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the Prescott Audubon Newsletter

January 2023

Upcoming Field Trips and Events

Saturday – February 4 – Monthly Watson Woods Walk – 9:00 am

Tuesday - February 14 - Gilbert Riparian Preserve, Phoenix

For more information

Window on Nature

The PAS Live Speaker Series

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Window on Nature Presents: 

Michael Byrd, 

Director, Prescott Creeks

"Restoration & Conservation at Watson Woods

Riparian Preserve" 

One person and one organization stand behind Watson Woods, the lush and vital natural area we all know and enjoy ---That person is Michael Byrd of Prescott Creeks, who has restored a devastated landscape into the stunning results we all know as Watson Woods. Hear the story and find out what's next in this developing saga in the heart of Prescott. 

Location: Trinity Presbyterian Church, 630 Park Ave

Time: 6:30PM - social

7:00PM - program

Conservation Focus -

Surface and ground water issues in the Verde River Watershed and

across the State of Arizona

The Conservation committee is looking for members - opportunities abound. Contact Sharon Arnold 928-533-5355.

- Monitor water policies & contribute updates to Wingtips

- Create supportive relationships with like-minded NGOs

- Recruit speakers for Windows on Nature 

2022 Upper Verde River Surveys

The Upper Verde River Wildlife Area, owned and managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), includes a 4.5 mile stretch of the Verde River near its headwaters and the final 1.5 miles of Granite Creek just above its confluence with the river. Prescott Audubon Society (PAS) conducts three surveys each year in the spring and fall to document numbers of bird species and individuals present during spring and fall migrations. These surveys are required for maintaining the area’s Important Bird Area (IBA) designation by the National Audubon Society.

By the first IBA survey in April, migrants and summer residents such as swallows, warblers, and various flycatchers had begun to arrive and numbers of sparrows and other winter residents were decreasing. Both Common Black Hawk and Zone-tailed Hawk were seen during the April survey. Although Yellow Warbler and Common Yellowthroat had arrived in significant numbers by the April survey, Yellow-breasted Chats did not make an appearance until May. Yellow-rumped Warbler numbers decreased markedly between the April and May surveys.

The spring surveys brought unexpected sightings of White-throated Sparrow, Crissal Thrasher, and Green-tailed Towhee. These birds have been seen in previous years, but never predictably. A couple of observations this spring, however, were quite rare during our surveys. An Abert’s Towhee vocalization surprised one team during the April survey and two Prairie Falcons exhibited territorial behavior during both the April and May surveys. Team members hoped for sightings of fledglings later in the season, but the falcons were not seen after May.

During the summer months, Prescott Audubon conducts surveys for Yellow-billed Cuckoo according to the official US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) protocol. PAS members who have been permitted by the USFWS and the AGFD lead the surveys and are assisted by non-permitted volunteers. Overall, surveyors detected fewer cuckoos this season, but the number of probable nesting sites was about the same as in recent years.

Three inches of slimy mud, created by heavy rains a few days earlier, greeted the volunteers for the fall IBA survey in September. Walking was challenging, to say the least! Most summer warblers and flycatchers had departed and winter sparrows and warblers had not yet arrived. Surprise sightings included two pairs of American Kestrels, not often seen along the river, and a flock of Pinyon Jays.

The final survey of the year, the Chino Valley Christmas Bird Count, started off at 17 degrees! It took a while, but everyone eventually thawed out. Surveyors found fewer Yellow-rumped Warblers than in previous years, but White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were well represented. A Wilson’s Snipe flushed from cattails and flew away, startling one team which would have preferred a longer viewing opportunity. One Gadwall and one Bufflehead, seen together, delighted a second team which had expected any duck observations to be of Mallards. After the survey ended, two of the teams saw two resident adult Golden Eagles and one visiting adult Bald Eagle in the same general area, with no apparent animosity.

The Upper Verde River Wildlife Area is a particularly remote area with rugged terrain, no cell phone service, delayed emergency response, and all the hazards, including wildlife, of a natural area. For cuckoo surveys in the summer, temperatures can be in the 90’s. Those interested in volunteering for surveys on the Verde are asked to contact Prescott Audubon at for more information about the area and the conditions. 

Holiday Party Success!

Many Prescott Audubon members and friends celebrated the holidays together at a potluck dinner on December 15th. Everyone brought plenty of great food, and we all enjoyed the opportunity to chat, catch up, and trade stories. After the meal, we took a moment to recognize members who have made special contributions to Prescott Audubon over the past year. We honored our recently-retired Treasurer, Laura Rhoden, with our highest award, the Founders' Award. Laura is only the fifth person to receive this award. We also recognized Christina Grijalva and Ellen Bashor, for their participation on the Board, where their energy helped rebuild and renew PAS after the "covid years".  And we recognized Sharon Arnold for organizing the successful Birds & Beer event.  As an after-dinner bonus, the dinner organizers came up with a fun bird trivia game that kept us all laughing. Kudos to all who brought such good food and to our Board members who worked to make this event such a success! 

PAS Scholarship Winners Present and Past

This year, there were 12 applications, 7 from Prescott College and 5 from ERAU. Once again, the high caliber of the essays and projects meant committee members had our work cut out for us. Luckily for us, there was additional fundraising to facilitate awarding a second Environmental Scholarship in 2023 in honor of Kathy Wingert, longtime PAS member and educator. We think Kathy would be pleased that the scholarship continues to support the next generation of young environmentalists.

Chyenne Klemme received the Prescott Audubon Society’s Environmental Scholarship for 2022. She graduated from Prescott College in December 2022, with a major in Social Justice and a minor in Environmental Studies. She used the scholarship funds for the Paria Beach Restoration Project. Her report is below the bios of the two new recipients.

2023 Environmental Scholarship Recipients Announced

The Prescott Audubon Society scholarship committee is pleased to announce the two recipients of the 2023 Environmental Scholarship: Nathalie (Nat) Burgeff and Katherine (Katie) Rolle. We hope to arrange a time next year for both Nat and Katie to give presentations to Prescott Audubon Society members at a future Window on Nature program.

Nat Burgeff is a senior at Prescott College, majoring in Environmental Science. She wrote that she was “passionate about nature conservation, creating solutions to diminish climate breakdown…and improving environmental and sustainability awareness in small, medium and large communities and corporations.” To Nat, sustaining ecosystems is a key component of conservation, and she is already working “to prevent ecosystem declines by applying conservation strategies and awareness [to] new business models.” Nat intends to use the scholarship funds to carry out her senior project, which will continue her efforts towards redesigning the waste sorting and recycling systems at Prescott College, with the goal that it will become a “zero-waste college.”

Katie Rolle is a senior at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. She defined environmental conservation as “more than preserving nature…. [It] is about taking action to reduce the interference of man with the natural world, not for the advantage of man, but instead for the sake of nature, so it can thrive undisturbed in its own order and beauty.” Katie wants to pursue a career in the alternative energy industry. She wrote: “My personal goal is to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. By earning a degree in mechanical engineering, I open the door for myself to progress numerous clean energy technologies, including wind, solar, geothermal, tidal energy, hydropower, and nuclear energy.” She will use the scholarship funds to take the place of her on-campus job so she can dedicate more time to leading the Alternative Energy Association club on campus.

Paria Beach Restoration Project

By Chyenne Klemme


Paria Beach is on the shoreline of the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry. This beach offers the community access to fishing, swimming and playing, while taking in the wonders of the Vermillion Cliffs and Colorado River. The goals of this ongoing project are to: restore natural shoreline configuration, native riparian ecosystem function, and natural riverside habitats along the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam; enhance the quality of recreation experiences, including angling, wildlife viewing, boating, and beach visitation; sustain the local recreation economy; and engage and empower members of local and regional communities, and specifically Native American youth, in hands-on, place-based learning through partnerships. I am from Page, AZ, and spend a lot of time at Lee's Ferry, which made this project very important to me.


My involvement in the Paria Beach Restoration Project has continued my commitment to giving back to the community I am from. I have always been interested in providing opportunities for Indigenous youth, so I was immediately drawn to this project. I contacted faculty from Page High School (PHS) to gauge their interest in involving students in this project. I was proud of myself for coming in contact with them for a project that promoted the health of vital ecosystems and engaged youth in decolonized and place-based restoration work. 


I was a student in Ben Dalton’s Environmental Science class in 2018-2019 at PHS. That was the first year of the Environmental Science class. Some of the topics I learned in that class inspired my interest in environmental justice, which I later found would be tended to at Prescott College. With the help of Wild Arizona, Joel Barnes and me, the Environmental Science class now includes an experiential learning aspect. I found a lot of excitement in being able to bridge the two worlds of high school and college.


I thought I contributed essential aspects to the project. Not only was I able to find willing students and faculty from PHS, but I created a connection between schools that will continue into future semesters. I brought a decolonial lens to the project because restoration and preservation have always excluded, and made invisible, the perspectives and lifeways of Indigenous People. The base of this decolonial lens came from the involvement of Indigenous students. I taught the students the importance of land acknowledgments and provided resources for how to conduct their own. Within the Paria Beach vocabulary chart, I designed a column dedicated to the plant or animal name in Diné Bizaad (Navajo Language). During our class meeting at PHS on April 14th, the students and I filled out some worksheets together. I was filled with gratitude and appreciation hearing them pronounce the Diné Bizaad words for the trees we planted our first weekend at Paria Beach.


Along with the decolonial lens, I brought the importance of sense of place to the activities. Often in public school, students are rarely asked how they feel and to reflect on those feelings. I led students in several sense-of-place activities at Paria Beach that allowed them to become grounded in their surroundings and created a space for them to be still, listen, and feel. Lastly, I contributed a relatability piece to the project. It was beneficial for the students to see someone like me, who isn’t much older than they are, in a leadership position. I hope to have spread some inspiration in that sense.


I am aware of some areas of my involvement that need improvement. I would have liked to include even more Indigenous perspectives and provide the students with a history of the colonial structures within environmental restoration and preservation. With the amount of student excitement and faculty acceptance, I could have included one or two more trips to Page and Lees Ferry. Fortunately, the relationship between Prescott College and PHS continues. The students are currently growing trees in the PHS greenhouse to plant in the spring of 2023.


Being a part of the Paria Beach Restoration Project has filled me with an appreciation for my community in PHS. I was given a chance to reconnect with people I had lost touch with since moving away from Page and was able to build new connections with people in the outdoors. It is so important to bring Native Youth to outdoor spaces and remind them that they belong. This experience allowed me to grow my commitment to teaching, and learning from and with, Indigenous youth.