meyer and Dana Kjellgren who made this NAAS Verde Valley Sci-Tech event possible. (photo by Kelly Isley)
The Birds Who Watches You Back program was a huge success! We can only attribute it to the fact that intelligent people, love hearing about intelligent birds?! The library room was overflowing with 120 people. Dr. Emily Faun Corey told humorous and informative stories about her Corvid, Shade, pictured here with Janie, one of NAAS's best field trip guides. Dr. Emily's and others' work on this engaging species highlights how very fun and intelligent this species is. If you ever get the chance to hear Dr. Emily and hang out with Shade, you should take it! I'm so glad many folks came last night to be entertained and educated on this wonderful species.
NAAS & Sedona Library SciTech event on February 11th:
Kids make the best bird sounds ever! We discovered this during out time outdoors with kids who are definitely interested in birds!
Eight children and their parents attended the "Talk, walk and make" event that NAAS hosted at the Sedona Library on February 11th.
Viviane the librarian began the program by pointing out all the books the library has to offer about birds. Then she red a story.
Nanette began with a quick lesson about birds, what makes a bird, what to look for to identify them, when you find one give good directions for others to find the bird, etc.
We handed out binoculars. Gave a quick lesson on how to focus, how to find a bird with them, how to care for them. Then we went outside and walked around the new patio and observed birds that were coming into feeders that NAAS Volunteer, Sally Reynolds, had set up. We continued on library grounds following the bird sounds - which were being echoed by several musical childrens' whistles!
We returned inside for the craft. Pine cones with string tied around them were used as homemade bird feeders the children could take home. The children smeared the cone with vegetable shortening with plastic knife or spoon, then rolled the cone in bird seed. Then placed the cone in a plastic baggie. We instructed the children to hang the pine cone in a place where a squirrel might not be able to reach. Volunteers and kids had a great time!
By Kay Hawklee
"The Northern Arizona Audubon Society (NAAS) is a volunteer-led organization that engages in community science to educate and advocate for the conservation of birds and their habitats. NAAS gathered together Jan. 24 at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church for a presentation on the pinyon jay and how to help save it." Read more
Big Sit Field Trip Report - January 31, 2023: January 31st was a special day as NAAS was invited by resident Noreen Ireland to visit this lovely gated community and 14 people joined me. The weather broke just in time to witness much activity. The birds were hungry and were there to feast at Noreen's feeders. The OCV residents with some young ones in tow as well as folks who had seen the notice on the new NAAS website showed off many sharp pairs of eyes. We had a White-breasted Nuthatch and a Bridled Titmouse show off their black and white plumages at the suet. Western Bluebirds flitted among us while a distant Townsend's Solitaire called from the hillside. Song Sparrows, Abert's and Spotted Towhees rustled in the reeds right beside us. Gila and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers clamored from the cottonwoods. A Red-tailed Hawk perched on a far telephone pole waited while we discussed its size, shape, color, to rule out other raptor possibilities. After the big sit hour, we walked along beautiful Oak Creek passing a lone Bufflehead. to a hidden quiet backwater where we saw at least twenty Wood Ducks, some Mallards, and Ring-necked Ducks. Excluding these ducks, we saw 28 species in our hour, which is the new record for an NAAS Big Sit! by Kristen Rothrock
Sedona Wetlands January 14, 2023: Rich was joined by 19 folks on January 14th at 10 AM for a 1 hour walk at the Sedona Wetlands. Weather cooperated, but birds didn't. Scope views of the normal ducks & Say's Phoebe & Townsend's Solitaire, but many more misses. It seems starting at 10 got people from Flagstaff and others, but less birds. We then went down to Spring creek tank 9571, but only a Black Phoebe was at the tank. Despite the lack of birds, many enjoyed the field trip!
Big Sit, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, November 30th: I was joined by 10 people for the big sit at Dead Horse State Park on November 30th. There were a few surprises; a glimpse at a Pine Siskin, but good looks at the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Bridled Titmouse, and some American Goldfinches. By comparison, the Lesser Goldfinch was barely in attendance. Of course, White-crowned Sparrows and Oregon Juncos abounded. A Slate-colored Junco were among them. A Spotted Towhee made his appearance just before the hour ended. There was good conversation, new people, and many sharp eyes that identified 22 species. By Kristen Rothrock
Woods Canyon Trail Field Trip: 5 birders joined me on November 5th for a nearly 2-mile walk along Woods Canyon Trail. Despite the early morning chill, it turned out to be an exceptional day for birding. We passed at least 200 American Robins, 80 Western Bluebirds, 8 Cedar Waxwings, and around 30 Townsend's Solitaires. Other highlights included a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Crissal Thrasher, Rock Wren, Black-throated Sparrow, and Black-chinned Sparrow. However, the co-favorites were a flock of a dozen Cassin's Finches foraging in neighboring junipers and a male Evening Grosbeak! Back at the ranger station, we were treated to very close views of Canyon Towhees & several species of sparrow: White-crowned, Chipping, Song, Lincoln's, and even a hoped for White-throated. We ended up with 41 species in all! By Mark Philippart
Black Canyon Heritage Park and Lake Pleasant: The 23rd of October turned out to be a great day to leave the rain behind and head down to Black Canyon City and Lake Pleasant. On the way down, we visited a couple of spots for sparrows; including the Arcosanti Cattle Tank, a dirt tank where shorebirds are often found. We were met at the Black Canyon City Heritage Park by a Meetup member who joins us often, but lives in Phoenix. To my surprise, when we arrived she and two other participants were conversing in Mandarin! So there were 3 participants who spoke Mandarin and 3 participants who did not. They tried to teach us the difference between the Mandarin word for Cormorant, donkey and stove which are all very similar, but we had a lot of difficulty picking that up... which gave us all a good chuckle. One of the participants saw 5 life birds! We had Harris's Hawks immediately upon entering the heritage park. The road just North of the park always has Inca Doves and one of NAAS's great photographers got wonderful pictures of Curve-billed Thrashers and Cactus Wrens. Lake Pleasant's Cottonwood Day Use Area is the go-to spot for Gilded Flicker and they didn't disappoint! But the lake was down which made it hard to discern whether or not there were Clark's Grebes in all of the Western Grebes? Overall it was a good day with 50 species and great weather, birds and birders... and pie on the way home! By Kay Hawklee