ARTISTS AND BIRDS

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Horned Larks

        With our ever-changing landscapes in North America from human expansion, drought, and overuse you may wonder if there are any bird species that are able to sustain their population. The answer is yes. The Horned Lark is a good example. The perfect feeding places for Horned Larks are bare dirt, ridges with little or no horned larkcovering, pasture land that has been eaten down to the ground and abandoned, worn out crop fields full of weeds, and open areas humans rarely visit. They avoid trees and bushes, and feed on seeds and ground insects. The Horned Lark forages entirely by walking and running on the ground. The young learn to walk and run before they learn to fly.

        This Horned Lark is the one true lark native to the new world. The year-round range of the Horned Lark is most of the United States, and in summer, clear to the northern ends of Alaska and Canada. It is one of the earliest nesting birds. In the northern states, nests can be found in February and often the first eggs laid are destroyed by severe snowstorms. They often have three hatches a season.

        We have seen Horned Larks in the hundreds on the Arizona Strip. Large numbers walking along the ground, flying a few feet, alighting, feeding and then airborne again. It’s almost like a sea of grass in motion, not caused by wind, but by a large flock of birds. We have seen them along the Babylon Road near Leeds, west of Enterprise, north and south of Kanarraville, west and south of Virgin, and up and down the open spaces of I-15. If you look, and have a good pair of binoculars, you will find them in many open vistas. I hope you get to see this beautiful bird with the distinctive ear tufts of black.

        Marilyn Davis is the artist this week. If you have questions about birds, Red Cliff Audubon Programs and Field Trip activities, or if you just want to report birds seen, call 435 673-0996.

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