During the past few months I have been “Birding” on several occasions with the Prescott Audubon Society (PAS) out at Watson Woods. Many of you know that Watson Woods is officially designated as an Important Bird Area by PAS. As one of the largest wetland/riparian areas in the area, Watson Woods provides numerous resources for birds, whether it be for shelter, food, or breeding grounds.
For those of you who have not been birding, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. To get a good start, you will need only 3 things:
- A Field Guide-A field guide is a book with pictures of the birds and tips for identifying them. Some options include the Peterson, Sibley, and Kaufmann Field Guides to Birds of Western North America.
- Binoculars-There are many binoculars out on the market that provide different magnifications, fields of view, focus options, brightness, and size. Check out the Guide for Choosing and Using Binoculars on the Audubon Society’s Website for good advice on choosing the right pair.
- A place to go-There are several places to go birding within the Prescott area: A few sites include Watson Woods, Watson Lake, Willow Lake, The Highlands Center for Natural History, and the Granite Mountain Lake/Trail area. Typically, the best times to go are early morning or late afternoon, as these represent the times when the birds are most active. If you are interested in venturing outside of Prescott, check out www.azwatchablewildlife.org for information on when and where to go to within Arizona’s “Viewing Regions.”
Birding provides another avenue for me to be outside in a wild setting, and it has increased my overall awareness of what’s going on in the natural world. Birds are affected by weather patterns, vegetative growth, changes in habitat, availability of water, and human activities. By observing birds in detail you can’t help but notice these connections-not only with birds, but all facets of nature. Finally, birding requires quiet observation, listening, and slowing down; something I feel is a benefit to everyone.