January 2024

President's Message

by Kay Hawklee

Hey Everyone,

This edition of the BlackHawk Watch is a look back at NAAS accomplishments in 2023 and what we intend for 2024.

In 2023 we began rebuilding the number of Field Trips guides and had a tremendous response. The number of guides - including professional bird surveyors - Above The Rim (ATR) increased and the average age of those guides decreased exponentially with the youngest being 14 years old. In 2023 Nashelly Meneses became the ATR Field Trip Coordinator and arranged six Field Trips in the Flagstaff area in September and six in October. She looks to blow that number away in 2024 with many more summer, weekend and after work trips. For a look at the stats she kept, go here:

Nashelly NAAS field trips 2023.pdf

ATR activities were incredibly diverse; from the riotous Trivia take-over night at Drinking Horn Meadery to raise awareness about the plight of Pinyon Jays, to an Owl Prowl with approx 50 folks during Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition Star Party, to learning about the conservation history of Anderson Mesa with Diablo Trust, to a serious Water Conservation luncheon with Audubon Southwest's Haley Paul.

Haley lives in Flagstaff and is the "water whisperer" who works tirelessly to sway Legislators at our state capitol to conserve water for birds. She will be speaking to us for the January Flagstaff Monthly Program via Zoom. Watch our website for an announcement with details to join her in the quest to save Arizona's limited water resources for people and birds. Hit this link to read more about what Audubon is doing to save our water: Momentum to save water in the West

Thanks to Rich Armstrong and our Below the Rim (BTR) guides, the number of Field Trips increased with an amazing 10 field trips offered in two consecutive months. At the National Audubon Leadership Conference when I mentioned that NAAS had 16 field trips in one month, people in the room expressed shock and awe. There were actually 72 Field Trips/Big Sits BTR with 13 leaders who guided 671 folks! Attendance ranged from 0 to 35 participants with an average of 10 participants per field trip. Migration intense months of April, September, and October are the most active with the highest number of trips per month.

Our not-so-secret secret is that we give our 13+ guides an honorarium. Their time and expertise is valuable and we believe in honoring that! We have broken the mold of strict volunteer-only leaders for Audubon Field Trips. Happily it turns out that ignoring the old adage of "we've always done it this way" paid off in a win/win/win for guides, bird lovers and those who are curious about what bird watching is all about.  

In order to keep this momentum up, we are asking that you "Sponsor A Field Trip." Please do so here: Field Trip donation. It's a great way to express your appreciation for your guide's time and efforts (much of which happens behind the scenes in preparation for the trip and afterwards in sharing the eBird checklist, attaching photos, and writing up a trip summary. Did you know that their trip summaries are posted on Meetup? And our Website? And Facebook?)

As 2023 ended, there was a very ambitious goal set out by National Audubon that Northern Arizona Audubon is stoked about:

This past year, Audubon launched the Flight Plan, its new five-year plan to protect birds and the places they need across the hemisphere, or as we say, “bend the bird curve.” Audubon pushed for stronger climate action at COP28 and co-sponsored Climate Week NYC, helped secure more water for birds and people across western landscapes, and followed individual birds as they made their epic annual journeys to better understand what they need along the way. Flight Plan road map

In 2024, NAAS will be striking out with a bold new plan of our own to support Audubon's goal where local action translates into hemispheric impact." Plans are progressing for our two Motus stations - one in partnership with Lowell Observatory on Anderson Mesa and one with Rancho Tres Brisas in Camp Verde. As these stations come on line, they can provide necessary information about the paths that migratory birds are taking. All thanks to the vision of your Board of Directors. To learn more about our project listen to this KNAU Earth Note: NAAS Motus project

After the stations are up and running, we see our role being that of Educational Outreach which will focus on connecting students via Zoom who live near Motus stations in Canada, Arizona, and Latin America. What better way for diverse peoples to come together than by learning about migrating birds and how we can save their critical stopover spots?!

Please join us by contributing to our Motus stations: Donate to Motus bird tracking stations

Note:  By-law changes are being made for our organization. NAAS will be holding its Annual Meeting in January hereafter. More info to come.

Christmas Bird Counts

by Rich Armstrong and Rob Gibbs

The Sedona CBC was on December 15th.There were 10 teams, 32 team members, and a very disappointing only 7 feeder watchers. The total species was 116, which is decent but not great. I consider the highlights as Olive Warbler, Acorn Woodpecker, Williamson's Sapsucker, Merlin, Great Egret, Common Black Hawk, Black-chinned Sparrow, Wild Turkey, Black&white Warbler. surprise misses were Roadrunner, American Goldfinch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Harrier, Black-crowned Night Heron, Brown Creeper. Records were set for Hooded Mergansers 17 (old was 9), Ladderback Woodpecker 76 (old record 75), Bridled Titmouse 104 (old was 98), House Wren 11 (old was 6), Black-throated Sparrow 83 (old 49), Green-tailed Towhee 10 (old 4). Weather was fantastic and there was a countdown supper at the Armstrongs. By Rich Armstrong

Jerome CBC: Our total species count was the same as last year with 111 species, but with about 2,000 more individual birds seen. A Fox Sparrow was seen in Cottonwood South Sector and a Swamp Sparrow was found at Bent River Ranch. Good numbers of Red Crossbills (188) were seen on Mingus - there were 23 seen last year at Dead Horse State Park and the previous high count for the circle was 34 in 1992. By Rob Gibbs

Field Trips

by Rich Armstrong

November/December Field Trips

There were 9 field trips in November and none in December because of Christmas bird counts. The highlights included Western Grebe, Western Screech Owl, Bald Eagle, Green-tailed Towhee, Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler. 

All leaders write up short reports for every field trip and big sit. To see all of the field trip reports go to northernarizonaaudubon.org and go to bottom of page and click on past reports.

Guide Training with Alex Harper

NAAS Recognizes Our Field Trip Leaders

One of the perks of being a guide for NAAS is that we are partnering with Alex Harper, a contractor for Red Rock Audubon Society, to provide a workshop at no cost to our guides that trains them on "... a proven strategy for learning birds by honing in on observation and description, and helps the participant visualize a fun and informative birding trip, start to finish."

Alex's Bio:

Alex Harper is a field biologist and interpretative naturalist with a special focus on birds. He grew up exploring ecosystems in South Florida, where he joined the Tropical Audubon Society during the 8th grade. He went to school and got an Environmental Science degree and bounced around tropical countries, American deserts, the Rockies, Florida, and New England, traveling and taking seasonal jobs as a bird counter, hawk watcher or summer program educator. He eventually landed in Las Vegas, settling into field work in the renewable energy sector. Today, he currently works with Red Rock Audubon Society as an educator, helps to operate a bird guiding business, and spends some of the year as a naturalist in Baja and Alaska for an expedition travel outfit. 

We appreciate our guides and want to help them - help you know birds and their behavior better. Just another of our win/win/wins!

Monthly Program - Change of Location

January 27, Saturday2:00-4:00pm Camp Verde Library. Social time 2:00. Meeting starts at 2:30. “Birds and the Weather” by Michael Erb. He’s been fascinated by birds-- tiny feathered dinosaurs, for a long time. “They’re interesting, colorful, and wonderfully diverse.” He has authored a book Birds of the Southwest Coloring Book. See it here: Coloring book

Michael Erb is an assistant research professor at Northern Arizona University, where he conducts research about the climate of Earth's past. As a scientist and author, he confronts mysteries both in his research and in fascinating books. He also maintains the website WeatherDetectives.org, which has free weather activities and other fun stuff. As a birder, he also enjoys exploring the world of birds! His website ColorBird.org has a variety of bird illustrations that you can download and color.

Note:  March 2nd will be the following Monthly Program. Saturday, 11:30 to 2:00, at the Cottonwood Library. Pizza lunch provided. "Chasing Birds in Yavapai County" by Janie Ward-Langley. [NO February Meeting, we'll meet twice in March.]

Cardinal (female) by Karen Kwitkin

Member’s Night 2023

Northern Arizona Audubon had a Member's Night in November at the Sedona Library. It was fantastic as 18 members entertained us with their photographs, wonderful stories, and little presentations. A variety of topics were covered. The speakers were Kelly Isley, Danae Dearden, Janie Ward- Langley, Alice Madar, Corbin Dearden, Becky Hardy, Kay Hawklee, Denise Violetta, Sally Reynolds, Hilary Morejon, Gerry Snyer, Alex Passos, Robert Marriott, Heather Hofling, Susan Meyer, Karen Kwitkin, Nanette & Rich Armstrong.  Bernadette Bezich couldn't make it but sent in some beautiful photos. 

An extra touch for the night was a large variety of door prizes were awarded, and pizza, sandwiches, and dessert were served. If you are reading this and feel bad that you missed it, you should. Just kidding, but there is always next year! By Nanette Armstrong

Volunteer with NAAS

As a volunteer, you can make a small sacrifice that benefits birds and those who love them (and those who don't know that they love birds... yet!) To get a small task that will help us tremendously, please contact: birdnaas@gmail.com

Our Mission Statement:

To promote the understanding and appreciation of birds and other wildlife and the conservation and restoration of their natural habitats.

Most of the articles in this newsletter have been submitted by NAAS members.  Please email articles or notes to: NAAS Audubon.

Want to find out what birds were seen on our Field Trips?

The BlackHawk Watch used to be the place where our members read about past field trips and events. Not so anymore - we've moved these reports to our website to make space for more articles. (If you would like to contribute an article for the BHW, please send it to birdnaas@gmail.com.)

Past trip reports can be found on our website under the tabs:

 Field Trips & Events 

       - Past Event Reports

So if you missed a field trip or an event and want to find out more, you can go to the website to read all about it here: Past Trip Reports

Past Trip Reports

Bird Safety

NAAS has more questions about keeping birds safe than any other inquiry. Visit our Bird Safety page to learn about the largest danger to birds and the easy steps you can take to keep our feathered friends... well-feathered: northernarizonaaudubon.org/Bird-safety/


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