Jean Scheibe Smith
Some birders recall their “spark” bird—the one that grabbed their attention and forever changed the way they view the natural world. For others, birding is part of their DNA. For Jean Scheibe Smith of Tucson, Arizona, a bird walk opened her eyes. At that time, Jean and her husband lived near Cleveland, Ohio. They decided to join a walk led by Glen Kitson at North Chagrin Park and the rest is history. Jean wrote, “We were hooked!!! We enjoyed the walk so much we went right out and bought binoculars.”
Hooked on Birding
They proceeded to attend every bird walk they could. The couple moved from Ohio to Ontario to Michigan and finally retired in Arizona. In each new place, they quickly became active in bird clubs and the local Audubon Society.
Jean’s birding experience is extensive. She banded the first House Finch seen in Michigan and has banded on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, and at Tanque Verde Ranch outside Tucson, Arizona. For 15 years, Jean led walks in Sabino Canyon, a stone’s throw from her home. Jean has also mentored many birders, including two people who went on to become professional guides.
While Jean’s birding extends far beyond her backyard, her roots run deep with Project FeederWatch and the Cornell Lab. Jean’s daughter, Cyndy Scheibe, is a Cornell alumna and a professor at Ithaca College. “When visiting her, we always go to Sapsucker Woods and the Lab of Ornithology. As soon as I heard about FeederWatch I signed up,” wrote Jean. Thirty years later, she is still an active member of the Lab and FeederWatch.
FeederWatch Count Site
Jean’s count site sits at the edge of Saguaro National Park. Her yard features four hummingbird feeders, two suet feeders, two Nyjer feeders, orange halves, and a grape-jelly dish. Along the top of the brick wall, which partially encircles her yard, she scatters a mix of seed including black-oil sunflower, milo, and millet. She also has three birdbaths. Her feathered friends enjoy fresh seed, fruit, and water daily.
Frequent visitors to Jean’s count site include Lesser Goldfinches, White-crowed Sparrows, Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wrens, Abert’s Towhees, House Finches, Verdins, Mourning Doves, Gambel’s Quails, and Black-chinned, Anna’s, and Broad-billed hummingbirds. Jean’s favorite feeder visitor is the Rufous-winged Sparrow, and her most unusual visitor was a Harris’s Sparrow that overwintered in 2010-2011 at her count site.
Whether Jean is counting birds for FeederWatch, guiding hikes, mentoring new birders, or traveling, she is always on the lookout for feathered friends. Her “life list,” as of November 2016, is 729!