April 2023

About our Cover Bird - Vermillion Flycatcher
Pyrocephalus rubinus)

  • Vermilion Flycatchers are small but brightly colored, with a habit of sitting on exposed perches often within about 10 feet of the ground. This makes them fairly easy to spot in their open country habitat. Watch for them especially in insect-rich places such as the edges of wetlands or along stream corridors in otherwise dry country.
  • The Vermilion Flycatcher's genus name, Pyrocephalus, literally translates to "fire-headed."
  • When male Vermilion Flycatchers court females, they bring gifts: often a butterfly or other flashy insect.
(Photo credit - Kay Hawklee)

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.

President's Message

by Kay Hawklee

Volunteers in Action

Volunteering with NAAS can be a lot of fun! February brought me to the Capitol for an opportunity to bird with Legislators who protect our Verde River. Also in Phoenix, Becky Hardy and I attended a workshop with Cornell Labs on fun ways to teach students about birds. (Sadly, we learned that outdoor cats are by far the number one killer of migrating birds.)

As we head into April and May, there are an exciting variety of volunteering opportunities. The most pressing need is for folks to help with upkeep of the Monarch Waystation at Page Springs. Past volunteers have told me how very rewarding it is to help Monarch Butterflies! If you are interested in helping Monarchs, please contact Denise Gibbs at: monarchtagger@gmail.com

Then there are spring brings bird surveys for Colonial waterbirds, Marsh birds, Nightjars, Pinyon Jays and more. Surveys help inform conservation actions.

The Verde Valley Bird and Nature Festival is the last weekend of April. At the festival, there are opportunities to learn more about birds and meet other birders by staffing the NAAS booth. Audubon volunteers will be everywhere, doing everything, all at once.

Volunteering with NAAS has brought learning opportunities that I’d never have had otherwise. We’ve created a spot on the website for folks to check out the possibilities - at Audubon in Action:


I’m no expert and we don’t expect anyone to be an expert. My philosophy is “Do what you love – the rest will follow.” Several volunteers are just now in the process of discovering what they want to add and they’re beginning to share that excitement with others. They talk about getting huge rewards for their efforts.

And if they aren’t an expert at the beginning of their volunteer journey, they may be by the end of it!

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew

So, here’s to the rain, here’s to the migrants, here’s to promising bird surveys and cheers to the folks who step up to volunteer! Join those of us who care about birds and let’s spread the love - together.

Call for Volunteers

NAAS needs volunteers to sit at our booth during the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival on Thursday, April 27th through Sunday, April 30th at noon. The booth will be fully stocked with marketing materials, coloring books for children and bird identification games. Volunteers welcome visitors and discuss NAAS's mission, events and membership benefits. To volunteer contact Kay Hawklee: khawklee@gmail.com 

Trail Work Day at Bubbling Ponds 

Sunday April 16th from 8AM to 11AM 

The Northern Arizona Audubon Society (NAAS) will sponsor a trail workday at the Bubbling Ponds Preserve on Sunday April 16th from 8AM to 11AM. 

Bubbling Ponds Preserve is a cooperative effort between NAAS and Arizona Game and Fish Department. We need to do our part to maintain it. Please consider spending a few hours helping to spruce up this important birding hotspot. 

We will mulch and make minor repairs to the trails. Please bring work gloves, water, and a hat - sunscreen is recommended. We have plenty of shovels, but if you have a rake, pitchfork or wheelbarrow that you could bring that would be useful. Please make sure your name is on any tools and gloves that you bring. 

The Preserve lies within a National Audubon recognized Important Bird Area and is one of the most popular birding hotspots in the Verde Valley/Sedona area with over 150 species listed on eBird. It is located at the Bubbling Ponds Fish Hatchery on Page Springs Road. 

For more information on the workday contact Rob Gibbs at robgibbs54@gmail.com. It is not necessary to register for the workday but if you want to let me know you are coming it would help with preparations. 

Hope to see you there! Hey - fresh air, sunshine, a beautiful spot full of birds-  what more could you ask for! 

For more information on the Preserve go to http://northernarizonaaudubon.org/NAAS/bubbling-ponds-preserve/


Bubbling Ponds Preserve is located at 1970 N Page Springs Rd, Cornville, AZ 86325 

From Cottonwood: At the intersection of 89A and Mingus Rd, you would drive north on 89A as if going to Sedona. About 5.5 miles from Mingus turn right onto Page Springs Rd and then go approximately 2 miles and turn right into the gravel parking lot for Bubbling Ponds. 

From Sedona: Head South on 89A towards Cottonwood. Approximately miles south of Sedona, turn left onto Page Springs Rd. Go approximately 2 miles and turn right into the gravel parking lot for Bubbling Ponds. 

The Monarch Waystation at Page Springs Fish Hatchery needs volunteers to welcome in the migrant butterflies!  

Volunteer gardeners commit to working in the garden for 2 hours at least one Friday per month from March to November, selecting dates that fit their schedules.  Some prefer to work alone to enjoy the sounds of flowing water and birds singing, while some appreciate the company other gardeners. A typical volunteer session may include planting, weeding, pruning, and watering, with an occasional break to chat with and educate visitors.  Volunteers frequently stay longer to walk the trails and watch birds. Each week, the gardener on duty sends out a group email with the highlights of what they saw in the garden that day, so everyone stays updated. Gardeners may also choose to attend social get-togethers and butterfly training sessions. A final volunteer work session in November to prepare the garden for winter is attended by all volunteers.

To volunteer, contact Denise Gibbsmonarchtagger@gmail.com

Advocacy Day

by Kay Hawklee

Advocacy Day:  Asking Legislators to Protect Water

Every year wildlife lovers who belong to the Western Rivers Action Network use “Western Rivers Day” to tell Legislators how important water is to wildlife and people: “Arizona’s rivers, lakes, and streams are a $13.5 billion industry in Arizona, supporting 114,000 jobs in the state.”

Haley Paul is the whiz who heads up Advocacy Day.  She is an extraordinary conservationist who works for Southwest Audubon as the Arizona Policy Director. Haley focused our discussions on the following talking points:

  • We must better incorporate climate change into our water planning. Plan for less water and act accordingly.

  • Offer rural Arizona more options for managing its groundwater.

  • Renew the Groundwater Management Act and address its weak points.

  • We must support Tribes in resolving water issues.

  • Adequately fund the ongoing lawsuit called the General Stream Adjudications, so we can figure out who has the rights to how much water from our in-state rivers (ultimately this would help communities better plan and strike deals to benefit rivers and habitat).

  • Invest in water conservation projects as well as the agencies that are tasked with protecting our water resources.

  • Better groundwater management not only protects communities, but the water that sustains our remaining flowing rivers, streams, and springs—crucial to wildlife and the habitat they need to survive.

  • For too long rural Arizonans have had to choose between Active Management Areas or nothing—it’s time for another tool that offers local choice, backed up by state technical expertise.

Legislators were open to listening to what we had to say and truly enjoyed their time birding with myself and Haley prior to Advocacy Day.

Upcoming Programs

Rich Armstrong

A Texas blitz: 2 weeks, 300 birds 
Wed. April 26, Sedona Public Library 

Come at 4:00 for cookies & conversation. Program starts at 4:30 (note the early time). Texas-themed snacks will be served! All invited. 

A birding trip starting at the upper Texas coast to the Rio Grande Valley and back would get you more species than any other trip in North America. High Island is the #1 migrant trap in North America, and the Rio Grande Valley has more 'must go there' birds than any other place in North America. In 45 minutes, Rich will take you on a whirlwind trip including over 120 birds you do not see in Arizona! Come hear this fast paced presentation and you'll learn why Rich is known as the 'big mouth of the valley.' 

Rich Armstrong is a retired PhD nuclear chemist, and a retired Army Major nuclear and chemical  weapons officer. He has been birding for almost 35 years in Texas, Oregon, and now Arizona. Rich has led many field trips for Audubon Societies in all 3 states, is the coordinator of the Sedona CBC, is a birding pal for the Verde Valley area, and coordinates the North American Migratory Bird Count for the Verde Valley. He is the local Audubon Chapter Steward for the Sedona Wetlands Preserve and has led many birding field trips there.

Latest News

Find all the Latest News on our website

Sedona Wetlands "Fun Day": A resounding 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. 

Community science works to save at-risk bird population - by Hava Herzog

The Flagstaff monthly program was covered by Features Writer, Hava Herzog, for The Lumberjack (NAU's newspaper).  Hava interviewed NAAS, Southwest Audubon, the Grand Canyon Trust and NAU's The Wildlife Society club leaders to find out how we are all coming together to help save Pinyon Jay habitat. 


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


Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival

April 27-30, 2023

This beloved celebration of birding and nature during peak migration in the Verde Valley has been a special event at Dead Horse Ranch State Park since 2001. The founders of the festival sought a way to provide a fun and educational birding experience to both the local community and visitors.

NAAS provides many field trip guides for the festival. The festival features field trips to places that birders cannot often get into. If you haven’t already signed up for field trips or the many informative workshops, there is still time - but be quick like a Peregrine.

The keynote speaker event from 5:00-7:30 pm on Friday, April 28th, is a great evening filled with information.

Featured Speaker: Rick Taylor Author, Birds of Arizona

A lifelong resident of Arizona, Rick conducted an eight year study of the Elegant Trogon that led to the publication of Trogons of the Arizona Borderlands in 1994. During the course of his research he reported the first Eared Quetzal seen in the U.S. In 1980 he founded Borderland Tours, a birding travel company dedicated to responsible ecotourism as a means of providing an economic platform for the preservation of the world's wildlife communities. His love of guiding resulted in lifelong friendships with people on six continents, as well as the opportunity to see and study all of the trogons and quetzals in the new world. In 1995 the American Birding Association published his A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona, which he revised in 2005. Birds of Arizona, his new book, was just was released in 2022 by the R.W. Morse Company.

R. Morse Company website

Saturday is all about family time!  

Check out the festival agenda page for more information:



Bird Walk, Talk & Make

by Nanette Armstrong

As part of the Verde Valley Sci-Tech Festival 2023, and in conjunction with the Sedona Library and its Youth Services Department, several NAAS members held a bird event for the youth on Saturday Feb. 11. Titled, ‘Bird Walk, Talk & Make,” about 10 children with their families showed up to participate. Viviane the librarian read a fun book about birds. Nanette followed with a short lesson on what is a bird. Kay and Dana handed out binoculars to the children. After a quick optics lesson, the group walked outside to find birds, stopping at the feeders that Sally had put up prior to the event. Back inside the kiddos made bird feeders with pine cones, shortening, and seeds which apparently Yellow-rumped Warblers find tasty. Thanks to all the NAAS volunteers that helped with this successful outreach to the youngsters. The article is from the Red Rock News. Other photos by Kay Hawkee.

Keeping Cats Indoors

By Kay Hawklee

Outdoor cats are a problem for birds. The single biggest threat to migrating birds are cats – even more so that window strikes. There’s just no other way of stating this fact. I hope not to offend cat owners and also hope to provide information to help save birds. Below are a few resources for cat owners to learn about how cats that insist on going outside can be managed:

The Cats Indoors! Campaign for Safer Birds and Cats by the American Bird Conservancy deals with conflicts involving pet cats and wildlife. Cats are the most popular pets in the United States, with an estimated 90 million pet cats across the country. Of these, roughly half spend some time outside. Free-roaming cats can be significant predators of birds and other wildlife, including small mammals. A new brochure, Keeping Cats Indoors — Good for Cats, Good for Arizona's Wildlife is also available at all Arizona Game and Fish Department offices. https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/viewing/birdcount/




Photo Credit - Eric Gofreed

Page Spring Fish Hatchery Update

by Rich Armstrong

The Page Springs Fish Hatchery was closed for a couple years and more. It makes us all wonder what we missed? Well in one week in February there were 5 rare birds seen at the hatchery! There was a Black&white Warbler, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Varied Thrush, a Golden-crowned Sparrow, and a Northern Waterthrush. It began with 1 sighting and then the Patagonia Picnic Table effect happened (this is where someone goes to a place to look for a rare bird and finds another rare bird, and then someone goes for that rare bird and finds yet another. It is named for a picnic table in Patagonia, AZ where this happened many years ago). Other rare birds for February were 2 Cackling Geese at the Del Rio ponds found by Tori Marshall, and these are likely somewhere still around in some flock of Canada Geese. And Evening Grosbeaks and Cassin's Finches continue to be seen all over the Verde Valley!


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