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Until recently Woodhouse’s scrub jay, a jay of the Interior West, was considered part of the same species as the California scrub jay, according to the Audubon website. The two were officially “split” in July 2016. Unlike its California cousin, Woodhouse’s scrub jay is mostly an uncommon bird, living in sparse woodlands of juniper and pinyon pine in arid foothills, but it does come into suburbs of some western cities.

Help tally the towhees, census all sparrows and count colorful cardinals — Payson’s Christmas Bird Count on Jan. 2 needs volunteers: birders who are confident with their ID skills for resident birds and wintertime migrants.

Sign up and lead a team, spending the day together finding all the birds you can identify or join a team. Green Valley Park is perhaps the best area in Payson for birding, with 178 different species confirmed there over the years. Recent sightings there include Canada goose, American wigeon, mallard, canvasback, ring-necked duck, common goldeneye, ruddy duck, western grebe, American coot, ring-billed gull, great blue heron, osprey, American crow, ruby-crowned kinglet, house finch, red-winged blackbird, yellow-rumped warbler.

Join the Payson Christmas Bird Count by calling count leader David Hallock, 928-474-9475 or email

Christmas Bird Counts are scheduled all across Arizona, starting Dec. 14. The Arizona Field Ornithologists’ website has a complete list of dates and contact information to reach coordinators at

About the Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count is an Audubon project celebrating its 120th anniversary from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5.

Since the Christmas Bird Count began more than a century ago, it has relied on the dedication and commitment of volunteers. All participants must make arrangements to participate in advance, but anyone can participate.

Each count takes place in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally — all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the designated area that day.

Beginning birders will be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.

Those who live within the boundaries of a CBC circle can stay at home and report the birds that visit their feeder on count day as long as they have made prior arrangement with the count compiler.

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