A man named Tony Wright lives in Paulden and he buys live mealworms and feeds them to lizards mostly, but also resident Say’s Phoebes and Northern Mockingbirds. He admits he is not a birder. He was shocked to see a red bird with black wings that he did not recognize. He figured out it was a male Scarlet Tanager and he knew it was rare. He called Jay’s Bird Barn in Prescott and a couple days later when it reappeared, he figured out how to put it on ebird and with pictures! When the ebird alert came to all our emails I was on Jury duty. Janie Stewart decided to just go to Paulden and hope to get lucky. She was standing on the road looking, and thinking of giving up, when Tony came out and welcomed her in at 2 PM. The Scarlet Tanager was right there eating mealworms. Janie called me, and it was right after I had gotten home. Within 15 minutes not only were we on the road, but had arranged to meet Heather Hofling and Jonathan Montgomery in Cottonwood. We picked them up, drove straight to Paulden (now this is central Arizona so nothing is “straight”), walked in, and there was the beautiful bird eating mealworms maybe 10 feet from us. All took pictures, enjoyed the bird and other birds, watched Tony feed lizards like they were pets, and chatted with Tony for a while. Since we were in Paulden, we then went to see delightful Burrowing Owls, a few Swainson’s Hawks, and Horned Larks, all of which are very rare here in Verde Valley. We then celebrated with ice cream on the way home. This shows that even non birders or casual birders can find a rare bird. Some people with a rare bird in the past have refused to let any birders come to their yard for a short visit. You can see that homeowners can delight in sharing their findings. Birders are respectful. Tony said he really enjoyed having 5 of us come see his bird. Unfortunately the bird was not there the next day or after. So if you see a bird that you don’t recognize, take a picture and send it to me, or call me and describe it. You could be the next hero!
Rich Armstrong, firstname.lastname@example.org, 928-282-3675