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Bald Eagle carrying Black Scoter.

A bird's eye view of paradise from Prescott

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By Dennis Donath 

PRESCOTT--Bird watching enthusiasts travel the world in search of exotic species.

For those operating on a more modest budget, Prescott, which is located on a major migration route, offers a chance to see strange birds during all months of the year. We don’t count the ones that fly commercially.

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Every year during the last week in December, a team of experts descends on Prescott for the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. On average, about 35 species are observed during the four hours it takes to check out all the most likely spots. In the past, a Franklin’s Gull and a Harlequin Duck have been reported, neither of which are expected to winter in our area.

This year, the total number of birds was high, and included 53 Bald Eagles, 20 robins, 18 Trumpeter Swans, two Redheaded Ducks, two Greater Scaup, a Long Tail Duck, and a multitude of Common Mergansers and Goldeneye Ducks. The biggest surprise was the sighting of six Yellow Rump Warblers feeding on berries (Cedar) in the cemetery. Lest you doubt the accuracy of that observation, check out the photo taken by one of the reporters.

The team members had hoped to spot a Black Scoter, which is a duck that is usually seen on the Pacific or Atlantic coasts in the winter. A female of that species (photo included) was reported in Prescott in early December, and was seen by many birdwatchers who came to Prescott from all over the metropolitan area.

Alas, on Dec. 7, the Black Scoter was last seen as it was being invited to lunch by one of the resident eagles. As any sailor can tell you, life on the river can be dangerous.

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